Disinformation: “Codex is Harmless”
There is a distinct class of disinformation about Codex Alimentarius where the claim is made that the whole thing is “voluntary” and “harmless”. Trace it back and you find that the source of this type of disinformation is usually the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA).
The NNFA is an organization that proclaims itself as serving the interests of the natural health industry. While that used to be the case, due to infusion of people from the pharmaceutical industry in its membership, that no longer is the case. NNFA runs an entire web site dedicated to instilling the misconception that “Codex is not a problem” and even “Codex is a good thing”. Of course, this is not true. Codex cannot be a good thing unless you are one of the industries that would benefit from it.
What Happened to the Good Old NNFA?
NNFA was instrumental in securing DSHEA in 1994. Back then, it truly was an organization dedicated to the interests of the natural health industry.
However, times have changed.
We know from past Presidents of the organization and industry insiders, that in addition to lots of health food stores, their membership now consists of interests from the pharmaceutical industry.
Because of change in membership, and the fact that the wellness industry members failed to prevent or control “infiltration” by pharmaceutical industry insiders, the NNFA is no longer the same organization that it was in 1994. It has lost leaders and members who fought for health freedom and gained a new contingent of members whose interests are not served by a strong wellness industry. So even though the name remains the same, the changes have clearly altered the objectives of the organization.
The Natural Solutions Foundation is convinced that NNFA is intentionally misleading us about Codex Alimentarius. Because of its former good works, it still wields a lot of clout so we get a lot of questions about our position on NNFA. Some people are confused when we say that the NNFA is working in concert with the pharmaceutical and other pro-illness industries to support the implementation of Codex Alimentarius.
“Wasn’t NNFA instrumental in the DSHEA victory back in 1994?”
“Aren’t they supposed to be defenders of natural health and the wellness industry?”
“Why is the NNFA defending Codex which people like Dr. Laibow warns about?”
“Why don’t health food stores and supplement manufactures/marketers seem to be as concerned about Codex Alimentarius as Dr. Laibow?”
“Why would Dr. Laibow warn about Codex if supposed defenders of natural health like NNFA say it may even be a good thing?”
All the above questions make sense if you look at the NNFA as it used to be. It’s not the same organization as it used to be, and this is explained below.
NNFA Spends $800,000 on Disinformation Article
In 2004, the NNFA published an article called “International Natural Products Regulations Q&A: What Affect do they Really Have on the U.S?”. The author is listed as Sidley Austin Brown and Wood LLP, (SABW) NNFA General Counsel”. NNFA is reputed to have paid SABW approximately $800,000 in 2002 for the longer document from which the NNFA Q&A is excerpted. That expensive document misleadingly assures NNFA members that Codex poses no danger to health food store owners, manufacturers and marketers of supplements, or to anyone else involved in the U.S. natural health market, including consumers.
According to public advocate Tim Bolen, SABW is a major Washington lobbying law firm which counts among its major clients at least one pharmaceutical giant.
Did NNFA simply fail to do their due diligence in selecting SABW in selecting a firm with a major pharmaceutical constituency to answer questions about Codex Alimentarius (a potential conflict of interest)?
Could the pharmaceutical industry interests in NNFA and SABW have played a role in the contents of this influential and, we believe, devastatingly incorrect article? We cannot say yes to either question with complete certainty since we do not have the material to back up our suspicions. Instead, we have “read between the lines” and we invite you to do the same and come to your own conclusions.
The SABW-based Q&A is constructed as a dialog between the reader and the NNFA’s legal firm. It is reassuring, authoritative and calming. The NNFA Q&A puts takes the reassuring stance that international natural product regulations (i.e. Codex Alimentarius) would not have a detrimental effect on the U.S. This stance is hollow since it is devoid of any evidence, but it is inaccurate and misleading.
Breaking Down NNFA’s Disinformation Article
Remember that good disinformation is a mixture of truth, half truth, and fabrication (lies). Let us analyze the Q&A article authored by “Sidley Austin Brown and Wood LLP” for NNFA.
