McCain’s Anti-Supplement Bill Appears Dead – For Now
Monday, March 08, 2010
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Senator John McCain showed his true colors as a big-government regulator when he recently introduced a bill, S.3002, that would have drastically impaired access to dietary supplements in the U.S. He expected his bill to be popular, at least amongst Democrats, and did not expect any significant opposition. After all, McCain is in a serious primary struggle with J.D. Hayworth and could very well lose his Senate seat in Arizona’s August primary vote. The fact that he seriously misrepresented the dietary supplement industry to promote this legislation quickly showed him as not even understanding his own bill. Then he found himself on the receiving end of communications from tens of thousands of irate supplement users – as did many other members of Congress. Now he is trying to quietly back out, as his staff has acknowledged that he has withdrawn support for his own bill.
McCain himself has not yet made any public statements to this effect. However, a letter from Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) to McCain has been posted on the McCain senate website and indicates the current bill is dead.
What isn’t dead is the non-stop expansion of regulatory policy by the Obama Administration’s FDA and FTC. These issues don’t have anything to do with new laws; they have to do with the policy interpretation and consequent implementation of existing laws. Both the FDA and FTC are in a new highly aggressive anti-supplement strategy that is sending shock waves through the industry and spells grave concern for the future of dietary supplements.
Last week the FDA sent warning letters to 17 food companies and issued an open letter to the industry. While some of the FDA points are logical, the policy details in their warning letters indicate draconian implementation of regulation directed at an industry so as to limit consumer access to valuable health information and products. In particular, the warning letter sent to Pom Wonderful, while containing a number of valid regulatory points under current law, also contains policy interpretation that is targeted to prevent any company from explaining news and science relating to the ingredients in products they sell. This is a ludicrous interpretation of law and represents extreme suppression of the 1st Amendment. However, Pom Wonderful is in such a weak legal position to counter valid FDA points that it is unlikely they will protest this expansion of FDA abuse. What will the FDA do next??
Similarly, in February the FTC attacked a number of dietary supplement companies for making structure/function claims relating to the clear benefits of DHA for vision and intelligence in children. The FTC says such claims are fraudulent even though they are backed by an overwhelming body of science and are not making any disease claims – they are simply promoting health benefits that can be made under current FDA law. It is unclear at this time if any of the companies receiving the warning letters are going to fight the FTC in court, as doing so costs at least $500,000. However, agreeing with the FTC in a decree enables the FTC to set a new policy precedent that stifles free speech and is itself an extreme disservice to the health of Americans.
There are several points consumers should understand. Actions of the Obama Administration’s regulatory agencies affecting natural health options are more repressive than at any point in the last decade – this is squarely on the shoulders of the cigarette-smoking Obama. The backwards-leaning regulation of the dietary supplement industry by the Obama Administration is clearly at odds with science, which has now proven conclusively that nutrition is a primary reason for the prevention and treatment of disease. The fact that existing laws are at odds with an overwhelming body of science is showing that regulators are little more than stooges and puppets of the pharmaceutical industry (the real source of skyrocketing health care costs in America). The fact that our government is pushing authoritarian regulation under the false pretense of protecting consumers is a travesty against a free people. Health freedom is a leading indicator of the overall freedom in any society, as can be demonstrated by numerous historical examples. Control a population’s health and you control their free will. Leaders who truly value a free society will do everything in their power to promote health freedom – as they do not fear a population of independent thinkers.
The McCain bill or any compromise on it with Orin Hatch still needs to be watched closely. The Obama Administration’s regulators need to get a life. Health freedom in the United States continues to teeter on the edge of a cliff, as do a number of other basic freedoms we take for granted.
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