- NHF members reside in these countries:
Australia, New Zealand - Codex Alimentarius and Trans-Tasman Harmonization
By Sepp Hasslberger www.newmediaexplorer.org
May 09, 2005
Efforts to harmonize rules on supplements between Australia and New Zealand, by establishing a Trans-Tasman joint agency for the control of natural health products have been going on for some time. I previously reported on this. (The Tasman Sea is a large body of water that separates New Zealand from the Australian continent.)
The situation "down under" really got hot when the Australian health products and medicines regulator (the Therapeutical Goods Administration) in June 2003 yanked over 1600 supplements off the market over a pretext, and forced the producer, PAN Pharmaceuticals, into bankruptcy.
How this ties in with the international plans of Codex Alimentarius to "reign in" nutritional supplements is the subject of an excellent article, quite a piece of investigative journalism by Eve Hillary, a medical reform advocate and health writer, which you find in the second part of this post. In addition to discussing Codex, Eve treats us to an in-depth report on the aftermath of the PAN Pharma products recall and recent regulatory moves underway in Australia.
It seems that Australia might be symptomatic of what we can expect to happen the world over in the next few years, so seems a good idea to study up on this. If we accept what Eve Hillary says, that Codex really is "the sickness industry's last stand", we should also pay attention to a comment I recently received from a lady in the UK who is interested in natural health. Introducing a new angle to what seems to be a world wide Codex control agenda, she writes:
To understand what drives Codex and the Pharma agenda, you need to understand the future direction of health care ....
The Pharma industry as it stands is in a cul de sac - it needs to re-invent itself as a 'health' industry to survive. So they started to explore pharmaceutical genomics - as an output of the human genome project, and discovered instead nutritional genomics, which 50% of the time means that chronic diseases can be treated, prevented and cured by nutritional interventions. Proven. But these treatments under current laws cannot be patented, nor protected - so how can they gain ownership and make money from this, to replace pharmaceutical revenues? (Sepp's comment: here is an actual recent example of what nutrigenomics is coming up with - Vitamin E helps block Alzheimer's)
And this has given rise to the FSD (Food Supplements Directive), Codex, Health Claims Regulations - so that when the supplement sector is safely removed from the [public health area] or reduced to a few major players, they can trumpet the 'discovery' and own it and make money from it, buy out remaining firms and make the financial barriers to entry so large no one else can 'play' as they will be the only operators that can afford to be in the game.
This view seems to be a perfect match to what is - according to Eve Hillary - already happening in Australia.
And if you wonder about Codex actually protecting your health, start researching what else they are doing, for instance this information on a French site on the levels of nuclear contamination Codex allows in foods. Another area to look into is the advice Codex has on genetically modified organisms (GMO) in our foods, which sounds good but is entirely toothless. Consider it is only due to continuous consumer pressure that the uncontrolled spread of the highly dangerous world wide GMO public feeding experiment is being contained at least to some degree.
Anyway, back to Australia. Here is Eve Hillary's article:
CODEX – THE SICKNESS INDU$TRY’s LAST STAND
by Eve Hillary
April 1, 2005 Sydney
Millions of words have been written about Codex. Few of which have been printed in today’s mainstream media. The data comes mainly from health freedom activists in various countries and from obscure government documents hidden to all but those who know where to look. In 2002 I unveiled Codex to a Brisbane, Australia audience of 300 people. Only 3 knew anything about it. The same three I’d spoken with before the lecture. I then wrote a chapter on Codex in my book “Health Betrayal”. Thanks to health freedom activists now Codex information is on many websites and a topic for discussion around the world. But there remains official SILENCE and deliberate misinformation from sources close to corporations.
In writing this article it is my intention to reveal what has been done to move us toward CODEX in the Asia Pacific region. We must not allow this to happen if we value our lives. It is my intention to shatter the silence that threatens to engulf our freedom in order to allow its effects to be reversed by the electors, the only legitimate proprietors of government. But first, some definitions of nutritional supplements and Codex located on footnotes numbered 34 and 35.
Agree or Not
Even amongst activists, there is very little agreement on the issue of Codex, partly because of official propaganda that seeks to confuse the issue and partly because of the incomplete picture that is being presented. I do not expect the reader to agree with all that I write. I have sourced the article extensively and admittedly, I have expressed my own opinions and conclusions after studying dozens of primary documents. However, I invite anyone to undertake for themselves the exhaustive study that I have made over the past 4 years on Codex and to analyse the many documents and sources I have discovered, many of them in obscure archives. Of the many interviews I have conducted, most of the interviewees have not wished to be identified.
