Dr. Rath Health Foundation

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The Trilateral Cooperation Charter: Gateway to the Enacting of Codex Vitamin Restrictions in the US?

On February 27, 2004, unbeknownst to millions of Americans, the so-called "Trilateral Cooperation Charter" was signed into existence by representatives from seven food, drug, health, and trade regulatory agencies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

The website of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a Charter member, cites the mission of the Charter as being to "protect and promote public health through a trilateral forum that shares information and works collaboratively on issues of mutual interest." However, this statement hardly inspires confidence in the federal agency charged with protecting the health of American citizens. Does the FDA really require assistance from neighboring countries to adequately do its job – to the degree that it felt obliged to join this largely unpublicized Charter – one wonders?

The FDA claims that the Trilateral Cooperation Charter provides the three participating countries with a formal mechanism to work closely together to better protect, promote, and advance human health in North America, including in the area of nutrition. On the surface, this appears to be a worthy goal, as we too share an interest in nutrition, as well as in protecting, promoting, and advancing human health. However, a deciphering of the bureaucratic-speak of the Charter's operating guidelines reveals that its ultimate aim is to develop a "harmonized" set of food and drug regulations for all three nations. To date therefore the Charter has already initiated some 730 compliance actions against companies that supposedly promote "bogus weight-loss products that mislead the public, endanger public health, and provide false hope and defraud citizens of billions of dollars."

It would therefore seem that the Trilateral Cooperation Charter is yet another push by the FDA to have dietary supplements regulated as drugs in America. The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act rightly categorized dietary supplements as "food." However, any attempt to harmonize U.S. dietary supplement laws with Canada and Mexico would result in DSHEA being revoked.

In Canada, vitamin and mineral supplements are classified as natural health products, not foods. This means all herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, vitamins, minerals, traditional medicines, probiotics, amino acids and essential fatty acids are subjected to the same regulations as synthetic and toxic pharmaceutical drugs. In Mexico, vitamin products share similar import and sales regulations to drug products. Preventing this sort of heavy-handed, overregulation of dietary supplements is the very reason DSHEA was enacted in the first place.

Moreover, by taking part in the Trilateral Cooperation Charter, the FDA is in clear violation of the Administration Procedures Act (APA) and the Federal Advisory Committees Act (FACA). APA requires all U.S. regulatory agencies (such as the FDA and the FTC) to follow certain set procedures in notifying the public and Congress in a timely manner before laws may be implemented and enforced by these agencies. FACA makes mandatory the access of the public to the minutes of the meetings and actions of government agencies. In the case of the Charter's activities, neither of these laws has been followed and, what is worse, the Charter itself came into existence without the input of American citizens or Congress!

Could it be that the Trilateral Cooperation Charter is part of a plan to eradicate the borders separating the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to form a North American Union? And if so, would this be built upon the same non-democratic forms of governance and restricted freedoms that the European Union is increasingly subject to?

Significantly perhaps, in May 2005, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) published a white paper entitled "Building a North American Community," in which it espoused:

"The three governments should commit themselves to the long-term goal of dramatically diminishing the need for the current intensity of the governments' physical control of cross-border traffic, travel, and trade within North America. A long-term goal for a North American border action plan should be joint screening of travelers from third countries at their first point of entry into North America and the elimination of most controls over the temporary movement of these travelers within North America."

In its white paper, the CFR proposed the creation, by 2010, of a North American Community to "enhance security, prosperity, and opportunity." What would this mean for Americans? Some experts predict it would mean Americans would be subjected to several super-regional governing bodies that would have jurisdiction over Congress and the Supreme Court. In other words, the U.S. would no longer exist as self-regulating sovereignty – a rather confounding notion, given this country's storied battle for independence in the American Revolutionary War.

Meanwhile, the "North American Cooperative Security Act" (S.853 and H.R.2672), thought by some political observers to be an attempt to begin the unification process of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico into a North American Union, was introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives almost simultaneously with the publication of the CFR's report. Under the guise of protecting the U.S. economy and citizens from terrorist activity, this legislation, if passed, would essentially make America "borderless." Astonishingly therefore with the exception of a group of natural health organizations that includes the ever-vigilant Dr. Rath Health Foundation, there has been little public outcry regarding these bills.

Given therefore that in March 2005 the leaders of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico had signed the "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America" (SPP), describing it as "a trilateral effort to increase security and enhance prosperity among the United States, Canada, and Mexico through greater cooperation and information sharing," it would thus seem quite possible that a North American Union could already be on its way to becoming a reality. As such we must alert our Congressional representatives that we, as freedom-loving American citizens, are against the harmonization of standards that threaten the continued existence of DSHEA.

Quite clearly, the existence of the Trilateral Cooperation Charter has implications that extend far beyond the issue of vitamin freedom. The road to harmonization, if actualized by this Charter and later by the creation of a North American Union, threatens not only to lead to the termination of our health freedom, but also of numerous other deeply cherished civil liberties as well.