Dr. Rath Health Foundation

Dr. Rath Health Foundation

Responsibility for a healthy world Dr. Rath Research Institute 100+ Studies Published In PubMed

WTO, EU, WHO, FAO, Codex
Alphabet Soup or a Pharma-Controlled
Threat to Natural Health?

Full details of the attempts by the pharma-cartel to ban all access to life saving natural health remedies are contained in the new edition of Dr Rath's extraordinary book Why Animals Don't Get Heart Attacks But People Do available shortly.

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A meeting of government ministers is taking place in Cancun, Mexico from 10-14th September 2003 that may decide the future of world trade – and your health.

To find out why, read on…


Ever heard of the World Trade Organization – WTO for short? Established on January 1, 1995, the WTO is “…the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.” The United States, the country with the world’s largest economy is a member, along with 145 other countries throughout the industrialized and developing world.

All nations that join the WTO sign up to what is called the ‘harmonization rule.’ Under this rule each nation must revise its national laws related to trade (in both goods and services) so that they are in agreement, or ‘harmonized.’ Any country that fails to obey this rule will be brought before the WTO Dispute Resolution Panel (DRP) and forced to harmonize its laws, under threat of economic sanctions.

The DRP is elected, meets and arrives at its decisions in conditions of complete secrecy – and there is no right to appeal. Its decisions are final, effectively giving it the power to shape global laws in the area of trade. One such law is the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights – or TRIPS as it better known.

The WTO periodically convenes a Ministerial Conference, its highest level decision making body, at which government ministers from participating member countries meet to agree on the rules for world trade. At the Doha Ministerial Conference in 2001, ministers agreed that, “…the TRIPS Agreement does not and should not prevent members from taking measures to protect public health.” This is particularly important for developing countries if they are to be able to afford access to drugs for Aids, Tuberculosis etc.

Despite impending health disasters in many developing countries, where millions of lives are a risk, this interpretation of TRIPS has never been put into practice. This is due largely to the efforts of the pharma-lobby, led by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America organisation (PhRMA) whose views have been fully supported by the US government.

PhRMA has consistently refused to release the patent stranglehold its members have over access to vaccines, anti-retroviral and other life-saving drugs. The Cancun Ministerial Conference running from 10-14th September 2003 will attempt to address this problem again, although the arguments that have arisen in the run-up to this Conference suggest little progress will be made.

So where do the other ingredients of the alphabet soup fit into this picture?

The “Food Code”

The WTO recognizes an organization called ‘Codex Alimentarius’ (literally translated as ‘food code’) as the primary international agency in setting standards for food and food (or dietary) supplements. Codex, for short, was set up and is jointly run by the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, “…to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice…” that apply to food or food supplements.

Recognition by the WTO gives these Codex “standards, guidelines and related texts” the force and scope of worldwide laws that supercede national laws such as the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in the USA and even regional laws such as the European Union’s recent Food Supplements Directive.

Codex is currently debating the introduction of standards that will restrict the availability of dietary supplement ingredients such as vitamins and minerals to levels little greater than RDA on the basis of the ‘precautionary principle’ developed by the European Union.

And not content with restricting life-saving micronutrient dosages to levels that will barely keep us alive, Codex is also considering banning any reference to dietary supplements being effective against diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

The relationship between WTO and Codex means that, not only is access to life-saving vaccines denied to those who need them most (via TRIPS) but the only truly safe, effective and affordable remedies that should form the basis of public health provision worldwide are also denied to those same people and every other inhabitant of this planet.

The Precautionary Principle

The European Union is a full voting member of both Codex and the WTO. Just as the WTO recognizes Codex as the primary authority on dietary supplement laws, Codex itself recognizes the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Food as its primary authority for food and dietary supplement laws.

The EU has recently introduced a new law that applies in all its member states (currently 15 but rising to 25 by 2004) that restricts the availability of various micronutrients throughout those states and will remove around 5000 products from sale by August 2005. This Directive also flags up the introduction of upper safe limits on dosage levels for vitamins and minerals based upon ‘scientific risk assessment.’

The EU’s scientific committees have developed the idea of a ‘precautionary principle’ in the setting of so-called ‘upper safe limits’ for micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals and have never recommended dosages higher than current RDA for any vitamin or mineral. It is a well established fact that the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) figure for vitamins and minerals is NOT AN UPPER LIMIT BUT RATHER THE BARE MINIMUM intake level required by human beings to prevent serious disease and death.

The relationship between the WTO, Codex and its reliance on the standards set by the EU will ultimately affect the lives of every member of the human race.

How can this happen?

Chain of Command

The unhealthy relationships between Codex, the WTO and the EU could lead to the end of positive legislation such as DSHEA in the USA and a worldwide ban on safe, effective and side effect free natural remedies worldwide. Here’s how:

  • Codex refers to the EU’s Food Supplements Directive and issues a similar standard at its next meeting in Bonn, Germany November 3 – 7, 2003
  • At the same meeting, Codex issues a standard banning any reference to dietary supplements being effective against endemic diseases
  • The WTO adopts the Codex standards (themselves based upon the EU model) and directs member states to harmonize their laws accordingly
  • The US is forced to amend DSHEA to comply with both the WTO and the Codex laws, since it is a full member of both organizations


Not content with controlling access to patented drugs on behalf of the pharma-cartel, whose influence within the organization is powerful enough to override the decisions of government ministers, the WTO is also seeking to control access to the only safe, truly effective, affordable and side effect free alternatives for the world’s major public health problems – natural health remedies.

In this way, organizations such as WTO, Codex, EU, WHO, FAO etc, heavily influenced by the pharma-cartel, maintain the status quo in public health provision worldwide, thus protecting the profits of the pharmaceutical industry.

But at what cost?
How many millions of lives have already been lost through this ‘chain of command?’
It is time to bring this to an end – right now!

Dr. Rath Health Foundation
September 2003