IAHF Webmaster: Breaking News, Whats New, Codex, All Countries, What to Do
IAHF List: The sky did not fall on November 2nd when Codex finalized the standard for vitamins and minerals in Bonn because Codex does not work like that.
What the Cartel finalized at Codex on November 2nd was a FRAMEWORK to establish allowable potency levels with the BLANKS to be filled in during the coming months via an electronic working group led by Australia (which has some of the most restrictive vitamin regulations in the world.) This is part of the ongoing effort to baloney slice us to death as the cartel hopes to not trigger a grass roots public backlash.
THATS WHERE IAHF COMES IN AND ITS WHY WE NEED YOUR ONGOING SUPPORT
IAHF has been reporting for years now that this INCREMENTAL AGENDA is what makes it so challenging to stop CODEX. Fighting this agenda is sort of like putting up with the Chinese Water Drop Treatment. Its maddening, but we have no choice if we are to preserve our access to the dietary supplements we need, and so we fight on.
Depending on who's news report you view from the Bonn meeting of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Use which just concluded today, what happened at Codex was either "GOOD" for the supplement industry and consumers or "BAD" for the supplement industry and consumers.
IAHF has commented numerous times over the years that an effort to literally HIJACK the dietary supplement industry is being spearheaded through the pharma dominated Council for Responsible Nutrition, and also through IADSA (International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Associations.) Read on-- and I'll guide you through their SPIN so that you can help IAHF to continue waking up vitamin companies, health food stores and alternative practitioners- which is why we're organizing the ANTI CODEX EMERGENCY MEETING to be at the ACAM CONFERENCE in San Diego on November 19th.....
THE PURPOSE OF THIS REPORT IS TO HELP YOU SORT OUT WHAT HAPPENED- AND WHERE WE MUST GO FROM HERE
The Nutraingredients website just published a very biased report about the Codex meeting in which they cast doubt on International Advocates for Health Freedom's concerns about Codex by quoting the illustrious John Hathcock of the Pharma Dominated Council for Responsible Nutrition who would have vitamin companies and the consuming public believe that we have just won a "victory" at CODEX.
As you read my response to Philippa Nuttall, Nutraingredients editor, you will be able to see through the SPIN which the Council for Responsible Nutrition and IADSA are attempting to DECEIVE the supplement industry with, and you will be very GLAD that your donations helped send two key people to the Bonn meeting.
We have the first report from Suzanne Harris of the Law Loft below, (she'll be sending additional information in the near future), followed by a report from Josef Hasslberger who we did not send to the meeting, but whose report is still well worth reading. A report will still be forthcoming from Anthony Rees in South Africa who your donations helped send, as well as from Paul Anthony Taylor.
I've been having extensive conversations with Harris as well as Taylor during the course of the meeting (which officially ended TODAY), and you should know that Harris and I will be at the EMERGENCY ANTI CODEX MEETING in San Diego at the ACAM conference on November 19th and need your ongoing donations for that purpose:
IAHF 556 Boundary Bay Rd.
Point Roberts WA 98281 USA
or via paypal at http://www.iahf.com
READ MY LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF NUTRAINGREDIENTS.COM WHICH CONTAINS COUNTER SPIN AGAINST WHAT CRN IS NOW DECEIVING THE INDUSTRY WITH-
MY RESPONSE INCLUDES REPORTS FROM HARRIS AND HASSLBERGER------ PLEASE FORWARD THIS WIDELY:
To the Editor
I am not surprised by the comments John Hathcock of CRN made about International Advocates for Health Freedom's concerns about the Codex efforts to finalize an international standard for vitamins and minerals, but I am surprised you would publish his comments without first giving me a chance to rebut them.
John Hathcock of the Council for Responsible Nutrition is HARDLY an unbiased source of information on the Codex Vitamin issue.
Ditto for Simon Petman of IADSA.
CRN's membership includes several multinational pharmaceutical companies including Bayer, BASF, Wyeth, Pfizer and others whose interests are not exactly congruent with those of the dietary supplement industry on a whole, much less with the interests of vitamin consumers.
