Codex Alimentarius (1)
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
CODEX: WHAT IS IT AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOU AND YOUR HEALTH?
October 2006 – Codex is not an easy subject to get to grips with. With over 20 committees meeting on an annual basis, and published reports comprising a total of over 1,400 pages in 2005 alone, most people are blissfully unaware of the extent to which its activities affect their health. Read on to discover the bigger picture behind the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s support for the “business with disease”.
What is Codex?
The Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) is the main global body that makes proposals to, and is consulted by, the Directors-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on all matters pertaining to the implementation of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. Established in 1963, the Commission’s main purposes are stated in its Procedural Manual as being: protecting the health of consumers; ensuring fair practices in the food trade; and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations. Unfortunately however, and as we shall see, its activities do not protect the health of consumers and the international food trade is anything but fair.
At the time of writing, the Commission presides over a total of 27 active subsidiary committees and ad hoc intergovernmental task forces, the main functions of which revolve around the drafting of standards, guidelines and other related texts for foods, including food supplements. Once completed these texts are presented to the Commission for final approval and adoption as new global standards.
How does Codex affect you and your health?
Whilst the adoption by countries of the various standards and guidelines developed by Codex is theoretically optional, the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 1 January 1995 essentially changed their international status, in that they are now increasingly used by the WTO as the benchmark in the adjudication of international trade disputes involving foods. As such, the potential threat of becoming involved in – and losing – such a dispute now effectively makes the adoption of Codex guidelines and standards mandatory, in that it leaves WTO member countries little or no option but to comply with them. Given therefore that a total of 149 countries are currently members of the WTO, and also that Codex standards or guidelines now exist for virtually every food one can name, this effectively means that the activities of Codex now directly affect the vast majority of people on the planet.
In addition to dealing with ordinary foods, however, Codex also sets standards and guidelines for, amongst other things: vitamin and mineral food supplements; health claims; organic foods; genetically modified foods; food labeling; advertising; food additives and pesticide residues. Significantly, therefore, and as we shall see below, in all of these areas the evidence is now inescapable that Codex is increasingly putting economic interests – and particularly those of the pharmaceutical and chemical industries – before human health.
Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements
The Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements were adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission as a new global standard at its meeting in Rome, Italy, in July 2005. Drafted using the European Union’s restrictive Food Supplements Directive as a blueprint, the Guidelines mandate the setting of restrictive upper limits on the dosages of vitamins and minerals, and the prohibiting of claims that vitamin and mineral supplements are suitable for use in the prevention, alleviation, treatment or cure of disease. As a result, and bearing in mind the growing mountain of evidence demonstrating the impressive health improvements that can be achieved via the use of nutritional supplements, it can be seen that far from protecting the health of consumers, the global enforcement of these guidelines would ensure that the sale of curative, preventative, and therapeutic health products remains the exclusive province of the pharmaceutical industry.
The Codex General Guidelines on Claims protects the patent on the pharmaceutical industry’s control of our healthcare systems.
There are already several Codex texts in existence that place restrictions upon the health benefits that can be attributed to food products, and perhaps the most significant of these is the Codex General Guidelines on Claims. Adopted in 1979, and revised in 1991, these guidelines are in some senses the very root of the Codex problem – in terms of placing severe restrictions upon natural forms of healthcare – in that they effectively seek to ensure that the only products that can make claims relating to the prevention, alleviation, treatment, and cure of disease are pharmaceutical drugs. Specifically, and amongst other things, the Codex General Guidelines on Claims prohibit all claims implying that a balanced diet or ordinary foods cannot supply adequate amounts of all nutrients, and all claims that food products are suitable for use in the prevention, alleviation, treatment or cure of diseases. As such, it can be seen that they essentially protect the patent on the pharmaceutical industry’s control of our healthcare systems.
Organic foods have been receiving increased attention from Codex in recent years, and it is now increasingly clear that the Codex Committee on Food Labelling is attempting to water down global organic standards to permit the use of substances such as sulphur dioxide, which can cause allergic reactions in some people; sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, which are potentially carcinogenic, and have been implicated in hyperactivity in children; and carrageenan, for which there is evidence that it is associated with the formation of ulcers in the intestines and cancerous tumors in the gut. Worse still, however, the Codex Alimentarius Commission recently gave the go-ahead for work to begin on the inclusion of ethylene in the Codex Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods. Ethylene is used to artificially induce fruits and vegetables to ripen whilst they are in transit, and as such its approval for use on organic foods would represent a disturbing step towards WTO-enforced acceptance of the same dubious and unnatural agricultural practices that non-organic foods are already subject to.
Why does Codex want to water down organic standards in this way? On a basic level it is simply because organic foods fetch higher prices than ordinary, non-organic, foods, and that as such the large non-organic food producers see an easy opportunity to break into the market for organic foods and make larger profits. On a deeper level, however, organic foods promote better health than non-organic foods, by virtue of the fact that they contain higher levels of micronutrients. In addition, of course, organic foods don’t contain pesticides, residues of veterinary drugs or genetically-modified organisms either. Bearing in mind therefore that good health is not in the interests of the “business with disease”, this ultimately makes the increasing demand for organic foods a threat to the pharmaceutical and chemical industries; not only because organic foods promote good health, however, but also because they result in a lower demand for pesticides, veterinary drugs and GM foods – and thus in lower profits.
Moreover, and unlike genetically-modified seeds, organic seeds cannot be patented. As such, given that some of the major players in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, such as Bayer and BASF, are also major players in the biotech industry, it can easily be seen that the rising popularity of non-patentable organic foods is in fact a serious and growing threat to the profits of the pharmaceutical industry’s “business with disease”.
The increasing popularity of food supplement, natural health practices and organic food is a serious threat to the pharmaceutical industry’s business with disease.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted its first guidelines and principles for genetically-modified (GM) foods in 2003. These texts subsequently became instrumental in the United States, Canada and Argentina launching, and winning, a trade dispute at the WTO against the European Union (EU), where it was argued that the EU had been applying a moratorium on the approval and importation of foods containing GM material.
Further guidelines and standards for GM foods are now in the process of being drafted by Codex. The eventual adoption of these texts will further contribute to making the approval, and importation, of GM foods that comply with them mandatory for all WTO member countries. Crucially, therefore, the United States, Canada and Argentina are also pushing for there to be no requirement for manufacturers or exporters of GM foods to disclose the presence of genetically modified organisms on their product labelling. This is exactly what the big GM food manufacturers want, of course, as they have long realized that growing numbers of people are opposed to GM food products, and moreover that they will not be able to change public opinion about these products anytime soon.
Unlike the seeds for regular foods, the seeds for GM foods can be patented. This, essentially, is the real key to why biotech companies are so desperate for these foods to be forced onto world markets, as the potential long-term profits are so colossal as to compare quite favorably with the market in pharmaceutical drugs. Given therefore that some of the major players in the pharmaceutical industry, such as Bayer and BASF, are also major players in the biotech industry, it can be seen that the pharmaceutical industry is once again positioning itself as a key beneficiary at Codex.
As such – so far as the pharmaceutical industry is concerned – the only products that are worth producing are those that are patentable. Because of this, the rise in the popularity of food supplements, natural health practices and even organic food represents a serious threat to the pharmaceutical industry. The financial interest groups behind the Codex Alimentarius Commission know this only too well, of course, and as such are now engaged in a desperate struggle to maintain their monopoly upon the healthcare industry and expand into GM food production.
