The Free Speech about Science Act of 2011 is about to be introduced in Congress. This is an exciting and hugely important bill that you’ll want to support with zeal.
Current FDA regulations prohibit dietary supplement manufacturers and food producers from referring to any scientific studies on the health benefits of a food or natural substance. FDA says that such a reference changes the regulatory category of said food and—as absurd as it sounds—actually makes it an unapproved drug. In the FDA’s view, even providing a link on a website to a study converts a healthy fruit or nut into an unapproved new drug—a bizarre result that effectively censors scientific information and greatly restricts consumer access to scientific research.
As more and more Americans take charge of their personal health, they need accurate, reliable information more than ever. We fervently believe that consumers have a right to access that information, particularly the scientific studies that discuss a food’s health benefits.
The Free Speech about Science (FSAS) Act, which our sources on Capitol Hill tell us could be introduced at any moment, would change FDA regulations so that legitimate, peer-reviewed scientific studies can be referenced without changing the food’s regulatory category to an unapproved drug. This will protect access to scientific information, and will protect your right to know about the healthy benefits of food and food supplements. The bill amends the appropriate sections of current law to allow the flow of legitimate scientific and educational information while still giving FDA and FTC the right to take action against misleading information and against false and unsubstantiated claims.
As we note in our FSAS White Paper, research suggests that changes in diet could reduce both heart disease and cancer by as much as 90%. This is not just a question of eating more fruits and vegetables, although that alone might increase lifespan by an estimated average of 14 years. It is also about specific nutrients. In many cases, there is strong scientific evidence that a specific nutrient may be used to prevent, moderate, reverse, or in therapeutic doses cure disease. Unfortunately the American people do not hear about this research. Food producers would like to tell them about it. But FDA rules prevent it.
Take cherries. Research from Harvard published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggested that cherries could reduce heart attack risk. A large number of other studies published in prestigious journals have indicated that cherries could do that and also reduce pain and cancer. But the FDA says that cherry producers, sellers, and food manufacturers may not talk about this research: In 2006, the FDA demanded that 29 companies cease making claims about the health benefits of cherries, and draconian requirements were imposed on the growers.
FSAS was originally introduced last year in the House by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT3). But that bill died in committee at the end of the previous Congress with no action being taken on it. This year we have a new committee chairman and prospects are much better.
The government should not be gatekeeper of scientific information. And the last time we looked, the First Amendment prohibits the making of any law infringing on the freedom of speech. When the information being censored is true, scientifically sound, and will only make people healthier, it is particularly galling. Our White Paper says it best:
The FDA’s own mission statement says that the Agency “is responsible for…helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health.” Given this mission, it is perverse to allow pharmaceutical companies to spend so many billions on consumer advertising but not to allow food producers to tell the public about legitimate and revolutionary food research. This is all the more true given our heritage of free speech and free science, the opportunity to save or prolong million of American lives, and the need to use every resource at our command to rein in surging and economically destructive healthcare costs.
As soon the Free Speech about Science Act of 2011 is introduced, we will be issuing an Action Alert and asking you to contact your congressional representative immediately and ask him or her to co-sponsor and support this extremely important bill. We’ll be emailing our newsletter subscribers the moment it happens. If you’re not already a subscriber, just click here to sign up. It’s free, and you’ll be among the first to hear the news.