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‘Free Speech About Science Act’ introduced

By Shane Starling , 24-Mar-2010
Last updated on 24-Mar-2010 at 20:06 GMT2010-03-24T20:06:01Z

A Bill has been introduced to Congress backing the right of healthy foods and dietary supplements to cite scientific studies demonstrating health benefits.

Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Democrat Jared Polis of Colorado announced HR 4913 the Free Speech About Science Act yesterday, and said it sought to allow consumer access to legitimate scientific research.

“Today’s science has shown that vitamins and nutritional supplements can offer successful, natural alternatives to drugs,” said Polis.

“As we begin to reform our nation’s healthcare system, supplements are an innovative way to help reduce costs. The Free Speech About Science Act is a common sense act that will make it easier for doctors and consumers to learn about the cheaper, healthier alternatives to costly medicines that food and nutritional supplements provide.”

The Bill can be found here.

The Natural Products Association supported the ideas behind the Bill as did food attorney, Jonathan W Emord, who stated: “Anything that could help open the market to scientific information now blocked by federal censorship is to be applauded. I support the good intentions behind this bill.”

But Emord cautioned that certain language in the Bill such as “balanced summary” could “invite FDA mischief” as the definition was open to interpretation, which he said, history had shown usually went against the application and usability of nutrition science.

The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-U) said it had been working toward the introduction of the Bill for many years.

"If it passes, Free Speech about Science has the potential to transform the healthcare field by educating the public about the real science behind natural health," ANH-U said. "This is a small bill with vast potential leverage."

The Bill makes the following provisions:

 

  • Allows dietary supplements and healthy foods to cite legitimate scientific research
  • Provide a clear definition of the types of research that may be referenced by growers and manufacturers
  • Ensures that referencing such research does not convert a food or dietary supplement into an “unapproved [and therefore illegal] new drug”
  • Retains the authority of FDA and FTC to pursue any fraudulent and misleading statements.