Updated: February 1, 2006
Dr. Rima Laibow appeared on January 14, 2006 as a special guest on Dr. Liz Lipski's Access to Health Experts interview series to discuss their concerns that a new set of food and supplement guidelines known as Codex Alimentarius pose a significant threat to the freedom of choice that American's currently enjoy in purchasing healthy foods and supplements.
Some of the points made during their interview are:
More details and a free downloadable recording of the interview is available at: Innovative Healing
October 17, 2004
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
My main goal, as a physician, is to educate readers of my twice-weekly newsletter and patients, via my Web site, so they can take control of their own health by providing them comprehensive, clear and researched guidance on the best nutrition, medical, emotional therapy and lifestyle choices to improve and maintain total health.
Although I generally believe people take too many supplements in place of eating the healthiest foods, some are necessary. That said, for one to take responsibility for his or her own health, Americans must never lose the right to choose and buy supplements. Although I hope they will make the right decisions, they should never lose the right to make their own choices, and that includes supplements.
This compelling letter written by Dr. Wright brings up an important issue about the freedom to take responsibility for your own health. If you agree with Dr. Wright's concerns, I urge you to take the action steps he lists below.
by: Jonathan V. Wright, M.D.
You've taken supplements for years. You're out of vitamins C and E. You go to your natural food store, but you can't find the kind you want on the shelf. You ask a clerk to find them for you. She says you can't get your vitamin E as mixed tocopherols (the best natural form) anymore, and asks if you like your vitamin C in the 100- or 200-milligram size. The 1,000-milligram size, you say.
"Where have you been?" she asks. "Asleep since 2004? It's 2007 now! The types and sizes of vitamins you just asked for have been declared illegal by the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization!"
"Wait!" you reply. "This is America! Our president says we're fighting for American freedom -- and you're telling me that the World Trade Organization can dictate what size vitamin C I can take, and forbid me from taking mixed tocopherols?" The sales clerk sighs, and reaches for a piece of paper. "It's a little complicated," she says. "A few years back, the European Commission passed the European Food Supplements Directive ... "
You feel your blood pressure rising. "What does the European Commission and its directive have to do with me? If Europeans want bureaucrats to tell them what to do, that's their business. I'm a free citizen of these United States!"
"What? This goes beyond the FDA's wildest dreams!"
"That's not a 10th of it, dear. While you were distracted by the war overseas for American freedom, here at home we lost our right to buy any amino acids at all. No arginine, no carnitine, no tryptophan, nothing. I can't sell you any essential fatty acids either. No DHA or EPA. And no beta-carotene, no mixed carotenoids, no MSM, no boron ... The list goes on and on."
"So what can I buy?" you ask. "Let's see ... those 100- and 200-milligram vitamin Cs. Vitamin B6 maximum 4.2 milligrams, vitamin B1, 2.4 milligrams. Oh, here's a better one: You can get niacin at 32 milligrams."
"Enough! I'm getting sick! How did this ever happen in these United States?"
"As I was saying, the European Directive ... ."
"I heard you. But what about America's Congress, America's President?"
"Oh, they signed us up for this in the 1990s, when they made us members of the World Trade Organization. According to the Congressional Research Service: 'As a member of the World Trade Organization, the United States does commit to act in accordance with the rules of the multilateral body. The United States is legally obligated to ensure national laws do not conflict with World Trade Organization rules.'"
"Our President and Congress send troops overseas to fight for freedom, but let the WTO tell us what to do with our vitamins? There must be something we can do."
"Actually, we did have a chance or two to reverse this in 2004, but it's going to be incredibly difficult now."
"But I really need my mixed tocopherol vitamin E. And my mother with congestive heart failure depends on CoQ10."
"I'm not unsympathetic, especially to your poor mother, dear." She looks all around, then lowers her voice. "I can give you some sources downtown." She whispers a few names. "But those people deal dangerous drugs! Now they're selling vitamins, too?"
"That's freedom in America in 2007, dear."
Think it can't happen? Think again.
The FDA's wildest dream -- and our worst nightmare -- is about to come true. Two years ago, I told you about the passage of the European Union (EU) Directive on Dietary Supplements. This directive, which is part of a larger form of legislation called Codex Alimentarius, severely restricts access to natural health products in Europe. At the time, it probably seemed a long way off. After all, the law wasn't to go into effect for several years following the initial passage.
