June 18, 2005
Action for U. S. Consumers to take to maintain access to
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
“Codex” is a broad, rambling, quilt-like enterprise managed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission officially created in 1963 jointly through the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) under the United Nations, but existing in practice for more than a decade preceding its official creation. The Codex Commission manages the Codex Alimentarius or international code of food trade guidelines consisting of about 2000 guidelines on pesticide, food additive and other toxic residues in food and about 500 food guidelines or standards.
Codex is an international, voluntary, science-based, food standard setting system having relatively little formal impact until the activation of the World Trade Organization on January 1, 1995. The WTO is empowered to determine whether a nation’s import prohibitions are improper trade barriers or are properly designed, based on sound science, to protect consumers. WTO identified Codex as one science based standards-setting body on which it would rely.
Under this structure, if one country prohibits another from shipping a product or class of products across its borders, the country blocked from shipping can engage the WTO dispute resolution system. This system concludes, after various deliberations and appeals including reference to Codex, with a determination that the first country was either justified in blocking the import or not. The process seeks voluntary resolution between the disputing countries.
If the process finds against a blocking country, the WTO can issue a trade sanction by determining how many dollars of trade the improper barrier has cost the shipping country and authorizing the shipping country to place tariffs of an equal amount on imports to it from the offending country. As an example, the WTO prevented Europe from blocking Pacific sardines from Peru because the Codex sardine standard recognized Peruvian sardines.
The Codex vitamin and mineral guidelines, being reviewed for addition to the Codex Alimentarius at the Codex Commission July 4 to 9 Rome meeting, fit into this system. If adopted, any country prohibiting vitamin or mineral imports can be challenged by the exporting country, expecting WTO to base its finding on the Codex guideline. Germany and Belgium, for example, restrict vitamin and minerals sales, often requiring them to be treated as drugs.
The U.S. Dietary Supplement Safety and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) establishes the least restrictive vitamin and mineral rules in the world. Most American exporters accept the limited access to the more closed markets of the world implied by the Codex guidelines, even though they are more restrictive than DSHEA. For supplement consumers, however, the prospect of restrictive market rules becoming the international norm poses a serious danger.
1. Urge the U.S. Codex delegation to promote the principles of DSHEA as the international standard. For more information, go to Citizens for Health home http://www.citizens.org/ or Codex Action at
2. Urge Codex and all international food safety agencies to use nutrition science principles rather than toxic chemical evaluation principles to determine useful levels of nutrients. see
3. Urge an international standard that, like DSHEA, places the burden of proof of each element of the safety standard on regulatory authorities. Join the Natural Solutions Foundation unique petition to the Codex office urging it to promote DSHEA as the international standard.
4. Urge recognition of dietary supplements and biochemical individuality as integral to any strategy advancing individual nutritional status. Urge the Codex delegates to read Biochemical Individuality by Roger J. William by sending them the following link: http://neon.cm.utexas.edu/williams/
Send to uscodex (at) fsis.usda.gov .
5. Urge the Codex committee on general principles to promote widespread use of true and accurate informative health claims for nutrient supplements.
You can collectively accomplish these five actions by sending the following message to
The Docket Clerk, Docket number 05-003N
U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Food Safety and Inspection Service,
300 12th Street, SW.,
Room 102 Cotton Annex,
Washington, DC 20250
or by e-mail uscodex (at) fsis.usda.gov .
To the FSIS Docket Clerk Docket 05-003N
With regard to the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses I strongly urge the U.S. Codex Delegates to advocate for and the Codex Alimentarius Commission to enact postponement of the adoption of the Proposed Vitamin and Mineral Guidelines being considered at the 28th meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. I urge this postponement to be until and unless the guidelines are amended to adopt an international standard based on the principle of the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.
The international standard for vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements should recognize dietary supplements and biochemical individuality as integral to any strategy advancing individual and social nutritional status; use nutrition science principles rather than toxic chemical evaluation principles to determine appropriate and useful levels of nutrients; place the burden of proof of each element of the safety standard on regulatory authorities; and promote widespread use of true, accurate and informative health claims for nutrient supplements.
I thank you for your consideration of my comments.
[your name and address]
Please send additional copies to
U.S. Codex Delegate
Barbara O. Schneeman, Ph.D.
Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA (HFS 800)
US Food and Drug Administration
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD 20740
Phone: (301) 436-2373
Fax: (301) 436-2636
barbara.schneeman (at) fda.hhs.gov
To the Weston A. Price Foundation at westonaprice_bill (at) verizon.net
In addition consumers should email their members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to oppose The Central America Free Trade Agreement/Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (CAFTA/FTAA)
http://www.stopcafta.org/ until and unless it recognizes the principles of DSHEA as the international standard for Dietary Supplement Trade.
The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was signed by trade representatives from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, the U.S. and later Costa Rica at the end of January. The governments of Central America were forced to concede to the demands of the Bush administration on most key elements of the agreement. But, the fight against CAFTA is far from over. In order for CAFTA to become official it must be approved- along with all necessary implementing legislation by the National Assemblies (Congress) of each participating country. Dietary supplement users should oppose CAFTA until and unless Congress adopts regulations allowing consumers freedom to use supplements as they choose.
Despite tremendous popular opposition to the agreement in Central America at present, it seems clear that stopping CAFTA will have to happen in the United States Congress. Members of Congress are hearing a lot these days from their constituents about the negative impact of “free” trade. Now more than ever it is critical to tell your congressperson to say No to CAFTA, Yes to Jobs, Yes to small farmers, Yes to equality and Yes to Health Freedom and unfettered access to Dietary Supplements. Go to
http://www.stopcafta.org/ to contact Congress.
The US Codex official website is
The official international CODEX website is:
For Further Information Contact:
U.S. Codex Office
Room 4861, South Building
Washington, DC 20250-3700
Phone: (202) 205-7760
Fax: (202) 720-3157
uscodex (at) fsis.usda.gov
This alert was prepared by Jim Turner, general counsel to the Weston A. Price Foundation.