Codex Alimentarius Update

What do airplanes, pharmaceutical drugs and Codex Alimentarius have in common? Answer: a black box. When an airplane crashes, its black box, retrieved from the wreckage, contains a record of events up to the moment of the crash and enables analysts to determine the cause of the tragedy.

Likewise, the U.S. Federal Drug Agency (FDA) “blackboxes” drugs when post-marketing experience shows they killed a lot of people and produced potentially fatal side effects; doctors are informed accordingly in the U.S. and Canada. When consulting the CPS (Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties), updated annually on all current drugs, you’ll see a black box under such drugs with warnings printed inside.

Codex Alimentarius is a black box containing most of what you wish you didn’t have to know about the transformation of medical science into a purely iatrogenic enterprise. The word “iatrogenic” comes from the Greek iatros, meaning physician, and refers to physician-caused death. Codex is the political equivalent of the current toxicology manuals because it endorses and promotes for international trade and consumption everything from pesticides to irradiation, genetically engineered foods, and synthetic analogs for drugs and nutrients in preference to bio-compatible natural substances.

The Codex black box was opened a crack by the April 5 opinion handed down by Justice Leendert A. Geelhoed, the European Union Advocate General, who happened to refer to the arbitrary powers of the Codex-supporting EU legislation as being “about as transparent as a black box.” The box was opened wider on July 12 when the European Court of Justice provided a ruling for the EU that zeroed in on the central problem of the entire Codex exercise, namely the preference for synthetic over natural medicinal substances. This is key to understanding Codex, why EU legislation can affect Canada and the U.S., and what the current health freedom movement wants to achieve.

Dr. Robert Verkerk, the executive director of the UK Alliance for Natural Health (ANH),, which was responsible for launching both these legal actions, challenging Codex by questioning its supporting EU legislation, said in a telephone interview on September 16: “It is a serious mistake for you in Canada and the U.S. to believe that whatever happens here in Europe will not happen to you.” He was referring to the fact that Codex does have the power to impose on the world, by virtue of its mandate from the World Health Organization (WTO) and its Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), regulations that restrict the dosages of and availability of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids, enzymes, essential fatty acids, probiotics, as well as traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic and other old systems of medicine. Codex would have succeeded in doing just that in Europe in August of this year, if the ANH hadn’t gone to court.

To understand how all this hangs together we need to go back to the beginning: On November 6, 2001, the European Parliament tabled Directive 2001/83/EC which states in its preamble the following: “The essential aim of any rules governing the production, distribution and use of medicinal products must be to safeguard public health. However, this objective must be attained by means which will not hinder the development of the pharmaceutical industry or trade in medicinal products within the European Community.”

Since then, faith in pharmaceuticals was shattered. Given the revelation that properly prescribed drugs are now the leading cause of death (see Death by Modern Medicine by Dr. Carolyn Dean) causing the withdrawal of many blockbuster drugs since 2001; that all remaining categories of drugs are now either blackboxed or have warnings issued on them; that the governments of Canada, the U.S., Australia and various EU countries have had investigations into the criminal activities of Big Pharma and its improper influence on medical education, research and government; that the editors of the world’s leading medical journals have issued new guidelines for all research to exclude pharmaceutically-driven interests; that international research has shown that drugs are among the worst environmental pollutants harming people and animals; that British Medical Association and CBC media researchers have reported that pharmaceutical companies invent diseases and then create the drugs for them and even write treatment guidelines for doctors (see the book Selling Sickness below) — given all that: referring to public health and pharmaceuticals in the same breath has become a sick joke.

Big Pharma has demonstrated that it fully understands that its products do not work, often kill, and usually harm, as proven by the research they themselves did to establish the toxicity of their products, but then hid from the regulators (see the book Let Them Eat Prozac below). Big Pharma staff also understands the superior biochemistry of natural substances.