I take exception to statements made by both men in your article
What you have just published is highly biased SPIN generated by two people who are doing the bidding of pharmaceutical interests that are doing their best to take over the dietary supplement industry.
I sent two people to the Codex meeting of the CCNFSDU in Bonn, and have been in touch with several others who were in attendance.
Are you willing to publish an alternative, contrasting point of view on what is occurring at Codex?
There is a huge overlap between CRN and IADSA, and IADSA has shown their true colors through the act of kicking NNFA New Zealand out of their umbrella group, doing NOTHING to assist NNFA New Zealand in fighting off massive pharma driven harmonization pressure coming from neighboring, much larger Australia. You can see complete documentation on what I'm saying here at http://www.iahf.com/iadsa/index.html At this site you will find gif files of a letter of complaint sent by the Board of Directors of NNFA New Zealand to IADSA complaining that IADSA is a controlled opposition group which is doing the diametric OPPOSITE of what they CLAIM to be doing, and you will find IADSA's terse letter of EXPULSION.
IAHF remains in touch with the New Zealand Health Trust http://www.nzhealthtrust.co.nz which is continuing the battle against harmonization of New Zealand's liberal food based dietary supplement laws to Australia's far more draconian, pharmaceutically based regulations (which are far more restrictive for consumers.)
On this New Zealand Health Trust website you will see that the vitamin consumers of New Zealand are strongly in opposition to their Parliament ratifying a Treaty which their health minister ILLEGALLY signed with the Australian government which would create one set of vitamin regulations for both countries, to be administered by an Australian corporation. You will see that the ruling Labor government of New Zealand has not been able to break the grass roots resolve there AGAINST harmonization of their laws and the stripping of their sovereingty.
The situation in New Zealand is a microcosm of what the WORLD is facing due to CODEX and due to the EU Food Supplement Directive.
You have published CRN and IADSA's position, but it does NOT represent the position of the ENTIRE dietary supplement industry, and if you represent it as such, you will not be presenting balanced news on this issue.
Consider these OTHER reports from the Codex meeting in Bonn which are more reflecting the concerns of consumers and many of the SMALLER dietary supplement companies, and there will be more besides these in the near future:
November 4, 2004
HEALTH FREEDOM TAKES A DOUBLE HIT AT CODEX
© 2004 The Law Loft
THIS YEAR'S CODEX COMMITTEE MEETING ON NUTRITION AND FOODS FOR SPECIAL DIETARY USES STARTED WITH A NASTY SHOCK, SOMETHING THAT WE ALL WERE EXPECTING BUT NOT THIS YEAR. DR. CHRISTINE TAYLOR OF THE FDA, NOW ON ASSIGNMENT TO THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION IN GENEVA, ANNOUNCED THE FORMAL OPENING OF A NEW JOINT FAO/WHO PROJECT. THE JOINT FAO/WHO DEVELOPMENT OF A SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION TO CREATE A FRAMEWORK FOR RISK ASSESSMENT OF NUTRIENTS AND RELATED SUBSTANCES. BEHIND THIS FANCY TITLE LURKS AN OMINOUS PROJECT & THE CREATION OF A FRAMEWORK RISK ASSESSMENT MODEL TO GOVERN THE ASSIGNMENT OF UPPER LIMITS (ULs) TO VITAMINS AND MINERALS AND PRESUMABLY OTHER NUTRIENTS AS WELL. SOUND LIKE PROGRESS? IT IS NOT! BASED ON THE PROJECT DESCRIPTION SO FAR, THE CURRENT PROPOSAL ENVISIONS:
going forth to set ULs on vitamins and minerals using expanded uncertainty factors, a fancy name for guesswork even where the data is unclear,
setting levels based on intakes calculated on the basis of both maximum supplementation and food source consumption of nutrients and then setting the Upper Limits low enough for the general population to protect even the most sensitive (sensitive to over exposure to nutrients) within the generally applied upper intake levels.
This is bad, bad news indeed and probably much worse than the general health freedom oriented observer at Codex realized since a little-known wrinkle within the Sanitary Phytosanitary Agreement allows the WTO to pick the international organization that sets these standards. In other words, it could be this joint FAO/WHO committee without reference back to Codex.