Some readers will agree that Codex is a menace but fail to see how it has come to influence the Australia Pacific region. I hope this article leads to that understanding and reveals the tragic consequences to our families and way of life so that we can take the appropriate steps to stop it. I am indebted to many of my fellow activists such as Dave Sloan from the NZ Health Trust and Sepp Hasslberger of Health Supreme, for providing so much extra data that when sifted through has only strengthened my conclusions on the matter. (31,32) Please take what you like and leave the rest.
To seasoned activists; I know you have heard some of it before but there is much new information and I will unveil some ideas you might find inviting. To all readers; we will get to CODEX towards the end but it is important to understand the secretive nature of events that have occurred recently and the unusual laws passed by governments that will put CODEX in a much clearer context.
I’m a health writer. I track the sickness industry. I watch while powerful vested interests infiltrate governments of sovereign nations. I watch and watch and then I write about it. Lately I’ve been busy on some other issues and nearly missed a hat trick that was being performed by our politicians that would wrench freedom of choice out of the people’s hands once and for all if we let them get away with it. I discovered it just in time when an article came across my desk entitled “The Codex threat to Australia – fact or fiction?” written by a chap who sourced his information from a few government websites. He opined that the Codex issue was merely hype and nonsense and nothing much for Aussies or anybody else in the world to worry about. His article was published by the Australian Traditional Medicine Society, an organisation that is supposed to represent complementary health practitioners and provide them with clear information about exactly WHO’s in charge of making decisions about supplements. Frankly, I expected such a hose-down article as this to more likely appear in a pharmaceutical company trade magazine or as a press release from the TGA. But I assumed the drug giants have their own spin doctors, legions of them. And they are quite content to have useful gophers disseminate their whitewash to the rest of us. Later I discovered the article’s author regularly sat on a TGA committee called the Interim Advertising Council, which has, along with several pharmaceutical front organisations such as the Medicines Australia, CHC, and the Self-Medication Industry set up an advertising agency that so blatantly serves drug company corporate interests that even the AMA objects to it on the grounds that “the process is occurring against a backdrop of enormous pressure…from pharmaceutical companies and others to open up to direct consumer advertising”.(24,20)
I must however give thanks to the article in question, and to its author, Raymond Khoury, for it led me to cast my attention back to Codex and focus on a currently unfolding disaster here in the Pacific region that is only avoidable if the electors get a grip on the reins very soon. To understand Codex, you need to know something of the sickness industry which I will outline in the first section.
If you believe, as I do, that in time the stench of sleaze, bribery, greed and dishonesty will reach the nose of the ethical majority to be dealt with accordingly, then you might agree that the sickness industry is about to collapse in on itself by the sheer weight of its own corruption. This is a time when the drug industry and our “regulators” are committing some stupid and desperate acts against the human rights of people. And our politicians don’t look good aiding and abetting them. Remember their names, for it is they who are accountable to us.
Getting Health Care into Perspective
It’s official. US research shows that inappropriate and dangerous medical treatments and adverse drug reactions are now the number one cause of death (4). To some it was no surprise. It seemed an inevitable outcome from the 1980’s when health care was taken over by “health care” corporations and the pharmaceutical industry. Then the bottom line in health care became profit instead of sending the patient home well and drug free, if possible. (13)
There are still no Parliamentary enquiries into the deaths of 18,000 Australians each year, killed by inappropriate doctoring and prescribed pharmaceutical drugs that are licensed by the TGA (the Australian regulator). The cause of these avoidable deaths has been known by the government for over ten years when Dr. Runciman made it known in a report he prepared to the government in 1995. And yet nothing has been done about it. This makes these unnecessary deaths a deliberate act on the part of the perpetrators, the medical and pharmaceutical industry and the Australian government. This act is the equivalent of deliberately exterminating all living beings from an entire large sized Australian country town each year. (1,2,3). This killing for profit has been going on knowingly for the past 10 years.
