CODEX COMMISSION (CAC 44)
November and December 2021
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 https://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/meetings/extra/cac44-webcast/en/
Click on the playlist link in the top right hand corner to select the day you require.
INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS ON ZILPATEROL HYDROCHLORIDE
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”.
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.