The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) has presented its oral submission to the European Court of Justice, in Luxembourg, in its landmark case challenging the ban on 75 per cent of vitamin and mineral forms currently sold in the EU market.

If the challenge fails, the ban is due to come into effect on 1 August 2005. After that date only those vitamins on the Boots Supplements Directive will be legal and over 5,000 products will disappear from UK health stores. Over 300 vitamin and mineral ingredients, out of a total of 420, may no longer be available. These include, natural forms of Vitamin E, many forms of vitamin C, MSM and such minerals as vanadium, silicon and boron ñ all products which millions of consumers choose to take regularly and have done so for years without ill effects.

The ANH says products are to be banned with no scientific justification and many leading scientific and medical experts in nutrition support their view. Opposing oral submissions were made by the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and only one EU Member State, Greece. Interestingly, neither the UK government, nor Portugal, attended to present arguments despite having filed Written Observations in the case. This means that none of the major EU countries opposed the ANH’s application for a declaration that the ban was unlawful.

Paul Lasok QC, a world leading ex-pert on EU law, representing the ANH, opened proceedings by systematically undermining the legal and scientific basis of the Directive, highlighting contradictions between various arguments put forward by key bodies, namely the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. Dr Robert Verkerk, executive director of the ANH said after the hearing: “It was remarkable that the vast majority of points that we had gone to great length to show the Court were not countered in any effective way by the opposing parties. The Commission, the Council and the Parliament were not able to give any adequate scientific explanations for why so many forms of vitamins and minerals, that naturally occur in foods, could be banned across the EU.” The Advocate General announced that he would give his opinion on 5th April 2005 and the Court is expected to give its judgement in June. The ANH continues to campaign on this and other issues and would be grateful for donations to support its vital work without which our freedom to choose nutritional supplements will be dramatically reduced.

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