Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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February 08, 2006

WHO 'Nutrient Risk Assessment' Based On Flawed Premise

The International Programme on Chemical Safety, an agency associated with the World Health Organization has published a report outlining a "Model for Establishing Upper Levels of Intake for Nutrients and Related Substances". The report follows a workshop held in May last year in Geneva and outlines how to go about setting permitted 'upper levels' of nutrients to prevent us from ... overdosing on nutrients. The model leans heavily on the assessment methods used for chemicals and other toxic substances, which should be eliminated from food and the environment. It is not appropriate for nutrients, which are generally non-toxic and indeed are vital for good health. This was pointed out in comments by the Alliance for Natural Health.

Honestly, hand on heart, how many people do you know who have died as a consequence of an overdose of a nutrient. None? I thought so. Cases are extremely rare. Statistics show that nutrients as supplied in food supplements are in no way hazardous. Indeed, they may be one of the safest categories of consumables. Ron Law has put together the statistics to prove that contention - they are available on

Apparently there are many people consuming nutrient supplements to stay healthy, prevent and even treat disease, and someone must be getting very nervous. Not that the vitamin pill poppers are particularly sick - it seems most of them enjoy better-than-average health and longevity. But they do tend to stay away from doctors, which is very bad for pharma's business.

Pharmaceutical drugs and hospitalization, in contrast, are associated with numerous unnecessary deaths, more than 700.000 a year in the USA alone, according to Carolyn Dean, who wrote "Death by Modern Medicine". The book is also available on

With something close to a hundred thousand deaths due to malnutrition in hospitals (actually 108.000 according to this article), would it not seem that world health authorities are shooting at the wrong target discussing dosage limits of nutrients to "protect our health"?

- - -

Protecting our health?

Here we have the World Health Organization pushing along a program specifically designed to provide the justification for limiting the availability of nutrients - substances our bodies need to stay in good shape. This links in with recent legislation in the EU, clamping down on food supplements and with new world wide supplement 'guidelines' finalized in July 2005 by Codex Alimentarius, a World Health Organization-associated body charged with making rules for the international food trade.

Those international supplement rules were passed, but they are very vague on what exactly the restrictions are going to be, perhaps by design. But then, programs such as this risk assessment model may well provide the justification for removing some of our favorite supplements from the marketplace. Germany has already indicated where the process is expected to lead us - their assessment of the purported risks of vitamins and minerals led to recommend dosages of nutrients that by some would be considered laughably low.

If you think this could not affect the Anglo-saxon world with its tradition of freely available supplements of all kinds of nutrients, think again. The World Health Organization is working hard to provide the "scientific justification" for just such a clamp-down.

The full report "A Model for Establishing Upper Levels of Intake for Nutrients and Related Substances: Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Technical Workshop on Nutrient Risk Assessment, 2-6 May 2005" can be downloaded in PDF format.

I will not comment in detail on the proposal - some fine legal minds are analyzing the report as you read this and I will add their views here as they become available.

Let me just make one comment, however.

According to the report, the first steps of risk assessment are to identify and then to characterize the hazard.

Through their deliberations, the Workshop participants (the Group) examined the extent to which existing approaches to assess risk associated with non-nutrients could be relevant to the development of a model for nutrient risk assessment. Classic (i.e. non nutrient) assessment consists of four general tasks or steps: (i) hazard identification, (ii) hazard characterization, (iii) exposure assessment, and (iv) risk characterization. 'Problem formulation' precedes these steps and includes a dialogue among all interested parties, including risk assessors and risk managers. As such, it provides the context and expectations for the assessment.

There is apparently no provision for examining the very basic question whether, looking at normal, everyday risks we all run, the consumption of nutrients is representing an appreciable danger. Normally, in risk assessment, a 'de minimis' risk threshold of 1 death in a million is considered unavoidable and will not give rise to specific countermeasures. Nothing in the WHO's model suggests that this is being taken into consideration.

This brings us back to the statistics compiled by Ron Law, which show without a shadow of a doubt that there is no appreciable hazard in the consumption of natural health products, at least not any hazard we should be worried about, if seen in the context of other dangers we are exposed to every day and with what is widely considered a threshold for even considering to take action - the de-minimis risk.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Wednesday February 8 2006
updated on Saturday December 4 2010

URL of this article:


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Readers' Comments

A comment from a friend in the UK, received by email:

What has "The International Programme of Chemical Safety" got to do with "Food Supplements" and what are they going to do about the real health hazards smoking and excessive alcohol consumption cause, not forgetting many freely available drugs such as Paracetamol and in the case of the UK, Holland and other countries downgrading Cannabis ?

There is also the inhalation of excessive exhaust fumes caused by ever increasing road traffic and chemical fertilisers, pesticides, hormones and other chemical agents used in the production of food, chemical sweeteners like Saccharin, Aspartame and the tens of thousands of deaths caused by them, drugs and contaminated by MRSA and other bugs hospitals !

When are people going to unite to take care of all these agencies and governments promoting them for the benefit of Pharmas and in the case of tobacco and alcohol to maintain tax revenues ?

On the related subject of contamination by radiation I was watching the history and future of our sun on SKY TV last night and it being a nuclear reactor using Hydrogen was wondering what it would take to create mini-versions of it on earth instead of dirty uranium ones ? Are the oil producers and processors sitting on a patent making this possible already ?

Posted by: Sepp on February 8, 2006 07:36 PM


Here is my reply to the comment from the UK:

yes, there are plenty of other things that are dangerous for our health that should be taken care of. But apparently when there is a strong industry behind the damage, such as in chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, regulators are strangely reluctant to enforce safety measures. They might cut into the "national economy"!

On the subject of energy, there is a lot of research going on, and the possibilities for making energy from other than fossil fuels seem practically limitless. Here is a good site with always updated information.

What is missing is the political will to let it happen. Same scenario here: If the breaks are taken off energy research, the oil monopoly may well go down, and that certainly would cut into several "national economies" ...

We're back to money as the overriding motivation for all political decisions.

Perhaps that's where we need to look - economic constraints.

Posted by: Sepp on February 8, 2006 07:53 PM


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