Both groups oppose the over-regulation of health foods and supplements, and together will continue to advocate their views on “good science” and “good law”.
ANH chief executive and scientific director, Dr Robert Verkerk, told NutraIngredients the global group would better facilitate sharing of resources and expertise and allow it to tackle scientific and regulatory issues as they arose in different parts of the world.
An office in Australasia where the ANH has an affiliate program and links with the likes of the New Zealand Health Trust was mooted for further expansion – possibly in 2011.
The new operation sees board members exchanged between AAHF, which becomes ANH-USA, and the ANH, which becomes ANH-Europe.
“This merger is about understanding that the threat to natural health is global and therefore you need a global operation to deal with it,” Verkerk said. “You need an international response to a global threat.”
With the ANH being a vehement critic of EU laws regarding food supplements, health claims and botanicals, Verkerk said a closer affiliation with the US group would, “allow things to be spotted earlier, before they go to law.”
With legal challenges to certain EU regulations being considered by the ANH and others, Verkerk said ANH International would provide grassroots counsel as Jonathan Emord, the lawyer involved in several successful challenges to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approach to health claims, was a supporter of the group.
“You only take legal action when everything else has failed which is why many organizations are toying with the idea of a legal challenge,” he said. “If we do initiate legal action, Jonathan Emord will be involved as a consultant.”
While the groups have joined forces they will retain a degree of independence with ANH-Europe maintaining its UK base and ANH-USA operating from its Washington DC office under the control of attorney Gretchen DuBeau.
One of ANH-USA's main battles has been convincing the medical fraternity of the worth of non-pharmaceutical solutions to health issues in the form of food, dietary supplements and lifestyle changes.
Gretchen DuBeau, executive director of ANH-USA, commented, “We are thrilled about the merger. The opportunity to join forces with a top-notch, international natural health organisation increases our strength in moving towards a sustainable, integrative medical model.”