Recently, the prestigious British Institute for Science and Society (ISIS put the whole puzzle together. ISIS reports that pharmaceutical corporations have started to buy up vitamin and mineral companies: Merck has acquired Lamberts, and Wyeth bought Solgar. Virtually all raw materials for supplements are produced by pharmaceutical companies, such as Bayer and Hoffman-La Roche. “Drug companies have gained control of food supplements through pharmaprinting, the result of collaboration between PharmaPrint Inc and the University of Miami. Pharmaprinting is a technology that isolates and measures the bioactivity of an active compound of any plant or natural remedy and replicates it in a laboratory. These compounds are standardized as pharmaceuticals for government approval [necessary for patenting]. Patents are currently pending on pharmaceutical versions of some of the most useful herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort (for depression), Echinacea (immune function), Ginkgo Biloba (brain function), Saw Palmetto (prostate function), and mistletoe (alternative cancer treatment),” ISIS reported.

Subsequent clinical trials cost about $6.5 million per product and gaining patent protection costs another half a million dollars; the whole process takes five years. ISIS observes that, “investors are reluctant to commit . . . unless market exclusivity is assured.  One way of creating an exclusive market is to ban or remove natural remedies. The existing U.S. health care market . . . is estimated to be worth $1.5 trillion (USD) [which] makes it worth manipulating. [Therefore] the ‘foods as drugs’ guidelines laid out by Codex were adopted by Australia, Denmark, Germany and Norway and many products have been co-opted by pharmaceutical companies and repacked as drugs. The Health Protection Branch of Canada has registered ‘natural therapeutic’ food products as drugs. Fish oil (for joints), cranberry capsules (urinary problems) and hawthorn berries (heart) have all been issued DIN numbers (drug identification number).”

ISIS concludes, that “this is a thoroughly disproportionate degree of ‘protection’ imposed on what are in effect harmless food items, especially when conventional drugs kill” so many people every year.
Agricultural and pharmaceutical corporations are trans-national and sound business practice requires international harmonization in trade. Because most 171 Codex member states are also World Trade Organization members, the stage is set for world-wide trade harmonization. Ratified Codex guidelines are enforced among its members by the WTO court (which operates in secret) as well as by CAFTA, NAFTA and several more trade treaties involving Europe, Australia and North America. Each of these treaties has clauses referring explicitly to Codex for the simple reason that the major players are the pharmaceutical, agricultural and food producing corporations that want to remove every possible trade barrier — or, to put it another way: reduce responsibility for quality.

We live in a world in which corporations hope to create designer customers who are offered one-size-fits-all products to make them into corporate engines of wealth. Today, the customer is the last not totally controlled and exploited resource on Earth. Customers who ask questions concerning quality, safety, and especially sound science are the only formidable barrier remaining to corporate world control.

The July 12 ruling of the International Court of Justice in Luxembourg followed the July 4 Rome meeting of Codex when the 85 countries present ratified these restrictive guidelines for dietary supplements. Canada and the U.S. were among them; objections from China and South Africa were ignored. Just as in the original 2001 version, the current guidelines, under Article 6 (2) of the EU Directive, strictly prohibit information about diseases being treatable by nutrients and call for future supplement dosage restrictions. Conspiracy? No way! To borrow a phrase from Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels, authors of Selling Sickness, about Big Pharma’s tactics in general: “This is daylight robbery.”

On July 20, the International Court of Justice handed down a ruling that surprised everyone. The judges conceded that EU countries were free to have a law that regulated production and trade in dietary supplements, namely the EU Directive which forms the basis of the international Codex guidelines. However, the judges agreed with the Advocate General Justice Geelhoed who had in April put his finger on a sore spot and observed that there was a rather odd “preference for the inorganic forms [of vitamins] which results in unjustifiable and disproportionate exclusion of their natural forms, which are, nevertheless, common in the normal diet and generally better tolerated by the body.”

