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Codex Alimentarius and Non-European Countries

by Lord Rudi C. Loehwing

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Part One: A storm is brewing...

The future of each nation's natural health industry, nutritional innovation and each individual's personal freedom of choice regarding access to a wide range of vitamin supplements, amino acids, herbs and ancient and modern traditional medicines, appears with little doubt to be at genuine risk in the not-too-distant future. One can later speculate and even try to reason the intentions and motivations that have brought about this situation; however, it is certain that the situation exists and is no accident of circumstances.

This article will attempt to explain, document, and clarify the actual situation by separating the facts from numerous assertions, biased interpretations, and short-sighted solutions being attempted.

The situation we face is primarily the result of a series of apparently unrelated, but in fact, well-coordinated and complex events; executed slowly over time in incremental steps. It is a situation driven by vested interests, implemented by cooperating foreign and national governmental representatives, agencies, and legislative bodies, and fully upheld by a number of international trade agreements signed by heads of state.

While much confusion, conflicting opinion, and even heated argument exist as to the legal relevance and potential influence of "Codex Alimentarius" (Codex) to the future of vitamin supplements, herbs, amino acids, and many widely accepted forms of traditional medicines, the story does not begin in the Americas.

It began in the European Union.

In Europe, the European Food Supplement's Directive was legislated and brought into law in 2002. The EU Food Supplements Directive was then upheld in the European Court of Justice despite fierce legal challenges by watchdog organizations within the natural health community in 2005.

These unnecessary and severely restrictive pieces of European legislation are now in various stages of clarification, finalization, and implementation throughout the European Union.

In summary, the EU Food Supplements Directive will:

(a) Eliminate (completely ban) almost two-in-every-three currently available vitamin substances, amino acids, herbs; and traditional medicines;

(b) Dramatically reduce dosage levels to newly established Maximum Permitted Levels (MPLs), based on a severely flawed procedure for assessing risk (no consideration is even given to existing benefits) and directly influenced by pharmaceutical industry participants;

(c) Reclassify the remaining "allowable" vitamin substances as medicine;

(d) Severely censor what the industry itself or any practitioner can promote, publish, or say about their mental or physiological influence.

Amino acids, herbs, Ayurvedic and other long-accepted, traditional health remedies are also under the EU Food Supplements Directive's legislative control.

Natural products and vitamin substances that have not been approved, or those of manufacturers who fail to provide adequate and fully documented dossiers to the authorized governing bodies, will begin to be removed from the shelves in shops and websites throughout Europe in the months to come.

 

It is important to note that we are not reporting on a few "snake oil" or "miracle water" bottles. This is really not a massive attempt to protect consumers against the few undesirable "con artists" in this industry. No, we're actually reporting on the fact that nearly 2/3rds of currently available and perfectly valid natural products have been unequivocally banned by the EU Food Supplements Directive and will soon be pulled from the shelves throughout Europe.

Products like:

· Nearly the entire spectrum of natural vitamin E, including gamma tocopherols and tocotrienols

· Mixed, natural spectrum of carotenoid

· All forms of Boron

· 14 different forms of Selenium, including selenium yeast products

· 23 different food forms of Calcium

· Colloidal or ionic trace elements derived from natural sources

· 21 food forms of Iron including iron-based yeast

· 30 different forms of Magnesium

· 21 different forms of Potassium

· Molybdenum - 15 forms of amino acid chelate

... and many other natural substances already proven to be effective.

In fact, a detailed list of the remaining allowable vitamin substances, known as the Approved List" should leave many food supplement manufacturers, health practitioners and consumers quite distressed over the obvious and severe limitations and impact it will have on viable and beneficial existing products - let alone its impact on continued research and innovation.

High Dose Supplements

While food-based (normally low-dose) products appear to have been spared from outright banning by the EU Food Supplements Directive, there are three important points to think about; 1. The EU Food Supplements Directive will eliminate High-dose supplements through the establishment of (upper safe) Maximum Permitted Levels (MPLs). Based on faulty risk-assessment evaluation, the "MPLs" will dramatically reduce legal dosage levels to nearly placebo levels.

2. Even the low-dose, food-based supplementation, herbs, and other (natural) nutritional substances are targeted to be re-classified as medicine by the EU FOOD SUPPLEMENTS DIRECTIVE's Human Medicinal Products Directive.

This Directive asserts that any product, even a food or food supplement, which has a physiological effect on the body, can be classified as a drug by the regulators.

3. The Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, an integral part of the EU Food Supplement's Directive, will severely censor what can actually be said, promoted or advertised about mental or physiological benefits of nutritional supplements.

 

What about "Sovereign" nations?

The EU FOOD SUPPLEMENTS DIRECTIVE may very well be the law now, but it certainly will only affect Europe. And while other countries might sympathize with the fate of the European natural health industry, it doesn't really have anything to do with the U.S. or other countries outside of Europe.

...or does it?

The current U.S. consensus

 

In the United States, the European Food Supplements Directive and Codex would appear to be completely irrelevant largely due to massive efforts that led to the passage of the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. In fact, Codex is barely even on the radar as a real threat to the natural health industry in the U.S. DSHEA is perceived to be an unbreakable steel barrier to Codex or Europe's legislative influence or any other "foreign" attempt to breach America's "safe haven" status for the natural health and nutritional innovative industries. The consensus within the U.S. natural health industry is that it will continue to enjoy unfettered access to the full array of innovative products and high-dose supplementation. This view continues to be promoted by the very associations that are actually paid by its members to protect industry, practitioner, and consumer interests.

 

There is no argument that the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in the United States was perhaps the single most important legislative development in the history of health freedom. Since 1994, interest in supplements, traditional medicines, alternative therapies and the natural health industry as a whole has grown dramatically in the United States. So much so that it is now estimated that more than 40 percent of the entire U.S. population take dietary supplements on a regular basis and as much as 70 percent use them periodically.

