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To: IAHF List
From: "International Advocates for Health Freedom"
Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001 20:14:39 -0400

IAHF LIST: Do yourselves a favor, never waste time throwing pearls before swine.

Despite my best effort to educate Elliot Balbert, CEO of Natrol and also of Pro Lab to the fact that Hill and Knowlton generated the White Paper for the European Commission which "manufactured consent" for the mindlessly restrictive EU Vitamin Directive, my criticism of his hiring them to spearhead a PR campaign to defend the industry against media attacks has met with complete rejection.

You can see my initial email to Elliot (to which he responded) below this message at the end. This is my response to his response. Keep in mind as you read this that this individual has turned his back on the retailers who helped him build his business by moving heavily into the mass market, and he also attends the "Nutricon" trade shows, where pharmaceutical suits routinely make the rounds to play "lets make a deal" with vitamin companies looking to sell out.

Webmaster Note: To make it easier to follow this exchange, Elliot Balbert's text is in italics. John Hammell's reply is in plain text.

At 07:04 AM 7/6/01 -0700, you wrote:

Dear Mr. Fry and Mr. Hammell,

I'll try and make this as brief and to the point as possible (not easy for me). But I will also be direct and specific. You will undoubtedly find my replies unsatisfactory and that is unfortunate for you and for us.

Sure, you can take your $300 Grand and do whatever you want with it as it is INDEED your money. You can even flush it down a toilet by paying it to Hill and Knowlton, after all, they did a great job for the CIA to manufacture consent for the Gulf War by fabricating that bogus story that invading Iraqui troops yanked babies off incubators in Kuwaiti Hospitals. Yeah, you're right Elliott. Absolutely. Who CARES if H&K lied their butts off?? Yeah man, they got the job done, they conned the American people "fair and square" and got us into the war, so that proves (I guess) that they're the best, (er, the most deceptive) that we should respect them (?????????)

Elliott, you want to blow 300 Grand, that is your absolute right, and no one can stop you or your group from being fools by paying a ton of money to a PR firm that not only whores around for the CIA to get us into wars, but which also manufactured consent for the EU Vitamin Directive which threatens to destroy consumer access to dietary supplements all over the EU, and via Codex, the world. Sure, Hill and Knowlton are whores, and they'll work for anyone who walks through the door, but who is paying them more? You, or the EU??? Pride cometh before the fall, Elliott.

If you take the time to read my reply, you might develop some insight into your own pathology. It is apparent from reading your response to my highly thoughtful, highly respectful presentation of information that you are incapable of accepting it in the spirit with which it was intended due to your extreme narcissism.

Normally, someone would have to go to a shrink to get the information which I am so kindly providing you here. No charge for these opinions.

Information from:
Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited

"To the narcissist, this status of uniqueness is bestowed upon him not by virtue of his achievements, but merely because he exists. His mere existence is sufficiently unique to warrant the kind of treatment that he expects to get from the world."

I am president and CEO of two companies, one is Natrol and the other Prolab. I spend an average of 12 hours per day working at my craft. I spend the time as productively and as proactively as I can. I need to make tough choices almost every hour of the day because many people are counting on me to do the right things. I have almost 300 employees who work for me and count on me to make the proper decisions. I have a board of directors that I am accountable to and there are over 2,000 shareholders of Natrol stock that are counting on me to deliver (through my leadership) increased revenues and earnings. So, in spite of the fact that I am the founder and currently the largest single stockholder, I do not operate this business as if it was my own sand box. I work for the fantastic employees, shareholders and board of directors of these two terrific companies.

"The narcissist has an inflated sense of entitlement. He feels that he deserves whatever he succeeds to extract from others and much more. Actually, he feels betrayed, discriminated against and underprivileged because he always feels that he is not getting enough, that he should get more than he does. There is a discrepancy between his infinite certainty that his is a special status worthy of eternally recurrent praise and adoration, replete with special benefits and prerogatives =96 and the actual state of his affairs. This is the prima causa of the psychodynamics of the narcissist's mind."

For the reasons above we decided that becoming involved in a PR effort would serve "our bosses" best. Being a part of CAIM (Corporate Alliance for Integrative Medicine) it was decided that we would allocate $300,000 to try and help the industry. Along the way they made me head architect, and was quickly elected President of that group. (not wanted but necessary in order to insure that all of their money was properly used).

"Narcissists do hold high positions and, at times, are achievers with proven track records. Some of them are respected members of their communities, some of them even leaders. Mostly, they are dynamic and successful. Still, one thing separates them from persons of similar circumstance: the pomp."

"They are ridiculously pompous and inflated personalities, bordering on the farcical and provoking resentment."

