That scenario could very well soon become a reality in Canada. The Canadian Government is trying to pass a bill known as Bill C51. According to some interpretations of the bill, it would remove all supplements from over-the-counter availability, by only allowing MD’s to prescribe them as they see fit.
This would mean that if you wanted to take a multivitamin, you would have to book an appointment with your doctor and try to convince your doctor that you are in need of these supplements. If your doctor decides a certain drug would be better for you, then you won‘t have access to your supplements anymore.
Consequences of the bill could include:
- No more supplement stores
- Supplements made illegal unless obtained through a prescription; 70 percent of all current supplements on the market could be removed
- Fines of up to $5,000,000.00 and/or 2 years in jail per incident of being caught breaking this law
For many, this sounds inconceivable. Surely someone is misinterpreting the proposed law?
After hours of cross-checking, I must admit, I’m still a bit confused about its true potential ramifications.
And, although the Canadian government’s site Healthy Canadians claims that none of the above statements are true, it offers very little in terms of guidance on just how and why the law doesn’t mean what it says.
Why Should Americans Care?
If you’re one of the millions of people in Canada, the United States or Mexico, who has never heard of the Trilateral Union, the North American Union (NAU), or Codex, I’m afraid you may be in for a quite a surprise. But don’t feel bad, neither of our respective governments or major media outlets are speaking publicly or frankly about these plans.
These issues are far too broad and deep to go into in this article, but they are the reasons why you should care about this law passing in Canada, even if you don’t live there now – because in the foreseeable future the borders between our three countries might disappear.
If you’re reading this newsletter you obviously have access to the internet, so just Google “North American Union” or “Codex” and you’ll get more than 74.6 million and 13 million hits respectively on these two topics.
You can also search my website for previous articles on Codex and what these international food and supplement standards may mean for the future of nutritional supplements.
If being an informed citizen matter to you, don’t let these topics slip under your radar – they have the power to change our respective countries and our ways of life in more ways than you could imagine.
What Does Codex Have to Do With C-51?
To answer that question we have to back up a couple of paces and start with a quick explanation of what Codex is.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, conceived by the United Nations in 1962, was birthed through a series of relationships between The World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as the American FDA and USDA.
The Codex Alimentarius itself is a compilation of food standards, codes of practice and guidelines that specify all requirements related to foods (whether processed, semi-processed, genetically engineered, or raw). Their purpose is to protect consumers’ health, ensure fair business practices within the food trade, and eliminate international food trade barriers by standardizing food quality.
Sounds good in theory, right?
However, the two most potentially dangerous prospects of Codex are: 1) these standards are being devised as international rules intended for world-wide adoption, and 2) Codex has classified nutrients as toxins.
Yes, toxins. That’s not a misprint.
The Codex Commission decided—with the support of the United States—to use something called Risk Assessment, which assesses the maximum level of a substance – in this case a nutrient -- that may be ingested without causing any discernable biological effect.
Did you get that one? Let me explain further.
Risk Assessment is a branch of Toxicology, a.k.a. the science of toxins (as opposed to the science of nutrition). In a sane world, it is used to assess how much of a toxic substance you can safely eat without noticing any physical effects or problems. As soon as there is a biological effect, you have hit the upper, maximum limit for that substance.
Codex is slowly but surely shimmying into position to mandate the universal maximum “safe” level of every vitamin, mineral, supplement and herb that may legally be manufactured, used or sold -- with “safe” being a level that has no physical effect.
So, what does this have to do with Canada’s potential adoption of C-51?
Well, C-51 also amends the Canadian law to allow trade agreements to become law without Parliamentary approval, and for the regulation to incorporate documents produced by a foreign state or subdivision of a foreign state.
What that means is that the Codex treaty could become Canadian law without Parliamentary approval simply by passing a regulation saying it is now part of the Canadian regulations.
If the Codex rules become the law of the land in Canada, the safety of supplements might become judged on the toxicology scale, and if Canada has these laws in place when the NAU becomes reality – guess what? The U.S. and Mexico may have little choice but to fall under the same umbrella of laws and standards.
And, even if you refuse to believe that the North American Union will ever take place, passing similar, potentially restricting natural health laws in the U.S. will be a whole lot easier if Canada sets the precedent.
The Fine Art of Double-Speak
The Canadian law, known as C-51, was introduced by the Canadian Minister of Health on April 8th, 2008, proposing far-reaching changes to Canada's Food and Drugs Act. The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not it might have devastating consequences on the health products industry.
According to the government website Healthy Canadians, Canadians will continue to have access to natural health products that are safe, effective and of high quality, and claims that:
- Natural health products will not be regulated as pharmaceutical drugs; they will continue to be regulated under their own regulations - separate from drugs and foods.
- Bill C-51 will not increase the costs of natural health products.
- Bill C-51 does not regulate growing an herb garden.
- Bill C-51 does not target practitioners who compound products for their patients.
- Bill C-51 does not target Canadians' personal use of natural health products.
- Health food stores will not require a special license to sell natural health products.
- Canadians will not require a prescription from a doctor for natural health products.
However, the site also makes somewhat confusing statements like:
“Under Bill C-51 the term ‘therapeutic products' encompasses a range of products sold for therapeutic purposes, including drugs, medical devices, biologics, and natural health products. This does not change the classification of a natural health product nor impose additional requirements.”
Personally, I’ve not been able to sort out why or how a natural health product -- if now lumped together with drugs under the term ‘therapeutic products’ -- would not change its classification, and why they would not have to abide by the same rules as all other ‘therapeutic products.’
The Power of Words
One of the most opposed changes is this radical alteration to key terminology, including replacing the word "drug" with "therapeutic product,” which is the same term used for all natural products as well.
To get a better idea of the many questions and confusing pitfalls this law change brings to fore, I recommend reading the NHPPA Draft Discussion Paper on Bill C-51.
Clearly, I’m not the only one who can’t make heads or tails out of this legislative doublespeak, and the paper (written by a defense attorney specializing in the Food and Drugs Act) succinctly points out the power of language and key words in legislative debate.
For example, the old definition of “sell” is:
“includes the offer for sale, expose for sale, have in possession for sale and distribute, whether or not the distribution is made for consideration.”
That’s clear. In fact, I think most of us have a decent idea of what “selling” means. The NEW definition of “sell,” however, opens the door for a very broad interpretation:
“includes offer for sale, expose for sale or have in possession for sale, or distribute to one or more persons, whether or not the distribution is made for consideration and in relation to a device, includes lease, offer for lease, expose for lease or have in possession for lease.”
Now, what’s the reason for redefining the meaning of the word “sell” to include the simple act of “distributing to one or more persons”? Who does this new meaning benefit? Who does this now include that was not included before? Why the need for such a broad definition?
In plain English, it appears the law now applies if I were to simply give something to another person for free, whether it’s a stranger or a family member.
More Questionable Interpretations
Another interesting rebuttal by the Canadian government is the issue of whether or not an inspector would be allowed to enter private property without permission or a warrant.
The Healthy Canadian site states, “Inspectors will not be able to enter a private home without permission or a warrant.”
And yet the law, Section 23 (4), clearly reads: An inspector who is carrying out their functions may enter on or pass through or over private property without being liable for doing so and without the owner of the property having the right to object to that use of the property.
Since when does “without the right to object” mean that they have to ask for permission or present a warrant?
What Can You Do?
I don’t pretend to know or understand the full potential implications of this proposed law. However, if -- after reading through the many source links I’ve included in this comment -- you believe that C-51 is a law that is not in your and your family’s best interest, you can make your voice heard by signing the StopC51 petition.