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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20 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 ..

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