Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Natural Health Hamstrung? What Codex Is And Why It Matters To Your Wellbeing

Natural health is under direct threat from those that claim to be on the look out for our wellbeing. It may be just a matter of time before vitamin and mineral supplements are tightly controlled by the pharmaceutical companies, the words 'organic' and 'genetically modified' become utterly meaningless and additives and pesticides become inescapable. Meet Codex.

Photo credit: Marcin Balcerzak

Imagine having to go to the doctor to ask for vitamin and mineral supplements, only to be prescribed an overpriced, underpowered product. Or a visit to the supermarket where the organic produce section was little more than a marketing sham, covering a wealth of agricultural evils. Picture a world where you are denied access to information about the additives or pesticides used in growing or preserving your food. We may already be well on the way, thanks to Codex.

Codex is an advisory body to the WTO, whose recommendations are in fact very often taken as a standard against which member nations create laws governing the regulation of food and natural health products such as vitamins and minerals.

This involves the creation of guidelines that are taken up and often enforced around the globe, and reaches as far as:

  • The proposed regulation and wresting control of vitamin and mineral supplements over to the pharmaceutical-medical complex
  • The use of genetic modification, growth-hormones and additives in the food production cycle
  • Control over the labeling of foods, and factors considered to declare them 'organic'

Each of these factors has potentially disastrous consequences for our health and wellbeing, with the very real possibility of denying us the right to make our own natural and supplementary health care decisions.



Codex - An Overview

Photo credit: John Tomaselli

''quis custodiet ipsos custodes

(who will watch the watchmen?)''

Juvenal, Satire VI

The Codex Alimentarius commission is a global body set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and describes its purpose as:

''protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations.''

Codex Alimentarius website, 2007

Codex Alimentarius was founded in 1963 under heavy influence of the pharmaceutical industry, and to this day has many unelected members with direct connections to this industry, many of whom are without a background in nutrition or food science.

While the commission is in the business of proposing guidelines, rather than setting laws, these guidelines are taken as a gold standard by the WTO, and are as such effectively mandatory for all member nations of this important organization. Given the scale and scope of the WTO, Codex directly impacts upon regulations and decisions made in the health and food industries in a vast range of nations, and in the following disturbing ways:

Vitamins and Food Supplements

Photo credit:
Suprijono Suharjoto

There is mounting evidence that vitamin supplements taken in sufficiently high doses (well above those quoted in the usual RDAs), can have significant benefits for maintaining health and wellbeing, even effectively curing a range of serious illnesses and medical conditions.

Evidently this is not in the best interests of the pharmaceutical companies, who make a handsome profit from the business of disease. Far preferable for them, of course, would be to have a captive customer-base locked into going through the medical system and dealing with their health issues in a profitable 'preventative' and 'curative' engagement with costly pharmaceuticals.

So it is disturbing to find that Codex has released guidelines mandating the strict enforcement of both upper limits for dosage of vitamin and mineral supplements while simultaneously prohibiting any and all claims that they are suitable for preventing, curing, alleviating or curing disease.

As many countries move closer and closer towards these 'recommendations' the end result could very well make for tight medical control of all such supplements, effectively criminalizing their use outside of being prescribed directly by a doctor.

Now given that the dosages recommended by the industry fall radically below those known to have highly beneficial effects, what this effectively means is that patients will be left at the discretion of the medical-pharmaceutical complex. As such, prices can be fixed, dosages lowered, and alternative, more costly, chemical solutions offered as the best possible solution.

When the people making those decisions are directly in the pay of said pharmaceutical industry, can we really trust them to make the best decisions for our ongoing wellbeing?

Organic Foods

Photo credit: Alexei Novikov

But it doesn't stop there, unfortunately, for the 'recommendations' given out by Codex extend not just to vitamins and minerals, but to the very food we eat.

If you buy food labeled organic, often at a considerable premium in the supermarkets, you expect that it will conform to high standards that differentiate it from the alternatives. This is an active decision to embrace a healthier option, and escape detrimental side-effects.

