A Nutricidal Codex (Follow-Up)

  In the last two weeks, we received many reader emails doubting the validity of our claims in our recent article "A Nutricidal Codex." Due to the flood of inquiries, we decided to run a follow-up and address your questions and comments to the best of our knowledge.

One particular trigger for readers' skepticism was an article on the urban legend site Snopes.com that seems to debunk the Codex Alimentarius "scare." To help you make up your own mind, here is a rebuttal on the Snopes article on Rima Laibow's website.

(For full disclosure, we should mention that Dr. Laibow appears to be a somewhat controversial figure in the anti-Codex movement.)

We also did a thorough research of the available material and dug up some additional information. We recommend you start by watching the easy-to-digest, 28-minute British documentary titled "We Become Silent--the Last Days of Health Freedom" that features several U.S. lawmakers.

Many readers doubted that the Codex Alimentarius will affect U.S. law (DSHEA). Yet on its own website, the FAO states under the subline Objective 6: Promoting Maximum Application of Codex Standards: "As the pre-eminent international standards-setting body for food, the CAC has a clear and strategic interest in promoting the maximum use of its standards both for domestic regulation and international trade." [Emphasis added.]

Some of you also commented that the "Vitamin and Mineral Guideline" of the Codex sounds reasonable and entirely unsuspicious. However, when you read the guideline more closely, you'll notice the following passage:

"Maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals in vitamin and mineral food supplements per daily portion of consumption as recommended by the manufacturer shall be set, taking the following criteria into account:

(a) upper safe levels of vitamins and minerals established by scientific risk assessment based on generally accepted scientific data, taking into consideration, as appropriate, the varying degrees of sensitivity of different consumer groups;

(b) the daily intake of vitamins and minerals from other dietary sources."

So what's the fuss about? Let's take this passage apart piece by piece, starting with upper safe levels and scientific risk assessment.

A UK-based, pan-European coalition named Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) explains on its website: "There are two distinct phases in the development of Maximum Permitted Levels as proposed by the EU Food Supplements Directive and the global Codex guidelines on vitamin and mineral food supplements. The first phase is the establishment of Upper Safe Levels (USLs), using so-called 'scientific risk assessment.' The second phase, which appears to be less well understood in terms of its impact on dosages, will tend in many cases to dramatically reduce the USLs. Only one organization to-date in the world has performed this task, this being Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)."

The table below compares the upper safe levels set by the BfR to those set by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Examples for Upper Safe Levels:

SubstanceFNBEFSABfR
Vitamin A3,000 mcg3,000 mcg800 mcg
Vitamin C2,000 mgn/n225 mg
Vitamin B6100 mg25 mg5.4 mg
Vitamin D50 mcg50 mcg5 mcg
Vitamin E1,000 mg300 mg15 mg
Folic acid1,000 mcg1,000 mcg400 mcg
Copper 10 mg5 mg1.5 mg
Iron 45 mgn/n15 mg
Selenium400 mcg300 mcg70 mcg
Zinc40 mg25 mg10 mg

Remember, the official upper safe levels for the Codex haven't been set yet. However, it is likely that they will be based on this or a similar result of "scientific risk assessment."

And that's not all, asserts the American Holistic Health Association. There's still the part about the daily intake of vitamins and minerals from other dietary sources. The wording implies that the upper safe levels will take into account the vitamins and minerals you're supposedly already ingesting with your food each day--which will lower the permitted maximum dosage of supplements even more. And, of course, there's also the varying degrees of sensitivity of different consumer groups... another reason to go down, down, down.

Another bone of contention was Dr. Laibow's outrageous claim that "just the Vitamin and Mineral Guideline alone will result in about 3 billion deaths." One of our readers asked, quite sensibly: "But aren't there only about 6.5 billion people in the whole world? Do you really think that many people even take vitamin and mineral supplements? Even if we're talking about more than supplements, it still seems rather incredible to me, personally..."

Of course she's right. We don't know how many people would really die, and Dr. Laibow may well have overstated things to dramatize her position. She said many people would die "from the preventable diseases of under-nutrition," such as cancer, diabetes and other chronic degenerative diseases. Why under-nutrition, though? Can't we get most of our nutrients from food? Yes, but... and there are many "buts."

First, there's the lifestyle of the average Westerner, which includes junk and processed foods, empty carbs, lots of sugar and too few fruits and vegetables. For many people, supplementing their diet with vitamins and minerals is a life saver. Furthermore, even people who try to eat healthy may be increasingly susceptible to under-nutrition. Due to factory-style farming practices in developed countries, our food is not what it used to be. According to a Guardian article from February 2006, mineral levels in milk and meat have plummeted over the last 60 years.

"The levels of iron recorded in the average rump steak have dropped by 55%," states the article, "while magnesium fell by 7%. Looking at 15 different meat items, the analysis found that the iron content had fallen on average by 47%. The iron content of milk had dropped by more than 60%, and by more than 50% for cream and eight different cheeses. Milk appears to have lost 2% of its calcium, and 21% of its magnesium too."

Dr. Tim Lobstein, member of the UK consumer watchdog agency "The Food Commission," commented that "today's agriculture does not allow the soil to enrich itself, but depends on chemical fertilizers that don't replace the wide variety of nutrients plants and humans need."

As for the application of rBST and antibiotics, the final word hasn't been spoken yet. However, according to the Canadian government's website, "in February 1998, the Joint FAO-WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives concluded that milk and meat from rBST-treated cows did not pose any danger to human health."

Aside from that, your libertarian-leaning editors are appalled by the obvious power grab the Codex Alimentarius represents. We believe that in a free country, people should be able to choose what they want to put into their body.

U.S. Congressman Ron Paul (R.-Texas) agrees. In a speech before the House last year, he warned that "Members of the American bureaucracy may be hoping to achieve via international fiat what they cannot achieve through the domestic law-making process--the power to restrict consumers' access to dietary supplements."

He urged the representatives to read an article by liberty-activist Henry Lamb, who predicted that "If current plans proceed on course, American consumers are in for a shock."

Lamb's conclusion: "[The Codex Alimentarius Commission] is on the brink of becoming an Orwellian bureaucracy--far worse than the worst fantasies of the one-world conspiracy theories."

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Posted 12-12-2006 5:29 PM by Shannara Johnson
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