The piece begins with a true statement (question 1) which tells us that the European Food Supplements Directive (EFSD) applies only to the EU and not to the U.S. However, it makes no mention that only a small number of vitamins and minerals will be permitted in Europe (and only at ultra low doses) and that only synthetic versions permitted nutrients would have been allowed save for a legal challenge mounted by the Alliance for Natural Health (pdf) and others.
The NNFA document also fails to mention that the EFSD is Codex compliant and will be used as a model for the Codex Alimentarius values for ultra low doses which will be dropped into the Vitamin and Mineral Guideline (VMS) which was ratified for that purpose on July 4, 2005 in Rome by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
The chairman of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), Dr. Rolf Grossklaus, has publicly stated on many occasions that Codex Alimentarius’ nutritional provisions and restrictions will be modeled on the European Food Supplements Directive (EFSD) and other European Directives. In fact, Dr. Grossklaus, who has said that nutrition has no place in medicine, called the EFSD the “future face of Codex” during CCNFSDU meetings.
So the report fails to mention that Codex is modeled on the EFSD and that it is expected that the ultra low doses permitted by the EFSD will become the values permitted by the VMG. So while it is true that there is no legal or structural connection between Codex and EFSD, there is in fact a very strong practical connection.
Now, the EFSD is a very bad idea. Why? Because it bans most nutritional supplements and allows only a small number of ultra low dose vitamins and minerals. This means that a large number of nutritional products stand to be eliminated from the market.
Considering that many of the members of NNFA are in the nutritional supplements business, and some are still members of the wellness industry, one would expect this organization to mention the relation between EFSD and Codex Alimentarius in their article. But they don’t.
Would they have if they did not have ties to the pharmaceutical industries?
Our Suspicions Are Aroused Further
Question 2, 3 and 4 are accurate, too, although the last paragraph of Q4 is interesting. It explicitly disavows the connection between Codex and the EFSD. Legally, this stance is true. But as we mentioned above, functionally, however, there is a close and dangerous liaison between the representative for the EU to the Codex committee dealing with nutrition (CCNFSDU), Dr. Basil Mathioudakis, and Dr. Grossklaus (chair of Codex Alimentarius).
Dr. Grossklaus and Dr. Mathioudakis often confer and make decisions publicly between themselves during the CCNFSDU committee meetings which Dr. Grossklaus chairs. He is reported to check every important decision, however, with Dr. Mathiaoudakis, the EU Observer. Meanwhile, other delegates have no voice in decisions (which the Chairman declares “approved by consensus” even in the face of active opposition by delegates). Dr. Grossklaus has praised the EFSD as “the future face of Codex”.
The $800,000 NNFA article fails to mention these important facts.
Incorrect About Participation Level
Inaccurately stating that the WTO Agreement is “also known as GATT” may not seem like a big problem, but it is an inaccuracy which bears fruit later on. The NNFA states:
“Every country that has ratified GATT (including the United States) has formed an official delegation that it sends to these [Codex] committees.”
This is not true. Not every WTO country sends delegates to Codex by a long shot. So what sounds like an inclusive, whole-world process, is in fact decided upon by around half of the eligible countries. At the July Codex meeting, for example, about 117 countries out of a possible 171 participated. This was, in fact, a relatively unusual large percentage of participants: 68%. But that’s hardly a global consensus. In fact, Codex actually pays for smaller and less developed countries to attend the meetings.
Codex Alimentarius Would be Mirrored on Similar European Directive
The next paragraph asserts that:
“CCNFSDU agreed to make recommendations on final guidelines for vitamin and mineral supplements (and thereafter, possibly, for other types of dietary supplements as well)…”
Scott Tips of the National Health Foundation, a Non Governmental Organizations permitted to speak at Codex meetings, observed the “Meeting of Two” between Dr. Mathioudakis and Dr. Grossklaus.
