Be Wary of the ‘Instant Experts’
There is currently a significant amount of inaccurate and misleading information circulating on the internet about Codex and other related health freedom issues. Whilst some of the authors of this material claim to have carefully studied more than 16,000 pages of Codex documentation, the content of their articles and the nature of their proposed strategies strongly suggests otherwise. The following article may help you to sort the facts from the fiction.
Codex Alimentarius is not an easy subject to get to grips with. With as many as 27 active committees meeting on an annual basis and reports comprising a total of over 1,400 pages in 2005 alone, it is hardly surprising that most people have neither the time nor the inclination to investigate it thoroughly for themselves. As such, when relying upon other people for information one needs to be sure that they have done their research properly; especially so in the case of websites that make claims to the effect that it only takes 5 minutes to find out what Codex Alimentarius is all about. Sadly, therefore, and as we show here, much of the Codex-related material on the internet is both inaccurate and misleading.
FICTION: Codex will go into global effect on December 31, 2009.
FACT: The authors of the above statement do not seem to be aware that ‘Codex’ already consists of around 300 official food standards, some of which have been in ‘global effect’ since as long ago as 1966.
If however the authors of the above statement are referring to the Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements then they are in fact confusing these with the European Union’s Food Supplements Directive.
The Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements were adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in July 2005, and provide a framework for the development of global restrictions upon the manufacture and sale of dietary supplements containing vitamins and minerals. However, the Guidelines have not yet established the maximum levels of vitamins and minerals that can be contained in supplements, and nor has there been any date set for the adoption of these.
The European Union’s Food Supplements Directive, on the other hand, will go into full effect in Europe on December 31, 2009, but it is a piece of European legislation and as such will primarily affect consumers living in Europe. Moreover, the Directive has not yet set the maximum levels of vitamins and minerals that can be contained in supplements sold in the European Union, and nor has there been any date set for the adoption of legislation to implement such levels.
FICTION: Theoretical exceptions exist for natural substances which are submitted and accepted for testing by July 12, 2005 at a cost of approximately $250,000 per submission.
FACT: As with the previous example, the authors of the above statement are confusing the Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements with the European Union’s Food Supplements Directive.
Under the text of the Food Supplements Directive, vitamins and minerals not on the permitted (“positive”) lists are prohibited from being marketed in Europe. There is an exception to this restriction however, which is when a safety dossier supporting use of the substance in question was submitted to the European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, by 12 July 2005. According to the UK Food Standards Agency, industry estimates regarding the cost of producing these safety dossiers ranged from £80,000 to £250,000 per dossier.
The Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements, meanwhile, don’t actually differentiate between natural and synthetic vitamins and minerals, and explicitly permit both to be used in the manufacture of supplements.
FICTION: The alternative Vitamin and Mineral Guidelines promoted by some health freedom organizations are Codex compliant, and if passed by countries would protect them against World Trade Organization (WTO) trade sanctions.
FACT: This is utter nonsense. Tellingly, therefore, what the promoters of these alternative texts have seemingly not as yet publicly addressed is the specific legal mechanism via which their revisions could supposedly be utilized in place of the official Codex guidelines.
In the real world, of course, compliance with the official Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplement Guidelines is effectively mandatory, and until such time as it is revised by Codex itself the existing text is unfortunately the only game in town.
FICTION: Codex has officially reclassified Vitamin C and every other vitamin and mineral your body needs from the class of ‘nutrients’ to the class of ‘toxins.’
FACT: Whilst it is true that through its proposed use of risk assessment to determine safe upper levels for vitamins and minerals Codex will essentially be treating these nutrients like toxins, it has not officially reclassified them as such, and nor could it, as they occur naturally in foods and are essential for life. In fact, vitamin and mineral supplements are actually classified as foods by Codex, which is why its guidelines for these products are entitled the Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements.
In short, therefore, the claim that “Codex has officially reclassified Vitamin C and every other vitamin and mineral your body needs from the class of ‘nutrients’ to the class of ‘toxins'” is both untrue and absurd.
FICTION: The CODEX ALIMENTARIUS Commission meets every two years, always offshore (Rome, Bonn, Paris, etc.) and never in Smallville, U.S.A.
FACT: The Codex Alimentarius Commission holds its meetings in Geneva and Rome. It never meets in either Bonn or Paris. The Commission’s subsidiary committees and task forces, however, meet in a wide variety of locations around the world, including Bonn and Paris.
Moreover, the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene has held 32 of its 37 annual meetings since 1964 in the United States, the vast majority of which have taken place in Washington D.C.