A specific Codex committee to deal with food labeling issues, the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL), has been in existence since 1965. The issue of food labelling is particularly crucial to the further spreading of life-saving natural health information, as restrictions upon the written content of food labels contribute, along with those on advertising, to preventing nutritional supplement manufacturers from informing people of the proven benefits of dietary supplementation. Crucially, therefore, CCFL has refused to acknowledge the role of optimum nutrition in the prevention, alleviation, treatment and cure of disease, and, as such, rather than protecting the health of consumers, can be seen to be acting in the interests of the pharmaceutical industry’s “business with disease”.
Arguments as to how or whether Codex should deal with advertising issues have been going on since at least 1972.
These arguments continued at the May 2006 CCFL meeting in Ottawa, where they centred around whether or not work on a definition for advertising should be initiated, and if it should, where (i.e. within which Codex text) such a definition should be placed. After considerable discussion regarding this issue CCFL decided that work on a definition for advertising should indeed be initiated.
From a natural health perspective, however, the definition proposed is far from satisfactory:
“Advertising: any representation to the public, by any means other than a label, that is intended or is likely to influence and shape attitude, beliefs and behaviours in order to promote directly or indirectly the sale of the food.”
The wording of this proposed definition raises several key questions.
For example, as well as its potential to result in the prohibition of advertising legitimate, published, peer-reviewed scientific research papers, might it also inhibit non-profit natural health advocacy organizations from influencing and shaping attitude, beliefs and behaviours regarding the sale of nutritional supplements?
Similarly, could any restrictions on advertising that are based upon this definition be said to contravene the right to freedom of opinion and expression and/or the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (both of which are enshrined in Article 19 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights)?
Regardless however, given that the pharmaceutical industry’s “business with disease” depends for its survival upon the restriction of any and all means by which consumers can obtain natural health information, potential restrictions on advertising are clearly now a key issue at Codex.
Codex has a specific committee that deals with the safety of food additives, one of the main functions of which is to establish their maximum permitted levels. In all, the Codex Food Additive Index currently lists a total of around 300 individual additives – both synthetic and natural – that it permits to be used in foods.
However, whilst it may be the case that some artificial additives are essentially safe when consumed in small amounts and in isolation from one another, the reality is that no substantive consideration has been given by Codex to the fact that such chemicals are consumed not in isolation, but in tandem with each other. As such, and to the benefit of their manufacturers, the cumulative long-term effect that the consumption of multiple patented chemicals and artificial additives has on the health of consumers is largely being ignored.
Revealingly, therefore, many artificial additives are being manufactured by some of the same pharmaceutical and chemical companies that would like to ban vitamin supplements and force GM foods onto our dinner plates. And, as is similarly the case with pharmaceutical drugs and GM seeds, the main reason why many of these substances exist is because they can be patented – and patents equal higher profits.
The Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues was formed in 1966, and is responsible for setting the maximum limits for pesticide residues in specific food items or in groups of food. Once again, however, the safety or otherwise of each individual pesticide is generally examined in isolation, and the long-term effect that their collective presence might have upon the body is mostly ignored. Given therefore that many of these dangerous chemicals are manufactured by pharmaceutical and chemical companies, it is not difficult to imagine that their widespread usage may be seen by these industries as having a dual financial benefit, in that they potentially increase the size of the market for – and hence the profits to be made from – the patented drugs used as treatments for any diseases that their long-term consumption might cause.
Codex is not just about nutritional supplements. In fact, it is the primary political battlefield where the war is being waged about who will regulate and control the global food supply from farm to fork. This ‘war’ is being waged by an increasingly tangled web of global authorities, big business and financial interests, and, as such, trade and profit are its prime goals – not human health.
Current indications suggest that the long-term financial winners in the battle to gain control over the world’s food supply are likely to be the pharmaceutical and chemical industries; especially so given that the adoption of still further Codex guidelines for foods derived from biotechnology now seems almost inevitable. As a result, our freedom of choice, our future health and the environment itself are all now clearly at risk.
Good nutrition and optimum health threaten the pharmaceutical industry’s “business with disease” because they reduce the size of the marketplace for synthetic drugs. However, food that is free of pesticide residues, artificial additives and other contaminants can, by definition, only come about as a result of a lower global usage, or ideally the entire elimination, of these chemicals. This, of course, would not be in the financial interests of the pharmaceutical and chemical companies that manufacture such substances, as it would clearly result in lower profits, better health for entire populations, and a consequent reduction in the use of synthetic drugs.
In conclusion therefore, whilst it may have been somewhat “out of the limelight” recently, the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s support for the “business with disease” has continued unabated, and the wide scope of its activities makes it a significant danger to the future health of all humanity.
Do we want to see a world where our access to safe, nutritious foods and effective dietary supplements is restricted and controlled by pharmaceutical and chemical interests? If not then we must act now, before it’s too late.
THE CONTROL AND DENIAL OF SCIENCE
By Paul Anthony Taylor
We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability. That’s another reason why we’re so chary of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World.
The 29th session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses was held in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, from 12 to 16 November 2007. A subsidiary body of the FAO/WHO-sponsored Codex Alimentarius Commission, the activities of this Committee are increasingly perceived by natural health advocates as one of the biggest global threats to the future availability of therapeutic vitamin supplements and other micronutrient-based natural health therapies. The Dr. Rath Health Foundation’s External Relations Director, Paul Anthony Taylor, attended the meeting as a delegate of the National Health Federation, the only consumer-orientated pro-natural health organization in the world to have official observer status at Codex meetings. Paul’s eye-witness report, below, describes how Codex continues to deny the health benefits of vitamins, micronutrients and nutrition in the battle against today’s most common diseases and explains how its key beneficiaries are the large multinational food, biotech and pharmaceutical corporations.
The blatant dismissal of consumers’ concerns regarding genetically modified foods
There can surely be little doubt that consumers are overwhelmingly opposed to eating genetically modified foods. Time and again, surveys and polls in countries throughout the world have proven this beyond any reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, the fact that genetically modified seeds can be patented – because, unlike regular seeds, they are created in laboratories and do not exist in nature – continues to make them a highly attractive investment proposition to the biotech and pharmaceutical companies that produce them. Patents on genetically modified seeds, and the multi-billion dollar potential profits and market control that may result from them, are acting as powerful incentives for these manufacturers to find ways of forcing such foods onto consumers’ dinner plates, regardless of the possible dangers to human health.
Notably, therefore, this year’s meeting of the Committee was attended by Dr. H. Yoshikura, the Chairman of the Codex Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology, a group that has already produced several global guidelines on genetically modified foods. The Task Force’s creation of these guidelines subsequently became instrumental in the United States, Canada and Argentina launching, and winning, a trade dispute at the World Trade Organization against the European Union (EU), where they successfully argued that the EU had been applying a moratorium on the approval and importation of foods containing genetically modified material and that this was contrary to WTO rules.
Yoshikura had been invited to attend this Codex meeting because the Task Force has recently been working on an annex to a global guideline for foods that have been genetically modified to (supposedly) provide nutritional or health benefits. Because the text of this annex contains references to concepts related to nutrition, the Committee was invited to review the draft annex and to provide comments on it.
Aside from making a few minor comments, however, the Committee decided to endorse the text of the annex without making any changes to it whatsoever.
In response to this, and noting that not one single country had spoken out to defend the interests of consumers regarding this issue, the National Health Federation made the following statement:
“Mr Chairman, the NHF would like to put on the record that while the issue of risk assessment of foods derived from biotechnology is being discussed, 95% of European consumers and millions of consumers from other parts of the world have continued to indicate their rejection of such foods. We would like to know therefore how the Task Force aims to balance the need to undertake exposure studies on representative human populations when so many people reject these foods outright?”
