July 2006 There is currently a significant amount of inaccurate and misleading information circulating on the internet about Codex and other related health freedom issues, much of which would appear to have originated on the website of the so-called Natural Solutions Foundation. Whilst the Natural Solutions Foundation's Medical Director, Rima Laibow, claims to have carefully studied more than 16,000 pages of Codex documentation, the content of her articles and the nature of her proposed strategies strongly suggests otherwise. The following article may therefore 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 committeesmeeting 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 organizations such as the Natural Solutions Foundation, and its misleading inference that it only takes 5 minutes to explain what the Codex Alimentarius problem is all about. Sadly, therefore, and as we show here, much of the Codex-related material output by the Natural Solutions Foundation is both inaccurate and misleading.
FACT: The Natural Solutions Foundation 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 Natural Solutions Foundation is referring specifically to the Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements then it is 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.
FACT: As with the previous example, the Natural Solutions Foundation is 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: Countries who pass the Natural Solutions Foundation's Revised Vitamin and Mineral Guidelines would be protecting themselves from the unbearable burden of World Trade Organization sanctions.
FACT: This is utter nonsense. Tellingly, therefore, what the Natural Solutions Foundation has 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.
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 by the Natural Solutions Foundation 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.
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. Similarly, the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods has held 14 of its 16 meetings since 1986 in the United States, the majority of which have also taken place in Washington D.C.
This information can all be found in the Codex Procedural Manual. Was this publication included amongst the 16,000 pages of Codex documentation that Rima Laibow, the Natural Solutions Foundation's Medical Director, claims to have carefully studied, one wonders?
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.
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, the Natural Solutions Foundation, did not even bother to attend the November 2003 Codex meeting in question. Perhaps this might have something to do with the fact that their website did not come into existence until February 2005?
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 iseffectively mandatory.
FICTION: The World Health Organization (WHO) has "severely chastised" the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) for not making a significant contribution to human health in its 42 years of existence.
FACT: This claim was made by the Natural Solutions Foundation, who also reported after the July 2005 meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome that a "miracle" had occurred; 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 redefined; 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.
This is absolute nonsense and a total reversal of the truth, as contrary to the claims of the Natural Solutions Foundation Codex was not "Scolded in Rome" at the July 2005 meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Significantly therefore, Janice Albert, a Nutrition Officer from the Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division of FAO, has now confirmed to the National Health Federation that there has been no condemnation by either FAO or WHO of Codex on the subject of nutrition.
FICTION: A "Stunning Victory" for health freedom occurred at the May 2006 meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL) in Ottawa, Canada.
FACT: This is yet another example of the increasingly inaccurate Codex reports put out by the Natural Solutions Foundation.
For example, the Natural Solution Foundation's own Legal Counsel, Ralph Fucetola, JD attended the meeting in Ottawa, and provided a report on it to his Vitamin Lawyer contact elist. Fucetola has been practicing law, specializing in Nutrient and Alternative Health Law, since the early 1970s, and has been widely recognized as a leading attorney in the field. Significantly therefore, not only does his report omit mention of any "Stunning Victory", but it also specifically states that "Both vitamin purveyors and consumers could be the losers" and that "business as usual predominated" at the meeting. Moreover, Fucetola also describes "a coordinated attack on natural health lead by the otherwise rival US and EU delegations", and talks about "the marginalization of the Global Strategy".
Similarly, an experienced delegation from the National Health Federation was also present at the meeting. Established in 1955, the National Health Federation is no stranger to Codex issues, and to this day remains the only health-freedom organization in the world that is officially credentialed as an INGO (International Non-Governmental Organization) by the Codex Alimentarius Commission with the right to attend and speak out at its committee meetings. The National Health Federation's report on the Ottawa meeting concludes that "with anti-health-freedom delegations such as the United States and the European Commission running the show at Codex and with most other delegations blissfully uncaring or unknowledgeable about the true health benefits that optimal health and nutrition play in preventing disease and other health problems, the direction of the various Codex guidelines is still off-course".
For full details of what really happened at this meeting, we strongly recommend that you take a look atour in-depth report. As it clearly shows, not only was there no "Stunning Victory" for health freedom at this meeting, but in reality the Codex position remains blindly ignorant of the benefits of dietary supplements. As such, the Codex Alimentarius Commission's increasingly desperate attempts to protect the global markets in pharmaceuticals, artificial food additives, agricultural chemicals and genetically-modified foods will, for the time being at least, continue exactly as before.
FICTION: In line with the WHO Global Strategy On Diet, Physical Activity and Health, Codex is now directed to implement the eleven pro-health freedom principles recommended by South Africa at the May 2006 meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL) in Ottawa, Canada.
FACT: Despite erroneous claims to the contrary by the Natural Solutions Foundation, Codex has not been directed to implement the eleven pro-health freedom principles recommended by South Africa. Not only does the official Codex report released after the meeting make no mention of any such instruction, for example, but it sums up South Africa's eleven extensive proposals in a mere 9 lines. To draw an analogy, claiming that this directs Codex to implement South Africa's principles is akin to claiming that when a politician stood up in Parliament and made a great speech his statements were a stunning victory for his policies because they were summarised in the minutes.
Moreover, the text of the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Exercise and Health makes no mention of the word "supplements" or of the terms "dietary supplements" / "food supplements". Regrettably therefore, we remain confident that whilst Codex may well participate in the implementation of the Global Strategy, it will not be encouraging the unrestricted sale of dietary supplements as recommended by South Africa.
FACT: Contrary to the claims of the Natural Solutions Foundation, 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.
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, and contrary to the claims of the Natural Solutions Foundation, 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.
FACT: This is yet another example of a grossly inaccurate statement from the Natural Solutions Foundation, as 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.
Contrary to the erroneous claims of the Natural Solutions Foundation, therefore, 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 therefore, and in contrast to the claims of the Natural Solutions Foundation, the idea that FTAA is not a major health freedom threat is becoming increasingly difficult to understand.
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". Hissecond Nobel Prize was for Peace, and was won in 1962. Neither of these prizes were won for work on vitamin C.
FICTION: The Natural Solutions Foundation has a listening ear and a potential ally in the President of India, Mr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.
FACT: No such commitment has been made by the President, and we are confident that the President's Office would deny the contents of the publicity issued by the Natural Solutions Foundation in relation to this claim.
FICTION: A major newspaper in this country runs a full page story on the importance of our stand on Codex and health freedom! We will scan it and share it with you AFTER the Codex meeting. It urges the country to take care to protect its access to healthy and natural options! In color, no less!
FACT: No scan of any such African newspaper story has ever either been published on the Natural Solutions Foundation's website or sent out to its newsletter subscribers.