Saturday, September 27, 2008

US Codex Delegation Ignoring US Law

Another road trip to Washington, DC, last Wednesday 09/24/08 to the FDA's Center for Food Safety in College Park, just over the Maryland line. The US Codex Delegation was holding a Public Meeting to discuss its policies for the upcoming Codex Committee on Nutritional Foods for Special Dietary Uses.

The usual cast of characters were present in the auditorium ... bureaucrats, lobbyists, a journalist and health claims researcher Maury Silverman and me as Public Observers.

The ten item agenda covered many of the issues that concern us at Natural Solutions Foundation. These include foods for children, labeling and health claims. We've prepared a draft set of comments that we will be submitting to the Delegation. We invite you to comment too.

Here is the US Position Paper:

Here is the email address for your comments: (due by 10/06/08)

Here are our Comments:

What I found remarkable were the people present who questioned the Delegates directly about the US Codex Delegation supporting positions at the World Food Code meetings that seem to be contrary to US statutory and case law. We join those objections and the Comments we prepared specifically cite the US Supreme Court telling the FDA that it cannot censor truthful commercial speech about health even to protect us from making "bad" decisions with the information.

Here is what Dr. Laibow's written comments to the Delegation stated:

"NSF believes that the FDA’s position on health claims violates the US Constitution in restricting freedom of speech (see the Supreme Court Decision in Thompson vs. Western States), that it has been enjoined from doing so in the cited Supreme Court decision and that it also violates US law (i.e., DSHEA, USC 1325, FDA Revitalization Act of 1997 and S. 1082, FDA reorganization act 2007 so that the US position in the international context of Codex violates both national competence and is, in fact, illegal."

One of the public commentators asked, pointedly, "Why is there no discussion of current US standards in the position paper - it would be useful to state what the current US law is..." [These quotes are from my notes and may be paraphrased.]

The Delegate responded, "US policy is the foundation of our [Codex] policy..."

The commentator responded, "If Codex is setting the world standard, US should always tell how its position relate to current US law."

Later, the Delegate admitted, "Codex definition of health claims is much broader than the US definition..." but made no mention of urging Codex to adopt definitions that would permit our more permissive, pro-free speech rules to stand.

Most tellingly, the Delegate, responding to a question about how much dialogue occurs with other Codex member nations, stated, "Most interactions occur with the quad countries - US, Canada, Australia and Britain... and through NAFTA..."

Another commentator asserted that "S&F claims [the typical vitamin support for normal structure and function claims] are health claims under Codex..."

And it goes... with citizens and commercial interests alike questioning the assumptions of the US Codex bureaucracy.

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