In addition to the death toll, 50,000 Australians are maimed and disabled, not by their diseases, but by the “health Care System” which includes; bad doctoring and serious or permanent damage from drugs that were licensed by the TGA. Yet there are no outraged politicians giving undertakings on the Senate steps to find the culprits, to stop the criminality of it, a fact in itself astonishing, since there is a great deal of unnecessary killing and maiming going on; 187 Australians each day. That’s seven Australians killed or maimed per hour. This is more Australians than were ever killed in all the wars. By the time you have read this another Australian will die or be disabled by inappropriate medical treatment or an adverse reaction from a drug that was licensed and approved by the TGA. Where are the memorials erected to these victims? (1,2,3)
For those who rely on their information from the media, where is the media reporting of this national catastrophe? A few years ago the media went on a feeding frenzy about an unfortunate person who died allegedly of an allergic reaction to royal jelly, a naturally nutritious food that worker bees feed to their queen bee. (Unfortunately many more fatal allergic reactions occur annually than ever before, to both synthetic and to natural substances, due to the fact that general immunological health is declining through environmental degradation.) The person had ingested both the jelly and a meat sausage before the allergic reaction occurred, one that could equally have been caused by the preservative in the sausage. However, the TGA launched a lengthy investigation into the royal jelly, and required Royal Jelly to carry a health warning on the label. The sausage, of course was not investigated, nor allocated a health hazard label, one that the fatty, preserved product could arguably deserve, since the nitrite preservatives in sausages are responsible for many serious or fatal allergic reactions.
WHO is the TGA?
The TGA (therapeutic goods administration) is the Australian “regulator” of drugs, chemicals, genetically modified products, medical devices and now nutritional supplements and herbs which it calls “complementary medicines”. The TGA was set up by Parliament over 20 years ago (on behalf of the electors, you and I). Its motto is “to ensure the safety of all Australians”.
Since its inception as “watchdog”, the TGA has licensed and allowed genetically modified foods into the country which opinion polls showed the overwhelming majority of Australians did not want.
Despite hundreds of letters from concerned citizens and chemically injured persons, the TGA has continued to allow chemicals onto the market which are shown to have toxic effects on humans even when used as directed.
In addition the TGA has licensed pharmaceutical drugs such as Zyban, Vioxx and mercury laden vaccines among others, despite available data about the potentially serious and fatal effects these drugs have on humans. The TGA still allows the drugs that cause a large proportion of the 18,000 deaths and 50,000 serious injuries through adverse drug reactions while on the other hand it has compiled a large data base on its regulation of natural substances including vitamins, minerals, and even honey and olive oil, listing them as medicines.
The TGA has taken over the regulation of nutrients which have traditionally been produced by a separate and unique industry and are not part of the pharmaceutical industry because nutrients are not drugs, they are essential to all humans. Most health conscious persons now take supplements because it is known that food produced by modern agriculture is depleted in essential nutrients. There can be no “clinical trials” to determine whether persons need calcium or any other essential nutrient. It is a well known fact that all essential nutrients are needed daily. TGA regulates nutrients virtually as drugs, with both under the heading of therapeutic goods. Nutrients cannot really be regulated as drugs because there is such a thing as nutrient deficiency but there is no such a thing as Prozac deficiency.
The TGA maintains close ties to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and to the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Domestically, it convenes various committees upon which sit well known representatives of pharmaceutical interests and pharmaceutical front organisations. (19,20,21) It regularly consults with pharmaceutical and food companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Eli Lily, Glaxo, Pfizer, Wyeth and many other multination drug corporations. Without Australians’ knowledge or consent, the TGA routinely allows and invites corporations to make decisions about Australian’s health. (23)
TGA Targets Pan
Globally there was one privately owned large supplier of raw ingredients for the manufacture of nutritional supplements that was big enough to be in direct competition with the big drug companies. The supply chain of nutritionals and drugs has been dominated by the multi-national pharmaceutical industry such as Roche, Merck and Wyeth, to name just a few. But Sydney based Pan Pharmaceuticals, was just such a privately owned company, a relatively big player that supplied most of Australia and some of the world with a few pharmaceuticals but mainly with ingredients for the formulation of nutritional supplements and a large variety of natural supplement products.
In April 2003 the TGA raided Pan Pharmaceuticals, giving the grounds that the company’s travel sickness product had included a faulty batch. The company had already voluntarily recalled it and was addressing the problem as was customary in the industry to self address and fix problems as they arose. However, TGA treated Pan far differently from the way it had treated any multi-national drug company. The regulator forced Pan to shut down and within a few days recalled over 1600 natural supplement products with which nothing was found amiss on the routine testing that had occurred just previously. (5) The regulator created chaos among consumers and retailers alike as the TGA recall went on to become the largest recall of natural products in history, all the more extraordinary since there had been no complaints about the supplements.