Unfortunately, that several years is up, and the EU Directive is on track to take full effect in August 2005 -- less than a year from now -- and by 2007, the scene described above will certainly be a reality for many, many people.
Obviously, this is devastating news for Europe. But thanks to some pre-existing international agreements made by the United States, the EU Directive will be just as devastating for the natural health community here. The main difference is that while the directive has been big news in Europe for some time, it's been virtually ignored by U.S. media, which means that the severe restrictions it calls for will sneak up on most people and rob us all of our freedom to choose natural alternatives before we even know what's happening.
That's why I and many of my colleagues in the health publishing world have done our best to keep you informed of the directive's developments -- and their consequences for the United States -- over the years.
Simply put, we're down to the wire, and if we don't act immediately, we will be facing the same fate as Europeans. There are steps you can take to get the word out and, hopefully, to diffuse this ticking time bomb. But first, let's take a few minutes and recount some of the specifics included in the directive so that you know exactly what it is we're fighting against.
The EU Directive classifies vitamins and minerals in Europe as "medical drugs" rather than dietary supplements, which means that they're subject to government regulation in terms of dosage and availability.
It gets worse: There are many nutrients known to be vital to optimal health that are not on the government's RDA nutrient list including chromium picolinate, lysine, and selenium. Under the directive, these types of supplements are banned from over-the-counter sale. Put simply, it will be illegal to buy them without a prescription.
The supplements that will be available will be restricted to multi-vitamins containing no more than 100 percent of the established RDA amounts, which are usually useless, trivial quantities -- and they'll be far more expensive than what we have now.
This directive, for all intents and purposes, makes it illegal for people to keep themselves healthy by supplementing with essential nutrients.
Plus, the directive only allows supplements to be made from a list of 15 minerals and 13 vitamins. That leaves out at least 40 minerals important to the human metabolism and forbids the use of the most bio-available forms of vitamin complexes. In essence, it means that all nutritional supplements will be virtually the same. The specific combinations might vary, but the types and amounts of nutrients will be identical, no matter what product they're formulated into.
So, for instance, a middle-aged woman in Liverpool, England, who has a dangerously elevated homocysteine level will no longer have the option of reducing her risk of heart disease with a vitamin B dosage of her own choosing. If she's currently taking 5 mg of folic acid daily, under the new directive, she will be legally restricted to a prescription of 1 mg per day.
If she's taking a 100-mg dose of B6, she'll be restricted to 10 mg. And her pantothenic acid (B5) intake of 500 mg will drop to 200 mg. These maximum dosage levels have been chosen to "protect" her (so we're told), when, in fact, the protection she needs the most will be unavailable.
In addition to these essential B vitamins, low maximum dosage levels have also been set for vitamin C, niacin and vitamin E. But at least they made it on the list of allowed nutrients.
Approximately 350 supplement ingredients are missing from the list. If they are not added to the list by June 2005, they will be deemed illegal throughout the European Union. Supplement manufacturers may submit "technical dossiers" to support applications for the inclusion of individual elements or formulations on the so-called "positive list." But the EU has made this process so expensive and time consuming that many manufacturers simply can't afford the costs involved.
As a result, around 5,000 safe formulas and nutrients that have been on the market for decades will soon be banned.
Of course, these regulations were all passed under the guise of "protecting the public." According to the World Health Organization, popular alternative medicines are often "misused" and may "harm patients." They point out that the "incorrect use" of alternative therapies has caused deaths in wealthy countries where more and more patients rely on them.
You could also argue that the incorrect use of kitchen knives, water skis, and even plastic bags have all caused deaths. Not to mention the use of AMA-sanctioned medical procedures and FDA-approved drugs. The key phrase here is "incorrect use."
The WHO could do everyone a service by first addressing the incorrect use of accepted mainstream therapies that have caused far more widespread death and adverse reactions than natural medicine therapies ever have or ever will.
