UN Group Rejects Precautionary Principle

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint UN Food and Agricultural Organization-World Health Organization food safety standard-setting body, has apparently agreed to exclude the precautionary principle from its risk analysis standards, despite intense lobbying by the European Union and green groups. The initial proposal, which has been under consideration by the Codex for roughly six years, would have allowed governments to take “preventative measures” to ban certain foods in cases where scientific evidence regarding safety is “uncertain.” But, in addition to serving as a huge roadblock to innovation, the precautionary principle is seen (correctly, in my estimation) by many as a tool to support unjustified trade barriers.

Opposition to the precautionary principle is typically viewed as a “big chemical” and “big biotech” phenomenon. Ironically, though, the people most responsible for this win include many among the “crunchiest” of greens: dietary supplement users and the supplement industry. Admittedly, the battle was mainly engaged by the supplement industry’s lobbyists at the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations and the Council for Responsible Nutrition. But, while I wouldn’t normally support the dietary supplement industry or its consumers in many of their policy proposals, I’m happy to make common cause when they’re interested in keeping the UN off our backs.