Codex Alimentarius: Book of Food or Book of Death?

The Codex Alimentarius, Latin for “Book of Food”, is a set of international standards for food labeling and safety. Developed through fifty years of United Nations meetings and studies, it serves as a touchstone to normalize regulations in food hygiene, nutrition, safety guidelines, labeling, pesticide usage, risk assessment, additives and international trade. It’s completely voluntary, with no requirements made of its signatories, no enforcement arm and no legal ramifications for non-compliance. It simply serves as a way to ensure the safety of food products, fair trade between nations and the availability of quality nutrition for everyone.

If any of this sounds familiar, it should. It’s very similar to another voluntary United Nations initiative, Agenda 21. And just like that set of guidelines for the developing world has galvanized a strong opposition movement, a conspiracy theory has grown around the Codex. It’s a complicated plan involving GMOs, Big Pharma, Nazi war criminals, the banning of vitamins and holistic health supplements and corporations taking control of the world’s food supply – with the ultimate goal being the depopulation of the planet through toxic food and malnutrition. But where did the conspiracy come from? How does one go about debunking it? And what is the Codex in the first place?

Though it came out of the UN in the 50’s, the Codex Alimentarius has its origins in Austro-Hungarian food standards of the late 1800’s, called the Codex Alimentarius Austriacus. This earlier Codex was never actually a law, but served as a standard for safety, labeling and trade. After World War II devastated much of Europe, easy access to nutritious and inexpensive food became essential for the feeding of refugees and displaced persons. This lead to the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945, and the World Health Organization three years later.

The Codex Alimentarius logo. Seems innocuous enough.

The Codex Alimentarius logo. Seems innocuous enough.

The first joint meeting of the two organizations took place in 1950, and there the idea of standardizing food labels and regulations was proposed. Austrian politician Hans Frenzel led the charge for a European Codex Alimentarius based on the earlier Austrian model, and after a winding series of meetings, commissions and proposals, the Codex Alimentarius Commission held its first formal session in Rome in October, 1963. 30 nations sent representatives, and since then, 185 member nations have signed on to the Codex, the last being Turkmenistan in 2012.

At its core, the Codex is not one document, but a series of committees, studies, papers and policies. Just the most recent Procedure Manual of the Codex Commission runs over 200 pages. It’s an exhaustive amount of material, crammed with minute details ranging from the amount of safe pesticide residue in yak meat to a committee tasked with the standardization of fruit juices (which was abolished in 1999.) It’s far too information much for any one person to sort through.

As with Agenda 21, the very idea of UN standards for food safety seems like a natural fit for a conspiracy theory. Despite the Codex being 50 years old and publicly available, a simple search turns up a horde of scare articles on about what its “real” purpose is. They have titles like:

Population Control Under the Guise of Consumer Protection
Big Brother’s Plan to Control Health Supplements
Codex Alimentarius Commission – A Threat to Humankind
An Introduction to Soft Kill Eugenics
Codex Alimentarius, Control over the Food Supply and World Government
Billions of People Expected to Die Under Current Codex Alimentarius Guidelines

Among the loftier claims made by these pieces are that the Codex requires all food to be irradiated and all cows to be treated with Monsanto bovine growth hormone, that it classifies nutrient supplements as poisons, criminalizes holistic health and nutritional advice, that it was the work of rehabilitated Nazis, that it mandates all food be genetically manipulated by major corporations and that its ultimate goal is for three billion people to die of…something or other.

Obviously, none of this is true, and it exists nowhere in any Codex documents. Most of it is just made up. Just to pick one example, the Codex has no mandate for food irradiation, and specifically advises that “The irradiation of food is justified only when it fulfills a technological requirement and/or is beneficial for the protection of consumer health. It should not be used as a substitute for good hygienic and good manufacturing practices or good agricultural practices.”

...OR IS IT???

…OR IS IT???

