In my last article, “Codex Alimentarius and GM Food Guidelines Pt. 2,” I wrote extensively about the position assumed by the FDA in regards to genetically modified food and the methodology used to assess its safety before it is released into the general food supply. Needless to say, the FDA, which is notorious for its corruption and revolving door with Big Agricultural Corporations like Monsanto, takes an unbelievably hands-off approach to the regulation of GM food.
Yet, unfortunately, the approach taken by the FDA toward GM Food is only unbelievable if one expects the agency to apply science, logic, and reason to their decision-making process.
However, when one begins evaluating the FDA position on GM food in the context of the position held by Codex Alimentarius, one can easily see an agenda taking shape whose ultimate goal is the total proliferation of GM food the world over.
For instance, in the early 1990s, around the time the FDA was announcing its own policy toward GM food, the debate within Codex was heating up as well. Most of the arguments were taken up by the Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) and, for the most part, pitted the United States and Canada against the European Union, India, and Norway.
In 1996, because little could be agreed upon, the CCFL asked for guidance from the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) on how labeling guidelines might be developed. In 1997 the CAC produced a document for that purpose. These recommendations were that foods not “equivalent” to natural foods in nutritional value, intended use, or composition should be labeled.
Yet this was not accepted into Codex guidelines as Australia, New Zealand, Peru, and Brazil joined with Canada and the United States in opposing these recommendations. Definitions of terms also became an issue at the meeting.
At the 27th CCFL session in 1999, it was decided that the Proposed Draft Recommendations for GM food labeling be reconsidered and rewritten. For this purpose, Codex created the Ad Hoc Working Group. Their stated mission was to more fully define “biotechnology-derived foods” and to revise the options considered for labeling between process-based and substantial equivalence methods. The Working Group also agreed to consider establishing a maximum level of GM ingredients in a food as well as a minimum level for accidental inclusion of GM ingredients or food within a food.
As mentioned earlier, substantial equivalence has emerged as the most favored method of labeling within Codex, in an almost identical fashion to the FDA and Health Canada model.
Indeed, it is easily understood why this is the case when one takes a closer look at the Working Group developed to evaluate and rewrite labeling recommendations. While certain instances may seem harmless when viewed separately, when taken together they reveal a rather obvious attempt to stack the odds in favor of pro-GM sentiment by the CCFL.
First, Canada, perhaps the most pro-GM Codex member country besides the United States, was selected to chair the Group as well as coordinate the Group’s direction.
Also, a smaller Drafting Group was created under the Working Group to “hold the pen.” It was this group that would do much of the actual work in terms of hammering out the Recommendations document. However, five of the six countries represented in the Drafting Group were pro-GM countries. Clearly, it would be difficult for a non-favorable view of GM food to win out in a situation such as this.
In 2000, an attempt was made by the CCFL to direct the Working Group to streamline the two different methods of labeling (process-based and substantial equivalence) into a Codex Guideline as well as other key issues involving GM food labeling. A document of this nature was subsequently produced by the United States. Yet, despite the packing of the Drafting and Working Groups, the CCFL was still unable to approve the guidelines that the groups produced.
However, the Committee was able to approve the use of three definitions related to GM food. They are as follows:
- Food and food ingredients obtained through certain techniques of genetic modification/genetic engineering – food and food ingredients composed of or containing genetically modified/engineered organisms obtained through modern biotechnology, or food and food ingredients produced from, but not containing genetically modified/engineered organisms obtained through modern biotechnology.
- Genetically modified/engineered organism – an organism in which the genetic material has been changed through modern biotechnology in a way that does not occur naturally by multiplication and/or natural recombination.
- Modern Biotechnology – the application of:
a. In vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and the direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles
b. Fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family, that overcome natural physiological, reproductive, or recombination barriers and that are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection.
When one looks at the definitions agreed upon at the 29th session of Codex, it can be seen that there is a move toward using the term “modern biotechnology” in place of “genetic engineering/modification.” This is largely an attempt to use semantics in an effort to reduce, through ignorance, the apprehension of the public to the consumption of GMO’s.
However, in the face of such controversy, in 2003 Codex did produce and approve a set of Guidelines for the assessment of the safety of GM food. Entitled “Codex Principles and Guidelines On Foods Derived From Biotechnology,” the Guidelines do not deal with labeling concerns at all, but with the standards for the science used to assess these foods for safety.
The “Codex Principles and Guidelines On Foods Derived From Biotechnology” is made up of four sections, two of which deal with GM plants while the other sections deal with GM organisms in general and GM animals respectively. Similar to the “Guidelines for Vitamins and Mineral Supplements,” these guidelines are not only unscientific but carefully crafted to allow the approval of dangerous GM foods. The game, in essence, is clearly rigged.