Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Codex and muddy waters

We sent out a message (see below) to our email list and wanted to clarify something.

Towards the end of the message, we referred to other organizations for more information. First, we were ONLY referring to other nonprofit organizations. To list individuals (activists, journalists, or websites) would be too comprehensive for us to undertake at this time. Additionally, nonprofits are governed by a Board of Directors and have member responsibilities as well as transparency (have to file with the IRS).

Secondly, if a nonprofit is not listed it does not meant that they are not credible. We were offering referrals to only those organizations that we know personally, who were dealing with Codex, and we would be able to vouch for them without hesitation.

As always, we suggest you do your own research and pick who you listen to carefully. Best, Brenna



We know several of you are concerned and/or confused about Codex. We hope the following helps you.

Brief Codex Snapshot

On the global front, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is creating dozens of international food standards. There are 27 committees, each dealing with a specific area. The Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (the Committee) covers vitamins and minerals and has created the Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements (Guidelines) and was recently adopted by the Committee.

Why It Concerns Us

Codex Alimentarius concerns us for many reasons, listed below are a few of the reasons.

1) The United States, through representation to Codex by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should not be involved in setting international food standards. The FDA Modernization Act of 1997 expressly forbids the agency from participating in the harmonization process for foods and dietary supplements. The agency has chosen, however, to interpret this language to mean that it is not obligated to participate but it may, at its own discretion, decide to do so. This mean that unelected bureaucrats are representing the “will of the American people” even after Congress told them not to. This is the basis of our Codex position paper published several years ago.

2) While the Codex Alimentarius does not have any enforcement under its own banner, it is through the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it gets its real power. CAC is recognized by the WTO as an international reference point for the resolution of disputes and that the WTO can use any Codex document as a mandatory trade standard. While the WTO does not have the power to overturn US law, it can “force” changes through imposing trade sanctions. Fines are daily as long as the domestic law remains in place. Recently Lori Wallach from Public Citizen testified before Congress and cited that in 42 out of 48 cases the WTO has ruled against the US.

3) The CAC is representing what is best for industry, not for the people. The CAC is powered by international industrial lobbying groups. The original proposals for the food code came from Germany: they were made by a panel sponsored by three giant drug companies: Hoechst, Bayer and BASF. Countries that regulate vitamins and minerals as drugs are not covered by the Guidelines. Interestingly, herbs do not fall under the same category as vitamins and minerals – they are treated differently and have been removed from consideration by Codex, at least for the moment.

4) There is concern that the Guidelines, acting as they are intended to do, as worldwide standards for global trade, will create a momentum pressuring supplement manufacturers to reformulate their products so that they conform. This would be economically and politically coercive and could straightjacket the industry, block out innovation and remove some of the most effective products, many of which are shown to be effective at (the threatened) higher dosages. It would be difficult for the smaller to medium companies to carry two product lines, one for export and one for the domestic market, so the shelves in the U.S. could be affected - whether or not the WTO was to use legal action. The Guidelines are intended to serve as a template for containment (See Suzanne Harris’s article at the Law Loft and http://www.coalitionforhealthfreedom.org/docs/Comments_on_CAFTA_v7.pdf.) Like many changes that affect us the most, these decisions are made, not in Congress, but in boardrooms and by bureaucrats, offshore, quite beyond the reach of grassroots opinion, global regulators to whom our legislators have surrendered their power.

The framework for this is being introduced gradually and right now. Later, when the effects are felt, it may be too late to change things.
These concerns are why we organized and hosted a 2-day Codex workshop in April 2005. We brought together the leading health freedom organizations Codex experts, and activists, both domestic and international. We discussed the Codex issue and the potential threat to the US. We strategized how we could work together and what would have the most impact.

The meeting was successful on two fronts. First and foremost, it deepened relationships between organizations and showcased who we wanted to be working with (those organizations and individuals who were knowledgeable and credible). Secondly, a coalition did form from the workshop. AAHF Executive Director, Brenna Hill is on the Board of Directors along with Rob Verkerk (Alliance for Natural Health), Frank Cuny (CA Citizens for Health Freedom), Ronnie Cummins (Organic Consumers Association) among others and we’re pleased to announce that Dr. Jonathan Wright has agreed to be on the Board as well. We have been working quietly behind the scenes and will be going public with our strategies shortly. In the meantime check out http://www.coalitionforhealthfreedom.org/ for more information.

What Now?

In July 2005, the Committee adopted the Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements, despite their many failings. It is important to note that the Guidelines are nothing more than a loose framework. The Committee is now turning towards the science, as Scott Tips from National Health Federation writes “filling in the framework of those Guidelines with numbers and identities.” Essentially the Committee intends to set maximum upper limits for the potency of every food-supplement ingredient (the “numbers”) that will appear on the not-yet-created positive list of allowable ingredients (the “identities”). The Guidelines are done – they are finalized and approved. We lost that battle and need to focus on the science. This is the really dangerous part and should be one of the top priorities of the health freedom movement in dealing with Codex.

Muddying the Waters

Without getting into each and every misconception out there (isn’t the Internet great?), we wanted to focus on a few common threads that come up often.

