What is Codex Alimentarius?
What is Codex Alimentarius?
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, Latin for 'food code', is an inter-governmental body that sets guidelines and standards to ensure ‘fair trade practices’ and consumer protection in relation to the global trade of food. It was established for this purpose in 1963 so has more than 40 years’ experience controlling food in an ever-more globalized world. It has over 170 member countries within the framework of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Its primary stated purpose is “protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.” The Commission also promotes coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations (INGO’s).
The guidelines and standards are used as a benchmark for regional/national legislation and in World Trade Orgaization (WTO) diputes. Work is conducted through nearly 30 committees, each dealing with specific areas of food, and decisions are based on consensus voting by member countries. INGO’s do not have voting rights, but may influence proceedings. Most INGO’s present at Codex meetings represent transnational corporation interests.
Watch Kevin Miller's 2005 movie about Codex: "We Become Silent", narrated by Dame Judy Dench and Featuring Mel Gibson.
"If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." Thomas Jefferson (1762-1821), Third President of the USA, author of the Declaration of Independence.
Single greatest threat to our access to natural health products?
The Codex Alimentarius Commission is responsible for establishing a system of guidelines, standards and recommendations that guides the direction of the global food supply. It aims to tell us what is safe, but in the process often uses criteria that are manipulated to support the interests of the world’s largest corporations.
Admirable, some might say, but of course, just how are governments in Codex protecting health, based on what criteria and — what exactly is meant by ‘fair trade practices’?
Well, it’s certainly got nothing to do with the fair trade movement that aims to support farmers and producers in developing countries while promoting sustainability. It’s much more about a system of guidelines and standards that work to the advantage of the largest global food suppliers and producers. In such company, inevitably, small producers and suppliers get left out in the cold -- as do small governments that disagree with the thrust of some of the decisions made under the Codex banner.
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