In other words, the Federation was asking how the Task Force was planning to carry out human safety studies of genetically modified foods when so few people are prepared to eat them.
The Committee’s Chairman, Dr. Rolf Grossklaus, gave a breathtakingly dismissive response to this question and, unwilling to admit that comprehensive human exposure studies would not be carried out before these foods are marketed, he stated that these aspects could not be discussed at this meeting. Astonishingly, however, he then went on to claim that consumers do not realise the benefits that these foods provide and that he believes consumers will in time change their minds about them.
Later, at the end of the week, during the meeting to adopt the Committee’s official report, I requested, on behalf of the National Health Federation, that the report should make mention of the Federation’s statement regarding this matter. Dr. Grossklaus refused to allow this however, arguing that the issue was not discussed and that including mention of all issues that were not discussed would make the report too long.
All in all, therefore, this was arguably the most blatant example of the concerns of consumers being dismissed in a Codex meeting that I have ever witnessed.
Recommendations on the scientific basis of health claims – designed for the large multinationals
Another key issue discussed at this year’s meeting was a text dealing with Recommendations on the Scientific Basis of Health Claims.
In recent years, the Committee has given very little time and no substantial debate to this agenda item at its meetings. However, although a more in-depth discussion did take place at this year’s meeting, the general thrust of the debate made it clear that, without a drastic change in direction, the key beneficiaries from these Recommendations will be the large multinational food, biotech and pharmaceutical corporations, who will most easily be able to afford the substantial financial costs of jumping through the various scientific and regulatory hoops that the Committee is erecting.
As a result, therefore, it seems likely that we will increasingly see breakfast cereals, genetically modified foods and pharmaceutically-manufactured RDA vitamin products carrying health claims, for example, whilst supplements produced by small, innovative vitamin manufacturers – assuming that they are not regulated out of existence – will probably not do so.
That said, however, and despite the longer debate time for this agenda item at this year’s meeting, only minimal progress was made and several key questions – including defining the necessary level of scientific evidence for the substantiation of health claims – remain outstanding. If the Committee were to insist on human studies and clinical trials, for example, even some common health claims for foods such as fruits and vegetables would have to be banned on the grounds that they were based on observational studies and epidemiological research, which would clearly be an absurd state of affairs.
With the discussions essentially having reached an impasse, therefore, the Committee agreed that the text should be returned to Step 2 of the 8-Step Codex approvals process, to be rewritten by the delegation of France in light of the discussions that had taken place. As a result, the Recommendations on Health Claims now seem unlikely to be approved and finalized by the Codex Alimentarius Commission until July 2010, at the earliest.
Nutritional risk analysis – making up the rules as they go along
A further topic that has been given very little discussion time at recent meetings of this Codex Committee is that of nutritional risk analysis. As regular Codex-watchers will already be aware, this issue has enormous relevance to the future development of the restrictive Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements, as the Guidelines state that the upper safe levels of vitamins and minerals in supplements will be established by scientific risk assessment.
Whilst the pro-pharmaceutical lobby – most especially including the anti-supplement extremists within the European Commission – are desperately trying to reassure everybody that the use of risk assessment will ensure that upper safe levels for vitamins and minerals will be calculated scientifically, the reality is that most current methodologies for assessing the supposed “risk” of consuming nutritional supplements are anything but scientific, and are actually deeply flawed.
Interestingly, therefore, during this year’s discussions, the representative from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) should be the primary if not only source of scientific advice to the Committee, arguing that international expert groups might not provide independent and unbiased scientific advice. Setting aside the issue as to whether WHO and FAO themselves can be considered to be independent and unbiased, as the discussions progressed it became increasingly clear that the vast majority of the Committee was not remotely interested in obtaining independent and unbiased scientific advice in this area.
For example, at one point during the discussions, the National Health Federation specifically requested that a key section of the text should refer to “independent sources of scientific advice” on risk assessment. Significantly, however, Basil Mathioudakis, of the European Commission, stated that he was opposed to the use of the word “independent” in the text and, as a result, it was not included.
In a further key intervention, the National Health Federation wanted language inserted to recognize the nutrient depletion in soils and foods that has taken place over the past fifty years or so. Upon hearing this, however, the Chairman, Dr. Grossklaus, responded by saying that the institute he works for, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, has made a statement on this issue to the effect that there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. In typical fashion, he then attempted to move straight on and did not give the Committee so much as a moment’s opportunity for comment.
The National Health Federation then made an additional intervention, asking that its comments be noted in the report and, ideally, considered by the Committee so that the record could be accurate and complete. Dr. Grossklaus declined to allow this however, saying that since the Federation is a non-governmental organization, and that no Member State supported its position, its comments could not go into the report.
Just as he has done in previous years, therefore, Dr. Grossklaus was once again making up the rules as he went along. This is particularly well illustrated by the fact that paragraph 131 of the Committee’s official report for this meeting makes mention of another National Health Federation intervention and that this was not supported by any Member State either.
At the close of these discussions, the Committee decided that it had made significant progress and that it should recommend to the Codex Alimentarius Commission that the text (the Proposed Draft Nutritional Risk Analysis Principles and Guidelines for Application to the Work of the Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses) be advanced to Step 5. As such, only relatively minor changes will now be possible at next year’s meeting of the Committee, and it could now potentially be approved and finalized by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in July 2009.
Proposals for nutrient reference values – out of touch with the latest science
Viewed in light of the latest and most up-to-date research in the area of nutrition, it seems safe to predict that the Committee’s current approach to the setting of nutrient reference values for labeling purposes may well be judged by future nutritional historians as being almost farcically anachronistic.
For example, the science of genetics has already taught us that we are all genetically unique and we now have convincing evidence that factors such as age, sex, contraceptive use, race, dress code, geographical location, regular blood donation, medicinal drug use, genetic mutations or biochemical individuality can affect a person’s nutrient needs and/or status, sometimes dramatically so.
However, rather than protecting the health of consumers, which is after all one of the stated purposes of Codex, the Committee is proposing instead to simply set one single reference value for each vitamin and mineral, and to apply these to the entire world population from the age of three years and upwards. Then, after work on this is complete, a further set of vitamin and mineral reference values, to apply to children aged between six months and three years, would be developed.
As such, it would seem that the Committee’s intention is essentially to provide a ringing endorsement of the existing outdated and scientifically invalid recommended daily allowance concept.
Notably, therefore, although the National Health Federation attempted to intervene in this monumentally myopic error, by proposing the establishment of an additional reference value for each vitamin and mineral, to represent the population group with the greatest need for it, the Chairman overruled it, but without giving any valid scientific reason.
Clearly then, whilst the Committee’s proposals on nutrient reference values are still admittedly at an early stage, anyone hoping for an outcome that reflects the latest science or that promotes optimum nutrition would currently be well advised not to hold their breath.
Still waiting for the ‘Stunning Victory’ at Codex? You’re not alone…
Natural health advocates with good memories may recall the so-called Natural Solutions Foundation, in its report on a meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Labeling that took place in May 2006, claiming that the outcome of discussions regarding the proposed role of Codex in the implementation of the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy On Diet, Physical Activity and Health were a “Stunning Victory” for health freedom.
Well, this certainly wasn’t true then and it still isn’t now, especially if the outcome of discussions at this meeting were anything to go by. Eighteen months after the claimed “Stunning Victory”, whilst Codex is still talking about the Global Strategy, there’s no sign of any significant action.
