The 40th Session of the Codex Committee On Food Labelling
Ottawa, Canada - May, 2012
I’ve written about the power of NHF – the fulcrum that tips the World in so many Codex meetings, but never was it more obvious then when I attended my first Codex meeting in May 2012. No other health-freedom organization was present! All those appeals for money I’d seen on FaceBook, in my e-mail inbox, and on the internet from some of the ‘big names’ in health freedom … where were they when it counts? All those promises made in numerous e-mails with hands held out for support - like something was really on the verge of happening that their groups were initiating ... I’m sorry, but NOT ONE was anywhere to be seen besides the National Health Federation, which has a seat, a permanent name card at the seat, and a Voice. And your Voice for health freedom did make something happen; more than once at this event!
Ottawa, Ontario’s totally modern, one-year-old Convention Center was the site for the meeting, set in the midst of beautiful architecture from the late 1800s, stunning and evocative of medieval castles. The City is well organized and of course, there was no time to truly explore it as meetings lasted from early morning to late afternoon, with ‘meet and greet’ soirees at night and a US delegate’s dinner another night. There was one day off while the Report was being prepared for adoption the following and final day.
We had a reporter, Mark Anderson, with the NHF team who was from the American Free Press, along with his assistant and wife Angie. Mark is such a quick study and after intense questioning really had Codex figured out for the most part. We helped another investigative reporter from Reuter’s in New York City, Duff Wilson, to understand the inner workings of this powerful standard-setting body and he is planning to do a story using much of Scott Tips’ information.
It was such an incredible feeling watching this seasoned reporter, Duff, open his mind to absorb the implications of Codex. Later he appeared at the ‘meet and greet,’ effectively crashing the event as our reporter, Mark Anderson, was strictly barred. Duff never drank a drop of anything and no food touched his lips – maybe this is how he justified talking to as many of us illicitly as he could. Duff is hungry for a good story and we appreciated it so much and invested a lot of time talking with him, filling him in.
Codex was, by day, quite tedious actually. I was advised that this particular topic, while advertised as GMO labeling and turning out to be on food labeling, was not an explosive topic like some of the prior meetings’ agendas had been. Being a mover, I found it very hard to sit still through the slow pace. (“This must be my version of hell…a bunch of Pharisees arguing about every jot and tittle….”) Scott, however, was energized and fully present, taking notes and documenting each delegate nation’s remarks and recommendations. No yawns or head nods from his quarter despite adjusting to a major time difference from France to Canada.
I later learned these painstaking notes would be used against the final Report to ensure accuracy, and indeed there were many changes to this final Report, which necessitated someone keeping track – and it was Scott and a few other diligent souls who not only took the notes but showed up on the final day (when most had already boarded planes for home) and sat through the tedious final reading, making their corrections known line by line, pressing the mike button, and waiting patiently to be recognized by the Chairman, Mr. Paul Mayers of Canada.
The proceedings became vastly more meaningful, as they literally went sentence by sentence, line upon line, dissecting each word and I mean literally – when I realized that MSG could actually be tucked right into the description of ‘salt’ and not demand label identification! Were some diligence not applied, we’d be consuming MSG completely unaware. The same concepts will hold true of aspartame and other things that can be hidden under the broad labeling umbrella of salt or sweetener.
I heard much from the U.S. delegate in her strident intelligence, from the host of Canadian delegates, as well as those from Kenya, Malaysia, Brazil, Africa, New Guinea, Argentina, and Mexico. I liked the spirit from most of the women who spoke there, pressing the button on their mike, and waiting to be recognized. They were intelligent but soft spoken and relentless in getting their points across in a sweet, respectful way to the Chairman and the room. We had headsets that the tireless translators spoke into, in our language. The Chairman was actually quite impressive, well-spoken, and amazingly kept his head into the details of protocol and verbology to the bitter end without flinching.
I’ve never seen such dedication … well, there were a few heads on the table – St. Kitts, Japan, and some prolonged sophomoric giggling from London’s INGO Food and Drink Europe over something on someone’s IPhone … but, all in all, the room was full of dedicated delegates going to bat for their country. It really was intense and LONG, so it was easy to forgive the occasional departure from 100% attention. However, it was disturbing to later meet “London” at the sweet-roll table and it was indicated they didn’t care about what they ate … Hmmm “Food and Drink INGO London” and they don’t care what they eat … go figure.
Disconnects always disturb me. On a national level, even more. There was also a distinct ‘disconnect’ from Barbara Schneeman, the U.S. Delegate whose e-mail has the initials FDA in it…when I asked her about Ractopamine, “Oh, I don’t attend that meeting because it is ‘Veterinary’.” My kids and grandkids are ingesting this as FOOD, and yes, it IS veterinary and not for human use, as it reads on the label – and our U.S. delegate has divorced herself from this issue in a disconnect that is incomprehensible to me. Where do ‘job descriptions’ end and common sense take over? Oh, I see, it’s about the money, isn’t it? U.S.-based Elanco, the vet arm of Eli Lilly, created this and the U.S. stands to gain. I get it … Follow the money and disregard the health.