Moreover, the vitamin and mineral supplements, which had caused no known ill effects, were classed by the TGA as necessitating a class 1 recall, meaning the regulator claimed the natural products would “cause death or permanent injury”. Since the TGA provided no evidence that any vitamin or mineral, and in particular Pan’s had ever caused death or disability to anyone the regulator deliberately set about to claim, to the Australian public by way of calling a class one recall, that these products were likely to cause death or disability. This created wide spread anxiety about nutritional supplements in the public mind. A feat that would have cost the Pharmaceutical industry public relations machine millions of dollars, was thus done overnight by the TGA “regulator”. The ruse terrified scores of little old ladies who thought their calcium tablet would kill them and demanded a refund from their health food store, but it failed to impress those who already knew about the war on alternative and complementary health. And it particularly failed to convince those who relied on logical and rational data to come to their conclusions. What this deception did, however, was to reveal the TGA double standard in favour of drugs from drug giants and against natural products that were produced by Australian companies who were big enough to cut into multinational drug company market shares. Meanwhile, any evidence that was in the mountain of recalled vitamins and minerals, disappeared without a bubble.
This conclusion was particularly borne out by the way TGA conducted future recalls. Interestingly, the regulator conducted a class 2 recall on VIOXX a drug manufactured by drug giant Merck, a drug which did cause death and injury to 55,000 Americans alone. A Class 2 recall meant the TGA believed the “defects could cause illness…but are not class one” that is, the regulator did not deem the drug could kill or disable anyone, and this was after 55,000 confirmed US deaths and 180,000 strokes and heart attacks occurred as a result of the drug! (6). If Pan was shut down after nobody complained about its vitamins or suffered a single problem, then it would be reasonable for Merk to be shut down for selling a drug that killed tens of thousands of Americans alone. But no. TGA has not even conducted an investigation into how many Australians or New Zealanders might have been killed by the Drug Vioxx to which it issued a license. But back to Pan.
Within days of the raid the hapless Pan company and its founder were embroiled in official red tape and TGA forced Pan to close its doors permanently. After the kill, someone called in KPMG, the liquidator, so fast, that the owner, Jim Selim was removed from his own company with the velocity of a speeding bullet and the manufacturing plant and company was sold lock stock and barrel, in only six months for a pittance. The Pan company that Mr. Selim had built up over 20 years, worth over 500 million dollars was sold for only 20 million within a few months of the TGA raid. (10) Interestingly, KPMG is a multinational power broker based in Switzerland that deals in accounting, mergers, liquidation and you guessed it, also chemicals and pharmaceuticals. KPMG’s specialty however, is offering financial advice and other consultant “services” to the pharmaceutical industry. (8).
Over the ensuing 2 years the TGA has kept Mr. Selim busy in a grueling round of court battles while the liquidator, KPMG continued to pick the carcass clean. Recently, KPMG filed a statement of claim against Mr. Selim for the amount of 300 million over the collapse of Pan brought about by the TGA. (10)
Since the Pan debacle, the beleaguered but apparently spirited former owner of Pan intended to start another business in Viet Nam as a manufacturer of health products there but TGA and now ASIC (the Australian company watchdog) is attempting to stop his manufacturing license in Viet Nam, alleging irregularities in the paperwork. Interestingly, most of the big pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline have now set up offices in Vietnam. (9, 10).
TGA on Post-Pan Rampage
After the TGA disposed of Pan, it systematically ran through other small Australian vitamin and supplement manufacturers like a dose of Epsom salts in a frenzy of “inspections” and “regulatory activities”.
Small Australian-owned supplement manufacturers allege TGA used a variety of intimidatory methods against them including the halting of manufacturing operations and near impossible requirements that cost over $500,000 to implement. NZ Health Trust reports “recent reports out of Australia … include comments such as compliance costs having increased by 800% for one firm, another has had to spend an extra $2 million in compliance costs, another still faces a $1.86 million bill to upgrade their computer systems as now required.” TGA officials allegedly demanded proprietors sign confidentiality agreements and other agreements demanding that the proprietor will not hold TGA liable for the loss of their business after such “regulating activities”. (11) Australian supplement companies remain silent after TGA’s “inspections”. Many are bound by agreements and none I interviewed wanted me to reveal their names in this article for fear of a fresh round of “TGA regulatory activities”. (Although a few are now considering legal action regardless. An enquiry into TGA corruption should get these witnesses testifying with a little help from a subpoena. )
The regulator routinely inspected the Australian supplement industry in the 2 years before Pan, and did not suspend a single manufacturer’s license but after Pan, dozens of manufacturers were driven out of business and over 12 Australian supplement companies “voluntarily” turned in their manufacturing licenses and went out of business after TGA scoured through them. (All the manufacturers had already passed previous years’ rigorous TGA inspections.) (18, 11) Those who could afford it just paid the money and did what was required of them to stay in business for the time being. Other manufacturers sold out to big corporations for fire sale prices. As a result of this witch hunt, many vitamin and supplement product lines remain out of stock in Australia and many nutritional supplements have been permanently discontinued as have the smaller companies who made them.