For example, although the Chairwoman of the Codex Committee on Food Labeling, Dr. Anne MacKenzie, gave a PowerPoint presentation on the subject of the Global Strategy, asking what mechanisms were available for inter-committee communication and cooperation, and proposing to seek guidance from WHO and FAO, her valiant contribution was relegated to a relatively minor position in the Committee’s agenda, under “Other Business and Future Work.”
After the somewhat unfocussed and confusing discussion that followed, during which even a representative of the Codex Secretariat, Dr. Jeronimas Maskeliunas, admitted to being “completely confused” as to what the Committee was talking about, it was eventually agreed that a Working Group should meet to discuss the Global Strategy immediately prior to next year’s meeting of the Committee and, after its discussions, that it should report back to the Committee. Yet more talk, in other words, and still no sign of any action.
At this current juncture, therefore, Codex discussions regarding the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy On Diet, Physical Activity and Health would appear to be light years away from turning into any sort of victory, let alone a stunning one.
Like the World Controllers in Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, the Codex Alimentarius Commission doesn’t want to change. From its perspective, change – in the form of a new global healthcare system based on scientific breakthroughs in the areas of vitamin research and cellular health – is a menace to the financial stability of the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, groundbreaking discoveries in nutritional therapeutics are increasingly seen as subversive and treated as an enemy to the ‘business with disease’.
However, the lies and deceit that are necessary to maintain this situation are not sustainable in the long term. Whether Codex likes it or not, change will eventually come and, when it does, consumers will overwhelmingly demand that those who had knowingly tried to prevent their access to therapeutic vitamin supplements and other natural therapies should be called to account for their actions.
In the meantime, however, whilst cardiovascular disease, cancer, AIDS and other common diseases will undoubtedly be largely unknown to future generations, it is our responsibility to ensure that this comes about sooner rather than later.
The treatment of diseases with patented synthetic chemical drugs, when safer and more effective natural treatments are already available, borders on insanity and should no longer be tolerated in any civilized society worthy of the name. As such, the sooner the pharmaceutical industry’s ‘business with disease’ is confined to the dustbins of medical history, where it belongs, the better for all mankind.
To download the official Codex report from this meeting, click here.
Chemotherapy doesn’t work, so blame vitamin C
ANH Medical Director, Dr Damien Downing and member of our Scientific Expert Committee, Dr Steve Hickey are also members of the Editorial Reivew Board of the peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (OMNS). Please read on for the full release from the OMNS giving the true facts about vitamin C and cancer, lest you feel tempted to look askance at your morning glass of orange juice having seen the latest headlines.
In summary, the paper from the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Clinic (SKC) claiming that vitamin C should not be taken with chemotherapy is a poor piece of scholarship. Firstly, it isn’t a study of vitamin C, but of the related oxidant, dehydroascorbate. It is inconsistent with established findings, which show that both vitamin C and dehydroascorbate are selective anticancer agents. Other previous studies indicate that vitamin C aids the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduces its side effects. The SKC paper does not even reference this existing literature—presumably because it throws doubt on the validity of their current study. The claim that vitamin C may be harmful to cancer patients is indefensible, both scientifically and ethically.
Please foward this to anyone you know currently undergoing treatment with chemotherapy to put their minds at rest.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 7, 2008
Chemotherapy Doesn’t Work, So Blame Vitamin C
(OMNS, October 7, 2008) When Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center announces that vitamin C may interfere with chemotherapy, the news media trumpet it far and wide. But before cancer patients throw away their vitamin C supplements, they need to know rest of the story.
Most of the media dutifully reported the researchers’ claim that the equivalent of 2,000 mg of vitamin C “blunted the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drugs.” But only some of the media included a study author’s incredible statement that “If you take an oral dose even as low as 100 milligrams a day” even “that could be harmful” during chemotherapy (1)
100 mg “could be harmful”? That’s the amount of vitamin C in a few glasses of orange juice. Something is very wrong here.
First of all, this research involved mice with implanted cancerous tumors; it was not a trial on cancer patients. A mouse study is a long way from a human clinical trial. This obvious difference was conceded by the study authors. However, there is a more subtle, and probably much more important factor they did not consider: all mice make their own vitamin C. Indeed, mice make quite a lot. Adjusted for body weight, mice synthesize the human body weight equivalent of approximately 10,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day. (2) Incredibly, sick mice make even more. Mice given transplanted tumors become sick mice.
Secondly, previous research has demonstrated that mice with cancer respond well to high-dose vitamin C therapy. One study found, “With an increase in the amount of ascorbic acid there is a highly significant decrease in the first-order rate constant for appearance of the first spontaneous mammary tumor. . . Striking differences were observed between the 0.076% ascorbic acid and the control groups, which synthesize the vitamin.” (3) Another study concluded that: “A pronounced effect of vitamin C in decreasing the incidence and delaying the onset of malignant lesions was observed with high statistical significance. By 20 weeks, approximately five times as many mice had developed serious lesions in the zero-ascorbate as in the high-ascorbate group.” (4) Interestingly enough, when this research was first publicized, the media discounted these findings saying that mouse studies were not particularly applicable to people.
Thirdly, a mouse’s ability to make vitamin C, and a great deal of it, is an overlooked confounding factor that may well render the entire experiment invalid. If the Sloan-Kettering team had tried their experiment on Guinea pigs, their results might have been very different. Guinea pigs are more like human beings in that they cannot make their own vitamin C. As controls for comparison, the researchers also treated “no-added-vitamin C” mouse cancers with chemotherapy. Chemo worked just fine on those mice, by the researchers own admission. And each of those mice was internally synthesizing a body weight equivalent of 10,000 mg/day of vitamin C, even though given none supplementally.
So how come 10,000 mg of vitamin C does not interfere with chemo treatment, and 2,000 mg – or even 100 mg – supposedly does?
A sweeping recommendation warning cancer patients to not take supplemental vitamin C, not even 100 mg, is irresponsible. It is impossible to justify caution about taking 100 mg of vitamin C daily when your animal subjects made the equivalent of one hundred times that amount, and chemotherapy in them was still reported as effective. You cannot have it both ways. If a synthesized 10,000 mg of C does not interfere, there can be no real “interference” or “blunting” from a supplemental 2,000 mg. And most certainly not from 100 mg.
The study did report tumor shrinkage, in both groups of mice receiving chemo. That is not surprising. Chemotherapy’s claimed success is based on tumor shrinkage. But tumor shrinkage, encouraging though it is, is not a reliable indicator of long-term cancer survival. As cancer research critic Philip Day puts it, many patients are “cured but dead” after five years, hardly a long-term survival. Day, noting that this is not because oncologists are not trying, explains the chemotherapy quandary: “You can be insincere, or you can be sincerely wrong.” (5)
The Sloan-Kettering study team seems to have missed the essential point that vitamin C is not just an antioxidant. Inside cancer tumors, it also acts as a prooxidant, killing malignant cells. Comments Dr. Steve Hickey, of Manchester, UK: “Essentially, the paper seems to be rather misguided and shows a lack of understanding of the dual nature of vitamin C in tumors. Chemotherapy has been shown by over 40 years of clinical trials not to work in the majority of tumors, and its use is counterproductive.”
Chemotherapy drugs have come and gone; the five year survival rate for cancer treated with chemo has remained virtually unchanged for decades. Unfortunately, just over 2% of all cancers respond to chemotherapy. Specifically, one scientific review concluded, “The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the USA . . . chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival. To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required.” (6)
Perhaps this new, very well-publicized study results from an ever-growing realization that chemotherapy is largely ineffective, and the search is on for the reason why. Vitamin C should not be made the scapegoat.
