Would You Buy a Used Car From This Man?
Written by the National Health Federation
Published: January 2006
John Venardos, writing with a confidence born of years of pharmaceutical-industry experience at Pfizer and G.D. Searle, assures us that he is “setting the record straight” about Codex Alimentarius.1 In his article of the same title, he proceeds to tell us that Codex is good for us, based as it is upon “science,” that we have nothing to fear, and that the Codex naysayers are all wrong. This, by the way, from the man who worked with Donald Rumsfeld at G.D. Searle to push toxic aspartame on an unsuspecting public, and then later while at Pfizer to help it promote GM organisms for sale, the terrible results of both of which are only now becoming increasingly evident.
Fool Me Once, Shame on You. Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me.
Now, Venardos wants you to trust what he says about Codex. Throwing organizational names around with liberal abandon – names such as the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and the International Alliance of Dietary Food Supplement Associations (IADSA), he wants to impress us with the name-dropping fact that he is not alone. No indeed, he’s not alone; he has his fat-cat pharmaceutical-industry pals backing him up on this point. And why not? With the pharmaceutical industry buying into the dietary-supplement business for, what is to them, chump change, they can afford to buy up enough companies to enable them to take over the dietary-supplement trade associations. And from there, the names that you have long trusted in the past can be used as platforms to make you believe almost anything.
Such as Venardos’ assertion that a “misinformation campaign” about Codex is being “financed in part by companies that are not strangers to regulatory enforcement actions.” Nice try. But anyone with a room-temperature I.Q. and a memory to match will remember that Venardos’ current employer, Herbalife, is itself no stranger to “regulatory enforcement actions.” In fact, Herbalife is one of the all-time prize-winners of regulatory enforcement, having received a royal black eye from the California State Attorney General’s Office to the tune of $850,000 back in 1986 – not to mention the huge sums it expended in attorneys’ fees and costs defending itself against the regulators then and since.
So is Venardos’ Freudian slip of the pen telling us something? Since Herbalife leads the pack of regulatory-enforcement victims, perhaps Venardos’ conscience is forcing him to admit to a disinformation (not misinformation) campaign of his own. And as disinformation campaigns go, his is quite a whopper. Just look at the real facts.
Codex Will Be Based Upon Junk Science
For someone who claims to have attended Codex meetings for twenty years, Venardos is strangely naïve when he claims that “For the first time, this Codex guideline provides industry, consumers and governments with a real opportunity to achieve international harmonization involving the trade of vitamin and mineral supplements based on sound science and empirical methods, versus the application of arbitrary upper limits.” It is fortunate for Venardos that he used the word “opportunity,” but not so fortunate that he modified it with the word “real.”
As anyone who actually spends one day at the Codex meetings will quickly realize, the European Union (EU) is in the driver’s seat. The rest of us are just along for the ride. And quite a ride it is, for while the EU has indeed agreed that Codex may take a science-based approach to setting upper limits for vitamins and minerals, the science that it is based upon is not the objective science that Venardos dreams about. Rather, it is a harshly cynical “science” that views vitamins and minerals as dangerous threats to the World’s large pharmaceutical industries – threats that must be eliminated. The problem is they just don’t know yet where to bury the bodies, so for the moment they are content to gag and bind them tightly and throw them into a dark closet.
For those of us who do pay attention to these details, we have noticed that the same Chairman who oversees the Codex Committee establishing the Codex Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplement Guidelines is – curiously enough – the same gentleman at the German Risk Assessment Institute (BfR) that has used flat-earth “science” to establish maximum permitted levels for vitamins at such astonishingly low levels as 1.3 milligrams for Vitamin B1 and 5.4 milligrams for Vitamin B6, when the normal store levels are easily 20 to 40 times that. And in case you were wondering, yes, he does call himself a “doctor.”
Venardos can dream all he wants, while the real world of European science marches on. If the BfR has its way, and so far it is appearing as if it is on track to accomplish exactly that, then labels won’t matter at all. Venardos can call them “science-based” levels or “magical” levels or “pretty-please levels with whipped cream on top” until he’s blue in the face, the reality will be that the levels adopted by Codex will be as close to RDA levels as one can get without having to take out a marriage license.
Codex Is a Domestic Threat
Again, for someone who claims to have attended Codex meetings for twenty years, Venardos is also strangely silent about the connection between the Codex food-supplement guidelines and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Does he think that the Codex guidelines are being created in a vacuum? Has he not seen the obvious parallelism between the harshly-restrictive EU’s Food Supplements Directive and the Codex Guidelines? Has he not read the language in the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and made the minimal mental connection necessary to realize that as a signatory member of the WTO, the United States is absolutely duty-bound to comply with the WTO’s dictates in trade disputes?
Of course he has. The pharmaceutical companies did not get to be the most profitable businesses on the planet by hiring idiots. Venardos has put two and two together and come up with the right number. He and his employers know very well that as this increasingly interwoven web of treaties, international agreements, and non-democratic bureaucratic rulemaking takes hold it will force all member countries – including the United States – into the common fold of harmonization. It is right there in print for any literate person to read:
“To harmonize sanitary and phytosanitary measures on as wide a basis as possible, Members shall base their food safety measures on international standards, guidelines or recommendations.” (Article 3 of the SPS Agreement, enforced by WTO) (emphasis added)
Remember, Codex is being touted as a “consumer protection” measure even more than it is a trade-enhancement vehicle. To most of the World’s population and virtually all of its health bureaucrats, vitamins and minerals can be dangerous to human health. In their medieval minds, vitamin-and-mineral supplements are not even necessary, while high-dose vitamins and minerals are a major public-health risk. That is why the German BfR has established as its “Maximum Permitted Levels” such absurdly low potencies for most vitamins and minerals. They claim it is a food-safety measure.
So, Venardos can wrap himself in the American flag while holding up a copy of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) as a shield all he wants; but when the inevitable trade dispute comes thundering down from the heavens contending that American high-dose vitamins and minerals are a dangerous violation of the food-safety measures of Codex, and we have yes-women FDA bureaucrats to defend us before the WTO Trade Dispute Board on non-existent legal grounds, will the U.S. Congress pay the billion-dollar trade sanction or change DSHEA to match Codex standards? You know the answer, Congress will cut and run in a New York second.
And They Know It
The saddest thing, though, is that Venardos knows this. CRN knows this. IADSA knows this. Even the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA) knows this. They all know it. They must. They just don’t care.
They also must think that you, the readers of Venardos’ fantasy article, are idiots – that you will buy into whatever they tell you. After all, they are the trade associations and the experts; they must be telling you the truth. Together, we all fought the good fight for DSHEA some twelve years ago and won. We are all in this together once again, right?
Wrong. Times have changed. The players have changed. People have died, people have been born. Companies have come and gone. Some have even grown . . . and been bought up by bean counters and pharmaceutical interests who look not to freedom and customer interests but instead to the bottom line. They are the ones who now sit at the trade-association meetings and call the shots.
And what is the bottom line? Globalize the market and sell as many mass-produced, non-innovative food supplements as you profitably can without challenging the drug companies’ health monopoly. Open the World’s business doors everywhere to me-too blandness that sells but will rarely heal. And to hell with innovative products, freedom of choice, and real science.
Codex is their vehicle for driving home their secret agenda, and they are counting on us to be naïve enough and stupid enough to buy it. Just don’t be fooled by the fancy paint job and the salesmen’s slick sales talk, this vehicle will leave us stranded on the most desolate highway you could ever imagine. You can bet your life on it.
- “Setting the Record Straight” can be found at