Thought leaders in the natural products field form an academy, similar in concept to those formed in ancient Greece that gave rise to the term. And that academy can help foster the common prosperity of the US and Mexico, said Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, in a speech in Anaheim CA.
Speaking to the annual meeting of the American Herbal Products Association, Fox said that the focus in Mexico-US relations has been muddied in recent decades, first by fierce debates surrounding immigration policy and then by alarm over the extraordinary level of violence that characterized Mexico’s attempt to stamp out illegal drug gangs. But business people shouldn’t lose sight of the fact of the strength of the underlying market, he said.
“Mexico is a very strong, dynamic economy today and it’s because we decided to partner with the big guy (via the North American Free Trade Agreement). With the US and Canada, we have formed the largest economic block in the world. We also form the largest consumer market in the world,” Fox said.
“Many of you don’t know that between the US and Mexico we have one of the largest trade relationships in the world, larger than what the US does with China. We export close to $500 billion (worth of goods and services) to the US and we import about the same amount,” he said.
The members in the room, representatives of the upper crust of dietary supplement and natural products companies (only a minority of companies in the space belong to one of the trade organizations, after all), collectively were taking part in what he called the third revolution of human kind. The first of these revolutions centered on ancient Greece, where thinkers came together to debate and ponder, a collective that became known as an akademeia, Fox said. Out of these debates rose the foundations of Western outlook on the world.
The second revolution came via the Renaissance, Fox said, when these first ideas of the Greeks were paired with a new scientific understanding of existence. That eflorescence of art, literature and science gave rise the great academic institutions of the West.
And Fox said the members in the room participating in AHPA meetings held in conjunction with the Natural Products Expo West trade show, were participating in the third revolution, that of instant global connectivity.
“The accumulated knowledge of off all kinds, from all the thinkers of all the academies—each one of us has access to all that knowledge,” Fox said. “What would Cicero, or Plato, have done with access to all that knowledge?”
Fox’s connection to AHPA came about as a result of a common interest on influencing policies surrounding the regulation of cannabis. AHPA has had a working group on the subject of medical marijuana for a number of years. Fox’s view on that subject, and on other drugs that are currently illegal, is clear and unambiguous: Legalize them all.
“Not just cannabis. I’m for all drugs. I know it’s difficult to conceive, but at the end of the day that is the freedom that the founding fathers of this nation had in mind. They stated very clearly governments don’t have the right into intervene in my behavior as long as I don’t affect third parties,” Fox said.
“I believe that when we are informed, we human beings have the capacity to make right decisions and that we can learn from the consequences of our consumptive habits. When President Nixon declared his war on drugs, if you are looking for a story of failure, there’s one. Illegal drug use in the US has gone up every year. And that demand from the US has dragged Mexico into a terrible war, with 80,000 people killed in the six years of President Calderon’s administration. That’s more than the number of Americans killed in Vietnam,” he said.
“We in Mexico are caught between the people who make the drugs in the south (in Colombia and elsewhere) and the people who use the drugs in the north.”