Or, equally bad, it could be this joint FAO/WHO Committee then referring back its framework to another entity within the Codex immediate parent, the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, that entity then acting in concert with Codex in the final stages of risk management under the guideline finalized at CCNFSDU this week (to be adopted by the full Codex Commission next summer.) Yes, it's confusing, but international bureaucracies often are! The point is whether they take path A or path B, the news seems equally grim and equally imminent. This is true in part because on Tuesday of this week, the USA caved in on disputed language in part 3.2.2 of the proposed draft guideline for vitamin and mineral food supplements. As now agreed, the guideline's part 3 on contents of vitamins and minerals, maximum amounts now contains three dangerous pegs:
first, the statement that safe upper levels per daily portion shall be based on scientific risk assessment. That is a seemingly innocuous statement until you realize that that risk assessment is going to be set within the framework of the new FAO/WHO joint project described above.
second, that daily intake of vitamins and minerals (maximum values) shall also be set by taking into account daily intake from 'other dietary sources.' That phrase hides another EU victory, namely, that in setting upper levels, both nutrients consumed from standard food sources and nutrients consumed from estimated high end dietary supplement consumption will be counted together in order to suppress general upper levels to protect the sensitive consumer.
and third, that when maximum values are set, regulators may use relatively low levels established in population reference values as part of the UL setting process. While the FDA claims this latter is acceptable compromise language, don´t you believe it!
While only the third peg is new as of this meeting, the changed meaning of the first two 'scientific risk assessment' and 'other dietary sources' is new, too, thanks to the unveiling of the new joint FAO/WHO project discussed above. Could it possibly get any worse? Yes, and it will unless intelligent concerted action is taken now.
PREVIEW OF COMING REPORT:
Next week we will give you and update on events at the equally important Codex Committee on General Principles and we'll have interviews that give industry sources a chance to rebut the analysis stated above. And the week after that, we will have a basic action plan designed to help protect the rights of consumers and small manufacturers acting within these global fora. Stay tuned.
November 03, 2004
Codex Nutrition Committee: Supplement Guidelines Final
by Josef Hasslberger
Tuesday 2 November 2004 - The Codex Alimentarius Nutrition Committee sitting in a week-long conclave here in Bonn, formerly the capital of Germany, has concluded its deliberations of proposed international Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. The delegates ironed out remaining differences and agreed to call the proposal a finished product, to be referred to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the executive body which has to give its final approval, probably by early July 2005. This decision ends a tedious decade-long marathon of what at times looked like a tug-of-war between countries supporting wide use of supplements for health and others much more cautious over the implications of having to import expensive nutrient-rich products, while their populations do not even have sufficient, let alone nutritious, foods.
Nutrition Committe of Codex in session - archive image
Industry representatives are satisfied with the results. "We did not get all we wanted, but we can work with these guidelines" was one comment heard in the corridors of the meeting's forum from a US industry representative who attended. Instead of severe dosage limitations - the original idea was to apply the minimal Recommended Daily Amounts or RDAs - it was agreed in last year's meeting to base possible dosage limitations on scientific risk analysis.
Nutrients are quite different from toxic chemicals, the first substances evaluated in this way. But work is underway to adapt the risk analysis principles to nutrients, which are vital parts of the diet, rather than contaminants. This is a separate project under the Codex Nutrition Committee, a year-round work group chaired by the Australian delegation, which will continue work in this coming year. There is also a work group charged with looking at nutrient reference values, which are the RDA amounts we find as percentages on food labels, such as - "this product contains 150 % of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K".
Consumers do look at such indications and if supplements are to promote optimal health, the figures must be right. There is a great opportunity here for those who believe nutritional products are the solution to our current health crisis. The science of nutritional intervention for health now has a chance to enter the mainstream and leave its mark on the official health advice provided to consumers.
The supplement Guidelines, as agreed by the Committee provide - at least for now - merely a statement of general principles. They do not mandate anything specific about either the sources of vitamins and minerals that can be used in the formulation of such products, nor do they restrict dosages, other than saying that future limits must be based on an analysis of the risks yet to be performed.