FICTION: Dr. Grossklaus, the head of Codex Alimentarius, owns the Risk Assessment company advising CCNFSDU and Codex on the “benefit” of using Risk Assessment to assess nutrients.
FACT: Dr. Rolf Grossklaus is the Chairman of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), not the ‘head of Codex Alimentarius’. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge he does not own any risk assessment company advising CCNFSDU or Codex on the benefit of using risk assessment to assess nutrients.
FICTION: Dr. Rolf Grossklaus, CCNFSDU chairman, is also the Chairman of the Board of BfR, a private corporation which specializes in Risk Assessment.
FACT: As well as being Chairman of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) Dr. Rolf Grossklaus is Director of BfR. However, BfR (the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) is a German Federal Government Agency, not a private corporation.
FICTION: Dr. Grossklaus, Chairman of CAC and anti-nutrition Chairman of the pivotal “Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses” (CCNFSDU), had the delegate from India bodily removed during a November 2003 CCNFSDU meeting. The delegate’s crime? Insisting on discussing the inclusion of CCNFSDU-approved material in baby formula which could kill 10% of newborns in his country. After the delegate was forcibly removed, Dr. Grossklaus nonchalantly declared the issue approved by “consensus”.
FACT: Codex meetings can indeed be dramatic at times, however the above statement is utterly false. Significantly therefore, it is apparent that the authors of the above statement did not even bother to attend the Codex meeting in question.
FICTION: DSHEA Protects America From Codex Alimentarius.
FACT: DSHEA only protects America from Codex so long as it remains in place and unaltered, and so long as other legislation isn’t passed to weaken its effectiveness. There are now a growing number of threats to DSHEA that could, in time, potentially conspire to dismantle it. The most serious of these threats are the Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements compliance with which is effectively mandatory.
FICTION: The WHO has severely chastised the Codex Alimentarius Commission for not making a significant contribution to human health in its 42 years of existence.
FACT: A number of health freedom websites reported after the July 2005 meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome that a “miracle” had occurred, and that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had expressed “significant displeasure with the anti-health approach to nutrition taken by Codex over the past 4 decades.”
These reports also claimed, variously, that a WHO Under Secretary for Food Safety had spoken “sternly, sharply and scathingly of the fact that little contribution to human health had been made by Codex”; that WHO had stated that “things would be different in the future”; that the Terms of Reference of the Codex Committee on Food Labeling and the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses are going to be changed; that “Codex will implement the WHO Global Strategy for world health through diet, physical exercise and nutrition”; and that “Codex will make a yearly report to the World Health Assembly about its progress in implementing the WHO Strategy.”
However, and as we have described previously in our article ‘Miracle in Rome’, these assertions are largely either mistaken or exaggerated.
WHO and FAO did not express “significant displeasure with the anti-health approach to nutrition taken by Codex over the past 4 decades” at this meeting. Moreover, neither did they state that “little contribution to human health had been made by Codex”, or that “things would be different in the future.”
In addition, although a paper prepared in advance of the meeting by WHO and FAO had suggested that consideration could be given to the possibility of considering amendments to the terms of reference of CCFL and/or CCNFSDU, this matter was not brought up at the Codex meeting itself. Indeed, and as the transcripts and recordings from the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s discussions on the Global Strategy clearly demonstrate, both the UK (speaking for the 25 countries of the European Union) and the United States appeared to be of the opinion that the current Codex mandate should be retained.
As such, therefore, although it is certainly possible that Codex will participate in the implementation of the Global Strategy, it presently seems likely that this work would be carried out within the current terms of its mandate, and that as such it is likely to pay little real attention to nutrition and dietary supplements.
FICTION: Codex Alimentarius sharply restricts or eliminates most medicinal herbs and limits the conditions which can be treated using medicinal herbs to a small number of trivial ones.
FACT: The main Codex texts that relate directly to herbs are the Guide for the Microbiological Quality of Spices and Herbs Used in Processed Meat and Poultry Products and the Code of Hygienic Practice for Spices and Dried Aromatic Plants. However, and as will be immediately apparent from their titles, these texts deal with culinary herbs, not medicinal ones. Moreover, whilst some other Codex texts, such as the General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods and the General Standard for Food Additives, also make mention of herbs, these likewise deal with culinary herbs, not medicinal ones.
Codex last considered the issue of medicinal herbs in 1996, when the meeting of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) that took place in Bonn, Germany, in October 1996 considered a new proposal by the Codex Coordinating Committee for North America and the South West Pacific to establish lists of ‘ Potentially Harmful Herbs and Botanical Preparations sold as Foods‘.
