13 February 2009

Codex misinformation creates public confusion

There is presently a lot of information circulating on the internet about Codex [2]—and its potential imminent impact on the banning of food (dietary) supplements including vitamins, minerals and herbs — that is inaccurate.

The misinformation is feeding people’s fears and is preventing them, especially in Europe, from using what democratic powers still remain to influence legal processes that will, in the short-term, have a far bigger impact on their access to natural health products. This is particularly the case for the nearly 500 million people living in the 27 Member States of Europe, where it is European Directives and Regulations that present the main risk to their continued access to beneficial natural health products.

Much of the misinformation appears to stem from the US-based Natural Solutions Foundation (NSF), and in particular, a youtube-released video called Nutricide featuring NSF's medical director, Dr Rima Laibow.

For two different assessments of the relevance of Codex to natural health—which should go a long way towards helping you to separate the facts from the myths—please refer to the two articles referenced below:

ANH’s newly revised Codex campaign page [1] (that now also deals directly with the issue of Codex misinformation)
An article, ‘Codex and Health Freedom—Beware of the ‘Instant Experts [3]’ on the Dr Rath Foundation website.


One of the rumours that abounds suggests that Codex will ban a wide variety of food supplements as of 31 December 2009. This is wrong. This date refers to the end of the transition phase of the European Food Supplements Directive [4] which brings in a ban after this date of any vitamin or mineral food supplement that has yet to be approved on the Directive's positive list (Annex II).

This means that many food supplements containing vitamins and minerals that have not been approved as safe and bioavailable by the European Food Safety Authority [5] will indeed be banned from 1 January 2010. But it is not Codex that is causing these bans—it is the European Directive. The same European Directive will also likely impose restrictions on maximum dosages on vitamins and minerals in 2010—and this is something that the ANH, together with a number of other organisations, such as the Irish Association of Health Stores [6], are working very hard to counter [7]. But again, these restrictions on dosages are not the result of Codex, but are the effects of the EU Directive.

In fact, it is the mechanism by which restrictions are occurring in Europe that are forming the basis for the Codex Guideline on Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements [8]—which is just one of some 300 guidelines and standards to be produced by the inter-governmental Codex Alimentarius Commission [2].

At present, the US-based National Health Federation [9] is the only health freedom organisation to have 'observer status' at Codex meetings. While the NHF has can potentially influence decisions in Codex meetings, as a non-governmental organisation, it has no voting rights.

UK Petition on Codex at No 10 Downing Street

Another misinformed, but undoubtedly well-meaning, action is the petition to the UK government on Codex at No 10 Downing Street, London. You can find this petition at: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Vitamins/#detail [10].

This petition indicates that Codex will cause herbal/vitamin/mineral food supplements to become ‘prescription only’. This is not the case, as Codex Alimentarius deals with all categories of food and has already ratified (in 2005) the text of an international guideline on vitamin and mineral food supplements, which is expected to be finalised—complete with maximum guideline dosages—in around 2012 or 2013. By definition, products compliant with these guidelines will be safeguarded as a category of food (i.e., food supplements) and therefore will not be categorised as medicines.

Of course the petition is only open to British citizens (yet it’s being pushed as far afield as New Zealand) and the more urgent issue is the much more imminent restrictions in Europe being imposed by provisions of European Directives and Regulations that then have a major bearing on Codex.

The relationship between Codex and EU laws on natural health

In many ways, it is more correct to see Codex (with respect to its limited application to natural health issues) as the primary mechanism that allows restrictive European laws to be exported into Codex. From there it then forms an international guideline for the rest of the world. It's important then to appreciate that these guidelines cannot directly limit the availability of products—it's only when they are then implemented into national or regional laws that restrictions occur.

Codex member countries, of which there are over 170, are strongly encouraged to adopt Codex guidelines and standards, not just on natural health issues but across all other parts of the food chain, into their national or regional laws. And to understand more about the consequences of not implementing Codex guidelines and standards, please see both the ANH's Codex campaign [1] and its Say No to GM campaign [11]. Here you'll find examples of how the World Trade Organization [12] imposes trade sanctions, that have the capacity to cripple any country other than a super power.

Using your democratic right effectively

For people living in Europe, this is why there is little point in only making your concerns known to your national member of parliament (elected representative). The laws that will impact you are emerging from Brussels, so it is the European Commission, along with your own government (elected representatives and relevant government ministries) and, and then, very importantly, your Member of the European Parliament (MEP) that are so important to lobby.

Europeans who don’t already know who their MEP is, can find him or her at the following link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members.do [13].

Get involved in the ANH campaign

We would also urge you to look at the ANH Get Involved [14] page.

We realise that this is a difficult and complicated issue and we are very committed to trying to help people find their way through the maze. Please explore our website and think about what ways you can work with us to help ensure that our fundamental right to natural health is not just maintained during our lifetimes, but also for future generations.

Thank you.

The ANH Core Team.

Source URL: http://www.anhcampaign.org/news/codex-misinformation-creates-public-confusion
[1] http://www.anhcampaign.org/campaigns/codex
[2] http://www.codexalimentarius.net
[3] http://www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/THE_FOUNDATION/Events/codex-beware.htm
[4] http://www.anhcampaign.org/files/FSD_final-OJEC-2002.pdf
[5] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EF
[6] http://www.irishhealthstores.com/
[7] http://www.anhcampaign.org/news/anh-press-release-ray-of-sunlight-from-anhirish-efforts-in-brussels
[8] http://www.codexalimentarius.net/download/report/644/al28_41e.pdf
[9] http://www.thenhf.com/
[10] http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Vitamins/#detail
[11] http://www.anhcampaign.org/campaigns/say-no-to-gm
[12] http://www.wto.org/
[13] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members.do
[14] http://www.anhcampaign.org/get-involved

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