Sunday, July 6, 2008

I love it when I guess right

Back in May, conservative blogger Deborah Gyapong (who in RL lives fairly close to me) posted a bit of hysterical granny spam in opposition to Bill C-51 (for non-Canadians: tightens up regulations governing Natural Health Products, which currently occupy a middle position between foods and full-blown pharmaceuticals). I replied with a comment referring her to Barry Green's informative series of articles on the Ottawa Skeptics site. Along the way, I tossed in a speculation of my own:
....has it occurred to you that it might be astro-turf from the NHP industry?
I haven't been following the issue that closely, so it was only recently I discovered that, a few days after I posted that comment, it turns out that my guess was right. The anti-C51 campaign seems to originate from the website, which makes hysterical claims such as....well, the ones found in that granny spam. Claims which are outrageous enough that they should automatically set off any thoughtful person's bogosity alarm (giving garlic to your child as a home remedy can get you arrested?!).

StopC51 is owned by a certain Mr. Ian Stewart. And what does Mr. Stewart do in his day job? He runs a mail-order supplement company called Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd. (in fact the contact phone number for StopC51 goes to the Truehope offices). Truehope sells a rather expensive multi-vitamin supplement known as EMPower, which is claimed to treat all sorts of psychological or neurological problems from mood disorders to Tourette Syndrome -- unproven health claims which have gotten them in trouble with Health Canada in the past.

The gory details are in the eSkeptic article, so I won't repeat them here. Suffice it to say that Stewart is one who cannot even live within the NHP regulations as they currently exist -- so it's no wonder he's dead against any increased restriction in those regs. There may be legitimate criticisms to be made about C51 (there always are, for any complex piece of legislation). There may even be merit to having a larger philosophical argument about the extent to which the government should protect consumers from questionable product claims vs. taking a caveat emptor approach.

But you're not going to get any of that by listening to a manufactured panic emanating from an obvious snake-oil salesman.

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