The proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) may be the focus of an intense and escalating struggle on Capitol Hill, but most Americans have never heard of it. Many of those who are reasonably well informed are at best dimly aware of CAFTA, and probably consider it to be peripheral to their individual concerns. Trade agreements aren't the stuff of riveting political drama, they don't generally lend themselves to tidy summation in sound-bites, and the disputes they generate don't fall neatly inside the artificial categories that define contemporary partisan politics.
For all of these reasons, most Americans react to discussion of CAFTA by clicking the remote, hitting the scan button on the talk-radio dial, or turning the page. But it's likely that the reaction would be quite different if the American public were to recognize that approval of CAFTA would effectively let a gaggle of pasty-faced European bureaucrats decide whether or not we will be allowed to buy and consume vitamins and nutritional supplements.
Just days ago, the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome approved a regulatory framework that would eventually phase out over-the-counter sale of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other food-based nutritional aids. This ruling would nullify the Dietary Supplement, Health and Education Act of 1994, which was enacted after the federal Food and Drug Administration threatened to ban vitamins and other non-drug supplements. To enforce the terms of that ban, armed FDA agents conducted a highly publicized raid on the office of "vitamin doctor" Jonathan Wright, trashing his office, seizing records, and harassing his patients.
It is estimated that roughly half of the money spent by Americans on health care is invested in non-medical dietary supplements. Outraged over the FDA's totalitarian ambitions and thuggish tactics, millions of Americans supported the 1994 legislation. Undaunted, proponents of totalitarian medicine & and their allies in politically connected pharmaceutical companies & simply appealed to a "higher" venue, the Codex Commission. Established by the UN in 1961, the Commission "establishes guidelines to harmonize trade in food," explains one European account of the recent decision.
Prior to creation of the World Trade Organization a decade ago (with the valuable help of Republican leaders Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole), the Codex Commission was an utterly toothless institution, providing a sinecure for bureaucratic place-holders and abetting the slaughter of innocent trees to generate paper cluttered with worthless pronouncements. But with the WTO in place, the Commission now has the means to enforce its rulings. Through the targeted use of trade sanctions, the WTO has the means to compel nations to obey its rulings; on several occasions, the Bush administration has meekly obeyed the global trade body's edicts. Thus the Codex Commission has made it known that it expects all nations to "harmonize" their regulations governing dietary supplements with its new regulatory framework.
This is where CAFTA comes into the picture. Like the NAFTA agreement and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), CAFTA contains a provision called the "Sanitary Phytosanitary Measures Agreement," which would require all signatory nations to "harmonize" their domestic food safety standards to those issued by the Codex Commission. John C. Hammell of International Advocates for Health Freedom points out that the "safety standards" imposed by the Commission in essence treat vitamins as potentially dangerous drugs, imposing "Maximum Safe Permitted Levels" of potency that would make them practically useless.
CAFTA, obviously, is not merely a trade agreement. It is a building block in a centrally managed global economic and political system. Even casual students of the sleep-inducing language of globalist bureaucrats should recognize that CAFTA, rather than being a free trade accord, is close kindred to various UN treaties. According to the preamble of the agreement, as recently adopted by the Senate, CAFTA is intended to:
- "promote regional economic integration";
- "provide a catalyst to broader international cooperation";
- define the "respective rights and obligations" of nations & including the United States & "under the
agreement establishing the World Trade Organization";
- advance "sustainable development, and strengthen [international] cooperation on environmental matters";
- "provide an impetus toward establishing the Free Trade Area of the Americas."
By enacting regional trade agreements like CAFTA, Congress would surrender power to international bureaucrats like those responsible for the back-door effort to ban vitamins. And it's reasonable to believe that if UN-employed bureaucrats can decide what vitamins people can take & in effect, dictating to us how we will take care of our physical health & they will exploit every opportunity to regulate our lives and livelihoods.
CAFTA, as we have explained elsewhere, is also a disguised foreign aid program designed to use concessionary trade policies to fatten Central American governments at the expense of U.S. agricultural producers. This might help explain the eagerness of its architects to keep vitamins out of the hands of the American public: If we're weak and sickly enough, chances are we wouldn't be able to give our ruling class the sound thrashing they deserve once the costs of CAFTA become apparent.
In any case, there's still time to stop CAFTA before it takes effect.