I just wasted half a day researching the Codex Alimentarius. The Codex was established by the WHO (World Health Organization) and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). Its charge is to set labelling and composition requirements on foods.
Without an internationally recognized codex, countries and businesses would have to depend on bilateral agreements with each trading partner to establish food labeling and safety standards. Let's say there were 200 countries and 10000 foods. A system of bilateral agreements would require 200 * 200 * 10000 different definitions. A system of separate bilateral agreements between each nation really is untenable.
Setting up an internationally recognized codex allows people to draw from an recognized set of definitions.
In bureaucratic parlance. The FDA is interested in "harmonizing" their definitions with the Codex Alimentarius.
The fear is that if the Codex becomes corrupt, then you have this big corrupt supernational organization affecting the food that we eat.
The most controversial area of the codex is with the definitions of nutritional supplements. The cut off between supplement and pharmaceutical is up for debate. A large number of prescribed drugs in the United States evolved from remedies and plants found in Central America.
The fear of the natural food and supplement industry is that the Codex is more restrictive than the FDA. Harmonizing the FDA and Codex would create new restrictions on supplements.
The issue on the Codex came to a boil during the recent vote on CAFTA which one by only one vote.
The internet debate on this is interesting. There appears to be a great deal of disinformation coming from the John Birch Society and from the natural food industry. Of course, there is also the claim that the WHO, FAO, FDA and big pharmaceuticals are generating their own disinformation.
This link contains a quick time presentation published to defeat CAFTA. A large number of anti-CAFTA and anti-Codex sites appeared on the net in the effort to beat CAFTA. The various articles and blog posts have a number of circular references. So it is difficult to determine what is real and what is the product of group imagination.
Things I find interesting. The anti-Codex groups labels anything contrary to their world view as disinformation (This is a good example of the reflexive paradox in action.) The other thing I find intestering is that the claim from the Supplement Industry is that the big pharmaceuticals is trying to use fear to suppress the use of supplements. It appears that the supplemental industry is trying to create a culture of fear to defeat the Codex.
I am supportive of the Health Food industry. I will add more links to LinksAlive.