Subsequent to the 1996 CCNFSDU meeting the Codex Alimentarius Commission met in Geneva in June 1997, and agreed that no further action was needed concerning herbs and botanicals, on the grounds that this was a matter for national authorities to address. The matter was therefore deleted from the Commission’s Work Programme.
As such, it can be seen that Codex does not restrict or eliminate most medicinal herbs, and nor does it limit the conditions which can be treated using medicinal herbs to a small number of trivial ones.
FICTION: An official joint publication by the WHO and FAO called “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases” is in favor of nutritional supplementation.
FACT: The WHO/FAO’s “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases” publication describes how shifting dietary patterns, a decline in energy expenditure associated with a sedentary lifestyle, an ageing population – together with tobacco use and alcohol consumption – are major risk factors for noncommunicable diseases and pose an increasing challenge to public health.
However, this publication is mostly strongly dismissive of the relationship between dietary supplements and the prevention of disease. For example, when discussing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, vitamin E supplements are described as convincingly having “no relationship” to the prevention of this particular class of diseases. (Page 88). Moreover, beta-carotene supplements are even described in the publication as possibly increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. (Page 82).
Similarly, evidence that dietary elements such as vitamin E, chromium or magnesium might decrease the risk of developing diabetes is described as “insufficient” (Page 77); whilst evidence that vitamins B2, B6, folate, B12, C, D, E, calcium, zinc or selenium might decrease the risk of developing cancer is merely described as “possible/insufficient”. (Page 100).
In conclusion, therefore, whilst the aforementioned WHO/FAO publication does of course have some positive things to say about nutrition in general, it would be a gross exaggeration, at best, to say that it is in favor of nutritional supplementation.
FICTION: The WTO can take a country to court in its own courts.
FACT: Although the WTO is increasingly using Codex texts as the benchmark when ruling on international trade disputes it cannot in itself take countries to court. Trade disputes are initiated by countries, not the WTO, and the resulting cases are heard at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, not in a country’s own courts.
FICTION: CAFTA is not a health freedom issue.
FACT: CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Agreement) extends the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA – a treaty between Canada, the United States, and Mexico) to Central America and the Dominican Republic, thus acting as a stepping-stone towards the creation of a hemispheric, harmonized trading bloc for the entire American continent.
As such, and in exactly the same way as the relatively liberal dietary supplement laws of the UK were eventually overridden by the restrictive European Union Food Supplements Directive (as a result of successive treaties that the British Government had signed with its European neighbors), CAFTA could ultimately lead to US dietary supplement regulations (i.e. DSHEA) becoming susceptible to harmonization with the more restrictive laws of countries in Central America.
CAFTA is therefore most definitely a health freedom issue.
FICTION: FTAA is not a major health freedom threat.
FACT: FTAA (the Free Trade Area of the Americas) is undoubtedly a major health freedom threat, as it would effectively extend CAFTA into South America, thus creating a harmonized pan-American trading bloc encompassing the entire American continent. This could ultimately lead to US dietary supplement regulations becoming susceptible to harmonization with the more restrictive laws of countries in both Central and South America.
Although the ultimate goal of the FTAA is officially described as being to “achieve an area of free trade and regional integration”, the recent evidence of the European Union (EU) project shows that this can only be achieved via the dismantling of the political and legal systems of participating nations and the replacing of these with a hemispheric government. In essence, therefore, this is why many observers see the FTAA as an embryonic EU in the making.
Following the recent Summit of the Americas that took place in Argentina, however, where leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela were unable to agree to move forward with the FTAA project, some commentators were quick to suggest that the plan is now dead and buried. Nevertheless, such a conclusion would not appear to be warranted by the facts, as 29 of the 34 proposed participant countries want to resume talks on the issue in 2006 and Mexico’s President Vicente Fox has specifically stated that these nations are willing to move forward with free trade negotiations without the dissenting countries.
Given that South American leaders are already developing a political and economic bloc modelled on the European Union, it is becoming increasingly likely that a harmonized pan-American trading bloc encompassing the entire American continent would also utilize the European Union as its model, and incorporate similar Codex-compliant restrictions upon health freedom and freedom of choice to those that already exist in Europe.
Significantly therefore, FTAA participant countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela all sent delegations to the July 2005 meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome, and not one of them opposed the adoption of the Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements as the new global standard.
As such, the idea that FTAA is not a major health freedom threat is becoming increasingly difficult to understand.
FICTION: Linus Pauling, Ph.D., won the first of his two Nobel Prizes for his work on Vitamin C.
FACT: Linus Pauling won the first of his two Nobel Prizes in 1954 “for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances”. His second Nobel Prize was for Peace, and was won in 1962. Neither of these prizes were won for work on vitamin C.