By John Hammell, © 1996
In Germany, the trains run on time and the beer is unsurpassed, but
pharmaceutical companies like Hoechst are working overtime to drive small
vitamin companies out of business in an effort to take over the supplement
industry. Hoechst's vehicle is the Codex Alimentarious Commission, which
is developing international standards for dietary supplements.
LIFE EXTENSION FOUNDATION
The motives of the pharmaceutical companies are revealed in a letter
by Matthias Rath, M.D.(Fig. 1) to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and members
of the German Parliament The letter is entitled "The Health Interests
of Millions of People Are More Important Than The Stock Price of the Pharmaceutical
In his letter, Dr. Rath, who is a German living in California, noted
that a German proposal before the Codex Commission is being heavily pushed
by Hoechst, Bayer, and BASF -- the three companies formed when IG Farben
was disbanded after the Nuremberg War Trials because of their role in manufacturing
the poison gas used in the Nazi concentration camps.
Eradicating Cardiovascular Disease
Dr. Rath notes that he has developed a scientifically sound nutritional
protocol for eradicating human cardiovascular disease, but that this protocol
threatens the interests of Hoechst, Bayer and BASF -- all of which manufacture
dangerous, ineffective, and outrageously expensive heart medications.
Clearly, through their support of the Codex Commission, Hoechst, Bayer,
and BASF, are contributing to the death of millions of people -- as heart
disease is the world's number one killer. More than 12 million people will
continue to die worldwide every year from premature heart attacks and strokes
if they are denied access to affordable preventive therapies.
Advancing The German Proposal
Regrettably, the German government ignored Dr.Rath's impassioned plea,
and held the Codex meeting in Bonn anyway. Moreover, they continued to
advance the German proposal that could one day severely restrict your access
to dietary supplements. They jumped from step 3 to step 5 during this meeting.
In two years when they meet again, they could jump from step 5 to step
8 and finalize things!
In addition, the Codex Executive committee might allocate funds in
June for the creation of an "expert panel" on herbs which might
create a "negative list" that could limit consumer access to
these products internationally. The formation of this "expert panel"
was advocated by Canada, and seconded by a majority of the delegations
present. Obviously we will need to monitor this very closely and will attempt
to be a part of the expert panel. We also encourage people such as Roy
Upton from American Herbal Pharmacopoeia to participate. They have developed
approximately 300 highly objective monographs on botanicals including Ayurvedic,
Chinese, and Western herbs that are commonly in use in the United States-
and are pro consumer.
Do you want your favorite supplements replaced by expensive, patented,
over-the-counter and prescription drug? Unless a much bigger international
coalition can be formed within the next two years to save our health freedom,
we will see it stripped from us as the drug companies play a game called
"boiling the frog slowly."
Report From Bonn
I am writing this from the Hotel Europa in Bonn Germany because The
Life Extension Foundation sent me here to report on the 20th meeting of
the Codex Alimentarius Commission's Committee on Nutrition and Foods for
Special Dietary Use. I just sat through a week's worth of meetings as part
of the U.S. delegation, which was one of 39 member countries comprising
a total of 187 participants.
Prior to coming to Bonn, I worked with Suzanne Harris,J.D. of the Law
Loft in Johnstown, Colorado to draft comments on the German proposal for
dietary supplements and other issues discussed at the meeting. (Our Codex
comments can be downloaded from our web site (www.lef.org) on the Internet.
Pat Stern in our information office will mail these extensive comments
to anyone making a donation of $25. or more.
Ron Birckhead and I reported on the Codex International Threat to Health
Freedom in the February and April issues of Life Extension Magazine, however
before I outline what happened in Bonn and what we must do to save health
freedom, I will summarize the nature of the problem we are facing.
What Is The Codex Alimentarius Commission?
Codex Alimentarius is latin for "food code." The Codex Alimentarius
Commission is an FAO/WHO United Nations entity whose purpose is to "create
a set of international standards to guide the world's growing food industry
and to protect the health of consumers."