It appears that, apart from protesting against potentially restrictive Codex Guidelines for supplements, opposition may have to shift gears and bring the fight to the scientific arena. Energies might be well spent in providing scientific documentation attesting to the extremely low risk inherent in supplement use as well as to the efficacy of nutrients in prevention and health.
Standard or Guidelines?
Codex Alimentarius is in the business of crafting international standards, guidelines and related documents to facilitate cross-border trade in foods and protect the health of consumers. Countries may decide whether to apply such rules or not. Traditionally, guidelines were thought to be less binding than food standards, but independent research shows that this distinction has become eroded over time. The difference may now be more semantic than real.
In 1995, Codex Alimentarius and the then newly formed World Trade Organization agreed that WTO would use the documents elaborated by Codex as reference texts in the resolution of trade disputes. So while formerly, implementation of Codex documents was voluntary, this is no longer the case. As Suzan Walter of the American Holistic Health Association points out in an open letter distributed to delegates before this year's meeting, "all texts provided by Codex to WTO, no matter what they are labeled, can be used as mandatory international trade regulations to be applied to every nation."
There seems to be little awareness of this changed situation as yet. Some countries have expressly reserved their right to not apply the future Guidelines on Supplements because they classify those products as medicines - but there might be a snag. Regulating supplements under medicines law may not exempt Canada, Australia, Mexico and some other Latin American nations from an eventual challenge to their laws under international trade agreements. Even for the United States, where politicians openly state that they do not intend to follow externally imposed regulations, a future trade dispute might bring an unexpected moment of truth.
The World Trade Organization appears set to make no distinction, but until there is an actual case, no one knows for sure - a real quandary because international law now seems to flow out of the relatively anonymous deliberations of health officials attending Codex meetings. For the most part, those officials have no national mandate that could bind their country, nor do they seem to be aware that their decisions may change national laws by-passing any parliamentary checks and balances. Under the WTO, trade sanctions are the tool to force compliance.
Some more history
Work on these Supplement Guidelines was first proposed by the German delegation to the Codex Nutrition Committee in 1990. For several years, work progressed slowly but the agenda was kept alive by the Germans. At the time this was widely looked upon as a somewhat strange attempt to regulate supplements, coming as it did from a country that practically has no history of use of these products.
At the same time, Germany also introduced the idea of a European Food Supplements Directive. That effort was shelved for some years, after a first round of consultations showed that the field was much too difficult and contentious to regulate by directive. A few years later however - after Codex work on supplements had progressed - work re-started on the Food Supplements directive. This renewed effort was largely driven by the UK and Germany and as it happened, the European directive made it to the finishing line two years before the Codex guidelines.
The European food supplements directive may seem restrictive - indeed it has been challenged before the European Court of Justice over its prohibition of products that do not meet strict formulation criteria.
In shaping the Codex "consensus" on supplements, it appears that the EU directive provided a blueprint, a fact that was perhaps not given sufficient importance by non-European delegations. In the numerous meetings that led to the current text, corners were cut and at times, the German chairman Rolf Grossklaus and the representative of the European Union, Basil Mathioudakis, have been more or less openly accused of bending the rules.
Working in concert, the Germany/EU team seems to have acted to blunt initiatives of the developing countries as well as the English-speaking world, even excluding views of some delegations not strictly in agreement with what now appears to have been a pre-set agenda. The result - a text for the Codex Supplements Guidelines that reads remarkably similar to the European Food Directive. Unfortunately no transcripts of these meetings exist, the report prepared by the Codex Secretariat does not include details of proposals and comments or show how some interventions are "left by the wayside".
One example of apparent rule-bending: The Codex text does not expressly state what its purpose is, although in a recent meeting of the general rules committee, such a statement of purpose was named as one of the essential elements of all standards and related texts. Challenged by both South Africa and Tanzania on this point, the German Chairman Grossklaus glossed over the problem because re-opening the fundamental discussion of what is to be regulated and how might have given a completely different result than what has been "inherited" from previous meetings. After all, work has been going for years and science as well as public perception do change...