Just like Agenda 21 and Glenn Beck, much of the paranoia about the Codex appears to have originated with a small group. In this case, we can narrow it down to two physicians. One is psychiatrist Rima Laibow, founder of the Natural Solutions Foundation, an anti-vaccine proponent and foe of “food Nazification” who claims to have never written a prescription. The other is Matthias Rath, a cardiologist who touts nutritional supplements as a curative for everything from cancer to AIDS, and has a habit of suing those who disagree with him.

Virtually everything you can find opposing the Codex makes a reference to either Rath or Laibow, though in an interesting twist, they seem to be at war with each other, with Rath accusing Laibow of being a “disinfo agent.” Laibow is a primary source for the most inflammatory Codex claims and Rath “revealed” the alleged connection between the Codex and the Nazis.

Rath’s specific allegation is that Nazi industrialists Fritz ter Meer and Hermann Schmitz, both IG Farben executives sentenced to prison for their use of slave labor, played major roles in the creation of the Codex. Their goal, Rath hypothesizes, was to use German industry to control the world’s food supply. However, there’s no evidence that either Schmitz, ter Meer or IG Farben itself had any involvement in the writing or refining the Codex. In fact, Schmitz died three years before the first Codex Commission meeting and IG Farben was liquidated by the Allies in 1952.

Those asserting that the Codex is some kind of post-war Nazi plot can only make vague allegations that because Farben’s successor companies (including Bayer and BASF) employed Nazi war criminals, and Germany played a major role in the creation of the Codex, there must be a link between the two. But allegations and coincidences aren’t evidence. A final irony is that Hans Frenzel, who played such a major role in reviving the Codex, was an active member of the Austrian anti-Nazi resistance.

Rima Laibow, Codex crusader.

Rima Laibow, Codex crusader.

Another focus of the Codex conspiracy is the regulation of vitamins and supplements. And there is a great deal of confusion regarding various laws in different countries. In 2005, the Codex passed its “Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements.” These statues (which run a very un-Codex-like two pages) simply suggest that the best way for a person to obtain their needed supply of vitamins and minerals is through a well-balanced diet, that supplements should contain certain minimum amounts of vitamins and minerals, and they should be correctly labeled, regardless of content. All of this is completely true.

None of what the Codex Commission suggests has anything to do with banning garlic, amino acids or home-grown food, which is what many conspiracy theorists claim it will do. Yes, the US government has proposed numerous bills to regulate supplements and food safety. But they all died in committee and never had anything to do with “banning” anything, only regulating an out-of-control market ripe for fraud and abuse. In 2002, the European Union proposed a ban on vitamin mega-dosing and all dietary supplements that hadn’t been scientifically tested, but the law was overturned in court. This was an independent action by the EU, and wasn’t linked to the Codex.

Contrary to hysterical claims, no Executive Orders have been signed placing the US food supply under Codex control, and numerous “deadlines” regarding when supplements, nutrients, vitamins and education in natural medicine would become illegal have all come and gone. Meanwhile, I can go to any drug or grocery store and buy a mind-boggling array of pills, powders, extracts and solutions, most of which are totally untested and probably will do nothing for me.

While the mass depopulation put forth by Codex opponents isn’t real, the hunger and malnutrition that the Codex attempts to combat are. Perhaps if those railing against the Codex put more of their effort into helping the poor and hungry, and less into making them the victims of imaginary conspiracies, we wouldn’t need a Codex Alimentarius in the first place.

About Mike Rothschild

Mike Rothschild is a writer and editor based in Pasadena. He writes about scams, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and pop culture fads. He's also a playwright and screenwriter. Follow him on Twitter at
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30 Responses to Codex Alimentarius: Book of Food or Book of Death?

  1. I believe fully in two or three conspiracy theories. The first is CYA. There is a strong tendency for people to not report things that will get them in trouble. The second is FTK. People like to keep their jobs.

    How does this relate? Go into a classroom.

    My son is in fifth grade. Last week they did a dibels test on him. Why? Because it is policy. Fortunately his teacher does not ask us to help set a new “target” for him, but it is the end result of policy that he is still being tested even though there is no real need for testing anymore.

