FOFI Codex Meeting Report On Labelling May 9 - 13, 2011
This year the 39th Codex Committee on Food Labelling [CCFL] was hosted in the beautiful Quebec City in the Belle Province of Quebec. The Halls of Codex meeting, however, where another story!
This trip was funded by Friends of Freedom International (FOFI), a group founded by concerned individuals who believe in Freedom, Truth, Justice and Peace. The group first came together in a unique Freedom BeeHive Movement in 1995 to ensure that individual sovereign supreme rights to informed Freedom of Choice be protected.
Trueman Tuck and others form FOFI have gone to these meeting for over seven years, however, this was my first time attendance. The experience made it abundantly clear that these meetings are long on formality but short in substance. Sadly, this leaves a lot of room for self serving interest groups such as the biotech sector and their cronies to turn things to their advantage. Many think that these committees are impartial. Thus, making it particularly effective for the industry interests to chorale the unsuspecting committee members, along with the trusting consumers, to do their bidding. Those who can see through all the show and dance of such meetings often feel helpless and feel that there is little that they can do change matters. This provides more power to the vested interests as the very people that are harmed by the outcomes end up inadvertently protecting the self serving industry groups. All because of their misplaced trust in the Codex deliberations!
Over the years it has cost FOFI a significant amount of income to attend these meetings. As observers, we are not allowed to participate in the Codex discussions. Fortunately the meeting is setup in such a way that we can indirectly contribute via other like minded members – as you will see latter in this post. Attendance at such events can be very valuable as it provides a good opportunity to throw a monkey wrench or two in the works... Joining FOFI will ensure future participations in these meetings.
Our primary concern at this meeting was to insure that GMO foods have mandatory labelling, so that an intelligent and informed choice could be made by the consumer. Those who have been following this issue will know that the biotech companies have for a long time stone walled the labelling of GMO foods right from inception some15 years ago. At this meeting they primarily used the following two tactics:
1) Continually interrupt any deliberations on the GMO labelling by bringing in a spurious and dishonest argument that GMOs are equivalent to natural foods, thus rendering the right to know argument as a non issue. The US and Canada (both are huge contributors to Biotech) continually interjected that — any discussion/statement/document on GMO's should state that it "is not intended to suggest or imply that foods derived from modern biotechnology are necessarily different from other foods simply due to their method of production."
2) Further they continually state: "The Codex Executive Committee noted opinions that consumers may claim the right to know that foods had been prepared by certain techniques of genetic modification/genetic engineering. However, the Executive Committee stated that the claimed right to know was ill-defined and variable and in this respect could not be used by Codex as the primary basis of decision-making on appropriate labelling (ALINORM 97/3)."
These statements make the Codex position on GMO labelling inconsistent in that on the one hand they claim they are working to standardize food labelling, on the other, most members have been persuaded to differ labelling to individual national bodies. Clearly form the consumers' "need to know" position the requirement for consistent GMO labelling standard is essential. Surely, their claim of equivalence of GMO to non GMO foods is absurd given that long term human studies on safety and environmental impact simply do not exist! We already know from the use of GMOs on animal feed (such as GM soy and corm) have led to sterility and failure to thrive. Withholding crucial information to confuse and mislead the consumer in order to market inadequately tested foods makes the whole codex deliberations a farce, given their claim of safety and health as per excerpts at the end of this post from their own publication "What is the Codex Alimentarius". From the red flags discussed above (there are many more) it is unconscionable that this issue be treated in such a cavalier manner. At the very least the precautionary demands labelling of GMO foods. One has to wonder, if GMOs are really equivalent then why are they so adamant on not labelling them, even to point of violating Codex's own worldwide standardization of labels and consumer safety directives? Why not let the consumers and independent experts decide? Insisting that GMO's not be labelled only reinforces consumer concerns that these foods really are not equivalent and only demonstrates that the biotech sector itself is also aware of this. The concerted effort to conceal this fact only reinforces the obvious. This is borne out by a whole section on biotech within the Codex documentation itself.
Here is what one sane NGO member said:
"If foods are not labelled as to GE/GM status, it would be very difficult to even identify that an unexpected health affect that results from a GE/GM food. Even if the food has undergone rigorous premarket safety testing, the scientific uncertainties associated with the risk analysis and the fact that when a large population (in the millions or tens of millions) is exposed to a GE/GM food, then rare unexpected health problems can appear. Take the case of Vioxx, a drug that was found to be safe in premarket testing but had to be removed from the market after adverse health effects were seen when the drug was used by large numbers of people."