Justice Geelhoed had also noted  that the Directive requires completely unnecessary toxicity studies: “It would be odd to start the evaluation procedure [of all supplements according to risk assessment principles used for toxins and synthetic drugs] from zero again, when it is clear that the products concerned have already undergone [tests] establishing safety and bioavailability . . . [which should be used] as the existing evaluations as a starting point.”

The year 2005 was a close call. Had the ANH not appealed to the EU Advocate and then proceeded to the International Court of Justice, Europe would have been the first region  under complete Big Pharma control: most vitamins and minerals would have been banned from the European market on August 1 this year, some to return at exorbitant prices after Big Pharma had identified and created patented synthetic analogs.

Now, however, the game has shifted and Big Pharma is no longer solely in control except in countries which have already adopted these stringent guidelines, such as Denmark, Australia, and especially Germany. I received an e-mail on September 6 from Germany informing me that a bottle of 90 vitamin E capsules now costs 45.50 Euros (about $70 CDN, seven times more expensive than in Canada) – manufactured, patented and marketed by a pharmaceutical company, and in limited amounts available without prescription.

Furthermore, the Court dealt a terrific blow to Big Pharma and the corporate agenda by ruling that this restrictive Directive does not apply to vitamins and minerals in their “natural forms,” but only to those from “synthetic sources or those derived from a manufacturing process using chemical substances.”

Thus, natural substances that have been part our diet for centuries cannot be regulated in a restrictive manner, nor can they be subjected to toxicity studies in the same manner as is necessary for synthetic chemicals used in drugs. The ANH lawyers who led these two legal challenges state that “food supplements in the EU . . . [will] not be classified as drugs and [will be] readily available across the EU.”

However, the battle is far from over. The Court did not forbid the scientific assessment of supplements as part of this international trade harmonization process. That means they can still be subjected to corporate-driven phony science and be sold at high prices in very low dosages to make more money from less — which, according to the ANH Dr. Verkerk, is exactly what the industry now wants to achieve. Whose science will be used? Big Pharma’s “tobacco science,” or independent science based on actual research, not financed by any industry? The International Court of Justice clearly orders independent scientific assessments, but enforcing this is another matter. Dr. Verkerk said that several leading universities in Europe have joined the health freedom movement in order to establish an assessment process that is truly scientific and not corporate controlled, to ensure that meaningless low dosages will not become the standard. Research institutions and medical organizations in the U.S. are also joining. An international health freedom conference on Codex is taking place in Minneapolis October 28–30 to to hammer out strategy.


• M. Angell, The Truth About The Drug Companies, Random, 2004 (former editor New England Journal of Medicine)
• C. Dean, MD, Death By Modern Medicine, Matrix Verite, 2005
• S. Ellison, Health Myths Exposed, Author House, 2005 (former drug designer for Big Pharma)
• D. Healy, MD, Let Them Eat Prozac, Lorimer, 2003
• J. Kassirer, MD, On The Take: How Medicine’s Complicity With Big Business Can Endanger Your Health, Oxford University Press, 2005
• R. Moynihan & A. Cassels, Selling Sickness: How The World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients, Nation Books, 2005

Helke Ferrie is a medical science writer with a master's degree in physical anthropology. Her specialty lies in investigative research into ethical issues in medicine and the politics of health. She started her investigative journalism career in the mid-1990s, looking at issues of medicine and environment. She has been a regular contributor to Vitality Magazine ever since. Helke has also authored several books on various subjects including: "Ending Denial: The Lyme Disease Epidemic", "What Part of No! Don't They Understand: Rescuing Food and Medicine from Government Abuse", and "The Earth's Gift to Medicine". Read her article: When governments abandon the public interest — look out for your own health Find her book -What Part of No! Don't They Understand Helke has also been a regular contributor for the Vitality Magazine. Links to few of her articles: The Tyranny of Government Protection Success Story - How I Recovered from Lyme Disease IN THE NEWS: Fluoride Dangers; Roundup Lawsuits; Lyme Disease Epidemic Helke Ferrie now lives a retired life and can be reached at

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