    I do not fear Agenda 21, Common Core, or the Book of Food because it is a conspiracy. I fear it because this crap makes it into the brains of lots of people and the people just want to keep their jobs so they can feed their kids (the FTK conspiracy) and cover their asses so people don’t think they are failing to do their jobs.

    Policy and Procedure are meant to be streamliners of thought that let you make decisions more efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately we see the side effects daily of people who follow P&P without exercising judgement. This is the true root of evil, the displacement of judgement by individuals.

  2. I seem to remember that the ancient Chinese had the first Codex?

  3. Moral Dolphin says:

    I found it very handy in my latter career. Regulatory matters underpin our legals and economies. If you have a problem with that folks, you are all welcome to move back to a “nicer world”.

    Wots this a malleus maleficarum? Its 500 years old. It must be organic and wholesome.

  4. To the person from the National Health Federation who called my former employer looking to talk to me about this piece…please don’t do that again. Comments about my work should be left in the comment forum, not taken to the real world.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are related to.infamous Rothschild family then I want to say is your family dynasty has committed awful crimes against humanity throughout history.

      • Noah Dillon says:

        If you are related to the infamously disorganized mass of hackers and trolls who identify as Anonymous, I want to say that everyone else with your name is a crappy horde of pubescent cranks.

        • Anonymoose says:

          Noah, you’re a subservient slave of government (root: gobernare, to control the mind) if you can’t appreciate and respect what Anonymous did to shake things up. And Mike Rothschild – you’re a f*****g joke dude, “debunking” conspiracy theories with the last name of the most evil, grotesquely selfish and cruel family this millennia has ever seen.

          • Noah Dillon says:

            The word is actually “gubernare,” from the Greek “kubernan.” Both translate as “to steer,” not “to control the mind.” You can look it up in an etymological dictionary. I am not a slave just because I disagree with you. I also do appreciate the very interesting role that anonymous and online anonymity have in a democracy. My point, which maybe you missed it, is that accusing someone of the supposed crimes of someone else who happens to have the same name is absurd. On top of the fact that there’s no actual evidence for a lot of the stuff that’s said about the Rothschilds. Ted Bundy was a serial killer. That doesn’t make Al Bundy an accomplice. I’m also pretty sure that Stalin, Mao, and Hitler probably beat the Rothschilds for “most evil, grotesquely selfish and cruel family this [century] has ever seen.” If you really want to make it millennium (singular), I think you should probably include, like, the Medicis, the Khans, the Spanish kings and queens, and the English and Dutch and Portuguese, too. The tzars of Russia. Probably the Roosevelts. The Kims, for sure. Pol Pot’s people. The Saudi Royal family. Obviously, too, the Assad family. The Husseins who ruled Iraq. Oh, the Duvaliers were pretty horrible. There’s some pretty steep competition just for murder.

  5. Miss3v3lyn says:

    Not surprising to hear something contrary from a Rothschild!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Seriously, anyone who would listen to AND BELIEVE anyone with the last name of Rothschild need to have their head examined!!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Any mention of rima labeue and trying to accredit her of any opposition forming to the codex alimentarius would be remiss if it didn’t mention her husband general albert stubblebine and their combined nefarious actions… phony oppostion to give fodder for attack pieces against quote unquote conspiracy theorists. which the whole term is meant to be deroggatory to people who step outside of the box of parroted rockafeller thinking.. Everything involving more than two people is a conspiracy, from conspire, with breath, to come together in spirit to accomplish a task…

  8. Paul says:

    I love this quote above…..”no requirements made of its signatories” (wonder why?), “no enforcement arm and no legal ramifications for non-compliance” (wow…if this is so good for us and they only have the best intentions to help us (SURE..I BET) then why wouldn’t they be accountable? (They only make up these many….many rules to protect us right??) Another quote…. “It simply serves as a way to ensure the safety of food products, fair trade between nations and the availability of quality nutrition for everyone” I love that….(how are you going to ensure safety of food without any enforecement arm and no legal ramifications for non-compliance-toward the Codex?) It’s Like putting the inmates in charge of the prison…. Like putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum…….Like asking a thief to guard the bank vault……..Like expecting the wolf to guard the sheep……Like using a monkey to watch your bananas (I’m sure you get the idea) We are not the one’s who need rules….they DO! Make sure you check out “Agenda 21” – that’s a real good one! After watching that you tell me if they are trying to protect you or kill you.