Although they are few and far between, there are mistakes and fatalities associated with alternate therapies, supplements and herbal remedies. It's always important to keep in mind that many of the compounds and herbs used in natural medicine treatments are very powerful. They have risks and potential side effects, which is why I always recommend that you work closely with skilled natural medicine practitioners whenever you use these therapies.
But even with their cautions, natural remedies are far, far safer than prescription drugs, and one reason might be the users themselves. An article published in the journal Psychologist noted that people who seek out natural and alternative treatments are generally more health conscious than non-users, and believe that by making sound lifestyle choices they can influence their own health.
But not if the EU has anything to say about it.
You'd think that such blatant abuse of power to restrict people's personal liberty would have our own self-proclaimed freedom-loving government up in arms (literally). But there's an even darker side to all this, and it has little -- if anything -- to do with health or looking out for people's best interests.
Even if the American government didn't want to go along with the regulations imposed by the EU Directive, we really wouldn't have a choice. In fact, the United States never has acknowledged or stated any form of acceptance for the EU Directive. But hard as it is to believe, this "directive" can actually override U.S. law if it isn't stopped in Europe.
As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the U.S. will be bound by any finalized standards put forth in the directive.
If we choose to ignore the regulations our WTO-affiliation binds us to, we would face severe trade sanctions with other WTO countries, which could potentially cripple part of our economy. And there's no way that our already anti-natural medicine government is going to let that happen over access to vitamins and minerals. So the best way to ensure it doesn't get to that point is to do everything we can to stop it now -- before it happens.
There are three actions to take. The most urgent is to support a case brought by the British Alliance for Natural Health to overturn the European Food Supplements Directive. In January 2004, the alliance's attorneys (a firm which has successfully had another European Directive overturned) won the first round in the High Court of Justice in London. The appeal was referred to the European Court of Justice.
(Please visit the alliance's Web site, read about their case and, most importantly, make a donation to support their efforts to protect everyone's supplements, including yours. Even a few dollars will help. A few dollars from each of us will add up. If we can help them overturn this food supplement dictatorship in Europe, it won't ever come here.)
The second action I urge you to take is to write, call and e-mail your state's senators and congressmen. Tell your senators to oppose S.722, the Dietary Supplement Safety Act, and tell your congressmen to oppose H.R. 3377, the Dietary Supplement Access and Awareness Act. These two bills put the wheels in motion for restrictions similar to those outlined in the EU Directive to become U.S. law, which would be even more threatening to us than just an international code of standards.
These extremely dangerous and misnamed proposals would allow the FDA to "roll back" most of the small amount of health care freedom you and I regained with the 1994 "DSHEA" law we all fought so hard for. Even if we're successful in helping the Alliance for Natural Health defeat the European Food Supplements Directive, if these bills are passed into law, our supplement choices will shrink dramatically anyway.
The final step to take is to tell your U.S. senators and congressmen to support U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's H.R. 1146, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act (Latest Major Action: 3/6/2003 Referred to House committee, where the bill was stalled.). This accurately named (for once) legislation would make the Constitution of the United States the supreme law of the land again, and restore law-making and judging power to our elected representatives and American courts, respectively. Please don't leave this off your list. In the long run, it's the most important action of the three.
Please make a donation of any size to the Alliance for Natural Health as soon as you can. Then, please write, call, fax, and e-mail your U.S. Senators and Representatives as often as you can, telling them to oppose S. 722 and H.R. 3377, and to support American freedom by voting for H.R. 1146.
For further information on the European Union Directive on Dietary Supplements and on the Codex Alimentarius legislation, contact the American Holistic Health Association, the Alliance for Natural Health, or the International Advocates for Health Freedom.
Don't wake up next August to find your supplements gone for good. Join me in taking action now, and recruit everyone you can to join the battle. While our troops are fighting for your freedom and mine overseas, you and I can literally fight for American freedom right here at home.
Dr. Jonathan Wright is the Medical Director and founder of the Tahoma Clinic in Renton, Wash., where he also practices medicine. A Harvard University (A.B. 1965) and University of Michigan graduate (M.D. 1969), Dr. Wright has taught natural biochemical medical treatments since 1983 to thousands of physicians in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. In 1973, Dr. Wright founded the Tahoma Clinic, which focuses on disease prevention and treatment by natural biochemical and bioenergetic means.