Matthias Rath, the deeply odious and murderous quack nutritionist, is collaborating with representatives of the alternative health industry to campaign for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and other EU legal decisions. This alliance incorporates minor political parties in Germany and the Netherlands – AGFG and Partij voor Mens en Spirit respectively, the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), the National Health Federation (NHF), La Leva di Archimede and the Zeus Information Service, all organised and brought together by the Dr. Rath Health Foundation. I do not have the Dutch or German necessary to comment on the claims of the political parties but the other organisations are fundamentally dishonest, fraudulent and dangerous.
The Alliance for Natural Health
The ANH are supporters of Matthias Rath and chose to defend his failed attempt to silence Ben Goldacre in Britain’s libel courts despite the fact that Rath was unable to demonstrate that his case had any merit. Matthias Rath is not the only discredited individual with dangerous ideas and practices that the ANH choose to support, they have been vocal in their support for Andrew Wakefield, the utterly discredited MMR/Autism hypothesis and the libellous and deranged writings of the deeply unpleasant Martin Walker. In fact the ANH is a repository of many documents attacking the character and motivations of those who ask probing questions of the alternative health industry, including the highly respected Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst and many others. The ANH also represent the supplements industry and are implacably opposed to the European Food Supplements Directive, an attempt to “harmonise the legislation and to ensure that these products are safe and appropriately labelled so that consumers can make informed choices”.
The National Health Foundation
The NHF are an American organisation that claim to be a consumer education and health freedom organisation with the aim of removing government restrictions on food, supplements and alternative therapies. However this organisation is committed to more than the unfettered influence of market forces and an uncontrolled alternative health care sector, it actively promotes misleading and plain wrong ideas that potentially have dangerous and lethal consequences.
The NHF are opposed to vaccination and fluoridation amongst other health concepts and promote conspiracy theories, cancer cure quackery, homeopathic autism cures, AIDS denialism and many other egregious and dangerous lies through their suggested reading lists.
La Leva di Archimede
The English section of the La Leva di Archimede website is a collection of conspiracy theories and lies about science from various alternative health sources the world over with the familiar implacable opposition to evidence based healthcare that the previous sites show.
Zeus Information Service
Zeus is mainly a collection of links and articles that present the familiar distortions of science, character assassinations and support for discredited quacks, like Rath and Wakefield. Zeus also send out a weekly email alerting the alternative health industry and supporters to criticism or support in the press or in blogs (I have had the occasional honour of a mention for this blog).
Dr Rath Health Foundation
The Dr Rath Health Foundation are a despicable and utterly irrational organisation that responded to Matthias Rath’s dropping of his libel case against The Guardian and Ben Goldacre with an unrepentent restating of his view that AIDS does not need to be treated with ARVs and accusations that drugs companies are complicit in genocide. They believe that there is a conspiracy between oil and drug companies to control the IMF and restrict the actions of Barack Obama and previously claimed that George Bush and Dick Cheney would start WWIII by the 4th November to maintain the hegemony of the oil and drug cartel. So far so delusionary but these delusions are not restricted to fantasies of armageddon and one world governments that would put an evangelical Christian to shame, they include the belief that vitamins and other quackery can cure AIDS. A belief that some estimates suggest is responsible for over 300,000 deaths in South Africa alone. A belief that Matthias Rath is evangelical about spreading to other parts of the world, his current focus seems to be Russia.
These organisations have united under the banner of the European Referendum Initiative, an organisation that ostensibly campaigns against the Lisbon Treaty but a deeper analysis of their website reveals them to be little more than a lobbying group for the alternative health care industry, albeit one that misleads and lies and equates the horrors of the Holocaust with modern science and medicine. Their aim is to prevent regulation of alternative medicine and campaigning against the Lisbon Treaty is just part of that aim.
The EU Parliament and the MEP, Kathy Sinnott
It would be hoped that this organisation consisting of deceitful lobby groups, anti-science fantasists and murderous AIDS denialists would be shunned the European Parliament and the elected representatives therein. Sadly this is not the case, Kathy Sinnott, MEP for Ireland South and member of the UKIP associated Independence/Democracy Group, has backed the European Referendum Initiative and leant her good name to this Matthias Rath backed organisation. The support of an MEP is just what with this organisation wants, with it comes access to the halls of power, a name to drop to increase support and the cloak of political respectability.
I have been in contact with Ms Sinnott and put a number of questions to her concerning her involvement with Matthias Rath and the above organisation. Ms Sinnott states that she had never heard of Matthias Rath, did not know of the link between the European Referendum Initiative and does not back him. The European Referendum Initiative website clearly states that it is run by the Dr. Rath Foundation both on their homepage and about section and Ms Sinnott has refused to make a comment on or withdraw her support from the European Referendum Initiative.
Regardless of this Ms Sinnott did inform me that her involvement came about through the Irish Association of Health Stores (IAHS) who put her in touch with their scientific advisors(!), the ANH. It seems the IAHS, like the other lobby groups and industry representatives above, are opposed to the regulation of supplements and alternative therapies.
It is clear from reading some of the questions asked in parliament by Ms Sinnott that she is supportive of many of the views of the Dr Rath Foundation, the IAHS & ANH and their allies. She is persistently asking questions on the safety of fluoridation, the non-existent link between mercury and autism, scaremongering over dental amalgam, wifi in schools, and this is just in the last year. She also has a track record of trying to allow the alternative health industry to profit from health tourism as well as asking for reduced/no VAT on alternative therapies. It is also interesting to note she has condemned drug companies for carrying out unethical trials in developing nations, a lethal practice of Matthias Rath’s she has not commented on.
Ms Sinnott is naive, scientifically illiterate and an elected official who puts her support for favoured industries before evidence and the rights and health of consumers by arguing for increased market share, reduced taxes and little regulation of the alternative health sector.
A lobby of lies
It is saddening to see lobbying groups, political parties and MEPs actively promote utterly discredited, but culturally persistent, half-truths and lies about medicine, healthcare and herbal supplements. There seems to be a fundamental disrespect for the role of the scientific method in healthcare or perhaps a gross ignorance of science within much of political and lawmaking institutions. It is not surprising that elected officials operating within this environment are prepared to consort with highly dubious groups and individuals who flatter their prejudices and confirm their mistaken and ignorant beliefs. Kathy Sinnott’s inability to appreciate scientific evidence has led her to put her good name to the odious Dr. Rath Foundation and allowed the offensive grouping behind the European Referendum Initiative access to the halls of power.
The alternative health sector has proven time and time again to be incapable of self-regulation, this is why it is of considerable concern that they are lobbying the EU parliament against legislative regulation of their products. If they succeed will will reach a situation where the deaths and injury from alternative healing fantasies will not just be the responsibility of the practitioner concerned, they will be the responsibility of all those who lobbied against regulation, including elected officials like Kathy Sinnott.