November and December 2021

Interventions made by IBFAN and ENCA:
Agenda Item 8 – (Matters arising from FAO and WHO) 
Thanks WHO for its work on COVID  and breastfeeding  and its celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes that helped counter misleading marketing;   Notes Civil Society opposition to the FSS Voluntary Guidelines because of its failure to promote sustainable changes in food systems,  its promotion of a risky governance model and its weak section on the International Code,  noting that the agro-industrial model  bears much of the blame for the climate crisis and poor diets, that Codex and Member States should regulate the promotion of ultra-processed products – especially when they are unnecessary and when their production leads to deforestation, land-grabbing, mono-cropping;    Shares WHO concern that   food safety  systems  protected from undue commercial influence.. 
Agenda Item 8.1 New Food Sources
Supports Norway on the need for independent oversight of new food sources,  warns that innovation will lead away from minimally processed,  bio-diverse foods to increased ultra-processing with all its incumbent risks.
Agenda 4.2 – contaminants –   with other observers supports Norway, EU and Russia – on MLs on Cadmium especially in relation to infants and young children
7 Food Additives
With other supporters expresses concern about  MLs  of additives in fruit juices especially in relation to infants and young children
Agenda Item 4.8.  Codex Committee on Food Labelling – FOPNL Guidelines
Welcomes that the FOPNL  Guidelines  call for government led –  but is concerned that a strong civil society call for  explicit reference to Conflicts on Interest and the need for mandatory systems, was not included.  Remains concerned that baby foods were not on the list of excluded products and urges MS to ensure that FOPNL is not used as a promotion for these products, as the Guidelines recommend  for alcohol).
Agenda Item 8.4  Codex Trust  Fund (Webinar:Move to 2.58 Day 6)
As mentioned in previous years since the initiation of the CTF,  we call for reassurance that the CTF does not and will not accept or seek funding from the Private Sector.  It is important that Member States are not subject to  Conflicts of Interest that might  affect their Human Rights obligations to protect their citizens.  

Codex Commission meeting unable to reach Consensus on growth hormone

After 9 days of   intense webinar meetings, the Codex Commission Meeting (CAC44) was unable to reach consensus over on a proposed standard for the controversial Growth Hormone Zilpaterol. Scott Tipps of the National Health Federation gives a   detailed account of what happened and the role played by Croplife – the front group of Monsanto – the manufacturer of Zilpaterol.

For webinars of the

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Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CVCs) will “ undertake informal consultations with all relevant parties to encourage and enable sustained effort to build consensus in advance of CAC45” and “to submit a report two months in advance of CCEXEC83 to inform its further monitoring and critical review, and then to inform further discussion at CAC45”.

Excerpt from Article on zilpaterol discussions by Scott  Tipps of NHF

Russia to the Rescue

On November 17th, the Commission “read the Report,” which means that the wording for the minutes of the meeting were carefully considered and generally agreed upon. NHF had made two comments that should have been included in the Final Report, but which were specifically excluded by the Chairman and the now not-so-friendly Codex Secretariat. NHF had mentioned on two separate occasions the antimicrobial-resistance problems caused by the use of glyphosate and Zilpaterol, respectively. In the former instance, my arguments for its inclusion fell on the deaf ears of the head table, despite the kind assisting arguments made by fellow INGO, the European Network of Childbirth Associations (ENCA). And in the latter instance, the Russian Federation delegate Anna Koroleva intervened on behalf of NHF to chastise the head table for refusing to place NHF’s comments on Zilpaterol into the Report. Both interventions on our behalf were much appreciated by NHF, but unfortunately ultimately proved fruitless in the face of the intransigent Chairman.

NHF’s comments were not the only ones deliberately omitted from the Final Report by the Chairman and Codex Secretariat. Important comments made during the meeting by ENCA and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) were refused as well. And, similarly, even Russia, a Codex member state, had no luck inserting into the Report “its concern that Zilpaterol posed a health risk to humans due to the huge risk for functional disorders and diseases of the cardiovascular system, and noting that according to their studies the results of JECFA risk assessment did not take into account vulnerable groups of people and people that have cardiovascular disease.”

With a newly elected CAC Chairman – the former Vice Chairman Mr. Steve Wearne of the UK – it remains to be seen if the Commission will continue to pursue its “industry can do no wrong” approach, supported by industry-financed research, or will consider consumer interests and concerns. Apparently, the Codex Secretariat has adopted a pro-industry approach that does not bode well for the future.

However, after the end of three weeks of truly grueling back-to-back Codex meetings in November 2021 (two weeks for the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) meeting and one week for the Codex Nutrition Committee (CCNFSDU) meeting), I am greatly encouraged by the pro-health and pro-consumer views of the Russian delegation, whose views on the issues important to NHF largely mirror our own. Couple those views with an outspoken spokeswoman who is not afraid to speak up when necessary, and this is a positive development for consumers. In fact, at one point during the meeting, I told the Russian delegate, Anna Koroleva, that it seemed as if she spoke out at Codex more for the interests of the American consumer than did the U.S. delegate! And indeed, she did.

Note on Zilpaterol:  (Zilpaterol is Merck’s  steroid-like veterinary drug for cattle, pigs, and poultry that pushes them to make more muscle and less fat) – Bayer merged with Merck (the maker of Zilpaterol) a few years back. Here’s one view from  Scott Tipps (NHF )   and quite another from This Politico article has a totally different (pro Codex) viewpoint.
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