Germany has been attempting to manipulate the Codex Committee on Nutrition
and Foods for Special Dietary Use to further the interests of the German
pharmaceutical industry, by raising regulatory standards so that only the
big drug companies like Hoechst, Bayer, BASF, Degussa, Fresnius, Rhone-Poulenc,
Sandoz, and Novo Nordisk can survive.
The purpose of Codex is "...to guide and promote the elaboration
and establishment of definitions and requirements for foods, to assist
in their harmonization and, in doing so, to facilitate international trade."
Since being established in 1962, codex has produced 28 volumes of standards,
guidelines and principles, including 237 food standards and 41 hygienic
and technological practice codes. Codex has resulted in evaluations of
the safety of over 700 food additives and contaminants and the setting
of more than 3,200 maximum residue levels for pesticides. As of 1994, Commission
membership included 146 countries.
The German "Proposed Draft Guideline for Dietary Supplements"
calls for the following:
- No dietary supplement can be sold for prophylactic (preventive or therapeutic)
- No dietary supplement sold as a food can exceed potency (dosage)levels
set by the commission;
- Codex standards for dietary supplements would become the reference
international standard under GATT, and a reference international standard
- The current trend is for countries to adopt the international standards
either individually or in regional compacts. If that happened in the U.S.,
all new dietary supplements would automatically be banned unless they conform
to Codex standards- (which would require going through a very expensive
drug like approval process.) The Delaney clause, which used to protect
us against carcinogens in our food supply, has already been "harmonized"
to a Codex standard which favors pesticide manufacturers, and not a single
member of Congress protested against this.
What It's Like In Germany
All anyone needs to do in order to grasp the motives behind the German
proposal is to visit any German health food store and pharmacy (called
In a German health food store, you simply don't find the shelves filled
with vitamin products that you see in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. or Australia.
You won't find a single product by Twinlab, Standard Process Brands, Solgar,
Solaray, or any of the other usual brands.
What you WILL find is little besides health food. You'll find organic
vegetables, macrobiotic staples, herbal shampoo, skin creams, Birckenstock
sandals, books on massage, and only a handful of multi-nutrient formulas
in OTC drug form such as "Alsiroyal", a royal jelly, vitamin
E and ginseng.
Where You Can Get Supplements In Germany?
The answer is that you really CAN'T! The closest thing to the products
available to Americans and can only be found as high priced, prescription
and over-the-counter drugs found in pharmacies called apothecaries, such
as the "Apotheke im Stadthaus" on Berliner Platz in Bonn where
I went with a list of the products I usually take.
The first thing that struck me about the "Apotheke im Stadthaus"
was that I was BLOCKED from even accessing the products I was looking for
by a long counter that extends the full width of the store. BEHIND that
counter, standing GUARD over the products was a phalanx of registered pharmacists
wearing white lab coats.
I told one of the pharmacists, a woman named Christi Himmelfahrt, that
I was moving to Germany for 6 months, and needed to stock up in the states
on supplements before returning.
She asked me a slew of annoying questions, and gave me a lot of unwanted
advice regarding my supplement program. I cut her short by informing her
that I just wanted to price a few products and be on my way, and that I
wasn't used to not being able to look at the products myself. She stared
as if in shock at my "impudence" and proceeded to pull boxes
containing various OTC drugs off the shelves lining the wall behind the
All the products available in a German apothocary are listed in a "PDR"
like volume called "Die Rote List" (ISBN 3-87193-167-5). There
one can find a complete listing of international pharmaceutical firms that
manufacture patented analogs of dietary supplements sold as OTC and prescription
drugs. Through this you can see who the companies are that are trying to
manipulate the Codex process.
German Rip-Off Prices!
Here is an example of how OTC drug prices at "Apotheke im Stadhaus"
compare The with Life Extension Foundation's supplement prices:
LEF: Vitamin C, 250 caps, 1,000 mg, $22.50, cost per gram: 0.090 cents.
GERMANY: Vitamin C not available in 1 Gram caps, only in a quantity
of 20, 1 Gram effervescent lozenges (Merck) which cost 6.45 DM or $4.19
U.S. (U.S. dollar=1.5263 DM). Cost is .209 cents per mg). German cost is
more than double LEF cost.