Clearly the biotech's have learned from the GMO labelling experience in Europe that these inadequately tested foods don't sell, unlike in the US and Canada where often unlabeled GMO's are staple in nearly all processed foods. The public and the governments at large have no idea about the long term effects, further, no useful information can be tracked if there are no labels associated with these ingredients, and the Biotech sector is getting more powerful day by day by contaminating more and more of our foods...
The withholding of crucial decision making information and deliberately preventing and/or not funding essential long term health and environment studies has become a major strategy in many areas of our lives. For example: use of pesticides, electromagnetic radiation, water fluoridation are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.
It is amazing how the chairman and the majority of the Codex members' minds get disengaged when they are confronted by influential pro biotech countries such as the US and Canada.
The utterly ludicrous, not to mention dishonest, comments stated above have taken on a life of their own in these ultra formal gatherings. This stonewalling tactic has now become highly honed to prevent any sensible discussion on labelling of GMO foods.
When NGO, Scott Tips of the National Health Federation brought these contradictions to the attention of the chair he was summarily reprimanded, in that, this was not a place for a member's opinions, and henceforth, he was not allowed to discuss the clearly contradictory stance of the committee on the violation of the Codex process regarding consumer safety through inconsistent standardization GMO labelling.
In their eagerness to comply with the biotech sector they even forgot the most obvious – had we not caught it and asked one of the NGO's to fix this glaring oversight. Details to follow. The various country members representing their constituents were all mesmerised by the showman ship of the codex chair – who while very sharp and quick to "dot the i's and cross the t's" reprimanded members with opposing views but somehow was/is unable to handle the clear cut issue relating to GMO labelling. Biased leadership along with the unwieldy Codex machinery, makes these deliberations ripe for abuse by those who know how as discussed above, it is clear that this process is not working in favour of the very people it is supposed to protect and serve.
In the final analysis nearly all members agreed that mandatory GMO food labelling was not required but be treated within the relevant Codex texts. In their zeal to move on they forgot to include key relevant Codex texts on allergens form GMO's. Imagine! Fortunately we caught this oversight (see next 2 Paras) and were able have the pertinent segment reinserted back into the Codex GMO labelling texts.
"4.2.2. The presence in any food or food ingredients obtained through biotechnology of an allergen transferred from any of the products listed in Section 184.108.40.206 shall be declared.
When it is not possible to provide adequate information on the presence of an allergen through labelling, the food containing the allergen should not be marketed"
If enforced rigorously nearly all GMO foods should have a label and if this information is not available then it will not be allowed to be marketed. Studying details in the Codex documentation is invaluable as it gives us a means when the time comes* to hold them accountable to their own rules and regulations in the future.
*Once sufficient polarization is developed due to extreme abuses such as we are seeing, those pulling the strings are usually exposed for what they are, and corrective action can take place - unfortunately often there is major damage before remedial action can take place. See recent example of a backlash:
Hopefully, the arrogant attitude shown my many of the big corporations will in the long run fragment the whole process leading to the complete opposite to the outcomes that they seek!
Meanwhile please listen to a short interview of Jeffrey Smith with Mike Adams – HOW TO STOP GMOs.
Other observations at Codex:
There was a clear push to relax some of the Organics standards. One GlaxoSmithkline representative from India wanted to introduce antibiotics in certain organic processes. A representative from the additive industry was bemoaning on the fact that both MSG and Aspartame were safe and that it was the impurities in these substance that was a real cause for concern. Need I say more...
What is the codex alimentarius?
"Simply stated, the Codex Alimentarius is a collection of standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations. Some of these texts are very general, and some are very specific. Some deal with detailed requirements related to a food or group of foods; others deal with the operation and management of production processes or the operation of government regulatory systems for food safety and consumer protection."
Extracted from page 10**
"Labelling includes provisions on the name of the food and any special requirements to ensure that the consumer is not deceived or misled about the nature of the food. These provisions must be consistent with the Codex General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods. Requirements for the listing of ingredients and date-marking are specified."
Extracted from page 12**
posted by Chris Gupta on Monday May 30 2011
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