    • Noah Dillon says:

      You’re not the one being labeled; packaged and sold food is labeled. So the rules aren’t rules on you, it’s rules on “they,” who in this case would be agricultural and food product companies. Often times enforcement isn’t necessary to get people to follow guidelines. There’s no enforcement arm requiring anyone to eat a healthy and balanced meal, but most people do. There’s no enforcement for people taking turns entering and exiting using a doorway, but people follow rules. There’s no enforcement mechanism for food labeling because if you saw a box of crackers with no indication of what’s in it and a box that tells you what’s in it, which would you buy? There’s no enforcement mechanism for me labeling this comment all natural, organic, and GMO-free or claiming that your comment is filled with toxins and known cancer-causing agents. There’s no enforcement mechanism for my dentist to make me floss, even though she suggests it every time. Talk about bananas… Yeesh. Not every recommendation (by the UN no less!) comes with jackboots. I recommend that you think harder about things, but I can’t make you, and no one else can either.

      • I recently said “she is learning about the ramifications of Common Core!”

        “Common Core is just a set of standards to help us guide our teaching, it doesn’t do anything else”, she responded to me.

        There in is the rub. Common Core doesn’t have an agenda. Common Core means well. The problem is that Common Core gives a common goal to the market place. The market place grabs on and sets up curricula to match it. The curricula flow out to the market (aka the schools). The teachers deal with the effect of Common Core. No Common Core isn’t bad directly. It isn’t bad at all. Implementation though is a different matter.

        The problem with common core is not that it does something wrong. It is that it attempts to optimize the learning process across the country.

  9. darek Rau says:

    I`ve been looking at videos and reading a little bit about Codex and Agenda 21 and the claims are shocking, so after all these claims I would like to have some supporting documentation. So I came to this site to see documentation to counter the conspiracy theorists. Sadly this site is also lacking any documentation. So I think the owner of this site should at least take the words like ” critical analysis and debunked” off the web site, because at this moment it is only your hear say.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Monsanto and it’s practices an abomination on earth and so is the north American weather consultants incorporated and it’s practices historically and abomination on earth.

  11. Nygee says:

    Bayer bought Monsanto today. ….that’s all ..

  12. Zarathustra says:

    The problem with Codex Alimentarius is that it uses an arbitrary method of defining how much should be included in a dietary supplement. I take 20 grams of Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) daily along with 10,000 I.U, of Vitamin D3. It would be impossible for me to do this if I were living in Europe with their strict Codex enforcement of supplements. I am 77 years old, never get sick, play tennis three times a week, have 20/20 vision, perfect hearing, and have full mental faculties. I’ve been taking mega vitamins and herbs for over 50 years. Keep regulatory agencies out of vitamin and herb supplementation. They are far too susceptible to lobbying by giant industry and agriculture. Over 100,000 people die in the Unites States from ingesting legally prescribed drugs. 0 die from taking vitamins and herbs. Sadly government is the problem.

    • Noah Dillon says:

      First, people die from herbs and vitamins here. Second, the vitamins and supplements industry is a multi-billion dollar income and a huge lobbying presence in Washington DC, which is why they’re unregulated. Third: lots of people who megadose with vitamins get sick, have astigmatism, get cancer, die young, etc. etc. because that stuff won’t save your life. Diet and exercise are the best curatives known to man, and I’ve never met a doctor who didn’t recommend those first for just about any health issue. Fourth, I don’t get sick, have great hearing, full mental faculties, bike for hours each day, etc., and I don’t take any vitamins or supplements. That has the same evidentiary value as your health claims: none.

