To make it easier to follow this dialogue between N. Hastings and John Hammell, comments by N. Hastings are in italics.

To: "N. Hastings" <nhastings@NPICenter.com> Subject: Why Does NNFA even HAVE a Conflict of Interest Bylaw if they Don't Enforce It??? Should the Rank and File NNFA Members Tolerate This?
From: John Hammell jham@iahf.com
Date: Fri, 02 Jul 1999 23:32:09 -0400

At 08:32 PM 7/1/99 -0700, you wrote:

I am not in a position to answer your questions regarding NNFA activities, conflicts of interest or any other issues relating to them. I am not an employee or officer of NNFA and have absolutely no authority or influence on anything they do.

I am not a member of NNFA. One company I do consulting work for is a member of NNFA. But neither I, nor my consulting company is.

As I have stated to you before, I think there is conflict of interest going around for everyone. I have no way of knowing if any board member or committee chair has or has not signed a conflict of interest agreement.

If they haven't signed conflict of interest agreements, then NNFA isn't enforcing its own bylaws, a copy of which is given to all members upon joining. It seems to me that each dues paying NNFA member has a legitimate right and expectation that the conflict of interest bylaw be enforced, especially in light of what has happened vis a vis NNFA's mindless support for the FDA's position at Codex and their support of the NAS Risk Assessment paper.

Clearly every member of the Board knows Capsugel is a Division of Warner-Lambert. Furthermore, every company that buys capsules from Capsugel knows that they are a division of Warner-Lambert as well as every Retailer who buys product from companies who use Capsugels capsules. They all know. They have made the decision that it is not an issue or they would not buy the product. There are plenty of other companies out there to buy from.

If things were this simple, I wouldn't care about Warner Lamberts being a member of NNFA, but its NOT this simple.

Members of NNFA and consumers are not aware of what has happened vis a vis NNFA's decision to back CRN's and FDA's position at Codex. They haven't taken the time to read the NAS Risk Assessment paper, and don't understand the implications of what is unfolding, in part because they have been spoonfed misinformation about Codex by NNFA-- which has bought into FDA's lie that Codex only effects their international sales, and would never have any effect on things domestically.

That is the main thing I'm trying to explain. When we signed NAFTA and GATT, there were several side agreements that went with them including the Sanitary Phytosanitary Measures Agreement wherein we agreed to enter into a constant process of "harmonization". This was the reason the FDA published their ANPR of July 7, '97 wherein they announced their intention to harmonize their regs to emerging Codex standards. The FDA hasn't published a final rule to go with that ANPR. The reason they haven't is because I called a lot of attention to it in '97 when I got the FDA Modernization Act amended to specifically exclude dietary supplements from the harmonization language, which effects the whole rest of the food, drug and cosmetic act. By doing that I placed a hurdle in the FDA's path, but they're trying now to get around it. I see what they're doing, but most people don't because they haven't taken the time to examine the issue. More people need to go to http://www.iahf.com and read what I have in the Codex Oversight section.

When I was in Berlin at the Codex meeting last September, Karl Reidel told me he hadn't read the NAS paper (which FDA illegally put on the table in violation of current US law which forbids them from doing anything which threatens to harmonize our laws.) This is not a good thing. NNFA sent someone to represent them who hadn't done his homework. Since Joe Bassett told me that Karl was the co chair of the International Committee along with Randy Dennin, I now have to seriously wonder if Randy read it. (I seriously DOUBT if he read it, because he's very busy, makes trips to Japan and England frequently and the paper is 55 pages.)

So - this raises a serious question: HAS anyone on the NNFA International Committee actually READ the paper.... OR.. if not... are they being SCRIPTED through someone - perhaps through someone in the corporate structure of Warner Lambert?

While we may never learn the answers to these questions, the rank and file of NNFA needs to ask them. Here is why:

FDA is hiding behind the fact that NAS is not a government body. They're a non profit org. As such, they aren't subject to FOIA. We can't FOIA the raw data from the NAS paper, and we can't get the CVs of the authors. I got the CV of ONE of the many authors, and suspect strongly that the others are almost assuredly receiving a comparable amount of money in research grants from pharmaceutical companies as the one guy who I finagled a CV from. He is the Chairman of the Nutrition Dept. at University of N.Carolina and he got $1.5 Million in pharmaceutical research grants last year.