There have been claims that a Codex Congressional Hearing/Briefing was to be held last September and some people stated that they were invited to speak. That was not true and we’re unsure of where the misinformation happened. What we do know is that Rep. Ron Paul scheduled the Sept. 18 briefing to discuss his bill, HR 4282-Health Freedom Protection Act with speakers Jonathan Emord and Drs. Whitaker and Simone. Other people sent in their resumes to be considered as a speaker but they were not invited and the briefing was not about Codex (though when the time is right, we’ll work with other organizations and Congress to schedule an event). We were surprised to see an email sent a few days before the event declaring that Big Pharma was responsible for changing the agenda and getting speakers pulled. Not true. There is also no truth to the email that followed shortly “correcting” the first email by claiming it was other health freedom organizations that changed the agenda due to jealousy. Most of the organizations that we work with are here to make a difference, to achieve results – not build egos, make money, or other nefarious reasons and I think our track record shows that. I also find it a bit laugable for someone to suggest that dedicated health freedom ally, Rep. Ron Paul could be so easily swayed -- either by pharmaceutical industry or health freedom organizations.

You might have heard about a Citizen’s Petition to the FDA to abide by US laws and remove its support for Codex Alimentarius. This is ineffective but inoffensive, if it makes you feel better than by all means, sign it, but please note that in our opinion, it will have little to no effect. There is a certain attraction to “action” so we understand that it makes people feel that they are doing something but please don’t get your hopes up about its success and don't let this be your "one and only" action.

After the July 2005 meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome, a number of websites picked up a report from a group claiming a “miracle” had occurred, and that the WHO and the FAO had expressed “significant displeasure with the anti-health approach to nutrition taken by Codex over the past 4 decades.” Health freedom activist, Paul Taylor wrote an article for Dr. Rath Foundation which is a detailed analysis of transcripts and describes how these assertions are largely either mistaken or greatly exaggerated.

There has also been talk of the “Revised Vitamin and Mineral Guideline” which was created by Jim Turner for Citizens for Health. You might of seen news about another group that has been talking with a few small African countries about adopting these guidelines in place of the Codex guidelines. What has not been discussed is the MECHANISM that would allow countries to utilize the Guideline in place of the official Codex guidelines (at least that we’ve seen). We'd like to see what Citizens for Health does with the guidelines and how they best see these "alternatives" being used. In the meantime it’s nice to think that we can edit guidelines, legislation, and policies and then talk people into implementing them but that’s not how the world works.

When reading information online (or listening to a speaker), ask yourself the following: Is this coming from a reliable source? Do they have a history of success? Are other people or organizations that you respect involved with them? Does what they are saying make sense to you? We strongly encourage you do your own research before making your decision.

To help you in your search, here are a few of the organizations that we trust with credible knowledge about Codex:

Alliance for Natural Health (http://www.alliance-natural-health.org/)
American Holistic Health Association (http://www.ahha.org/)
Coalition for Health Freedom (http://www.coalitionforhealthfreedom.org/)
Dr. Rath Foundation (www4.dr-rath-foundation.org)
National Health Federation (http://www.thenhf.com)/)

Action

I wish we could share with you a better action plan but unfortunately we have to keep quiet a bit longer. What we can share with you is that there are organizations doing something – it’s just not always obvious or flashy.

Alliance for Natural Health is working on strategies to influence the science being decided at Codex. The National Health Federation is the only health freedom organization with official Codex observer status. And of course, several organizations ARE working together on this tough topic, under The Coalition for Health Freedom. The Coalition believes in taking pertinent action, providing credible and accurate information, and developing effective strategies.

The Health Freedom Foundation and American Association for Health Freedom looks forward to providing you with more information about Codex initiatives. In the meantime, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to The Health Freedom Foundation to fund Codex activities.

Click here to make a donation online (or print form to mail)
Call 1.800.230.2762
Mail: HFF, PO Box 1002, Great Falls, VA 22066 (Re: Codex)

You can also purchase the We Become Silent DVD (prices include shipping & handling: members $23.50/nonmembers: $27.50). This new documentary by international award-winning filmmaker Kevin P Miller of Well TV exposes the threats posed by European and global regulation to medical freedom of choice.

Click here to purchase online (or print form to mail)
Call 1.800.230.2762
Mail form and check to HFF, Po Box 1002, Great Falls, VA 22066

We hope you find this information helpful, please feel free to share. We try to do our best not to discourage individuals from supporting other organizations but sometimes the danger is too high not to speak up. We always encourage you to make your voice heard and its only fair that at critical times we share our voice with you even on subjects that we wished we did not have to broach.

Here’s to a successful and healthy year and we look forward to working with you.

Best,

Brenna Hill
Executive Director
Health Freedom Foundation/American Association for Health Freedom
PO Box 1002
Great Falls, VA 22066
1.800.230.2762
703.759.6711 (fax)
www.healthfreedom.net

2 comments:

  1. HI Blogger! Have you heard of the wonders of vitamins and supplements ? Feel better instantly! GET YOUR FREE TRIAL NOW

    ReplyDelete
  2. In all the discussions I've heard on Patriot radio
    about Codex Alimentarius, I haven't heard the
    hosts or guests urge listeners to ask their
    respective health authorities one very clear cut,
    logical question:

    "Why can't safety and effectiveness studies
    result in RATINGS, instead of yanking products
    people find helpful off the shelf?"

    In other words, we have rating systems, say, for
    movies, so why can't government studies of
    supplements work the same way?

    Eleanor White
    Hamilton, Ontario
    Canada

    ReplyDelete