Vitamin C, in doses well over 100 mg/day, is known to help prevent cancer. (7) Nearly 30 years ago, a review concluded that “Many factors involved in host resistance to neoplasia are significantly dependent upon the availability of ascorbate.” (8) Beginning in the 1970s, many well-designed studies show that very large doses of vitamin C improve both quality and length of life for cancer patients since they invariably are “significantly depleted of ascorbic acid.” When given intravenous vitamin C, “The mean survival time is more than 4.2 times as great for the ascorbate subjects . . . This simple and safe form of medication is of definite value in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer.” (9) Additional clinical trials have confirmed this over the past several decades. (10)
Even more importantly, recent research indicates that in high doses, vitamin C is selectively toxic to cancer cells. That means vitamin C can function very much like chemotherapy is supposed to, but without the severe side effects of chemotherapy. “A regimen of daily pharmacologic ascorbate treatment significantly decreased growth rates of ovarian, pancreatic, and glioblastoma tumors established in mice. Similar pharmacologic concentrations were readily achieved in humans given ascorbate intravenously.” (11)
“Cautioning” the public to avoid taking any supplemental amount of vitamin C will decrease host resistance to cancer, increase the incidence of this dreaded disease, and shorten survival times. A cynic might say it will also create a larger market for chemotherapy.
Is vitamin C a commercial competitor for chemo? To answer this, one needs to consider what appears to be serious conflict of interest at Sloan-Kettering. Bristol-Myers-Squibb makes chemotherapeutic drugs. According to a DEF 14A SEC filing of March 22, 2006, the Chairman of the Board of Bristol-Myers-Squibb is also a director of the Coca-Cola Company, and Honorary Chairman of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (http://sec.edgar-online.com/2006/03/22/0001193125-06-060566/Section8.asp). A previous Bristol-Myers-Squibb Chairman of the Board was a director of the New York Times Company. He was also Vice Chairman of the Board of Overseers and the Board of Managers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Chairman of the Board of Managers of Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research (http://www.secinfo.com/dsvrt.bC7.htm). Some sources say that there are even more Bristol-Myers-Squibb directors who have or held positions on the board at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. (12)
Positive endorsements for vitamin C as a cancer fighter are not in the interests of any pharmaceutical company. Scaring the public away from vitamin C might be profitable. It appears that Sloan-Kettering is biased. So are media reports that attack vitamins.
If the Sloan-Kettering study authors’ recommendations to not take 2,000 mg, or even 100 mg, of vitamin C are followed, there will definitely be an increase in the number of people that need chemotherapy.
(1) Doheny K. Vitamin C and chemotherapy: bad combo? Supplementing with vitamin C may reduce effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs, study shows. WebMD Health News. http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20081001/vitamin-c-chemotherapy-bad-com… ??(2) Chatterjee IB, Majumder AK, Nandi BK, Subramanian N. Synthesis and some major functions of vitamin C in animals. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1975 Sep 30;258:24-47. ??(3) Pauling L, Nixon JC, Stitt F et al. Effect of dietary ascorbic acid on the incidence of spontaneous mammary tumors in RIII mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Aug;82(15):5185-9. ??(4) Pauling L. Effect of ascorbic acid on incidence of spontaneous mammary tumors and UV-light-induced skin tumors in mice. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Dec;54(6 Suppl):1252S-1255S. Read the full paper free of charge at http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/54/6/1252S ??(5) Day P. in the documentary film Food Matters, http://www.foodmatters.tv See also: Day P. Cancer: why we’re still dying to know the truth. Credence Publications, 1999. ISBN-10: 0953501248; SBN-13: 978-0953501243 ??(6) Morgan G, Ward R, Barton M. The contribution of cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adult malignancies. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2004 Dec;16(8):549-60. ??(7) Enstrom JE, Kanim LE, Klein MA. Vitamin C intake and mortality among a sample of the United States population. Epidemiology. 1992 May;3(3):194-202. ??(8) Cameron E, Pauling L, Leibovitz B. Ascorbic acid and cancer: a review. Cancer Res. 1979 Mar;39(3):663-81. ??(9) Cameron E, Pauling L. Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1976 Oct;73(10):3685-9. Read the original paper at http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/MM/B/B/K/Z/_/mmbbkz.pdf ??(10) Murata A, Morishige F, and Yamaguchi H. Prolongation of survival times of terminal cancer patients by administration of large doses of ascorbate. International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research Suppl., 23, 1982. p. 103-113. And: Null G, Robins H, Tanenbaum, M, and Jennings P. Vitamin C and the treatment of cancer: abstracts and commentary from the scientific literature. The Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, 1997. April/May. And: Vitamin C and cancer revisited. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 12;105(32):11037-8. Also: Riordan HD, Riordan NH, Jackson JA et al. Intravenous vitamin C as a chemotherapy agent: a report on clinical cases. Puerto Rico Health Sciences J, June 2004, 23(2): 115-118. ??(11) Chen Q, Espey MG, Sun AY et al. Pharmacologic doses of ascorbate act as a prooxidant and decrease growth of aggressive tumor xenografts in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 12;105(32):11105-9. See also: Chen Q, Espey MG, Sun AY et al. Ascorbate in pharmacologic concentrations selectively generates ascorbate radical and hydrogen peroxide in extracellular fluid in vivo. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 22;104(21):8749-54. And: Chen Q, Espey MG, Krishna MC et al. Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Sep 20;102(38):13604-9. And: Padayatty et al. Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2006. 174(7), March 28, p 937-942. http://www.cmaj.ca/! cgi/reprint/174/7/937. Also: Riordan NH et al. Intravenous ascorbate as a tumor cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agent. Medical Hypotheses, 1995. 44(3). p 207-213, March. ??(12) Moss R. Questioning Chemotherapy. Equinox Press, 1995. ISBN-10: 188102525X; ISBN-13: 978-1881025252. See also: The Cancer Industry. Equinox Press, 1996. ISBN-10: 1881025098; ISBN-13: 978-1881025092.
For more information: ??Cameron E. and Pauling L. Cancer and vitamin C, revised edition. Philadelphia: Camino Books, 1993. ??Hickey S and Roberts H. Cancer: nutrition and survival. Lulu Press, 2005. ISBN: 141166339X. ??Hoffer A. Healing cancer: complementary vitamin and drug treatments. Ontario: CCNM Press, 2004. ISBN-10: 1897025114; ISBN-13: 978-1897025116. ??For free access to an online archive of peer-reviewed, full-text nutrition therapy papers: http://www.orthomed.org/jom/jomlist.htm or http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom
Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine
Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org
The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.
Editorial Review Board:
Damien Downing, M.D. ?Harold D. Foster, Ph.D. ?Steve Hickey, Ph.D. ?Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D. ?James A. Jackson, PhD ?Bo H. Jonsson, MD, Ph.D ?Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. ?Erik Paterson, M.D. ?Gert E. Shuitemaker, Ph.D.
Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D., Editor and contact person. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: 9 Oct 2008
government and corporate control
of your lifeblood
Part 1 of Interview (what is Codex? etc
Part 2 of interview (organic foods, natural vs synthetic, etc)
Part 3 of interview (vaccination, food irradiation, Monsanto, etc)
To download ANH’s one-page summary flyer of Codex, click here—print it, email it—help educate your friends and contacts about the long-term risk of the Codex slow cooker. It is, in part, its long drawn out timescales for the development and guidelines and standards that makes Codex Alimentarius guidelines and standards so problematic.
