Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy!
A report on the Bonn Codex session by Dr. Wong Ang Peng of Malaysia (as posted by Josef Hasslberger)
19 November 2003
It is now painfully clear that hypocrisy was at the highest order during the just concluded Codex Alimentarius meeting in Bonn, Germany, held from 3 to 7 Nov 03. Codex Alimentarius (Codex in short) is the joint food standard setting body of UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The 25th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses, which comprises 218 delegates from 48 countries and international NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisation) discussed a number of issues which included dietary fibre content, gluten-free foods, guidelines for vitamin and mineral supplements, standard for infant formula and young children, and health claims.
It was during the long discussion of the two agenda items – guidelines for vitamin and mineral supplements, and standard for infant formula, that bore the naked truth of hypocrisy of the countries from European Union. Driven by the interest of their multinational corporations, particularly from the pharmaceutical and food manufacturing industries, the EU put forward suggestions that will eventually protect the interest of these industries. Only the steadfast counter arguments of some public interest NGOs and a handful of developing countries prevented the EU to trample through.
Item 5 on the agenda was draft guidelines for vitamin and mineral supplements. The EU were all out to put obstacles and to curb free usages of food supplements. They wanted food supplements to be regulated as drugs if possible. Health claims on nutrients, even though those previously scientifically proven, were forbidden. They wanted the people to eat a normal diet and not to replace supplements as diets, but said nothing about discouraging junk food and processed food.
The most ridiculous of all was the suggestion that the upper limit for ingredients be set at 100% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). That would mean, taking Vitamin C as an example, the maximum allowed in a tablet be not more that 60 mg. This amount is just barely enough to keep us alive. 60 mg of vitamin C will not keep us away from flu attacks. It is common knowledge within the scientific community that RDA for vitamins and minerals set a few decades ago, were not based on sound science. Fortunately this proposal on RDA was rejected, led by strong opposition from South
Item 6 on the agenda was the proposed draft standard for infant formula. Even the baby boom world scenario that provided a market size of USD 17 billion a year was not enough to satisfy the global greed of the infant formula industry. The EU delegates were again very adamant in their proposals, only this time a different tune as compared their proposals for vitamin and mineral supplements. The EU proposed two standards for infant formula – one for normal healthy infants, another for different kinds of health conditions, like for colic and regurgitation. There was a threatened impasse at first when India, Indonesia and some public interest NGOs insisted on having one standard only. They argued that by having two standards mothers would be hook winked into thinking the health formula would be better and that breastfeeding would be discouraged. A compromised wording of the draft standards got the proceedings going, but in the end the EU strategically got what they wanted, ie two standards for infant formula.
Contrary to their arguments for Item 5 where the EU delegates were gung ho on encouraging eating a normal diet, they were very silent on encouraging mother’s milk. In fact, the second standard regarding health formula gave much room for the multinational food packaging industry in advertising health claims. After all infant formulas do not threaten the rice bowl of big pharma like vitamins and minerals do.
Sadly too, the proposal of EU to allow GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredients in infant formulas did not get much opposition, except from a public interest NGO. GMO ingredients, the domains of multinational corporations from the developed countries, will from now be openly allowed into baby food. Let it be on record that the delegates of this 25th Session of Codex Committee proposed and approved these patented, DNA mutating junk ingredients.
We, the people of the world have entrusted WHO, FAO, and Codex Alimentarius to regulate on health measures, to protect our health. If only the people knew…. Codex is not about health, it is about wealth. Codex is not for public interest, it is for industrial interest. It was super sold out. It
DR WONG ANG PENG
Tel : 603-20941335