At this meeting, new topics crowded to the forefront: Establishing draft Maximum Levels (MLs) for inorganic arsenic in rice, lead in fruits and vegetables, cadmium in chocolate and cocoa-derived products, mycotoxin contamination in cereals and spices, and methylmercury in fish. The Dutch Chairwoman, Wieke Tas, tactfully led the Committee through each and every one of these topics.
It’s tax time and you very diligently submit your tax return to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Of course, being the diligent person that you are, you quite properly expect a tax refund from the IRS because you have paid more than your share of taxes on your income. Yet when the mail arrives, you get a nasty shock. There is no refund check in the IRS envelope addressed to you. Instead, there is a short notice letting you know that you have already filed and the refund was paid out to you.
Most people would not think of Geneva, Switzerland as an uncomfortably hot city. Still, the reason for braving the heat here was a good and necessary one: The 38th session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Wikipedia has been touted by some as the people’s encyclopedia, a collaborative effort where anyone and everyone can submit his or her own entries or edits to entries in the encyclopedia. In reality, though, there are editors and these editors most definitely have biases that are reflected in the Wikipedia entries.
One of the most highly charged issues at the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods (CCRVDF), held during the last week of April in San Jose, Costa Rica, was the attempt to adopt a Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) for recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), otherwise known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), which, for a very long time, has been waiting in the wings at a final Step 8 for its adoption by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
The drug companies had a problem. They always have a problem, but this one looked huge. For some time, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whistleblower had been helping Brian Hooker, Ph.D., uncover data manipulation by the CDC that showed deliberate suppression of scientific evidence linking autism to vaccines among African-American babies.
Angelika Tritscher, the World Health Organization representative to Codex Alimentarius meetings, aptly posed a question to the Codex delegates assembled at a Food Contaminants meeting in Moscow last year, “How can we keep Codex relevant?” In posing this question, Dr. Tritscher quickly cut to the heart of the potential downfall of Codex. My response to Dr. Tritscher’s question was, “If Codex wants to remain relevant to consumers, then it must create food standards that are truly healthy and make sense.”
As with life, words have plain meanings. That is, we all generally expect the basic meaning of a word to be what we know it to be through our experience and education. A “cat” does not mean a “dog.” Instead, they are what we expect them to be just as water is water and blue means blue. Without such commonly accepted meanings, we would be lost at sea, unable to communicate with one another and transmit information. Hence, shared definitions exist that typically transcend time and even cultures.