The EU Representative is insistent upon getting the exact same wording adopted in the Codex Guidelines as is found in the EU FSD.
Now, with the recent committee adoption of the Codex Guidelines for Food Supplements, the EU has successfully created a framework and structure into which it will later drop in restrictive “safe” upper limits and restrictive “Positive Lists” of vitamins and minerals, just as they are doing in the European Union.
What is omitted is a conversation that took place publicly between Chairman Grossklaus and Dr. Mathioudakis when a delegate asked that the Vitamin and Mineral Guideline be specifically restricted to vitamins and minerals. According to Paul Anthony Taylor, an observer at the Bonn, 2003 meeting of the CCNFSDU, Dr. Mathioudakis told the Chairman that he did not wish to identify the standard as pertaining to vitamins and minerals only, because then the Vitamin and Mineral Guideline could not be used to ban all other supplements. The request of the other delegate was not followed.
Instead, as usual, Dr. Mathioudakis’ preference was that the Vitamin and Mineral Guideline should be available to ban all other supplements. NNFA was present at the time this conversation took place since they have observer status as a non-governmental organization. They failed to report this important observation to their constituency either in this article or elsewhere!
Disinformation works by omission of truth, as well as deliberate inclusion of fabrication.
Failing to Mention Napoleonic Code Basis of Codex
Both SABW (authors of the purportedly $800,000 article) and the NNFA fail to mention that the Codex Alimentarius Commission operates under the Napoleonic Code, not Common Law (which is the legal system upon which the United States legal structure is based). The difference between the Napoleonic Code and Common Law is of immense significance here.
Under the Napoleonic Code, anything not explicitly permitted is forbidden. Under Common Law, anything not forbidden is permitted.
What that means for Americans is that if Codex promulgates a list of permitted substances, the so-called “Positive List” (a name which has nothing to do with optimism – it simply means the “only list of allowable items”), everything else that could be on the list but is not would be forbidden. So the Vitamin and Mineral Guideline will have a short “positive list” permitting only a small number of vitamins and minerals at ultra-low doses designed to have no biological impact on the human body. Higher doses or other vitamins and minerals will be forbidden since they are not on the positive list.
Stating that Codex is Voluntary
The next question in the article says that the FDA can decide whether to accept any Codex guidelines adopted by the Codex Commission. The following question informs us that there is no procedural precedent for something like Codex, although an unused provision in the Code of Federal Regulations provides procedures for the adoption of Codex standards.
The Natural Solutions Foundation’s understanding of the situation is quite different. In the October 11, 1995 Federal Register, the FDA policy is clearly stated as preferring international standards to domestic ones, even if the international ones are not yet complete (read “Codex Alimentarius”):
“where a relevant international standard exists, or completion is imminent, it will generally be used in preference to a domestic standard….”
To our knowledge this policy has not changed and, worse, that policy is compliant with the WTO’s SPSA and TBTA treaties (these are treaties parts of the WTO and allow overriding of a nation’s law with regulations approved by the WTO, such as Codex Alimentarius). As Scott Tips observed, the fact is that:
“every WTO member country has signed mutual recognition agreements that require them to engage in a constant process of harmonization. As such, the United States and other countries will eventually be forced to harmonize to the Codex guidelines.”
The NNFA assertion that U.S. law would not be changed by anything contained in Codex is a highly suspect one which has been challenged for many years by a variety of health advocates and legal counsel. The WTO has taken us to court in our own country in order to force changes in our tax law (Massachusetts), our gambling laws(Iowa) and our Environmental Protection Laws (Federal). Further, we have lost all but two of the trade disputes we have had with the WTO. Trade disputes involving food would be automatically settled in favor of countries who use Codex standards and guidelines as their domestic standards.
The pressure is on to undermine DSHEA and other protective legislation so that we will be in a position that allows the WTO to levy sanctions on us once Codex Alimentarius is fully implemented.