The largest sized tablet of vitamin C in Germany is 250 mg (Merck)(a
huge, hard-to-swallow tablet -- they don't have capsules). Their price
for 30 tablets is 18.89 DM or $12.27 US (cost is $1.63/gram in Germany
vs .09 cents per gram for the Life Extension Foundation product. The German
cost is 18.11 times HIGHER than the LEF cost
I consume 20 capsules/day of C, or 20 x 365 = 7300 capsules/year. My
cost at .09 cents per gram (73,00 capsules x 1 gram or 7,300 grams x .09/gram
= LEF cost of $657/year.
If I consumed 7,300 grams x $1.61 cents/gram, my cost per year in Germany
would be a whopping $11,899/ year-- or FAR more than I can afford to pay
for vitamin C, ESPECIALLY when I figure the cost of the OTHER supplements
I take! The German price for 1 gram of vitamin C is 18.11 times higher
than the LEF price!
North American Pharmacies Move In On Supplement Market
Americans and Canadians had better wake up because on Oct. 14, 1996
a press release announced the publication of "The Natural Pharmacist,"
a new magazine exclusively for retail pharmacists who will vigorously pursue
business that has traditionally been the province of health food stores.
This magazine was distributed at the annual meeting of the National
Association for Retail Pharmacists (NARD) in New Orleans, and was sent
to over 40,000 pharmacists in the U.S. and Canada. With the German Codex
proposal pending, no consumer can afford to be complacent about the drug
companies efforts to monopolize the sale of natural products.
Control Of Supplements In Norway
In Norway, drug companies currently control 70% of all dietary supplement
sales. These products are being sold at grossly inflated prices as patent
protected prescription and OTC drug analogs -- when they are available
In Norway, the you can only make a health claim for a natural product
if it is licensed with the government as an OTC drug. Thus, in Norway,
Shering Plough can make a health claim on "Echinagard" (a patented
analog of an echinacea tincture), while supplement companies are excluded
from making the claim. In Norway, there are only a handful of herbs that
can still be sold in health food stores. The drug companies are making
it illegal to sell them in order to pave the way for the sale of their
Hoechst, Shering-Plough and other European drug companies which have
been taking over the European market are now eyeing the rest of the world,
with efforts to pass the German Codex proposal.
Jamaica And Spain
In Jamaica, the Holistic Health Association has filed a lawsuit against
the Ministry of Health, which is attempting to require a cost prohibitive
"drug approval process" for herbal products.
In Spain, a royal decree on Aug. 2 banned advertising of natural products
unless they have undergone a cost prohibitive drug approval process. Life
Extension Foundation member Vance Lannaman is spearheading the lawsuit
against the Jamaican government, while LEF distributer to Spain, Manuel
Tevar, is trying to help coordinate a lawsuit against the Spanish government.
The Adoption Of A Flawed Preamble
In Bonn, discussion on the proposed draft guidelines for dietary supplements
(agenda item #7), got off on the wrong foot from the start with the adoption
of the following incorrect and highly biased preamble:
"Most people who have a balanced diet should usually obtain all
of the nutrients that they require from their normal diet. People should
therefore be encouraged to select such a balanced diet from food before
considering any dietary supplement."
The delegate from India attempted to amend this preamble by proposing
the following third sentence: "However, people who do not have access
to a balanced diet may need access to vitamins and minerals to safeguard
their health." The committee however agreed to leave the preamble
unchanged, (reflecting the pharmaceutical industries influence on the whole
Recommendations For Daily Intake
The Committee did not agree on the proposal of the German delegation
to refer to "recommendations for daily intake or estimated values
of safe and adequate intake by recognized scientific authorities"
and this was left in square brackets for further comments. The French delegation
expressed the view that a distinction should be made between toxicological
and nutritional aspects when safety limits were considered, and that the
Committee should primarily address nutritional concerns. No Agreement On
Minimum Or Maximum Nutrient Levels The Committee could not agree on minimum
nutrient levels and the level of 15% of the RDA was left in square brackets
for further discussion.