The question this begs is; if the Australian privately owned supplement industry was running well and passing stringent TGA regulatory inspections before Pan then why was the Australian supplement industry gutted after Pan?
TGA and FRIENDS Set up Committee
In May 2003, only a month after TGA destroyed Pan, the regulator issued a public statement alleging that “concerns” had been raised about the quality of complementary medicines (supplements) and indeed even the competency of complementary practitioners (naturopaths). All this after:
1. the defective travel sickness pill was a drug and not a supplement and had been removed 2. the company had been closed, and dismantled, 3. none of the 1600 Pan dietary supplements were found to have caused any problems, and 4. no naturopath or alternative practitioner had killed or harmed anyone! (In the time it takes you to read this far another 4 Australians have been killed or seriously injured by dangerous medical procedures or pharmaceutical drugs licensed by the TGA while no patient has died from taking supplements or seeing a naturopath.)
Ignoring all the evidence to the contrary, The TGA stated on its website; “In May 2003, to reassure the public and maintain confidence in Australia's reputation as a supplier of high quality and safe medicines, the Australian Government established the Expert Committee on Complementary Medicines in the Health System (the Expert Committee)”
The TGA “expert” committee designated to investigate supplements includes pharmaceutically orientated individuals and several pharmaceutical front organsiations. (12) The committee has been busily at work during the past 2 years and it has recently released fifty more expert recommendations that has resulted in 107 pages of proposed amendments to the TGA Act which would increase the powers of the TGA to “regulate” even more stringently. This would give it police powers and the power to impose criminal charges and penalties on Australian supplement manufacturers. All this when there has never been a problem with supplements.
Notably, another “expert” Committee member who had helped deal another fatal blow to Australian supplement manufacturers included the Vice President of manufacturing operations in the Asia Pacific Region of Wyeth, a multinational drug company that markets drugs, vaccines and also nutrient supplements including the raw ingredients to supplements. (12)
Just before Pan’s demise, Wyeth was in direct competition to the products and raw ingredients that Pan supplied in the Asia Pacific region. Wyeth has a huge Asia Pacific base of operation and is aggressively expanding its corporate territory. (16) Interestingly, Wyeth’s profits plunged a few months before the Pan affair and the company was only saved a substantial loss that quarter by its small but profitable range of vitamin products. (17) (14, 15). (Another topic, perhaps for a Parliamentary enquiry into corruption.)
Without Australians’ knowledge or consent the TGA gave multinational drug companies the power to expand into and monopolise Australian markets and shake out the Australian competition, all under the guise of protecting the Australian public health when there is nothing more than a trade war going on. As is customary in wars of any kind, people die in trade wars too, and another Australian has died as you read this because our regulator is busy suppressing supplements while allowing drug companies to control the market and sell some particularly dangerous drugs. Despite the shakeout, however, many small fry companies did survive and while the pesky little Aussie battlers were still taking a breath, the corporates and their TGA friends had to swing into action on an urgent agenda.
The giant drug companies had long ago swallowed the small pharmaceutical manufacturers and even merged with each other to form huge drug company conglomerates. They now competed with each other in a global market. This was aided by various treaties and trade organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) that allowed multinationals free access to all countries’ markets without barriers. Countries become giant lucrative markets when governments attempt to make vaccines and other drugs compulsory for their citizens.
By now the only real cut into drug company profits was the number of people that stayed healthy or got healthy from taking regular supplements - bad news for drug sellers. In addition, nutritional supplement manufacturers prospered on healthful products which again cut into drug company profits and market share. Some drug companies then diverged into making supplement lines and it is those products that are in competition with local manufacturers. Coupled with the bad publicity drugs are getting for contributing to the highest cause of deaths in the US, the new challenge for drug companies was to make drugs look healthy and good, to make them more available over the counter and to make vitamins and supplements look dangerous with the exception of those made by drug companies.