So you would probably be disappointed if you were to find out that this apparently organic food had been treated with various additives and been subject to unnatural treatments at various stages in the production cycle.

Nevertheless, this is exactly what Codex are making possible with their recommendations regarding organic foods. While the additives under consideration are of natural origin, they are nevertheless known to cause a number of ailments and allergies. Here are some examples:

  • Sodium Nitrate is under consideration as a preservative and 'colour retention agent' for use in dried and cured poultry, game and meat. Sodium nitrate does not occur naturally and has been linked to both cancer and hyperactivity in children
  • Ethylene is under consideration as a treatment agent to artificially ripen fruit and vegetables while in transit, effectively applying the very unnatural methodologies that organic farming ostensibly sets out to avoid
  • Carrageenan, which is to be permitted for use in some dairy and all plant matter, has been linked directly to the formation of ulcers and intestinal cancers

Organic foods not only promote better health, but also discourage the use of pesticides and other chemicals in the growth cycle, denying the bio-chemical companies - many of whom are also pharmaceutical manufacturers, potential sales. As such, to best serve the interests of these industries, somebody has to pay the price.

GM Foods and Pesticides

Photo credit: Tracy Hebden

Genetically modified foods are unique in that their seeds can be patented, just as pharmaceuticals can. In many cases the companies applying for and subsequently controlling these patents have concerns in both markets, and thus shared interests in their ongoing success.

So it is no surprise, then, to hear that Codex has made several recommendations actively supporting the use of genetically modified foods across the nations belonging to the WTO. The upshot of the recommendations made is likely to make it mandatory for compliant nations to approve and import those GM foods deemed acceptable by Codex. Which places the weight of responsibility on an organization with decidedly vested interests.

What's really frightening is that as a direct consequence the USA, Argentina and Canada are lobbying for there to be no requirement to disclose the presence of genetically modified organisms in the food that they export. If these recommendations become standards, none of us will ever be sure again if we are consuming GM foods or not, regardless of our stance on the issue and its impact upon our wellbeing.

Furthermore, Codex has been responsible for setting the maximum amount of pesticide residues allowed to be present in the foods we eat. Unfortunately, as they only measure the maximum amount of individual agents, this does not account for the combined or cumulative effects of more than one pesticide. Yet again, the interests of the pharmaceutical-bio-chemical industry are put before the health of those at the end of the production cycle: us.

Video - Nutricide: Criminalizing Natural Health, Vitamins and Health

In the following video (0' 40") Dr. Rima Laibow MD argues the case against Codex, and discusses the very real threat it poses to our future health and wellbeing:

Conclusions: Natural Health Hamstrung?

Photo credit: Lorelyn Medina

Codex poses a very real threat to our health and wellbeing. Whether you consider the potential threat to our freedom of choice with regards to natural health and vitamin supplements, or indeed the food that makes it to our tables every day, it would certainly seem that there is reason to be concerned.

When those with vested interests in a corrupt and all-powerful pharmaceutical-bio-chemical complex are in charge of the food we eat and our options as to how we remain healthy there is much to question. In this short article, which draws heavily on the excellent research conducted by the Dr. Rath Health Organization, and particularly Paul Anthony Taylor's coverage of Codex, I have tried to summarize the impact Codex is having on:

  • Our freedom to choose our own vitamin and mineral supplement intake, as a means of maintaining personal wellbeing and health
  • Our ability to know whether we are buying pure organic produce, or unnaturally modified foodstuffs
  • Our choice to avoid genetically modified foods

These are not trivial things, nor are they things that effect other people. We are looking at a dangerous threat to our personal freedom to choose how best to take care of ourselves.

Additional Resources

If you would like to read more about the ideas discussed in this article, you might want to check out the following links:

Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "Natural Health Hamstrung? Who Codex Is And Why It Matters To Your Wellbeing

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posted by Michael Pick on Saturday, June 16 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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