By John Hammell, Political Coordinator, Life Extension Foundation
The ringing phone jolted me to consciousness at 4am. It was Jon Hansen calling from a "safe" house in Norway. Jon's voice was strained and ragged...the voice of a man under extreme pressure.
Jon told me he was on the run from the Norwegian authorities. He said they had his apartment under surveillance and had been following him for a week, after a store clerk told an undercover agent from the health department that Jon had been selling "illegal" vitamins!
Jon's "crime": distributing 160 IU vitamin E capsules and 900-mg Vitamin-C capsules. The sale of these "high-dose" vitamin products was a direct challenge to Norway's health police, who were constantly prowling the streets to stop merchants from selling "illegal" vitamins to Norwegian citizens.
Legal Limits On Vitamins
The legal limit per capsule for the sale of vitamins in Norwegian health food stores is 30 IU of vitamin E and 200 mg. of Vitamin-C, while pharmacies are permitted to sell 100 IU of vitamin E and 250 mg. of Vitamin-C.
While on the run, Jon heard that a store was continuing to sell his "illegal" vitamins in defiance of a government order. Jon went to the store to ask the manager to stop selling the vitamins, but he wasn't there.
As Jon left, he was followed by 3 people who he eluded by running through the woods. Jon thinks the manager may have resumed selling the vitamins as part of an FDA sting operation to lure him back to the store, so they could follow him.
Fear Of Being Arrested
Jon mulled over his situation, trying to plan his next move. With his apartment under surveillance, and under cover cops following him, he was worried that they might attempt to arrest him soon. So he sneaked back to his apartment under cover of darkness to remove his computer, business records, clothes, and other belongings.
We then discussed the need to help him escape from Norway to the United States, before the authorities arrested him, or tried to block him from leaving the country.
With customs blocking his efforts to import products to distribute, and undercover agents tracking his every move, Hansen has endured the very painful experience of the complete destruction of a business that took him ten years to build. As I write this, Jon lives in constant fear of a "knock on the door" that could lead to incarceration for the "crime" of distributing supplements in does high enough potencies to prevent heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
The German Codex proposal for dietary supplements, which would severely limit consumer access to dietary supplements throughout the world, is patterned after the current regulatory scheme in Norway. Do we really want the German Codex proposal to become the international reference standard for dietary supplements under NAFTA and GATT? Could the United States become like Norway?
The NONA Takeover
The pharmaceutical industry in Norway gained control of the dietary supplement industry by taking over NONA - the national organization of nutrient productsuppliers - through a referendum on NONA's voting procedures. They were able to change things so that the retailers were separated from the wholesalers.
After dividing the wholesalers from the retailers, the Drug Cartel was able to begin buying up wholesalers. The result is that today, over 70% of the products sold in Norwegian health food stores are OTC drugs, patented analogs of natural substances which are only available at exorbitant prices, and in tiny, largely ineffectual doses.
Today NONA works closely with the Norwegian FDA in an effort to wipe out their competition. Any Vitamin-Company or distributer which is unable, or unwilling to pay the High Drug Identification Number (DIN) registration fees required for NONA's "approval" cannot stay in business.
The program was ostensibly established for quality control purposes, but was manipulated in Norway in order to create a semi-monopoly by setting registration fees so high that only the large pharmaceutical companies and the biggest Vitamin-Companies can afford to pay them.
In the United States, the comparable nutrient product organization is the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA), which represents thousands of companies, distributors, and retailers. Will an attempt be made to repeat this type of control in the U.S., with the NNFA's "True Label" program, which also purports to be a quality control program?
A Warning From Norway
"Don't think the same thing couldn't happen in the U.S.," warns Hansen. "As recently as 3 years ago, you could still buy 1 gram Vitamin-C capsules and other high dosage vitamins in Norway, but today, only minuscule doses are available at exorbitant prices as OTC drugs, no dietary supplements. In Europe, it is considered irresponsible and unsafe to allow consumers access to vitamins in doses more than 2 times the RDA level" (some countries, like Finland, limit access to only one times the RDA level.
The Battle For Control Of NNFA
In the United States, consumers are fortunate that Joe Bassett, of Bassett's Health Foods in Toledo, Ohio recently defeated Phillip Nabors for the Presidency of NNFA. Bassett ran on a platform to protect the interests of health food stores, which make up 85% of the membership of NNFA. He opposed efforts to change the by-laws to allow a wholesaler to run for President of the organization, the same strategy used to take over NONA in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and other countries. Bassett also opposed efforts to change the by-laws to change the voting procedures to allow drug company shills to mail in their votes without having to attend the General Meeting, another tactic aimed at gaining control of NNFA.