 

So, are the United States and other non-European nations sufficiently protected against the already approved European anti-vitamin legislation and Codex's mandate to fully incorporate them as international "Standards?"

 

A number of the unbiased experts and Health Freedom Campaign organizations wholeheartedly agree - they are NOT! What is the truth? Unfortunately, sorting out the true relevance and potential threat can be a somewhat daunting and complicated process. Some definite effort on the reader's part is required in order to bring together, review, and personally inspect the truly relevant information. To separate these out from the tiring and relentless "alarm bells, conflicting media coverage, well funded public relations efforts, and misleading and sometimes completely false opinions and interpretations, let's review some key elements.

 

First of all, one of the main reasons confusion continues to exist is that Codex's actual relevance to the United States stems not from Codex's own documents, which in the main appear simply to promote health and nutritional "guidelines and standards" that each nation should aspire to, but from actual and legal obligations contained within a number of international trade agreements already signed by the governments of numerous countries outside of Europe, including the U.S.

 

These include the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was signed in 1947, and more recently, the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement signed during President Clinton's administration in 1995, updating and virtually replacing the original GATT agreement. In fact, it appears the legal basis for enforcement of the various "Guidelines" and "Standards" created by Codex will come from the 'Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures,' known as the "SPS Agreement" and the 'Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade' known as the "TBT" Agreement. Both the SPS and TBT agreements were included among the Multilateral Agreements on Trade in Goods, which was annexed to the agreement that originally established the WTO.

 

A lot of legal gibberish? We couldn't agree more, but unfortunately, quite dangerous to the natural health industry, as the following pages may make clear.

 

European Influence on Codex

 

The European Union is without doubt the single most powerful influence on international Codex conferences and discussions. European Council documents acknowledge the increasing legal relevance that the various Codex Alimentarius guidelines and standards have acquired:__"... by virtue of the reference made to the Codex Alimentarius in the WTO Agreements and the presumption of conformity which is conferred on relevant national measures when they are based on such standards, guidelines or recommendations adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.__Likewise, we also acknowledge that one of the objects of the Codex Alimentarius Commission is to harmonise worldwide health standards."__It now appears quite likely that European health and nutritional policy will gradually become the blueprint for a new global nutrition and health policy. The growing similarities between the text of the EU Food Supplements Directive and that of the Codex Draft Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Supplements are no coincidence.

Who is really who at Codex?

 

The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

There are 181 members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, (180 member countries and one member organisation); however, Mr. Basil Mathioudakis, who was originally responsible for drafting the actual text of the EU Food Supplements Directive, is also head of the European Commission delegation at Codex, and represents numerous European countries at Codex meetings.

 

Additionally, the European Union has full membership status at Codex. Mr. Mathioudakis, on behalf of the EU Commission, will certainly be entitled to exercise a significant number of votes equal to the number of its Member States present at the time votes are taken.

 

Furthermore, whenever Mr. Mathioudakis exercises his right to vote, the Member States will not be entitled to individually exercise their own votes. As such, the European Union Member States are in a weak position to oppose the EU Commission at Codex; especially given the fact that the majority of the guidelines being drawn up are either already law, or in various states of clarification and implementation in their own countries.

 

What is Codex, exactly?

 

Originally designed by military and business leaders from the pharmaceutical industry in Germany shortly after World War II, historically, Codex was evolved from a collection of standards and product descriptions for a wide variety of foods developed in the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1897 and 1911. Austria subsequently pursued the creation of a regional food code, the "Codex Alimentarius Europaeus" between 1954 and 1958.__In 1961 the Council of Codex Alimentarius Europaeus adopted a resolution proposing that its work on food standards be taken over by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).__Today's "Codex Alimentarius" was formed by the FAO of the United Nations World Health Assembly in 1963.__In the mid-1990s Codex Alimentarius signed agreements with the World Trade Organization (WTO), enabling Codex to establish trade standards that the WTO would use to resolve international trade disputes.

__To explain, perhaps some Trade Agreement background is in order:__* Since 1947 the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) oversaw the multilateral trading system and the otherwise sovereign governments that signed GATT were known as "GATT Contracting Parties."_* On January 1, 1995 the World Trade Organization (WTO) replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)._* Upon signing the new WTO agreements, including the updated GATT agreements the "GATT Contracting Parties" now became officially known as "WTO Members" which was actually based on some of the principles that actually underline the current European Union.__As of July 23, 2008, the WTO has a total membership of 153 countries including the United States who signed on as a member in 1995.__As already pointed out, in the mid-1990s, Codex Alimentarius signed agreements with the WTO, which enabled Codex to establish trade standards that the WTO would use to resolve international trade disputes.__In summary then we have (1) the EU Food Supplements Directive, now law throughout Europe and in various stages of clarification, finalization and implementation; (2) Codex Alimentarius adopting these laws as "guidelines and standards" that each nation should aspire to, but are actually supported by legal obligations contained within a number of international trade agreements signed by the governments of numerous countries outside of Europe, including the U.S.__

 

Stay Tuned for Part Five: Are all WTO member countries obligated to follow Codex "Standards and Guidelines"?

 

Baron Rudi C. Loehwing - Managing Director for a non-profit campaign organization; the World Institute of Natural Health Sciences. Producer and narrative director of documentary films, radio and television programs. Publisher, Publicist and Marketing / Strategic PR Consultant. Former child actor, journalist, radio host, public relations and marketing consultant, film producer and director, I currently run the World Institute of Natural Health Sciences (WINHS.ORG), a publishing company HealthNet Publishing and 2 PR firms.


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