To view Kevin Miller’s 2005 documentary on Codex, We Become Silent, click here.
(Right-click this link [WeBecomeSilent.MP4] and download the file to your computer hard drive, and play it with your video player.)
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
— Thomas Jefferson (1762-1821), Third President of the USA, author of the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson’s warning was given some 200 years ago. At the time, he might have felt that the principles of liberty and freedom that he espoused might have held his nation and others in good stead to resist institutional control of the very things on which we depend most for life and health. But food, water, air quality, radiation exposure and even television, radio and newspaper broadcasting, are all now subject to increasingly tight, restrictive governmental control.
You might be forgiven for thinking this control is all about protecting us, the consumer, from the corporate sector which is well known for its inclination to make a fast buck, at virtually any cost to others. Reality tells us differently. In the areas of food and medicines in particular, the two areas specifically highlighted by Jefferson, it seems that most of this control is about creating benefis for corporations, while paying little more than lip service to consumer health.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission was established in the early 1960s by two United Nations organs, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Through its 27 committees comprised of governmental representatives from its over 170 country members (which have voting rights), and dozens of industry-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) (which have influence but no voting privileges), they seek to develop guidelines and standards covering all aspects of commercial food from canned foods, to fresh fruit and vegetables, pesticide residues, food additives, dairy products, chocolate and food supplements. These guidelines and standards end up being translated into laws in many parts of the world and they represent ‘acceptable’ standards for foods involved in global trade. In addition, Codex guidelines and standards end up being used as the benchmark in the settlement of international disputes under the World Trade Organization.
As well as hosting its committees, Codex operates a number of intergovernmental task forces dealing with things like biotechnology and GM foods. All of this is a far cry from Codex’s purported original objectives which centred around the need to protect consumers by ensuring foods were free from contaminants such as pesticide residues. Now it mandates ‘acceptable’ levels of everything from pesticides, to chemical additives, GMOs and heavy metal contaminants. The levels are agreed by so-called ‘international scientific consensus’ but the scientists involved tend to be on the payroll of the largest food and drug companies in the world. They are also reliant on safety data that come from studying these toxins in isolation and they make no consideration of our total chemical exposure from all sources.
29th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), Bad Neuenahr, Germany, November 2007
Ironically, when it comes to Codex assessments of the safety of nutrients, they do take into account the nutrients consumed in the diet and substract these from the lowest amounts they consider safe using multiple safety factors and selective, worse-case scientific data. The end result? Codex-compliant food supplements containing diddly squat of life-saving micronutrients.
Dr Bruce Ames, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley, and a Senior Scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), is one of many scientists who have long argued, on the basis of ample scientific evidence, that micronutrient deficiencies, associated with modern western diets, are one of the most important factors in the epidemic of chronic diseases. These diseases include the ‘Big 5’: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis, which now contribute to the greatest burden on our healthcare systems. Codex, and regulatory regimes based on it, undoubtedly present one of the greatest threats to any healthcare system which seeks to deal with the fundamental causes of disease by addressing micronutrient intakes.
Are you willing to let governments and corporations control what you put into your body? Or will you play your part in helping to reverse the trend towards the global control of our food supply and the dumbing down of natural medicines based on faulty, manipulated science. Thomas Jefferson’s words must be allowed to ring loudly in our heads as we effect these changes that are urgently needed to prevent any further distancing between humans and our natural heritage. We must protect no only our lifeblood?but that of future generations.
Recent meetings of the Codex Committee on Nutrition
For releases following 29th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition & Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), Bad Neuenahr, Germany, November 2007. Opening release. Closing release.
For an ANH Codex exclusive on the lead up to the 28th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition & Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), Chiang Mai, Thailand, November 2006, click here.
For release following 27th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition & Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), Bonn, Germany, November 2005, click here.
Codex Committee on Nutrition – official information
Inform yourself! Find out what the Codex Committee on Nutrition & Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) says about itself:
For the official CCNFSDU website, click here.
For images of previous sessions, click here.
If you want to find out what the official line on the Codex Committee on Nutrition & Foods for Special Dietary Uses is, you may be lucky enough to get yourself a copy of the official video about the CCNFSDU’s activities produced by the German government and screened at the 2006 Committee meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We had a link to the video which was in turn being streamed through a link on the www.ccnfsdu.de website, but unfortunately, shortly after we linked to this, the link was taken down. We are aware of a number of people who have successfully obtained a copy of the video direct from the CCNFSDU after emailing email@example.com.
The video includes an interview with Dr Rolf Grossklaus, who heads up the Committee.
For more than 50 years, large corporations and governments have been trying to exert global control over essential commodities such as oil, food and health products.
Today’s oil, pharmaceutical, chemical and agro-chemical giants were spawned from an axis developed in the first third of the 20th Century between IG Farben and US oil interests, notably the Standard Oil Company, founded by John D. Rockefeller.
IG Farben grew out of German Rothschild family interests and by 1930 was the largest chemical manufacturer in the world. It collaborated closely with the Nazis and the SS following Hitler’s rise to power, and was the company that drove the German war effort during WWII through the supply of synthetic fuel, rubber and other chemicals. It also developed and sold Zyklon-B, the nerve gas used at Auschwitz, also the site of the IG Farben chemical factory, which benefited from slave labour derived from the concentration camp. Zyklon-B, based on the pest-control fumigant hydrogen cyanide, was responsible for the murder of up to 6 million people between 1942 and 1945, with between 4 and 4.5 million people allegedly being gassed at the purpose-built Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. In addition to this, IG Farben scientists used slave labourers to test chemicals, pharmaceuticals and vaccines without their consent.
Post WWII, some of leading officials and scientists within IG Farben were sentenced for war crimes during the IG Farben Case, in the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings (Case No 6). Amongst these, was Dr Fritz ter Meer, one of the most senior officials and scientists responsible for IG Farben and IG Auschwitz during the Nazi era. Dr ter Meer was sentenced in 1948 to 7 years for his part in the IG Farben-related war crimes against humanity, but, after having his sentence commuted and being released in 1952, he was subsequently appointed to the Board of Bayer (one of several post-WWII IG Farben spin-offs). In 1955, he was then appointed as Bayer’s chairman, a position he held to 1964.
Following extensive research by the Dr Rath Foundation, Dr ter Meer has been implicated in the establishment of the Codex Alimentarius Commission following meetings in 1962. Even during his trial at Nuremberg in 1947, it was clear that ter Meer was a strong proponent of harmonisation to the benefit of the German nation, an agenda that is strongly apparent in the work of the German government in relation to food, food supplement, medical, agricultural and other issues to this day.
Dr ter Meer’s counsel, speaking on behalf of his client at the IG Farben Trial in 1947, said:
“…Today I want to point out only one idea, namely the concept of a total European economic area, which formerly gained weight in many leading economic circles of Europe. An idea which, even today, though in a somewhat different form, is proposed by many political and economic experts, including some in America. These viewpoints shaped my client’s aims to maintain, operate, and improve, as far as possible, these foreign enterprises in the general interest of the national economy as well as for the welfare of the employees and laborers.”
- Dr Robert Verkerk, Alliance for Natural Health
- Paul Taylor, Dr Rath Foundation
- Ian Crane, The Alternative View (UK)
Further reading [Articles by Paul Anthony Taylor, Dr Rath Health Foundation and National Health Federation]
- Codex Alimentarius: The Control and Denial of Science
- New York University Law Review Criticises Codex
- Codex: What Is It and How Does it Affect You and Your Health?