"The narcissist is forced to use other people in order to feel that he exists. It is through their eyes and through their behaviour that he obtains proof of his uniqueness and grandeur. He is a habitual "people-junkie". With time, he comes to regard those around him as mere instruments for his satisfaction, as two-dimensional cartoon figures with negligible lines in the script of his magnificent life. He becomes unscrupulous and suppresses all inconvenience that he might have felt in the past concerning his conduct. He seems never to be bothered by the constant use he makes of his milieu. He seems not to mind the consequences of his acts: the damage and the pain that he inflicts on others and even the social condemnation and sanctions that he often has to endure."

So, realizing that $300,000 wasn't enough to be effective we worked to join forces with other industry stakeholders to hopefully make the effort more broad based and help to insure the probability of success. Six or seven groups, who had never worked well together, assembled ideas, took inventory of resources, selected an agency from several proposals, and invested their own resources both financial and human to try and do something for our industry. (And, was selected as acting Chairman of the group....another job of which I have not enough time).

"Clinical data show that there is rarely any realistic basis for this notion of greatness and uniqueness."

There is no subversive politicking. There is no conspiracy. There is no hidden agenda. There is just hard work. We have taken 5 trips to Washington.

We have spent maybe 100 hours on this project. My graphics department, my assistant and others within my company. and, Michael McGuffin, David Seckman, Rick Prill and Jon Benninger, as well as others, have all equally sacrificed time, money, company resources and energy to try and be proactive and productive.

"What there clearly is here is massive arrogance and narcissism, on your part. Faced with the evidence that the PR firm which you have selected generated the White paper for the European Commission which they used to "manufacture consent" for the highly restrictive EU Vitamin Directive, you have chosen to go into deepest denial, because this information is "inconvenient."

"The narcissist is forced to use other people in order to feel that he exists. It is through their eyes and through their behaviour that he obtains proof of his uniqueness and grandeur. He is a habitual "people-junkie". With time, he comes to regard those around him as mere instruments for his satisfaction, as two-dimensional cartoon figures with negligible lines in the script of his magnificent life. He becomes unscrupulous and suppresses all inconvenience that he might have felt in the past concerning his conduct. He seems never to be bothered by the constant use he makes of his milieu. He seems not to mind the consequences of his acts: the damage and the pain that he inflicts on others and even the social condemnation and sanctions that he often has to endure."

Please don't invest your time in finding fault with what is being done. Yes, it is your right and prerogative in this free democracy. But friend I cannot invest an hour of typing to deal with scenarios that are out of line and non productive to our current goals every day. A precious hour instead that I could spend thinking of how to tell the American public why they should buy our vitamins, minerals and herbs. And not taking the time to type this e-mail. I'll leave CODEX and other issues to those that are better equipped to fight that fight. If you have the knowledge and expertise to contribute and want to do this country right, then get on an airplane and spend your own money to go help.

I spent my own money and time in an effort to assist you with valuable information which you have arrogantly ignored. The following helps explain your bizarre behavior:

"When a person persists in a dysfunctional, maladaptive or plain useless behaviour despite grave repercussions to himself and to his surroundings =96 we say that his acts are compulsive."

"It would, indeed, be safe to say that the narcissist is compulsive in his behaviour. This linkage between narcissism and obsessive-compulsive disorders sheds light on the mechanisms of the narcissistic soul."

"The narcissist does not suffer from a faulty sense of causation. He is able to accurately predict the outcomes of his actions and he knows that he might be forced to pay a dear price for his deeds. But he cannot help it."

I do not want to be rude to you in any way. you have a right to express your concerns and worries. and, if you perceive that what is being done wrong then you have the freedom to express it. Also, if you want to find things that are at fault, that may have problems or issues then you will surely find them. But don't go looking for conspiracies in the DSEA. There are nothing but honest, hardworking, ethical people who are working their butts off to make something good happen. We would welcome your help and support and encouragement. If we get that, bravo, hooray, if you chose otherwise, we cannot stop you but consider the greater harm that you may cause. Regardless of PR agency, or media partner, or whatever, there could always be issues to be rattled.

As previously established, Hill and Knowlton are neither honest or ethical. They assisted the CIA by fabricating a bogus story intended to "manufacture consent" for the Gulf War, this is widely known and thoroughly documented, yet for the reasons described herein, due to your extreme narcissism, you have arrogantly chosen to ignore this as well as the fact that Hill and Knowlton was paid by the European Commission to generate a white paper that manufactured consent for the EU Vitamin Directive. Although you were not aware of that before I told you, you have been fully apprised of this fact, yet choose to ignore the information. This goes beyond arrogance and narcissim, it is sheer stupidity.

I'm sure you think me rude and naive. I am neither, I chose to focus on getting things done. So, at least you got a reply. With your brains and industry knowledge, why not put your talents to productive out put. Write positive stories and articles that are so compelling that Time magazine will write another feature cover story extolling the virtues of dietary supplements.