Legislative Advocate Clinton Miller of the National Council for Improved Health, who is on the Legislative Committee of NNFA, believes that Bassett's victory was the most important election ever held within NNFA. As a member of the US delegation to the Codex meeting in Bonn, Clint is very concerned about ongoing efforts by the drug cartel to take over NNFA and urges American consumers to pay very close attention to what is going on (see Life Extension Magazine January 1997, Codex International Threat to Health Freedom, Report from Bonn, Germany, p.17, by John Hammell).
An American Company That Sold Out
The large pharmaceutical companies are already attempting to gain control over dietary supplement companies in the U.S. Nature's Way of Utah recently signed a contract with Cassella, a subsidiary of Hoechst, a large German pharmaceutical firm. Cassella markets analogs of herbal products which are sold as OTC drugs in Europe.
The influence of companies such as Nature's Way in NNFA is suspect. Why did NNFA actively oppose efforts to introduce a Senate companion bill to HR 1951 during the current Congress? Why didn't NNFA do anything to generate grass roots opposition to the German Codex proposal? Why didn't NNFA submit comments to the Codex Commission in opposition to the German Codex proposal? Why didn't they send a delegate to the Codex meeting in Bonn?
Could it be that elements within NNFA are trying to sweep their competition off a cliff? Could it be that other elements within NNFA have sold out to the Drug Cartel besides Nature's Way? Shouldn't those members of NNFA who care about health freedom take a close look at this matter? Shouldn't all consumers pay closer attention to NNFA politics?
The Presidential Commission on Dietary Supplement Labels
In addition to this news, the Commission on Dietary Supplement Labels, a Presidential body created by the passage of the recently passed bill on the regulation of dietary supplements (DSHEA) is drafting a report to address the current system of regulating labels on dietary supplements as well as the evaluation process for the making of health claims.
Our Washington Correspondent has attended two meetings of this Commission. We will be reporting further as a pitched battle for control of the dietary supplement industry has been occurring within the Committee. Will we be able to stop this Commission from "harmonizing" our laws with the absolute horrendous laws in Norway, Canada, and other countries?
Canadian Consumers Need To Wake Up!
Catherine Gabriel reports from the Health Action Network in British Columbia in Canada that the Health Protection Branch (Canadian FDA), has been assigning drug identification numbers (DINS) to herbs, and has been secretly creating a black list of herbs with the intention of eventually banning their sales in health food stores. This was corroborated by Randy Gromm, an herbalist in Burnaby B.C., and Croft Woodruff, a health food store owner in Vancouver who also has a health radio program.
Randy faxed me a copy of an article from the October/November 1996 issue of "Health Naturally," which has a revealing article entitled "Who Will Protect Us From Our Protectors" by Gorge Profonde (a pseudonym-the author fears retaliation from the H.P.B.).
Profonde says that the HPB "claims to have sole authority to classify ANY substance as a drug. " It doesn't matter if that substance is safe, effective and honestly promoted. It does not matter that it may have been used by millions of people for thousands of years. It does not matter that the HPB cannot produce a shred of evidence that anyone has ever been harmed by it. If the HPB decides that ANY food extract or herb is a drug, consumers lose. That product is either completely removed from the market, or slowly regulated to death." Profonde discusses the extremely high prices the bureaucrats at HPB charge for DINs. Each manufacturer or distributer must pay up to $720/product to receive a DIN and up to $500/year to keep their DIN active. Suppliers of dietary supplements may soon be required to pay $1,500. every time the HPB decides to inspect their premises, yet these fees are just the beginning! The HPB also requires exhaustive laboratory testing before every batch of "drug" product can be sold. It can cost up to $1,600. to test a single batch of a multi-vitamin product, and these costs are passed on to consumers.
Many small companies cannot afford these costs and are being driven out of business. For example, one supplier of 350 homeopathic products must pay DIN registration fees of over $100,000, plus annual renewal fees of about $20,000. The HPB has generated a huge list of herbs that now require DINs.
In the February '96 issue of Life Extension Magazine, I reported that Canada has banned Melatonin and chromium picolinate and that consumers were scrambling to purchase these products (along with amino acids, and the herb comfrey which had long sense been banned north of the border.)