- EU-U.S. Summit Signals New Threats To Natural Health Therapies
- Nutrient Risk Assessment: What You’re Not Being Told
- Codex Guidelines for Vitamins and Minerals – Optional or Mandatory?
Further reading [by Scott Tips, National Health Federation]
- Small-Town Codex, Big-World Impact
- A Meeting of One
- Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man
- Shangri-La on the Rhine—The Codex Committee Meets Again in Bonn
- A Meeting of Two
- Re-arranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic
Further reading on the Dr Rath Health Foundation website
- A Modern Major General Exposed?
- Codex and Health Freedom – Be Wary of the ‘Instant Experts’
- Codex meeting in Ottawa: Business as Usual, or “Stunning Victory” for Health Freedom?
- Miracle in Rome?
Freedom of Health Choice
Did you know that your ability to choose natural health products or therapeutic foods is severely threatened through a global effort, masterminded by governments and transnational corporations?
Share information and work with us at the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) so that you can connect the dots, and see why there has never been a more important time for action.
Click here if your computer is wired for sound and you can make the time to listen to a lecture on the subject Natural Health at Risk given Dr Robert Verkerk on 17th June 2008 for Changing Times. It will help you understand why our health choices—particularly natural ones—are so severely threatened.
Where in the world are restrictions most imminent?
The European Union (EU)
Europe is becoming the central platform for global harmonisation of food laws relating to natural health. The ANH is based in Europe so we are right at the cutting edge. Much of the legal infrastructure is already in place—but has yet to be felt fully as key parts of the regulation and directives are in a transitional phase.
Find out from the ANH about the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of EU Natural Health Regulation.
The EU framework starts to really bite between 2010 and 2011 when—unless pro-natural health interests like us can continue to positively influence the process—we could see:
- massive restrictions on allowed ingredients, including vitamin and mineral forms, as well as botanicals
- massive restrictions on maximum permitted doses of vitamins and minerals
- massive restrictions on what can be said about any product with beneficial properties
- imposition of pharmaceutical-type standards, making it difficult for many truly natural products to comply
There are a number of Directives and Regulations in the EU, many of which have yet to fully come into force, that are particularly problematic. Some of the key pieces of European legislation—or shortly to be implemented legislation—along with ANH’s key concerns about them, are detailed in a series of one-page ANH Briefing Papers (dated June 2008) that can be downloaded below:
- Download ANH Briefing Paper on the EU Food Supplements Directive
- Download ANH Briefing Paper on Maximum Permitted Levels (MPLs) of vitamins and minerals
- Download ANH Briefing Paper on the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation
- Download ANH Briefing Paper on the EU Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive
The Canadian government, against the wishes of its its people and its Parliament, brought in a licensing system for ‘natural health products’ in 2004 which is so onerous, it has already caused a significant loss of products from health stores. It is estimated that some 20,000 products have already been lost.
This system was forced through after a huge public outcry and demonstration of concern about unnecessary restrictions on natural health products in 1997, which culminated in the ‘third category’ for natural products, keeping them outside of both the food and drugs categories.
But, following the imposition of the Natural Health Products Regulations of 2004, things have been steadily getting worse. Like the European model—the worst of it has yet to be felt—because there is a huge backlog of products being considered for licensing that can legally be sold until the applications are evaluated.
Then there was Bill C-51. This Bill, an amendment introduced by the Harper government to the Canadian Food & Drugs Act, if enacted into law, would hand Health Canada obscene powers to police the natural products industry! It would, for example, give the government the power to seize any amount of any ‘therapeutic food’ indefinitely—with no reasons given. Bill C-51 not only forces ‘natural health products’ into a drug regime, it also provides new pharmaceutical drugs with a much quicker pathway to market—allowing them to circumvent many of the safety trials typically required for a drugs license.
Bill C-51 aims to create a new category called ‘therapeutic products’ which would include all drugs, ‘therapeutic foods’ and cosmetics. Aren’t all wholesome foods and good quality supplements therapeutic foods—we hear you say? Quite right. This was a very bad proposed amendment, which has no place to play in a sustainable healthcare environment where high quality, therapeutic foods need to be as widely available to as many people as possible at the lowest cost.
But pressure from around one million of the 30 million strong Canadian population defeated Bill C-51 in the last session of the Canadian Parliament. Bill C-51 died on 20 June 2008, but, given the enthusiasm over tyrannical restriction of natural health products in Canada, it may well be resurrected in the forthcoming session of Fall 2008.
But if that wasn’t enough……then there was Bill C-52—a back door that can be used by Health Canada to prevent Canadian citizens accessing any products viewed as potentially unsafe in their eyes! Find out more about this in our 24 June 2008 news item.
Following a meeting of experts, including ANH’s Dr Robert Verkerk, in Toronto between 17-19 September 2008, a emergency task force was established to coordinate scientific and legal efforts to prevent further restrictions on products and truthful health claims concerning them. See release of 23rd September, 2008.
United States of America
Although the US has enjoyed a liberal legal regime for natural health products since the passage of the Dietary Supplements and Health Education Act (DSHEA) was passed in 1994 following mass public opposition to excessive restriction and ‘medicalization’ of natural health products—things are beginning to get progressively tighter. The US signalled its intent back in 2002 when the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published a paper on the “Proposed Framework for Evaluating the Safety of Dietary Supplements“.
Since this time, the US has seen the imposition of adverse event reporting (AERs) and much tighter “Good Manufacturing Practices’ (GMPs) will be introduced by the end of 2002. Combined with tighter health claims regulations that could ultimately dispense of many of the structure/function claims that have been invaluable to US consumers, which are paralleling those in Europe, the US government’s support of the Codex agenda for nutrition and an increasingly aggressive ‘witch hunt’ by the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), suggest the US is on course to harmonise to a model that is at least as restrictive as that of Europe.
It’s just that the process in the US is on a slower burn than the European agenda. Why? The main reason is likely to be that the US government is well aware—based on recollections of the backlash in the lead up to DHEA in 1994—that Americans won’t take restrictions on their health freedom or freedom of speech lying down.
Be aware of just how aggressive the Pharma companies are becoming against the natural products industry! Check out the ANH news item from 23 June 2008, where we show how two Pharma companies—one of them being none other than GSK—are trying to rule the roost. US citizens and natural health companies need to engage with this process as both cases are subject to citizen’s petitions.
To find out more, see the website of the ANH’s US affiliate, the American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF). Dr Rob Verkerk, ANH’s Executive & Scientific Director, acts as Scientific Advisor to the AAHF, as well as to another US health freedom organisation, the National Health Federation.
New Zealand citizens have being fighting for the rights to not be forced into a medicalised model, that was imposed in nearby Australia back in 1990, and continues to strangle more and more of the natural health industry.
In the front lines of this work, is ANH’s affiliate, the New Zealand Health Trust.
Although ‘Trans-Tasman harmonisation’ has recently been beaten in the New Zealand parliament, we know from experience in other parts of the world, such as Europe and Canada, the pressure won’t go away. Vigilance is one of the most important requirements for anyone concerned about maintaining their health freedom and freedom of choice in healthcare.
We’ll keep you posted on new developments—and those wanting to keep a finger on the NZ pulse—please bookmark the NZ Health Trust website.
Why do we need to keep therapeutic natural health products available on the market?
Clinical nutrition, nutritional therapy and plain old good nutritional management have long included using dosages of vitamins and minerals that are substantially higher than those typically found in the average, contemporary diet.