Several CRN/NNFA pharmaceutical members assisted in funding the drafting of the NAS paper. The rank and file of NNFA needs to look VERY CLOSELY at this whole situation because the paper advocates the creation of an unscientific and wholly unecessary standard for vitamins and minerals--- the so called "Safe Upper Level". This is nothing more than an arbitrary control mechanism. Anything can be toxic at SOME level, even WATER, and you sure as hell won't find a "UL" value on pharmaceutical DRUGS. I spoke with someone at NAS who told me she felt that I should have to get a PRESCRIPTION to get niacin above 35 mg... They have a 35 mg UL on niacin. I've been taking magadoses of niacin for 20 years, and I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to EVER get a prescription for it.

Here is what is going on:

If high potency vitamins were regulated as "drugs", the pharmaceutical suppliers of raw materials could make MORE money, off LESS product, and they could DOWNSIZE all at the same time. Investors would love it. The AMA would love it too.

By putting the NAS paper on the table at CODEX, the FDA has violated current US law. They have taken an action which, (contrary to what they say), CAN impact on us domestically, and their action threatens to harmonize our laws to Codex standards by setting it up to happen.

Here is how:

The act of putting that NAS paper on the table at Codex has served to assist the drug cartel in moving beyond the consumer generated impasse at Codex which I worked so hard to create via a ton of international networking.

If the draft proposal moves to completion now that FDA and NAS have greased the skids (with a little help from Hathcock at CRN who used to work at FDA), and the USA doesn't harmonize to it, any multinational pharmaceutical company wishing to sell high potency vitamins as "drugs" in the USA could then go to the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO, which is an international court that is not subject to the stringent rules of evidence required in the American court system, and they can charge the USA with erecting an illegal trade barrier because our standard is higher than the Codex standard would be. They could then demand that we justify our standard on a basis of safety.

What would the Dispute Settlement Body use as their standard for safety? You don't have to be Einstein to figure it out. They'd use the NAS Risk Assessment paper, and they'd ask us why we weren't adhering to its (ahem)... "findings". In the meantime, NAS and maybe FASEB will just add to the BS they've already come out with.

The International Council on Harmonization would then review DSHEA, and they'd tell FDA they had to harmonize to CODEX, or trade sanctions would be imposed on the USA. Immense lobbying pressure would be brought to bear, just as it was when NAFTA and GATT were passed when the Hill was crawling with SUITS thicker than ants. Please read the statement of Lucinda Sikes, staff attorney of the Public Citizen Litigation Group at http://www.harmonizationalert.org/WTO/global.htm Read what she has to say about the SPS agreement. Then read what Suzanne Harris has to say in the Codex oversight section of the IAHF website at http://www.iahf.com Clearly we all need to push for Congressional Oversight of Codex, and the rank and file members of NNFA need to demand that the Conflict of Interest Bylaw be enforced and that pharmaceutical companies be kicked out of NNFA.

Many of the companies who have been victims of price fixing by their suppliers are suing the suppliers. This is a proper response. It is not the place of the Trade Association to get in the middle of these issues. The Trade Association could find them-selves in litigation if they did. Furthermore, the NNFA Board and it's members have established criteria for membership. The membership dictates to the Association who they do and do not want as members. After sitting in on Board meetings for two years, I can assure you there is nothing that goes on in there that is not reported to the membership in one way or another. NNFA Board meetings are not a scene from the book The Firm where everyone meets in a dark, smoked filled room and plan to murder or frame the enemy.

NNFA is obviously not enforcing their Conflict of Interest Bylaw. If NNFA has no intention to enforce its own bylaws, then why should any of the smaller members feel comfortable with what is going on?

The proper response for NNFA to take would be as follows:

1. Hold a Meeting to LOOK CAREFULLY at what I am saying.
2. Kick out all the pharmaceutical members.
3. After kicking them all out- START ENFORCING the Conflict of Interest Bylaw.

I understand your upset and concern John. The industry is changing. It is changing very fast and there are many unanswered questions about who is really in charge and who is doing what. But the DOJ indictments for price fixing accomplished one major thing, it confirmed what has been said for three decades.