False Idea that Codex Would “Abide” By DSHEA
Going back to the Q&A article from NNFA (the one they allegedly paid $800,000 for to a law firm with significant ties to the pharmaceutical industry): in a fascinating paragraph the NNFA article states,
“However, NNFA and other interested groups are working within relevant Codex committees to assure that final Codex Supplement Guidelines are consistent with DSHEA.”
What does that mean? What has NNFA been doing to “assure that final Codex Supplement Guidelines are consistent with DSHEA”? I have written to NNFA on several occasions asking for clarification of this seeming admirable position of support for DSHEA but have not been favored with the courtesy of a reply.
Natural Solutions Foundation has combed NNFA’s available literature and corresponded with NNFA seeking clarification and confirmation of NNFA’s support for DSHEA within Codex and has not yet found any substantiation of this position. We hope that the above statement is accurate, and not merely another fabrication for the sake of disinformation.
Claiming U.S. Law Does Not Reject Codex
The next question in the article,
“Is there anything that would prevent the United States from adopting the Codex guidelines if it chose to do so?”
This is one of the most soothing parts of the piece. Calming and disingenuous at the same time, it is truly masterful disinformation because even the reasonably well informed reader would not realize the deception. Let me explain:
The reply to the above question starts out by telling us that no law prevents the U.S. from accepting Codex guidelines on vitamins and minerals. This is a patently false statement: there is, in fact, an anti-harmonization statute pertaining specifically to the FDA and nutrients which is designed to protect us from a loss of freedom of choice in supplements. Title 19, USC 3512 (1997) prohibits the US from harmonizing with any guideline which violates US law. Unless the pharmaceutical industry friendly parts of Congress succeed in undermining DSHEA, the VMG will certainly violate US law since it violates DSHEA.
Another law, the FDA Modernization Act of 1997 forbids the harmonization of nutrients of any type with any international regulations, standards or guidelines. Why did NNFA’s extensive (and expensive) report not mention these protective laws since their report was produced by such an expensive and experienced regulatory and lobbying law firm? Could it be that they did not want to focus our attention on how important these laws are so they could be quietly repealed or gutted without our realizing what that means to our health freedom?
The NNFA document then says:
“According to a USDA Codex official [not further identified], the U.S. has never changed its laws or regulations to conform to any standards or guidelines adopted by Codex”
… and goes on to assure the reader that,
“it doesn’t appear that any changes to U.S. law or regulations would likely occur as a result of any adoption by the Commission of the vitamin and mineral food supplement guidelines”
All this sounds wonderful but is unfortunately untrue. Health-damaging high-fructose corn surup is now part of our food chain because, although the FDA did not allow it in beverages because of its serious threats to health and tendency to cause obesity (they got that part quite correct), the food manufacturers pointed out to the FDA that fructose is permitted in beverages by Codex so the FDA had no choice but to include a dangerous and unwholesome sweetener in the US food supply. We’ll discuss this in greater detail below.
So Codex Alimentarius has been used before to bolster trade to the detriment of health. But this is not mentioned by the NNFA. The intention behind NNFA’s $800,000 report is very like to lull the reader into a calmed and inactive state about the real threat of Codex Alimentarius.
Stating FDA Can Influence Codex
The $800,000 article states that the decision to adopt the Codex Vitamin and Mineral Guidelines lies with the FDA. The problem is that the FDA is legally barred from making a decision on Codex standards. The NNFA article does not mention this fact. This is an omission or a careful deception.
While the FDA can adopt Codex guidelines, it cannot make decisions about them. The decision is undemocratically left in the hands of the anti-democratic institution, Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). In addition, once a Codex guideline, standard or regulation is adopted, if the standard is still part of Codex, the U.S. cannot modify, repeal or adjust the standard. We are stuck with it once we accept it lest we want to be punished by the WTO.