Our bodies’ requirement for higher dose supplements
The following set of precepts were formulated and published upon the founding of the British Society for Nutritional Medicine, now the British Society for Ecological Medicine, in June 1984  and modified in the first issue of this journal in 1990, as follows.
- Man’s diet, even in industrialized societies, may have only a borderline, or indeed low, content of certain essential nutrients. A ‘normal’ diet is not necessarily a healthy or optimum one.
- Requirements for essential nutrients vary from individual to individual depending on genetic, physiological, lifestyle and other influences. What is adequate for one person may not be adequate for another.
- Illness is inevitably linked with an abnormal biochemistry and an alteration in the metabolism of nutrients and their by-products.
- Specific nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids, as well as dietary manipulation in general, provide a potent means of influencing body biochemistry and thus disease processes.
- Reproductive processes are nutrient-dependent and sensitive to environmental pollution. Nutritional status of and environmental factors affecting both parents in the preconceptional and periconceptional period, and nutritional status of and environmental factors affecting the mother throughout pregnancy, are primary determinants of pregnancy outcome.
The EU is planning to dumb down our food supplements—imminently!
The EU is in the process of developing a regime to control the maximum permitted levels (MPLs) of food supplements EU-wide. Levels are likely to proposed by the European Commission in January 2009. The levels are likely to be unnecessarily low—being based on flawed science—an they could prevent you obtaining sufficient nutrients to allow you to manage your health. For example, the level of beta-carotene could be less than that found in just two carrots, and that for selenium, less than the amount found in two brazil nuts.
Can you let this happen?
Find out why you should be concerned and download the ANH position paper on MPLs (October 2007).
The beta-carotene content of just one large (70 g) raw carrot provides around 7.2 mg of beta-carotene. This amount of beta-carotene might exceed the maximum permitted level (MPL) allowed in supplements across Europe as of 2009 or 2010, when MPLs find their way into EU law.
How the European institutions are responding
Markos Kyprianou, the (unelected) European Commissioner responsible for health and consumer protection, made clear in January 2007 that the European Commission does not wish to allow sale of therapeutically active food supplements.
So, while many countries in Europe have regulated maximum levels of vitamins and minerals via multiples of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is in the late stages of planning the methods it will use to develop EU-wide, harmonised, maximum permitted levels for food supplements and fortified foods. This process will be instigated legally through an implementing measure of the Food Supplements Directive.
A harmonised European market for maximum (and minimum) dosages will no doubt be of considerable benefit to large corporations, especially the pharmaceutical companies that dominate the low-dose end of the supplement market, as they will no longer need to reformulate products for specific EU markets.
Low doses EU-wide are also regarded by many regulators as a useful end-point for meeting the Food Supplements Directive’s requirements for a “high level of consumer protection”. Nutritional therapists may, of course, take a different view, since they are much more likely to recognise the two-tailed nature of risks associated with nutrients. At very low levels of intake there are risks of inadequacy (that go well beyond simply the risk of developing deficiency diseases, but of course significantly impact the risk of chronic and even infectious diseases). At high or very levels of intake of some nutrient forms, there are, of course, potential risks associated with excessive intake. This may be particularly true of certain fat soluble vitamins, especially synthetic, isolated forms, and also some minerals, that have a somewhat narrow beneficial and therapeutic dose range (e.g. selenium, vanadium). Complicating matters even further, practitioners are also much more cognisant of the differences between short and long-term exposure. Short-term, high dose therapy with certain nutrients may in fact be highly beneficial (e.g., B vitamins), while the risks associated with long-term exposure, which are generally mild, transient and fully reversible, unlike many side effects associated with pharmaceutical drugs, are well recognised.
So how is the EU looking to take into account these differing requirements? An obvious approach, which has never been seriously contemplated by the EU authorities, is to develop a bespoke regime for practitioners—a third category, that exists between food and medicines. Whether the absence of a ‘third category’ has been the result of pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, inadequate pressure from practitioners and their associations, a requirement for simplification of the legal regimes by the regulators, or a combination of these elements, is anybody’s guess. But, all the evidence thus far suggests that a system is in development that utilises the formulaic, one-size-its-all approach already laid out in Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive, which is likely to result in extremely low daily levels of many vitamins and minerals.
The Federal Institute of Risk Assessment in Germany (the Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, or BfR) has already employed their interpretation of Article 5 to determine maximum permitted levels (MPLs) and the results emphasise the concerns of many objective scientists.
Some proposed MPLs (daily doses) for food supplements, as determined by the BfR, are listed below:
Putting the BfR values into perspective….
- A 200 g sirloin steak gives you around 7.2 mg of zinc, over 3 times the BfR maximum level of zinc in food supplements
- A single large raw carrot (70 g) typically contains 7.2 mg of beta-carotene (601 mcg Retinol Equivalents), around 3.6 times the BfR maximum level of beta-carotene in food supplements
- One single (5 g) brazil nut typically contains 96 mcg of selenium, over 3 times the BfR maximum level for selenium in food supplements
- One cup of raw french beans (180 g) gives you about 346 mg magnesium, 3.5 mg zinc and 734 mcg folate—these are all above or well above the BfR maximum levels for these three nutrients!
[the above determinations have been made using the USDA National Nutrient Database]
Fortunately, there have been many objections to the BfR approach to risk assessment and management for the determination of MPLs, but other options that are under consideration still, in the main, reveal MPLs, and in several important cases even Safe Upper Levels (SULs) for most vitamins and minerals that are well beneath the therapeutic range. A dramatic reminder of how cock-eyed these risk-based assessments are is given by comparing MPLs with amounts found in our food. For example, and astonishingly, the beta-carotene in two carrots or the selenium in one Brazil nut will typically exceed the MPLs for beta-carotene and selenium respectively.
Maximum Permitted Levels, or even SULs, insinuate that higher levels may expose consumers to risk, so most people assume that therapeutic ranges would typically be risky. Several decades of clinical nutritional practice demonstrates that the therapeutic range, just like the beta-carotene in ten carrots, or a handful of brazil nuts, poses no risk and is, as the term ‘therapeutic’ would imply, beneficial to health.
The ANH has submitted detailed submissions to European Commission, EFSA and the UK Food Standards Agency, drawing attention to some of the limitations of the proposed methodologies and suggesting alternatives, that are based on rational science. It is of paramount importance that, in determining MPLs, due account is given to other factors and processes. These include:
- the speciation of the nutrient (different nutrient forms of the same nutrient [group] often follow distinct pathways in the body, resulting in differing bioavailability, metabolism and toxicology) ;
- medical records and other medical or scientific evidence which demonstrates the safety of therapeutic and beneficial dosages of nutrients;
- evidence of safety of high intakes of nutrients ingested in foods by specific population groups;
- determinations must take into account all available and relevant evidence on both risks and benefits and must not ignore relevant studies and case reports;
- Where SULs cannot be established through lack of data, it is not possible to determine MPLs. Guidance Levels, as determined by the Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM) should not be used as surrogates for SULs.
- MPLs should be waived in situations where there are inadequate data to produce scientifically meaningful SULs or where there is no evidence of toxicity at even very high dosages (e.g., thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B12, biotin, etc.). As such, regulation needs to be proportionate and should only be applied where genuine risks to the general public can be determined.
- Codex Alimentarius (2)
- Vitamins – Bιταμίνες-
- Bill C-51 and Codex Alimentarius
- Profit Over Live – Το κέρδος πάνω από την ανθρώπινη ζωή.
- Dr. Rath Foundation
- Alliance for Natural Health
- National Health Federation
- Ian R. Crane