Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Is news about CAFTA and supplement regulation a hoax?

Al B. writes... I am writing in response to the [Downsizer-Dispatch] message sent on July 11 regarding an impending CAFTA vote and its effects on the price and availability of food supplements. I found the following rebuttal [at]
I am wondering... if you care to take issue with the allegation that these concerns amount nothing more than chain-mail propagated urban legend.

I replied and said… Snopes is wrong, though why requires substantial explanation. Illustrating “how” exposes an insidious complexity designed to undermine regulatory efforts until we're far too late in the process. More on that in a minute.

Now, it turns out there WAS an error in yesterday's message. But the Snopes piece does not address that. The error? The CAFTA bill does not have a specific provision on supplements.

There is NOTHING directly in the language of either the House or Senate
bills pertaining to CAFTA that threatens dietary supplement consumers. What DOES threaten us is the language of the CAFTA Treaty itself.

In the interests of accuracy, this is an important distinction to make. Mea culpa. To be honest, despite numerous consultations with others, I didn't grasp that fact until AFTER someone pointed it out to me.

But it's still important to realize these bills contain implementing language that would give CAFTA the force of law inside the USA, but the bills don't contain the text of the Treaty itself and THAT is where the threat DOES lie. See Section 6, the SPS Section.

This section of the CAFTA Treaty would require the USA to form a Sanitary Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Committee for the purpose of insuring that we entered into a constant process of harmonizing our laws under the terms of the SPS Agreement in the WTO.

Further, Article 3 of the WTO's SPS Agreement requires our country to harmonize our food safety laws (read DSHEA) to Codex standards. It states "To harmonize sanitary and phytosanitary measures on as wide a basis as possible, Members SHALL base their food safety measures on international standards, guidelines or recommendations." (Codex guidelines set the standards for food safety, including vitamins and minerals.)

The likely effects of CODEX are well-documented by the ever-rigorous Life Extension Foundation.

There is a disinformation campaign underway and the complexity of the CAFTA and Codex processes are the key to the success of this disinformation campaign. The Snopes piece inadvertently lends some of the evidence.

The bills Snopes cites that didn't come up to vote (in 2003) demonstrate that the FDA and the Major Pharma companies that control it, don't have the power to take our rights through domestic political means. They have motive, but insufficient means.

Thus, there are only three ways they can go:

1) To the Courts. This strategy has already failed them to a sufficient degree so that they are hardly pursuing it.
2) By scaring Americans. This one hasn't worked because too many people are now using supplements and swear by them.
3) Go to an International Body like the WTO. And I explained in yesterday's message (see July 11 entry on this blog, “How they’ll take our supplements”) how this process will work to take our supplements.

One final thing. It's hard to sufficiently alert someone about something when it's so darn complicated and the effects are so far off. I've come to learn several things about Big Government power and the political process over the years -- rules of thumb that consistently work (I wish I had an investment scheme that was so reliable).

One thing that is true is that big government fully exploits the powers it's given. Give them an inch, they take ten miles. They do things "no one" foresaw. I explained the most likely, but not the only, scenario by which CODEX would result in the loss of access to supplements. And by loss of access I mean not only outright loss, but also increased cost, lower potency, and greater regulation, such as a requirement for prescription-only access.

Snopes counters that you won't lose access to supplements in July 2005. They are right. But what they overlook is that this will happen very, very gradually and it won't be CONGRESS that does it. And we'll be reduced to putting out brush fire after brush fire, and lose battles along the way. The losses will mount and become bad precedents. And new a generation of public school children will be taught how the WTO protected us from "snake oil salesmen."

The time to act now. We need to throw the Codex and Cafta babies out with the bathwater because their Rosemary's Babies.

Therefore, those who've overstated the case are guilty of just one thing -- lacking the marketing and political experience necessary to accurately articulate in a way that motivates action what they know in their hearts to be true. This is indeed a flaw, but to my mind, a forgivable one.

To my knowledge, everything (aside from the ONE aforementioned misstatement I've made regarding supplement language in the authorizing bills), both at our website and on our email newsletter, is true, and if anything, understated.

P.S. I couldn't figure out where to include this comment, so I've made it a "P.S." The bias of the Snopes writer is obvious. Ms. "vitaminized" (as she signs the piece) decries the fact that these supplements are unregulated. She _wants_ a big government program and gives several (some panic-stricken, there's that attempt at fear again) reasons why such government "oversight" is necessary. Oh, where would we be if bureaucrats didn't protect us from ourselves?

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