In its homeland, Germany, homeopathy had a free ride for many decades. Only in the last 5 years or so, has a vocal opposition emerged of people who argue that disproven treatments should not be paid for by the public purse. Most political parties have been clever enough to pick up on the changed attitude of the German people and have thus joined more or less openly into the growing criticism of homeopathy. One noteable exception has been the German Green Party who have a long tradition of being in favour of all things alternative. Now this seems to have finally changed.

The ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’ (FAZ) just reported that the German Green Party no longer backs homeopathy. After many years of supporting homeopathy and other so-called alternative medicines (SCAMs) and after years of agonising about it, the party has now decided to side with reason, science and evidence. Last Sunday, on their annual party conference, the Greens have voted to back a statement according to which the German health insurers should only reemburse treatments which are “medically reasonable and justifiable and which are supported by evidence of efficacy that is scientifically proven”. Even though they did not mention it in the text, it is understood that the they meant foremost homeopathy.

The Greens rejected a suggestion to go even further and would have stated that a treatment should not be covered, if “its efficacy has not been scientifically proven to be better than a placebo.” They also did not agree to an application by the homeopathy lobby to state that would have allowed the reembursement of homeopathy.

For those of my readers who read German, here is the short article from the FAZ.

Die Grünen haben in ihrem langwierigen Streit um die Homöopathie eine Lösung gefunden. Der Parteitag billigte am Sonntag eine Formulierung, derzufolge nur noch Leistungen von den gesetzlichen Krankenkassen übernommen werden sollten, „die medizinisch sinnvoll und gerechtfertigt sind und deren Wirksamkeit wissenschaftlich erwiesen ist“. Damit gehen die Grünen auf Distanz zu Homöopathie als Kassenleistung – auch wenn die umstrittene Heilmethode in dem Text nicht ausdrücklich genannt wird.

Eine noch weitergehende Formulierung, derzufolge Leistungen, deren Wirksamkeit über den Placeboeffekt hinaus nicht wissenschaftlich bewiesen sei, explizit als Kassenleistung ausgeschlossen werden sollten, fand aber keine Mehrheit.

10 Responses to The German Green Party no longer backs homeopathy

  • The Greens rejected a suggestion to go even further and would have stated that a treatment should not be covered, if “its efficacy has not been scientifically proven to be better than a placebo.”

    I may just have a warped sense of humour but it,s hard to imagine a placebo for a leg amputation.

    Nice to see the Greens taking a stand.

  • The Greens are looking for power (this is not meant to be disparaging). Next year will be federal elections and the two chairmen Baerbock and Habeck have a preference for a black-green (*) coalition, which is currently most likely due to the weakness of social democrats (SPD) and liberals (FDP). The extreme left (Die Linke) and the extreme right (AfD) will play no role. But a black-green (*) coalition can only work if obscure elements from the Green’s founding years of the 70s and 80s, such as alternative healing methods, are finally discarded.

    (*) They are dreaming of a green-black coalitin (like in Baden-Württemberg) but this is just wishful thinking.

  • It should be mentioned that unscientific positions are unfortunately also found amongst top representatives of other parties. E.g., Manuela Schwesig (SPD, state premier of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) was patron for the German convention of homeopathic doctors last year.

    (Fittingly, she is also one of the state premiers who opted against increased restriction in the current pandemic during the last MP conference a week ago. )

    Would be interesting to investigate if supporters of the green party are in general more prone to SCAMs, compared to the supporters of other parties. Not sure if this is true, given that e.g. the two big conservative parties CDU & CSU are explicitly Christian parties (at least according to their name), and religious belief is of course also unscientific & irrational – as is the belief in homeopathy or other SCAMs.

    • in my experience, it seems to be true; I once was invited to give a lecture to them … by Jove, they were unhappy with me!

      • Can´t imagine why…

        I am hopeful that the younger green supporters are less dogmatic more rational than the founding generation though (e.g. also regarding GMO crops, etc).

  • I suggest that a key reason for the European Greens resetting their relation to CAM, is an increasing focus on Climate Change, which is strongly ‘pro-Science’. They have seen, and to some extent been a part of, the huge impact of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion.

    They will also have been looking at the England and Wales Greens, who managed to push the Lib Dems into fourth place in the last two London Elections. The E&W Greens have been ‘pro-Science’ for years, and appear to have managed to distance themselves from CAM without alienating large numbers of their core supporters.

    But there is plenty of evidence, on professor Ernst’s blog and elsewhere, that CAM has not been in decline in recent years in the UK. I suggest that the loss of measles-free status in 2019 is one significant, and worrying, metric. CAM has probably been driven underground in party political terms, and we may see it re-emerging as part of the Lockdown Sceptics movement on the political right.

    • Dr. Neil MacFarlane

      Ahhh yes, Climate change seems to be the concept that is rooted in all our problems, and much of today’s worldwide push for urgent change. While it’s is our reality today….
      To this I say hogwash.

      Climate change is real, and has occurred for many thousands of years. However, the real issue is man made climate change…. no ? Via science, man made climate has only been proved in models…. nothing more. I suspect that a small percentage of man made climate change is a result of the fossil fuels. However, even those that seem to lead the fights politically worldwide don’t live like they believe what they say. Their carbon footprints from humongous homes, private plane travel, private yachts… etc., much larger than the average joe. Their lifestyles prove to us what they really believe about man made climate change. Many many of these charlatans peddling climate change theory have actually recently purchased beach front homes…. hmmm…. quack quack quack
      They disprove themselves.

      • RG never disappoints, proving fluent in drivel in multiple languages.

        “Climate change is real, and has occurred for many thousands of years.”

        Durr. I do believe you meant “4.5 billion” there, skippy. Mind you, how much of that time was conducive to complex multicellular organisms living comfortable lives over a wide range of latitudes is quite another question. And even when everyone was getting along just peachy there’s no guarantee that it can’t all go horribly sideways in a relatively short space of time: I mean, just ask the dinosaurs.

        So perhaps instead of sunning yourself on your stunning insight that, yes, Earth’s climate does indeed change over time, you might want to take a look at the rate at which it is currently changing, in comparison to historical rates of change; for the devil is in the delta, as they say.

        • @has

          has said;
          “Durr. I do believe you meant “4.5 billion” there, skippy.”

          No has you assume what I mean to say. I said what I meant…. many thousands of years. Many thousands can equal tens of thousands of years.
          The last Ice Age ended less than 12,000 yeas ago. I am much much closer to the last climate change than your number.

          Take a hike !

  • @has

    No, you assume.
    I did not mean to say 4.5 billion years…. not even close. But I did intend to say… many thousands. Which can include 10’s of thousands. It is believed the last ice age ended less than 12,000 years ago.


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