Monday, June 25, 2007

The Codex Two Step

A growing coalition of health-friendly developing countries wants to protect their traditional foods and remedies from HARMonization with international Codex Alimentarius (World Food Code) standards and guidelines.

When Codex was formed over 4 decades ago by the WHO and the FAO its statute committed it to work for a safe world food supply, and to promote the world food trade. Over the decades it has become rather too compliant with "the Bigs'" interests. Who are the Bigs? Big governments, like the US and the EU, and big industry - Big Pharma, Big Agra, Big Chema, Big Oil... you know who.

The coalition of the Bigs consistently denigrates organic standards, allows toxins in the food supply and wants to hide the GMO issue ("Genetically Modified Organisms"). The US Codex delegation not only wants to protect GM producers from having to reveal this on their labels, but wants to forbid non-GMO products from making that truthful claim, since FDA studies show Americans prefer non-GMO products when they have the choice... a "bad" choice according to FDA.

This US position is directly opposite US law. Not surprisingly.

Here is what the US Supreme Court had to say about "protecting" us from making "bad" decisions:

"If the First Amendment means anything, it means that regulating speech must be a last - not first - resort. *** We have previously rejected the notion that the Government has an interest in preventing the dissemination of truthful commercial information in order to prevent members of the public from making bad decisions with the information."

Justice O'Connor in Thompson v Western States

Well, back to Codex.

If a country does not like the Codex guidelines on food and health claims, and does not adopt it (the Codex statute says the guidelines are "advisory" only) it has a risk that it might not prevail in a WTO (World Trade Organization) dispute involving same. That is because WTO says Codex guidelines and standards are "presumptive" evidence. So how do countries protect themselves from over harmonization?

They engage in the Natural Solutions Foundation Codex Two Step.

Step 1: adopt a food and health guidance that varies from the one Codex adopted, allowing greater protection for the food supply and greater leeway for health claims.

Step 2: adopt a national food and health statute that implements same.

Once it does this, the WTO "presumption" does not hold, since each party to the dispute has different laws. WTO has rejected, three times, requests that the Codex "presumption" become a firm rule of determination.

So, if a country has opted out of the "advisory" guidelines, the parties are judged on the science behind their laws and the better science wins. And even if the science is just equal, the non-health-friendly country cannot prevail if it brings a dispute to WTO.

Thus the NSF legal strategy allows countries to be Codex and WTO compliant without giving up their traditional foods and remedies.

With the help of Jim Turner, attorney for Citizens for Health, we prepared a model food and health guidance and a model food and health law for countries to use. These are available in the NSF "codex Book" which can be obtained from NSF at its web site,

I also taped a brief explanation of the Codex Two Step for use with delegates to the Codex Commission meeting in Rome next week (Dr. Laibow and Gen. Stubblebine will be there). You can see the video at:

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