For that, the multinationals needed the following:
1. The World Trade Organization (WTO) for gaining entry into domestic markets and levelling the competition.
2. World health organization (WTO) Codex committee that sets “standards” for all supplements to be classed as drugs, which can only be allowed to be made synthetically by drug companies in line with “international standards” and not by local manufacturers using inexpensive natural raw ingredients.
3. A corporately structured regulator out of the elector’s reach who would “regulate” wholly in the interests of the drug companies.
4. An international treaty (Joint trans-Tasman treaty) that would set up a new international regulator of Australia and New Zealand (the Trans Tasman joint Agency) that would be run as a corporation – even easier for drug corporations to manage.
5. An advertising agency that would serve the new Trans-Tasman Joint Agency with an advertising code that would “legalize” a way of advertising multinational’s pharmaceutical drugs directly to consumers, while at the same time the advertising code would prevent supplements from being advertised. These aims required a whole gaggle of government persons to draft up some tricky new laws, this time in the form of an international treaty.
The Treaty Not Many Knew About
In the months after the Pan debacle an international treaty between Australia and New Zealand was being drafted by persons unknown to the Australian electorate. The treaty is called “Agreement Between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand for the Establishment of a Joint Scheme for the Regulation of Therapeutic products”, and is known as the JTA treaty for short.
This treaty was signed on December 10, 2003 by the health Ministers of both countries without any public debate and without the consent or consultation of Australian or New Zealand electors. It is certain to have major consequences to health freedom of these countries, in that it will make the new regulating agency even less accessible to the scrutiny of the electorate. It is intended to come into full effect on July 1, 2005 if Australians do not stop this enactment process by telling their Parliamentary representatives and the Australian Health minister who signed it that no legislation that is passed by stealth has legitimate force of law in a democracy.
The Agency Not Many Knew About
The JTA treaty is intended to be the purported “legal” foundation upon which a monstrously powerful “world class” regulatory “agency” has been created. Known as the “Agency” or “the Trans-Tasman Joint agency” it would do away with the TGA as a statutory entity, which was at least theoretically accountable to Australian electors and it would render Medsafe the New Zealand regulator absorbed within its tangled structure. With those two entities nullified the newly born mammoth “Agency”, scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2005 is in fact structurally an off shore corporate business set to be run by a chairman of the board, a managing director, two persons with “regulating experience” and a person with “broad experience in commercial matters”. This throws the powerful new Agency wide open to administration by corporate interests and also removes it a further step from the Australian and New Zealand elector and into the direct jurisdiction of the World Health Authority global regulator CODEX. (18)
This process has been conducted in such a secret manner that even Dr. Robyn Napier the AMA representative said of it; “the process has largely occurred without the knowledge of the public.”
HARM-onizing our Kiwi Cousins
One of the “fringe benefits” to corporations of the JTA treaty with New Zealand and its follow-on “Trans Tasman joint Agency” is to ensure trans-Tasman harmonization of therapeutic goods takes place expediently. That is, to force the Australian “regulatory standards” onto New Zealand’s supplement industry which up until recently enjoyed relative prosperity and freedom. “Harmonization”, creates the same global standards in each country that are in the interests of multi-national companies. Aussies have been designated as the vitamin police to do the dirty work in the South Pacific region.
Immediately after Pan was disposed of, extra plane loads of gray be-suited men from the TGA were flown across the Tasman at taxpayer’s expense to do to the KIWI industry what TGA did to the Australian supplement industry – making way for the big corporatations. (Kiwi is a slang word meaning New Zealand or New Zealander). They’ve done this with hard earned Australian tax money without consulting the electors whose interests they should have been serving but didn’t. Like a squad of mafia hit men the TGA visited upon our Kiwi cousins its new “international standards in regulatory excellence” and sent their vitamin businesses to the wall as they “regulated” their way through Kiwi companies like an over-dose of cascara (cascara-a diarrhea inducing herb when taken in high doses). Our cousins did not appreciate our HARM-onizing efforts, as their many websites and activists attest. Aussies, however, took no notice of their kin across the Tasman. They continued to allow the corrupt regulator to cook up yet another scheme.
