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Stop Draconian Plans For Dietary Supplements

Stop Draconian Plans For Dietary Supplements - Greens

13 March 2002

Green Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley is calling on the Government to abandon its plans to radically tighten controls on dietary supplements by setting up a new Trans-Tasman body to regulate them.

The Government will release a discussion document in April setting out plans to transfer control of dietary supplements, such as herbs and vitamins, to a new trans-Tasman authority. The new agency would be based in Australia, staffed predominantly by Australians and would adopt much stricter Australian regulations.

"The proposal will undermine our sovereignty, our right to decide on how we want to regulate dietary supplements, and restrict consumer choice in this important area," she said.

"When the benefits of dietary supplements to health promotion and disease prevention are well-known, it seems incredible that the Government is wanting to restrict access to them unnecessarily."

Ms Kedgley said there is already huge public unease about the proposal to introduce the draconian Australian rules here, as it would mean many dietary supplements being taken off the shelves, and others substantially increasing in price.

"Around 200 ingredients can be used in dietary supplements in New Zealand but not in Australia. If the Government pushes its plans through, it's almost inevitable that these same ingredients will not be available here because of the expense and difficulty in getting them approved and licensed."

Australia requires all ingredients in dietary supplements to be approved and licensed, which can cost up to $10,000 per ingredient. New Zealand and most other countries allow almost any substance to be sold as dietary supplements except for those on a negative lists which have known adverse effects.

Ms Kedgley said the proposal to regulate dietary supplements so tightly made no sense, when even the Government recognises that dietary supplements are very low risk.

"It is overkill. Of course consumers need to be assured about the safety and efficacy of these products, but we don't need to adopt Australian rules which reduce consumer choice and undermine our sovereignty to achieve this," she said.

"There will be no consultation mechanisms to allow the public to have input into decisions, so inevitably decisions would be made in secret by officials in Canberra and then announced from on high."

Ends

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