John Hammell

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have agreed to a Trilateral Cooperation Charter with counterparts in Canada and Mexico under the auspices of NAFTA and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America that will crack down on public access to food supplements and vitamins.

“The purpose is to make an end run around any domestic law that interferes with food and drug multi-national corporate profits,” John Hammell, a critic of the plan, told WND.

Hammell is the founder of International Advocates for Health Freedom, an advocacy group created to fight globalists’ efforts to regulate alternative health treatments, including herbs, dietary supplements, and vitamins.

“A key goal of the Trilateral Cooperation Charter is to limit the public’s access to food supplements and vitamins that are fundamental to many types of alternative medicine,” Hammell said. “The Trilateral Cooperation Charter is determined to attack the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 by moving to merge our food and drug regulations with those of Canada and Mexico, both of whom are far more restrictive on dietary supplements.”

The 1994 law defined dietary supplements as a distinct regulatory category and created a National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. However, Canada and Mexico define dietary supplements as “drugs,” not food supplements.

One of the areas of the new governmental structure that will be dealing with supplements is a working group called the Mexico-US-Canada Health Fraud Group, which is, according to the charter, “to maintain a formal framework for cooperation in combating health fraud and to identify appropriate lines of communication to ensure a continual exchange of information on compliance and enforcement activities among the three countries.”

The website identifies Mexico as the “lead country” on the MUCH working group, and Hammell says its real objective can be seen in the hundreds of “warning letters” that already have been issued about “fraud.”

The MUCH working group defines fraud as “the false, deceptive, or misleading promotion, advertisement, distribution, sale, possession for sale, or offering for sale of products or provisions of services, intended for human use, that are being represented as being made safe and/or effective to diagnose, prevent, cure, treat, or mitigate disease (or other conditions), to rehabilitate patients or to provide a beneficial effect on health.”

Just 18 months ago, the FDA and the FTC issued a press release documenting that the Trilateral Cooperation Charter had by then engaged in 730 various compliance actions undertaken by the six involved regulatory agencies in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.

The press release said those actions were taken against companies “that promote bogus weight loss products that mislead the public, endanger the public health, and provide false hope and defraud citizens of billions of dollars.”

The FDA website also lists a number of warning letters, including those issued in “weight loss fraud,” “sexual enhancement supplements,” and “influenza scams.” In 2005, for instance, the FDA sent 29 warning letters to businesses making health-related claims that their dried fruit, fruit juice, and juice concentrate products could help treat or prevent cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and other diseases.

The FDA website also documents that the FTC has brought 40 law enforcement actions, largely as part of “Operation Big Fat Lie,” aimed at stopping the marketing of bogus weight-loss products and services. Resulting from these cases, the FDA reports that U.S. courts have ordered over $188 million in consumer redress judgments resulting from these law enforcement actions.

A similar controversy has raged over the regulation of food supplements in the European Union. In 2002, the EU issued a controversial Food Supplements Directive that has been used to regulate food supplements as well as labeling and marketing of vitamins and minerals in food supplements.

The European Court of Justice already has decided that the EU’s Food Supplements Directive was valid under European Union law.

Now Hammell is arguing the agenda of the Trilateral Cooperation Charter reflects a globalist desire to advance the interests of the large pharmaceutical companies by reining in the food supplements industry worldwide.

He points to efforts such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission that was created in 1963 by the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization, both official groups within the United Nations.

“The Codex Alimentarius Commission claims that their main purpose is to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade worldwide,” Hammell explained to WND. “But the truth is that the Codex Alimentarius Commission is dominated by corporate multi-national interests that do not have as their primary concern the health interests of the people they claim they are in business to protect, not if that health interest is better served by alternative food supplements and alternative medicine. They have a business with disease – it’s not in their best interests that people be healthy.”

Hammell became interested in alternative medicine and food supplement products some 30 years ago.

“My life was saved through a suppressed alternative treatment mode called orthomolecular medicine which involves the use of dietary supplements. Now, I am a healthy 49 year-old, but I suffered from a complex syndrome of biochemical imbalances which the main stream does not understand very well,” he said.

Orthomolecular medicine was championed by double-Nobel Laureat Linus Pauling. The treatment uses natural substances, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements, and essential fatty acids to treat a variety of diseases including atherosclerosis, cancer, schizophrenia, and depression.

But now, Hammell said, the new charter and other international groups “come down on any dietary supplement that is purported to cure or alleviate any disease.”

“These international groups think only drugs can cure diseases. Most dietary supplement companies do not have the funds to put one of their food supplement products through the drug approval and patent processes. So, therefore, dietary supplements are by definition fraud to these international groups, precisely because dietary supplements have not been tested as drugs.

Hammell further explained that most dietary supplements are not able to be patented, so such products are not tested and certified because of the expense involved.

And he said he now is concerned that the FDA and the FTC will utilize the Trilateral Cooperation Charter to reverse the protection DSHEA extended to food supplements in the U.S.

“Under the Trilateral Cooperation Charter and its overly broad definition of ‘health fraud,'” Hammell argues, “any substance, even water becomes a ‘drug.’ FDA has a long history of attacking dietary supplements on behalf of the large corporate pharmaceutical interests the agency traditionally protects.”

The formal participants who signed the Trilateral Cooperation Charter on February 27, 2004 include:

  • United States – Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission;

  • Canada – Health Products and Food Branch, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the Commissioner of Competition;

  • Mexico – Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks, and the Federal Office of the Judge Advocate General of Consumers.

In July 2006, Hammell filed a FOIA request with the Trilateral Cooperation Charter but he has yet to receive any documents.

Hammell has created a website seeking signatures on a petition calling for direct Congressional oversight of the Trilateral Cooperation Charter.

Julie Zawisza, FDA Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs,declined to comment on the various charges by Hammell.

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