Military Supplement Amendments No Longer in Defense Bill

Washington, D.C.—Three amendments potentially limiting supplement usage for members of the armed forces are no longer part of what has been described as a “must pass” defense bill.

The amendments, brought forth by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Dick Durbin, were designed to stop illegal and potentially dangerous supplements from being accessible to armed forces members, but could have potentially limited access to safe supplements as well.

In a statement, Mike Greene, vice president of government relations for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), noted that his organization had dedicated many manhours to talking with legislative offices to explain the issues with the amendments, “specifically because they were duplicative and didn’t solve the problems we need solved.  Instead they added inappropriate burdens and would have prevented reasonable access to supplements to those in the military.”

In an interview with WholeFoods Magazine, Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., executive director and CEO of the Natural Products Association, (NPA), added the point that “soldiers use supplements to increase their performance—to stay healthy…they want to be dependable, they want to be reliable.” Fabricant stated that it was a matter of great importance for his organization to keep soldiers from being affected by some of the measures proposed in the bill, some of which he described as “draconian towards supplements.”

Greene highlighted groups like UNPA, AHPA and CHPA, in addition to CRN’s contributions, for making this happen in an interview with WholeFoods Magazine. Grassroots efforts also played a major role, mobilizing quickly and sending emails regarding the amendments, despite the fact that there was only a two-week window to work with. Greene praised entities like Vitamin Shoppe and the Alliance for Natural Health for “leading things on the ground, within a day in some cases.”

Fabricant also praised the grassroots efforts from the industry, noting that over 20,000 emails were sent to Capitol Hill through the Save Our Supplements website. He says that in addition to the membership of NPA, retailers like GNC and Whole Foods Market played a major role in coordinating grassroots efforts against the bill. This was combined with meetings with Congressmen to explain the issues in what Fabricant calls a “two-fold approach.”  

Greene considers the way natural supplements, retailers, and groups came together against the amendments an effort that “really underscores for me how well the industry works…When there is a real threat to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, we pay attention, we take this seriously.”

Greene acknowledged that the amendments and other legislation like them could reappear at some point, pointing out that Sen. Durbin plans to reintroduce the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act in the coming months. but reaffirmed that CRN and other trade organizations would work to get “illegal supplements off the market without interfering with the use and sale of legitimate dietary supplements.” He also hopes that future legislation regarding the industry will focus less on issues of creating regulations, and more on enforcement of the legislation that’s already present.

Fabricant agrees that “critics like Blumenthal and Durbin have made it very clear that they’re coming back,” and while he says he’s open to discussion on some of these issues, it is very important that any discussion is publically open and based in fact instead of opinion. In addition to the retailers and trade organizations that are already standing against legislation that could limit supplements, he also placed an impetus on the supplement consumer to become active as well. “Dietary supplement users are more than half of the country,” he says.  “It’s time for them to speak up.”

Posted on 6/22/2015, extended 6/24/2015 and 7/7/2015.