Some delegations were opposed to the definition of a maximum level
of 100% of the RDA. The Committee agreed to a proposal by the U.K. and
Canada for alternative wording, setting the limit "to a level that
is considered safe as determined by appropriate risk assessment methodology
taking into account all sources of the nutrients in the diet", recognizing
that nutrient interaction was one aspect in the assessment process. Both
proposals were put in square brackets for further consideration.
Status of The Proposed Draft Guidelines
The U.S., supported by Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, the
Netherlands, and Japan pointed out that, since there was no consensus on
many aspects of the Guidelines, and further detailed consideration of the
process put forward at the session would be required, the text should be
sent back to step 3 for additional comments on the amended version.
However, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Kuwait, South Africa, and Poland disagreed, and by simple majority moved
for adoption of step 5 of the procedure. This decision was vehemently objected
to by the delegations from the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand
and Japan -- but to no avail for the other side had their simple majority.
The chair cut off voting once a simple majority was reached. If not
for that, many other countries would have backed the Germans, and the vote
would have been much worse than 10-7. Greece, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and
Iceland were just a few of the countries that would have voted with Germany
if the chair hadn't stopped the voting.
Health Freedom Efforts In Other Countries
The Life Extension Foundation extends thanks to Jason Sebeslav or Alive
Magazine, Vancouver, Canada for helping with the grass roots effort in
Canada. In Australia we extend thanks to John Lesso of Consumers Against
Fraudulent Medical Research for helping get the word out there. In New
Zealand we especially thank LEF member Dr. Kenneth Mc Iver for his tireless
organizing. In the U.K., hats go off to Tom Potter of the Feelgood Factory.
In Norway we owe Ron Birckhead a tremendous thanks, and I hope we receive
enough donations that we can once again obtain Ron's valuable services.
It was Ron who first alerted us to the Codex threat, and his insight is
very badly needed- especially as events unfold in Europe pertaining to
the EC supplement regulations and to Codex.
We hope to meet the Netherlands activists who carried the battle there,
along with activists from Japan who spurred that nation to oppose the German
Regarding Japan's opposition to the German proposal, we note that in
the Sep. 1996 issue of Nutrition Business Journal, on p.23, there is an
announcement about a booming Japanese vitamin market. "According to
Japan's Health Business Magazine, 1995 domestic sales for vitamin products
are expected to reach $3 billion. In 1996, sales are expected to increase
substantially due to recent deregulation of nutrition supplements from
medicine to foods. This will make them more readily available at department
and convenience stores at more affordable prices.
What Is Needed Now
The Life Extension Foundation is the leading organization in the world
concerned with defending consumer access to natural products. We need your
help in building an international coalition to oppose the German proposal
and send it back to step 3 in two years when the committee meets again.
We will be working with organizations in the U.K., Canada, Japan, the Netherlands,
Australia, and New Zealand to help insure that this happens, but need monetary
donations on an ongoing basis in order to conduct this vital health freedom
We will be updating Codex information to our site on the worldwide
web (www.lef.org), including translations into other languages) and we
need your assistance.
All of this costs money. We need you to join us, and if you have already
joined, please urge your friends to! It cost a lot of money for LEF to
send me to Germany to the Codex meeting. We need money to conduct a think
tank analysis (to identify the market and political forces at work which
bear on these proceedings in order to assist us in planning strategy. We
need to be able to fund a full time lobbyist on Capital Hill, as well as
a roving lobbyist who can take our message abroad. Please help us keep
Suzanne Harris in motion, and help us bring Ron Birckhead back on board!
Checks can be made out to "Life Extension Foundation" and
sent to Pat Stern, LEF Information Office, PO Box 229120, Hollywood, FL
33022 USA. For donations of $25. or more, we will send you a copy of our
highly comprehensive, 23 page Codex Comments which were submitted to the
Codex Alimentarius Commission after careful preparation by Suzanne Harris,
JD of the Law Loft. Thank you for your badly needed assistance.
© 1996 John Hammell, Hollywood, FL
Political Coordinator, The Life Extension Foundation
800-333-2553, 305-929-2905, 305-929-0507 FAX
Updated Codex Form Letter in Our Website Now,
LEF Codex Comments in our Website Now
***FREE Copy Life Extension Mag available upon reqest***