The night of the ‘meet and greet’ we weren’t expecting such a lavish display of wonderful food, and I wasn’t expecting the colorful, beautiful costumes and headdresses of the individual nations or speeches by the Chairman Paul Mayers and others that were actually quite gracious and showed the desire for cooperation. We met interesting people literally from all over the World, taking pictures, talking about issues, exchanging e-mails…
The Codex World is truly a small place; a place where they strive to join by consensus – which means avoiding any hint of a vote – by all agreeing, or mostly all agreeing, in the end. It is cooperation at its core and fun meeting the delegates- most of whom spoke French to my dismay, not being bi-lingual. So I took pictures – lots of pictures. Most I met were lovely, friendly, and open. Besides the stimulation of meeting so many new people, the friendships forged by respect and admiration will serve NHF when a volatile issue is up for review.
We need to form these powerful alliances with like-minded nations that will take our opinions and statements under careful consideration. Having the ability to potentially change their thought processes on issues is a major goal of NHF. The sinister undercurrent of the reality of Codex is mostly hidden; and I was glad to know the truth of the origins, the latter appointments of FDA employees and the like, so as not to be lulled into a false sense of security.
One of the highlights of my evening was meeting the head of the INGO interested in baby-food safety. I was absolutely APPALLED when I heard the word “trans-fats” being applied to baby food. Who in their right mind would put that in a formula or baby food with brain and heart development at such a tender juncture? The woman representing that INGO, Elizabeth Sterken, had traveled under a grueling schedule to appear at this meeting. Later, she gave Scott Tips full credit for having alerted her and her organization to the dangers of melamine in baby formula. Since I have grandchildren on formula at present, I felt extreme gratitude to Elizabeth for helping us safeguard the products our babies consume. Believe me, it’s easier to write the check for people to come to represent you and your family than it is to travel all night long and not have the chance to sleep before meetings start, as she had just done.
Again, I realize the power of One. Like NHF, her voice and her representation was so vital – and so is each one of ours – and believe me, she and we traveled far and long to speak for your children and grandchildren. If some of you feel defeated before you cast your vote at the polls, you have to realize that in a room where the proceedings are very much like a committee meeting and agreement needs to be attained, you see that each Voice counts and never have I been more proud to be aligned with the ONLY health-freedom organization that can be in that room speaking – period. NHF.
There were several seats set aside for delegates who never showed up – Russia comes to mind. You have to understand the tremendous expense required to appear at these sometimes inconsequential meetings. We ask and ask for support and I have a feeling many of you think someone else has it covered and has sent the check in. Not so. This was one expensive week, but your Voice was present, on time, at every meeting and sat until the final curtain call when others were already in the sky headed back home. NHF has power, dedication, and the drive to go to bat for you; but, seriously, the funding for this trip was disappointing at best. Thank you, however, to those who DID make sure we were there. We couldn’t have done it without you, and I covered many of my own expenses to be there.
Another person we interacted with at some length was Jerome Lepeintre, Head of Delegation for the European Union. Jerome is a Veterinarian by trade and now works representing the EU. He will take his beautiful new bride to Beijing soon in that capacity – both are learning Mandarin, which is a daunting task! Jerome is not only passionate about the issue that brought me into NHF, Ractopamine, but told me to research Zilpaterol, which is yet another poison tainting the meats my family will consume. He is quite passionate in his zeal to protect the food supply and spoke often as well.
I’ve already shared with you that Scott will attend the meeting where Ractopamine will again be up for discussion in Rome this July. Please realize NHF runs so lean to the bone organizationally that funding for that trip is not in yet. If you don’t want your family eating this poison – at breakfast, lunch, and dinner (bacon, turkey, and beef….), then please help defray airfare, lodging, and meal costs for the week so that Scott can speak on your behalf at this crucial meeting.
I do hope to attend future meetings as part of the NHF team. Now that I have the game plan figured out – like Mark and Duff, the reporters – it makes it easier to endure because so much is truly at stake. Our way of life is determined in these chilly conference rooms …. It really does take much dedication, love, and commitment to choose this as one’s path of service. I’ve had so many people thank me for being willing to go for them, on behalf of them and their family. I have a whole new appreciation of what has been done for my family and me, while we, like so many in the World, were asleep to Codex, didn’t know what it was, what went on there, and the incredible power the Chairman Mayers holds …
If I can step out of my roles at NHF just for a moment, and as a private citizen just say, “Hats off to you, NHF, for speaking for me and mine…for making sure our World remains with a sense of integrity, our bodies having a fighting chance to remain pure, our choices inviolate by commercial interests and greed.” We will all express our gratitude with our time, our presence, our financial support, and our good thoughts and prayers because you, NHF, are worth joining forces with!
As we left the meeting, this bunny was stunned and in the middle of the busy street. President Scott Tips urges it to safety and we go on our way....Kind of sums of the work of NHF, working for so many of us that don't know we are in danger and need a watchful, caring Body to protect it.