- The supplement industry is completely at the mercy of the Pharmaceutical companies because the Pharmaceutical companies control the raw materials. Plain and simple. There is nothing any and/or all of us can do to change that.

I disagree strongly with the assertion that we're completely at their mercy.

It is TRUE that if we allow them to be members of our trade associations that they'll manipulate things as they have clearly been doing at CODEX, but if we didn't LET them join our trade associations then we can be FAR MORE CERTAIN that OUR interests will be properly represented. It is INSANE to let them Chair all important committees such as the International Committee. Thats cutting our own throats. We all know there is a revolving door between FDA and the pharmaceutical companies. So does it really make sense to just take the FDA at their WORD when the say things to us? Why is NNFA so quick to embrace the NAS paper? Why are they so quick to accept what FDA attorney Plaiser said- which is that Codex would have no impact on domestic sales? Plaiser is lying. Look at what Suzanne Harris and I are saying.

More people in NNFA need to dialogue with people in other countries who can clearly see the patterns being used to undermine health freedom in the USA because they've already experienced them in their countries and know what to look for. I can put you in touch with people like Ron Madras in Chile, Debbie Anderson in Canada, Stuart Thompson and Anthony Rees in S.Africa, and Chris Yates in England who can see whats happening inside the USA a lot more clearly than many Americans can when it comes to pharmaceutical penetration of our industry.

Nichole- we are up against multinational corporations, so as consumers, we have to build our own international networks. I have been doing that. There are people on my email distribution list from over 40 countries. As a group we're putting a jigsaw puzzle together. We're sharing information and insight. We're providing each other with moral and financial support. When I went to South Africa, my trip was paid for by consumers in S.Africa. On the trips I've made to Canada, consumers up there paid for me to come. The point I'm making is that world wide we're seeing the phenomenon of controlled opposition: astroturf: pharmaceutically controlled trade associations and phony health freedom groups that are controlled from the top down by pharmaceutical companies that make donations to them. I won't take any donations from drug companies and neither do the groups that I interface with in other countries.

There are very few companies who grow their own herbs and have absolutely no contact with any Pharmaceutical company and many of these companies have chosen to use very specific Drug Disease Claims, in violation of the law, while they put pure garbage on the market. (I have no idea why in the world a supplement company would want to be associated with drugs by making drug disease claims for their products. Some even create packaging so the product looks like a drug. Companies do, and consumers buy it. But I have no idea why.)

Everyone would be better served by insisting ALL supplement companies meet minimum standards and use quality products. Consumers and retailers who feel strongly about the Pharmaceutical influence on the industry should ask vendors if the products are free of any product purchased from, or supplied by, a Pharmaceutical company or a division of Pharmaceutical company. Consumers should insist the stores they patronize don't carry products supplied by a Pharmaceutical company or a division of Pharmaceutical company. But that won't happen, because consumers want what they want and retailers want to stay in business. You can't even buy a vegetarian food product without it having some ingredient from a Pharmaceutical company. So while consumers want a natural earth, and natural food, they buy foods and supplements provided, in one way or another, by Pharmaceutical companies. That is, unfortunately, the way it is.

You seem to have a very fatalistic attitude about this situation, but I don't agree that steps can't be taken to address the very serious problem of conflict of interest.

Just as IAHF, Citizens Voice for Health Rights, Freedom of Choice in Health Care, PHARMAPACT,SPNT, and the other true grass roots health freedom groups that I interface with refuse donations from pharmaceutical companies, trade associations can too, and they don't have to let them in as members. They ESPECIALLY don't have to let them chair committees. Whats the point of even HAVING a conflict of interest bylaw if they have no intention of enforcing it? Why should any rank and file member of NNFA tolerate this? Why don't they demand that an open meeting policy be instituted wherein all NNFA members would be notified in advance of any important meeting? Why can't all members view an agenda of a coming meeting? Why can't lists of the committee members be put in NNFAs newsletter or members only section of the website complete with phone numbers so that members can know what the committees are doing?

If these sort of changes don't occurr, NNFA members would be wise to vote with their feet- quit NNFA and form their own trade association- one which enforces its Conflict of Interest Bylaws.

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