The Trans-Tasman Advertising Scheme Not Many Knew About
In mid 2003 the Pan carcass was barely cold but the TGA remained a hotbed of activity. With so much big business coming together under the JTA treaty and its “Trans-Tasman joint Agency”, TGA embarked on a new round of committees that ensured the panopoly of corporations would have a collective voice in the media to advertise their goods. New “standards” had to be urgently drafted up by the TGA (in consultation with its friends) that would be known as the “Therapeutic Products Advertising Code”.
To many Australian electors it would seem unusual for its official regulator to collaborate with media moguls and drug executives and create an advertising agency, but that is what happened in mid 2003, when one of the first of a series of many consultation meetings took place with the “stakeholders”. The advertising agency would come to be called the trans-Tasman advertising scheme. Among the delegates attending were representatives from Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, ReckitBenckiser, Procter and Gamble, and Roche. (19, 20). Later in the year a similar meeting was convened at the Sydney Masonic hall and attended by many delegates including from Eli Lilly, News Ltd, Boots, various advertising agencies, Faulding, Astra Zeneca, Baxter, Glaxo, Boehringer Inngelheim, Fairfax, Merk, Novartis, Schering Plough, Pfitzer, Roche and of course who else but Wyeth. [Further explanatory note in reference number (21)]
Dr. Robyn Napier of the AMA, normally an ultra conservative organization, stated in her submission to a Parliament committee on April 30 2004; “the process is occurring against a backdrop of enormous pressure on a number of fronts, including: (pressure) from pharmaceutical companies ... to open up direct consumer advertising. To down schedule medicines to categories where direct consumer advertising is possible.” (24)
It seemed the drug companies were finally going to be able to write their own advertising “code of ethics” allowing them to advertise their prescription drugs over the media. This necessitated that prescription drugs would be down regulated to become over the counter drugs. The doctor’s organization was unhappy about this but did not cite patient safety concerns such as the new regulations allowing a confused grandma or teenager to purchase prescription drugs directly from the chemist. On the other hand the code was also drafted in such a way as to tighten up regulations on supplement advertising making it virtually impossible to even mention a positive health effect from a vitamin in public!
The Front Organisations
Some time ago I noticed that a world wide dietary supplement trade organization called the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) seemed to pop up regularly on Codex committees in Europe and it also wafted around the Aussie TGA. The CRN has chapters in most developed countries and takes a lead role in advising governments on issues such as nutritional supplements. It represents over 100 companies in the “dietary supplement industry”.
On January 1, 1999 the CRN and another trade organization merged to form the Complementary Health Council of Australia CHC a “peak body” that claims to “represent the complementary health care industry in Australia”. Its executive director is Val Johansen who has; “held positions in the Australian Public Service as head of food standards at Federal level and she also established the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s surveillance unit, which she headed for almost four years,” according to her bio. (28) Ms Johanson has been ever present in most TGA complementary medicine’s committees and is a member of the Interim Advertising committee which has determined the Trans-Tasman advertising schemes’ advertising “code”. In an article published in the ACNEM Journal in 1999, she claims that the new reforms the regulator has brought in means “growth in the supplement industry” and consumers having access to a wider range of safe complementary health products, as well as balanced and factual information.”
The CRN’s membership (now Ms. Johanson’s CHC) includes multinational corporations such as: Eastman chemical company, BASF, Bayer corporation, Monsanto and the ever present Wyeth pharmaceutical company whose interests are represented by the organisation. (26.27)
The CODEX They Tell You Isn’t Real
The public constantly sends me information asking me to comment on it. Recently a flurry of official information updates have landed on my desk, all from the Ms Johanson’s Complementary Health Council (CHC). The updates have been so widely disseminated to groups and individuals that I thought there must be someone on round the clock duty at headquarters. Interestingly I have seen almost identical information originating from similar trade and front organizations in other countries.
In essence, the official CHC “tech update” alleges: CODEX is only about food and not about supplements. The public is being ill informed about CODEX and confused by persons on the internet with “alarmist views” who “do not fully understand how Codex works”. It says the only Codex representative Australia has is from the fisheries department and he doesn’t make decisions about supplements, (only fish). And no one in Australia is sitting on any Codex committee having anything to do with vitamins and supplements. Only about food. Nothing about supplements… (29 ) In an extra warning in bold letters the CHC urges all members to be cautious of CODEX information from the internet and other forums, claiming it may be “inaccurate”, “alarmist” and “ill informed”.
I read the two page “article” and immediately suffered a bad case of deja`vue. It sounded so much like Raymond Khoury’s article I could have sworn it was written by one and the same person and merely recycled - possibly not surprising since both Ms. Johanson and Mr. Khoury are on the same TGA committees.
