Codex Alimentarius Q&A

Codex Alimentarius Q&A                           Back to Codex Alimentarius »

What is Codex?
What are the key parties that influence decisions in the Codex process?
Will Codex affect us in the United States or would it apply only to other countries?
How will Codex attempt to limit our access to higher, therapeutic dosages of nutrients?
Is Codex a real or imagined threat to our ability to access high quality therapeutic dietary supplements in the United States?
When will Codex be implemented?
What is ANH-USA doing to protect U.S. citizens and populations worldwide from the threat of Codex?
What influence can the consumer have on the Codex process?


Is Codex a real or imagined threat to our ability to access high quality therapeutic dietary supplements in the United States?
The U.S. has enjoyed liberal access to natural health products since the passage of the Dietary Supplements and Health Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994 following mass public opposition to the proposed excessive restriction and ‘medicalization’ of natural health products.
If Codex standards are adopted by the U.S., the recommended daily allowances will be far below current therapeutic levels. Higher levels would be considered “drugs” and would be available only by prescription. However, before making supplements available to the public, manufacturers would have to invest the money to take nutrients through the drug approval process, which can cost as much as many hundreds of millions of dollars. This is a hard sell to a manufacturer that cannot patent natural ingredients to recoup the enormous expense involved in the drug approval process. As a result, it is possible that some dietary supplements simply won’t be available, and those that are will be increasingly more expensive.
When will Codex be implemented? Back to top »
Codex guidelines are often confused with various pieces of key European legislation affecting natural health, in part, because so many key areas of Codex mirror what is already found in European legislation. Codex is seen by some as a way to export European regulatory approaches internationally. Codex guidelines on dietary supplements will begin to be implemented in 2012 or 2013, while the first ‘harmonized’ European laws affecting supplements came into law in 2005 and are being phased in over a period of more than 6 years.
What is ANH-USA doing to protect U.S. citizens and populations worldwide from the threat of Codex? Back to top »
The Alliance for Natural Health, USA, in partnership with its international affiliate, the Alliance for Natural Health-Europe, has provided comments as an “interested party” on behalf of integrative medicine practitioners. These practitioners, as well as their patients and clients, are dependent on nutritional supplements, presently used safely under the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). ANH-USA will continue to monitor the Codex process. Should the FDA pursue adoption of unacceptably low international dietary supplement standards in the U.S., ANH-USA will work to uphold DSHEA and protect practitioners’ and consumers’ access to dietary supplements.
What influence can the consumer have on the Codex process? Back to top »
Although much of the Codex agenda has already been decided, many items are still in the review process. You can access the official Codex Web site at www.codexalimentarius.net and review forthcoming meetings to get a sense for issues remaining to be discussed. In addition, circular letters (requests for comments on Codex proposals and texts) are available at various points within the Codex process. Any member or observer can send a written response to a circular letter and expect to have those comments noted and considered at the next step or presented to the next committee meeting. Unfortunately, participation is not open to the general public. However, the public may weigh in on comments submitted by the U.S. Delegation. For example, the FDA recently circulated U.S. draft positions on agenda items to be discussed in the 30th session. The ANH-USA, in partnership with its international affiliate, the ANH-Europe, provided comments as an “interested party” on behalf of integrative medicine practitioners and consumers in the U.S.
The schedule of Codex meetings is posted on the Codex web site and updated at regular intervals. Scanning the listing of agenda items provides a good idea of their contents.
Consumers should be aware that there is misinformation about Codex on the World Wide Web. One piece of such misinformation is that the World Trade Organization could order the US to adopt Codex standards. Another is that Codex rules on supplements will come into effect in 2010. Accurate information can be obtained on this website and that of ANH-USA’s international affiliate and Codex participant ANH-Europe.
ANH-USA is particularly concerned that an attempt might be made by the FDA to adopt Codex through the regulatory process. This will be monitored watchfully. Codex may eventually come to the US as a treaty. If so, that would require a two thirds vote in the Senate. On the other hand, treaty law supercedes other legislation, such as DSHEA, so that also will have to be closely monitored and appropriate actions taken at the time.
Premature action against Codex in the US Congress could easily backfire since it might be interpreted by Congress as “crying wolf”, imagining threats that do not exist. The truth is, however, that Codex is a threat to the use of supplements in the US, and strong action may be required by American voters to meet the threat at the appropriate time.
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