Misinformation Regarding Codex

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is responsible for establishing guidlines and standards relating to the production and processing of food. It is international in scope and covers everything food related ‘from farm to fork’.

Under these guidelines ‘organic’ food could contain various synthetic chemical additives and processing aids; irradiation of the food would be allowed post-production; and non-organic ingredients would be allowed in organic products without any necessity to label this fact.

In the Summer 2009 edition of Living Earth the Soil Association’s Standards Manager Elizabeth Austin wrote in reply to a member’s letter regarding Codex Alimentarius.

Her article fails to enlighten the reader about the dangers of the Codex Alimentarius codes of practice and guidelines and it appears that the Soil Association has joined in with misinforming the public.

She states “Codex is not a law or a regulation; it is merely a reference document of best practice on food production and food safety issues. It cannot be used to force anyone to do anything in the business of food production – that is what national laws and regulations are for”.

The European Union, as a member of the WTO has signed the SANITARY AND PHYTOSANITARY AGREEMENT. This agreement clearly states that for matters concerning food safety, those guidelines, standards or recommendations established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission are the ones relevant for harmonization. Since the Agreement quite certainly deals with the issue of consumer protection, it follows that countries are mandated to harmonize their national laws to Codex. In actual fact, countries can be even more restrictive than Codex, under the terms of Article 3, although such restrictions need to be scientifically justified.

Should there be a dispute over the effect of a country’s laws restricting trade or not adequately protecting consumers (i.e. not harmonizing their national laws), the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (WTODSB) can be summoned to arbitrate.

While the Codex Alimentarius hides behind the false idea of ‘voluntary guidelines’ they are anything but voluntary. The threat of WTO action, or possible action is enough to make a country harmonise with international ‘standards’.

Codex Alimentarius is a direct threat to the principles and philosophy of the Soil Association and organic foods.

Why was such misleading information presented to the members of the Soil Association who support the principles of organic foods which Codex Alimentarius is threatening to destroy?