The National Health Federation -vs- Codex
Written by the National Health Federation
Published: May 2005
Although the Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements have now been adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, there still remains much to play for in the battle to maintain and improve our health freedoms. Thus far, for example, the upper safe levels for the Guidelines have not yet been set, nor are there any restrictions on the forms of vitamins and minerals that can be used in dietary supplements.
As regular readers of this newsletter will be aware, the Guidelines were drafted by the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), who meet once a year each November in Bonn, Germany. This year’s meeting of the CCNFSDU will be held during 21-25 November, and the National Health Federation will once again be sending a delegation to attend, lobby delegations, speak out at the meeting, and report back on the outcome.
Three items on the agenda at this year’s meeting are of particular importance to anybody who has an interest in health freedom.
Proposals for Additional or Revised Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs) for labelling purposes
The proposal to consider additional or revised nutrient reference values (NRVs) for labelling purposes was originally made at the November 2003 meeting of the CCNFSDU, and this year the Codex delegates will be considering a discussion paper prepared by South Africa.
NRVs can essentially be thought of as a way of describing the nutritional requirements of the average person. Naturally, however, this presents us with a problem because, given that each of us is genetically unique, can it really be said that there is such a thing as an ‘average’ person? Moreover, in considering ‘requirements’ the fundamental question arises as to whether we are talking about the nutritional requirements for ordinary health, or those for optimum health.
The European Union and its allies will doubtless be pressing at this meeting for the NRVs to be set as near to RDA levels as possible. Fortunately, however, the discussion paper prepared by South Africa shows clear evidence of support for the argument that NRVs should reflect the most recent scientific research, in order to promote optimum health and reduce the risk of disease in the majority of people. As such, it is expected that the opponents of natural health and health freedom will very likely be trying every trick in the book at this meeting in order to achieve their aims.
Recommendations on the Scientific Basis of Health Claims
This CCNFSDU agenda item is crucial to the future of health freedom, because, in order for chronic disease to become largely a thing of the past, dietary supplement manufacturers need to be able to provide truthful and non-misleading information about their products.
At present, however, health claims for dietary supplements are mostly either illegal or subject to strict regulatory controls in the vast majority of countries. Unsurprisingly, therefore, rather than making it easier for dietary supplement manufacturers to print lifesaving information on their product labels, the current draft of these Recommendations appears to have been prepared in such a way as to allow the current unacceptably restrictive regulatory controls to be enforced still further.
The European Commission delegate famously stated at the 2003 meeting of the CCNFSDU that health claims for vitamin and mineral supplements should be prohibited. Given therefore that the CCNFSDU Chairman stated at the same meeting that drugs are to mitigate and prevent diseases, and that the role of food supplements is to support the diet, the type of world that Codex envisages is now becoming increasingly apparent.
Discussion Paper on Risk Analysis
This CCNFSDU Discussion Paper is particularly crucial to the future development of the 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. Notably therefore, when this issue was discussed at last year’s CCNFSDU meeting, the committee indicated that it would be dealing with the “over dosage of nutrients.” The content of this year’s Discussion Paper continues in much the same vein, making it abundantly clear that the CCNFSDU will be treating vitamins and minerals as dangerous chemicals, as opposed to essential dietary elements. Until such time as this approach changes, therefore, our health and our freedoms will continue to remain seriously at risk.
The agenda items and documents discussed above can be downloaded from: www.codexalimentarius.net/download/report/646/nf27_01e.pdf