      • Zarathustra says:

        It should be your choice and not the government’s who are controlled by big pharma, the so called “health ” industry, major insurance companies, and the giant agri conglomerate including Monnsanto. Name one person in America who died last year taking a dietary supplement. 100 000 died taking legally prescribed drugs. The supplement and organic sector spends a fraction of the amount on lobbying as does big pharma. Take a look at Gary Null’s documentary War on Health. Available on YouTube. It exposes the corruption which is rampant in our FDA. We don’t need these bought and paid for people telling us what to eat.

        • Noah Dillon says:

          What should be your choice? Your statement is begging the question. People make all sorts of choices: they refuse vaccines and drugs, and they buy herbs and supplements. The government is not making any choices for you there.

          Here are some stories of people who have died in the past 12 months from taking dietary supplements:

          The numbers are probably much higher, since most deaths of any kind are not reported at all. It’s just not newsworthy. And even more so since although prescription drug deaths have to be reported to the FDA, supplements deaths do not. They’re unregulated. And several examinations have found that their ingredients lists are very often inaccurate, sometimes dangerously.

          One thing I would point out is that A. many dietary supplements are made and sold by subsidiaries of big pharmaceutical companies, and B. you’re still putting chemicals into your body that you don’t need. Whether it’s Prozac or gigantic doses of vitamin C, you’re still pumping yourself with unnatural or unnaturally large doses of chemicals. Just eat some food and go for a walk. Their lobbying groups spend millions each year, including through lobbying firms that engage in the kind of corruption that I imagine makes you tear your hair out. The Podesta Group does lobbying work for the Organic Trade Association. They go to members of congress and the president in order to get special favors and protections and etc. Just because they spend less doesn’t make it any more OK, right? If grenade manufacturers spend less on lobbying than gun manufacturers, does that mean that grenades are actually good? I don’t know why you’re citing drug deaths. That seems irrelevant to whether or not people should take vitamins. I’ve known dope fiends, and some of them like vitamins very much, and they also liked drugs. The two were not related.

          And some people live much better lives because of certain drugs: my boss, who I love dearly, just beat colon cancer with chemotherapy. There is a cure for Hep C. AIDS drugs help prevent the spread of HIV and allow people to live.

          Who told you what to eat? The last I heard, the FDA’s food guidelines recommend lots of fruits and vegetables, some lean protein, and as strictly limited intake of sugar, salt, and fat as you can. That sounds like good advice to me. Am I missing something that they’re not also recommending that you go to GNC and load up on 20 grams of additional chemicals per day and another 10,000 IU daily of more chemical supplements? Because I would ask some really serious questions if they have somehow decided that leafy greens are less important than chemical tablets. Yeesh.

          • Zarathustra says:

            Noah Dillon, yes you “are missing something here.”

            My statements are about the inadvisability of having Codex Alementarius implemented in the United States. My daughter lives in Europe where it is impossible to purchase any meaningful amounts of a supplement. Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid costs about 100 times the price that I pay.

            I guess you didn’t view Gary Null’s film ‘War on Health’ which documents the FDA’s brutal suppression of anyone not adhering to the dictates of big pharma and the medical/insurance, agri bussiness conglomerate. The FDA guidelines were largely put into place at the behest of large agricultural interests. They insist that good fats be limited. That is extremely harmful as fats play a large part in keeping our brains and bodies healthy. Check this link out for the details.

          • Noah Dillon says:

            No, I haven’t watched the video you recommended. I started it, but got so annoyed at the nonsense that was being spouted that I shut it off. Again: drug companies make and sell supplements. Again: supplements are chemicals that your body typically doesn’t need, and certainly does not need huge doses of. You know, there’s all this fearmongering, but no law trying to affect supplements has gotten very far, in part because the supplements lobby gives tons of money to congress. You know, there’s even multiple TV shows that promote and sell supplements. Huge celebrities promote and sell supplements. Multi-billion dollar companies promote and sell supplements. The FDA is not waging a war on supplements, no matter what some crank says. You know what they say in your video? “There’s a *feeling* that the FDA will ban supplements.” So this is based on feelings and not hard evidence?