The DSHEA Question
It appears to me that if the NNFA were truly supporting and protecting health freedom, they would strongly oppose any move by the FDA to violate the will of the American people through the adoption of any standards that weaken or undermine DSHEA. After all, they stated previously that they were working to get DSHEA adopted as the Codex standard. Unfortunately, this seems to be more of their empty and misleading verbiage, not a useful and powerful position which an organization actually focused on the wellness industry would take and support vigorously.
Sincere health freedom advocates appreciate any effort to protect and extend the influence of DSHEA and other protective legislation which we have fought so hard to win. It would be wonderful if NNFA were serious about their claim to uphold DSHEA as the standard for health legislation both domestically and internationally. NNFA goes on to state that they have filed comments and been “very active” in lobbying for adoption of “DSHEA-style laws”. The problem is that at the same time that they are supposedly defending and extolling the virtues of DSHEA as the standard here and abroad, they have informed their manufacturers that mandating the natural health industry output to ultra low potency nutrients, such as those permitted by the Codex model, EFSD, would be very good for them. It would, they tell their manufacture members, allow them to “sell into countries” around the world like Greece, which have prohibited US high potency nutrients. Selling into Greece, however, comes at a terrible cost to US health and the wellness industry.
At least one manufacturer has announced that they are reformulating their nutrients to conform to the Codex/EFSD values and will be dropping their US line. How many more manufacturers need to yield to this commercial pressure before the high potency market collapses because of increased prices and the on-going media propaganda designed to kill consumer demand for effective nutrients? Why, by the way, is NNFA not vigorously speaking out against this junk-science onslaught which pervades the drug ad supported “Medical Journals”?
Extolling the commercial virtues of selling ultra low potency supplements globally seems to be in striking contrast to NNFA’s purported strong pro-DSHEA stance since the whole point of DSHEA is to protect nutritional supplements as foods (instead of drugs), and prevent so called “safe upper limits?”, i.e., low dosages, from being set on their use since they are foods.
NNFA cannot have it both ways: no one can support both DSHEA and Codex Alimentarius and speak with integrity.
It has to be one or the other, because these two standards (one which is American law, the other which represents the triumph of multi-national corporate economic ambition and has been undemocratically determined) are diametrically opposed in their underlying philosophy and their practical impact:
- DSHEA treats nutrients as foods, and is supported by the science of nutrition (a discipline of Biochemistry)
- Codex Alimentarius Vitamin and Mineral Guideline classifies nutrients as toxins and improperly uses the science of Risk Assessment (a discipline of Toxicology), and violates everything we know about the science of nutrition (biochemistry)
Conclusion: NNFA Putting Profit Before Health
For those who think Codex has not yet affected the health of our nation, here is a surprising revelation:
Fructose and High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) entered the beverage supply of the U.S. even though it was well-known to be detrimental to health. According to attorney Jim Turner (of Swanken and Turner), HFCS was barred from use here by regulatory action due to its health hazards. Even so, the American processed food industry pursued a change saying that since it was permitted under Codex Alimentarius standards, it had to be allowed in the U.S. or we would be creating a “hidden barrier to trade”.
Codex Alimentarius is not new. It goes back to 1963. Since GATT was subsumed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994, the powerful multi-national industries behind it have been flexing their muscles in the attempt to shape Codex to their liking and override domestic laws with it.
High-fructose corn syrup is now widely used in US beverages and foods consumed by Americans. It is linked to childhood and adult obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, cancer, and a host of other serious diseases, which are reaching epidemic proportions in America.
One would assume that the National Nutritional Foods Association, whose mandate is the protection of natural heath, would chose to publicize information about how Codex has already been used to force unwholesome products on the unsuspecting American public. Somehow they appear to have overlooked the factor that made high fructose corn syrup available to the processed food industry in the U.S.
That factor was Codex Alimentarius.
DID YOU KNOW:
By educating decision makers through our Presidential Candidates Health Freedom Score Card, the Natural Solutions Foundation began the process of making health freedom and natural solutions an issue in the US elections.