Canadian consumers are strongly urged to join The Life Extension Foundation (LEF) to help with our anti-Codex efforts, and to also work towards passage of Canadian legislation to defend your access to dietary supplements, before the entire natural products industry in your country is destroyed.
In addition to joining LEF, we urge Canadians to work through the following organizations:
Health Action Network Society
5262 Rumble St. #202
Burnaby, B.C. V5J- 2B6
800-432-HANS or 604-435-0512
Citizens for Choice in Health Care
128 Queen St. South Box 42264
Mississauga, Ont. L5M 420
My Health, My Rights
2309 Horton St.
Ottawa, Ont. K1G 3E7
819-684-6351, FAX same
Canadian Delegate To Codex Pushes "Special" Panel On Herbs
The Canadian delegate to the Codex meeting in Bonn made a motion that a "special panel of experts" be formed among FAO/WHO to address the question of whether or not a negative list was needed in order to ban certain herbs from international commerce due to "safety" concerns.
This motion was quickly seconded by several countries, including the United States. This angered several NGO members of the US delegation, including myself, because Dr. Yetley, the official US delegate, never consulted us on the matter...her hand just shot up there in total agreement with the Canadian delegate. Consumers better wake up before we all get railroaded.
THE HPB and FDA is lying through their teeth to consumers regarding the Codex issue! They are smiling in our faces as they attempt to stab us in the back through collusion with people like the Canadian delegate. Consumers all over the world should complain against the formation of this so called "Special Panel On Herbs" to Dr. Mary Cheney, Chief, Nutrition Evaluation Division, Food Directorate, Health Protection Branch, Tunney's Pasture, Postal Locator: 2203A, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A OL2, Tel. 1 613-957-0352, FAX 1613-941-6636 and cc your complaint to your Senators and Congressmen in the states and your M.P.s in Canada, as well as to: Dr. Elizabeth Yetley, Director, Office of Special Nutritionals, HFS-45, US Food and Drug Administration, 200 C St. S.W., Washington DC 20204, Tel 1202-205-4168, FAX 202-205-5295.
In June the executive committee of the Codex Commission will vote on whether or not to fund this "special committee" on herbs. You can bet they will. You can also bet that IF they allow groups such as Life Extension Foundation to participate in their deliberations, they will stacked the deck against us. Suzanne Harris, J.D., of the Law Loft warns that the formation of this "special panel" is most likely part of an ongoing shell game to take jurisdiction of dietary supplements away from the Codex Commission (where they are at least being regulated as foods), and put them strictly under World Health Organization (WHO) control where they'd be regulated as "drugs", just as they are in Canada. This is due to the strong influence of the pharmaceutical industry on WHO.
Struggle In Other Countries
Australia, New Zealand, and all of Europe have banned melatonin. New Zealand is "harmonizing" its food and drug laws with both Australia's and Canada's.
Life Extension member Ken McIver, Ph.D, led a spirited fight in New Zealand to try to stop the Melatonin ban, but to no avail. I sent Ken a stack of articles from the medical literature attesting to the safety and efficacy of melatonin, but the New Zealand authorities ignored it. Ken is one of a growing number of people around the world helping LEF to combat the Codex threat to health freedom. In Spain, a Royal Decree issued in August bans advertising on dietary supplements. LEF distributer to Spain, Manuel Tevar, reports that his business in Spain has all but been wiped out! A similar effort is underway in Jamaica, and in every part of the world!
Help Save Freedom In Healthcare!
The Life Extension Foundation cannot fight this battle without your assistance. We need donations in order to hire more people to reach out to consumers throughout the world. We need corporate angel donations of $1000, but for every donation of $25 or more we will send you LEF's Official Comments to the Codex Commission as drafted by Suzanne Harris, J.D., of the Law Loft.
Make your checks payable to Life Extension Foundation and mail them to:
c/o Pat Stern
LEF Information Office
PO Box 229120
Hollywood, FL 33022 USA
With your help we can carry our health freedom message to all the member nations of the Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Use of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. We MUST do this if we want to stop the German proposal from being pushed through to finalization in two years when the Committee meets again in Bonn.
If the German proposal becomes the International Standard under NAFTA and GATT (as it will if we fail to stop its advance), we will soon see what is now happening in Canada and Europe starting to occur in the United States.
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