            Also: I’m not interested in eating animal fat for reasons that have nothing to do with the FDA. There are plenty of beneficial plant fats. Saying that because they recommend avoiding animal fats that the FDA is somehow bought off by the like, what? The plant lobby? That’s absurd. The beef lobby surely wasn’t happy about their recommendation, which seems like a fine one. And the blog post you Animal fats are not de facto healthy and minimizing the amount of meat you eat from any source is a really, really good thing for the whole planet.

            Here’s a video you can watch:

            Here’s another, concerning the author of that blog post, in response to an event she spoke at hosted by the not-at-all suppressed Real Clear Politics:

            Adele Hite also seems to be well liked by the American Beverage Association, which I can assure is both a lobbying group and fully opposed to FDA eating recommendations, since they encourage people to limit sugar, which sugar beet farmers are probably pretty bummed about. And she seems to work with a lot of groups who are super invested in getting people to eat butter, which probably the National Dairy Council gives two thumbs up.

          • Zarathurstra says:

            No to Codex Alimentarius and the corrupt FDA.

            They are controlled by Monsanto, Big Pharma, the AMA, and the agricultural conglomerate.



            Meanwhile consume whatever you want to do and continue to allow me to do the same. Neither of us are hurting anyone.

          • Noah Dillon says:

            I never tried to stop you, I just said what you’re doing is foolish.

            Hey, good news in today’s paper: a big study funded in part by the US has found that far fewer women should receive chemotherapy for breast cancer, which is likely to positively affect tens of thousands of women every year in the US alone. This is certainly not the kind of thing you’d see, I think, if the government was, what was the word you used? Controlled? if the government was “controlled” by “Big Pharma.” Though I guess if that were the case there would be no efforts to reduce cancer by persuading people to protect themselves from sun, avoid tobacco products, minimize alcohol consumption, etc. etc.

          • Zarathustra says:

            Again my concerns are with the insanity of implementing of Codex Alimentarius in America. Don’t really care about what you think about my diet or lifestyle.

            As far as the “government caring about your health,” they know that people will not follow their often misguided advice. and by the way people do not have to protect themselves from the Sun if they have an adequate diet. I’ve played tennis without protective clothing or sunscreen for over 60 years and never been harmed because I get a healthy amount of antioxidants. We need daily exposure to the Sun for uptake of Vitamin D3, and exposure without wearing dark glasses which prevent us in getting important stimulation to the pituitary and pineal glands:


            Foolish? I traveled the world for over 50 years, making more than 1000 trans Atlantic crossings as an airline pilot, lived in numerous countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. I’m 77 in perfect health with 20/20 eyesight and excellent memory, hearing, etc. I’ve been following Linus Pauling’s recommendations for over 45 years taking orthomolecular vitamins, herbs, plus many Asian supplements.

            The detractors of Linus Pauling died at least 20 years before he did. He was terminally ill with heart disease when he started with mega doses of Vitamin C at age 63. He lived another 30 years.


            I’ve also been on a ketogenic diet with about 45% of my calories coming from saturated fat for almost 10 years now. If that is foolish to you then that’s your opinion- and only that.


            How old are you by the way? Report back to me in about 20 years and let me know how you’re doing.

            One of the scientists I greatly admired: RIP:


            Hope you’re having a nice day. The tennis court is waiting. Take care.


          • Noah Dillon says:

            Dude, I really don’t get what you’re talking about: you don’t want implemented something no one is even trying to legislate, and apparently, even if it was required, you’re saying no one would follow it anyway? What? There’s a hypothetical threat that people would be totally impotent?

            I’m very happy to hear that you haven’t gotten melanoma and that you’ve traveled widely. That’s great. I also remember when you mentioned your excellent health just a couple days ago. You ever hear those news items about little ladies who live to be 103 even though they smoke and drink all day? Outliers don’t prove anything, except that good health is a great thing to have. Gosh, imagine how people survived for tens of thousands of years without megadosing vitamins. It’s a miracle.

            Linus Pauling died of cancer.

            Today was beautiful and I biked around, got my vegetables at my co-op, etc. I’m not sure why you’re asking about my age; it is irrelevant, since data is the same no matter the age of the person reading or reporting it. How old do you think I am?

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