AUSSIES Deep in CODEX
For many years now Australians have been regularly sent on a nice trip to CODEX in Europe by their government, which officially denies Codex exists in the context of supplements. In November 2003 an Australian delegation landed in Bonn, Germany. They must have felt cold coming from the Aussie summer. The three day CODEX meeting was to be hosted by the Federal Republic of Germany.
Inside the stark German Government building the 25th session was held of the “CODEX COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION AND FOODS FOR SPECIAL DIETARY USES”. It was convened by the authoritarian President and Chairman Herr Rolf Grossklaus. (I should say at this point there was no one from the Aussie fisheries department present in the Aussie delegation.) The session was well attended by 225 delegates and advisors representing 48 member countries, including Australia and 29 organisations and multinational companies.
Herr Toepner from the German Federal Ministry opened the meeting with a timely reminder of why they were all here; “to protect the health of consumers, to ensure ‘fair trade practices’ and the committee’s important responsibilities under the WTO”. (WTO is the global trade police ensuring trade barriers fall, local competition is removed and global corporations can dominate national markets – all in the name of “world class standards” and “fair trade practices”.)
Herr Toepner apparently stressed the same message given to the delegates with TGA HQ, for they made a terrific effort at the CODEX meeting. The Chairman was well pleased with their work. The funereal looking Herr Grossklaus happily accepted the Australian proposal to apply a “risk” analysis to nutritional supplements. The committee once again expressed its appreciation to the “Delegation of Australia for its work in this important area and agreed that a “risk-based approach” should be followed for the establishment of upper limits for nutrients,” stated the 2003 CODEX minutes report. That meant the Committee was busy putting a limit on the amount of supplements we are allowed. The Aussies agreed with the Chariman that the next 2004 Codex “session should be kept informed of the progress achieved by WHO in order to facilitate its further work on vitamins and minerals.” (Author’s translation of meaning of this is in footnote 33) Moreover the CODEX observer from the Council for responsible nutrition agreed wholeheartedly - (remember, the Aussie chapter of the CRN merged with Ms Johansen’s CHC) - Probably much to the approval of its members Bayer, BASF, Monsanto and of course, Wyeth.
Among the CODEX participants that year, there were at least eleven multinational food and pharmaceutical companies including of course, Nestle and Roche. However, three participants were from - you guessed it – Wyeth.
The 2003 CODEX must have been such a success that one of the Aussie delegates, Ms. Janine Lewis, Principal nutritionist, returned with another delegate the following year, Ms. Jane Allen, Senior nutritionist. Both are employees of the Food standards Australia and New Zealand, a sister department of the TGA that has joint committees with the TGA. The two departments share personnel, resources and identical agendas.
Interestingly, Val Johanson of CHC states in her bio that she; “held positions in the Australian Public Service as head of food standards at Federal level and she also established the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s surveillance unit, which she headed for almost four years. Positions currently held include; member of the Complementary Medicines Evaluation Committee, Chair of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code Council, Head of the International Herbal Regulatory Task Force of the International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Associations”.
There is much confusion deliberately generated to obscure the real agendas. Is our participation in CODEX about food or supplements (therapeutic goods). The answer is both. This is what a law link had to say about the legal interface between foods and supplements after the changes to the therapeutic goods act that was rammed through after Pan.
“Food can now be a therapeutic good. The TGA is now able to designate food items as therapeutic goods. Previously, prescribed foods were not classified as therapeutic goods. Now, where a food product prescribed under the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code is designated by TGA as having therapeutic properties, the TGA may declare the product to be a therapeutic good, and therefore as subject to regulation under the Act.” (30)
That includes vitamins and supplements which the TGA Act regards as medicines and drugs under the title of therapeutic goods.
The TGA has this to say about food being classed as medicine;
“products which may fit within the definition of either a food or a medicine [supplements] are referred to a joint TGA/FOOD STANDARDS Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) committee which recommends whether the goods should be regulated as a therapeutic good or as food."
This means TGA/FSANZ sends delegates to CODEX to get their orders about supplement regulations from overseas.
There is no more point to denying it. Australia happens to be up to its didgeridoos in CODEX - in a last ditch effort for the drug industry to stay in the game by attempting to dominate God given natural nutritional vitamins, minerals, oils and herbs before the word gets out about their drugs contributing to the leading cause of death.