In Health and Happiness,

Elliott Balbert

"At least you got your reply" (?) Actually Elliott, you totally failed to address the points which I so thoughtfully and politely brought to your attention, you ignored them completely out of sheer arrogance due to your extreme narcissism. Perhaps this might give you some insight into your own behavior, I suggest your ponder and reflect on this assessment, and if the show fits....... :

"The narcissist has to condition his human environment to refrain from expressing criticism and disapproval of him or of his actions and decisions. He has to teach people around him that these will provoke him into frightful fits of temper and rage attacks and turn him into a constantly cantankerous and irascible person. The disproportion of his reactions constitutes a punishment for their lack of consideration and their ignorance of his true psychological state. In a curious reversal of roles the narcissist blames others for his behaviour, accuses them of provoking him and believes firmly that "they" should be penalised accordingly. "

Elliot- the information I provided you in my previous email was dead on accurate. By choosing to ignore it, you are jeopardizing the lives of millions of people.

With Serious Concern,
John Hammell

-----Original Message-----
From: John Hammell
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2001 8:27 PM
To: Elliott Balbert
Subject: Dietary Supplement Education Alliance

John C. Hammell, President
International Advocates for Health Freedom 800-333-2553

Elliot Balbert, CEO

Dear Mr. Balbert:

I appreciate your leadership effort to counter the Pharma Cartel's media attacks against our industry, and would really like to help with the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance, a timely idea that is quite worthy of wide support. I have read Ed Fry's initial email to you, H&K's response below, and Ed's subsequent reply to what they said.

Here are my thoughts on the matter, having been immersed at the international level for the past several years in the health freedom battle.

You are a busy CEO and would have no way of keeping abreast of the information I am presenting to you unless I told you, so I in no way am attempting to blame you at all for choosing H&K, but I do strongly urge you to reconsider in light of what I have to say:

Please go to the Italian health freedom website of La Leva di Archimede at My friend Josef Hasslberger, ( a distributor for Nature's Plus, created this organization the name of which translates in English to "The Lever of Archimedes" in an effort to unite health freedom fighters throughout Europe, and around the world in opposition to the highly draconian EU Vitamin Directive which threatens to force all 15 EU Nations to goose step alongside Germany with their highly restrictive dietary supplement regulations which they're trying to impose on the rest of the world via Codex. I am copying Josef on this email and urge you to please communicate with him about what I am saying, as he also shares my concerns.

The EU Vitamin Directive was voted on on May 30 and the only reason it did not go through is because some of the countries, Denmark and Greece among them, do not think the Directive is restrictive ENOUGH! Right now a lot of diplomatic activity is feverishly going on as the EU Commission will bring the matter up again in September, two months in advance of the next Codex meeting of the Committee on Nutrition and Food for Special Dietary Use in Berlin at the end of November. Although the vitamin proposal at Codex is only at step 3 (out of an 8 step continuum), right now there is an enormous threat posed by the EU Vitamin Directive because if it goes through, all 15 EU Nations, including England and Holland, would then turn AGAINST us at Codex, and they could get the necessary consensus to push Codex through to completion.

H&K are quite adept at the "artful dodge" and have attempted in their lame response to Ed Fry to buffalo you on the matter of their role in drafting the white paper titled titled "Study on Nutritional, Health, and Ethical Claims in the European Union" 3_en.pdf

In its 486 page report commissioned by the European Commission on Health (EC), Hill and Knowlton (H&K), on page 48 and elsewhere, cites that "consumer groups in the U.S. consider the abolition of the prior authorisation system for nutritional and health claims in 1994 [DSHEA] [as having] led to a decrease in the level of [consumer] protection." This same Hill and Knowlton is working for DSEA, yes?

H&K obviously has a firm grasp of consumer and regulatory issues. Yet, it relied on CSPI, with its well known anti-supplement bias and regulatory hit-man, Bruce Silverglade, to convey to the EC that consumers in the U.S. are concerned about the harm caused by DSHEA. (Prior to the passage of DSHEA I recall the flurry of orchestrated alerts by Michael Jacobson and Silverglade warning that royal jelly supplements were killing people all over America.) The report by H&K is a directive for the establishment of uniform policy throughout the European Union, which, due to its impact on Codex, could impinge heavily on the supplement industry world wide.

International Advocates for Health Freedom is networking heavily with true grass roots health freedom organizations internationally in an effort to stop the EU Vitamin Directive and Codex. We, and our allied organizations do not trust Hill and Knowlton, not only due to their assisting the EU Commission in "manufacturing consent" for this highly draconian EU Vitamin Directive, but also due to the gross manipulation inherent in their fabricated story which they concocted on behalf of the CIA to get the USA into the Gulf War. This oily maneuver of H&K's is globally known, and is widely regarded with extreme contempt, you'd be surprised how many people are aware of it, and I strongly urge you, for the sake of your business and that of the industry on a whole, to find another PR firm, otherwise, there is simply no way IAHF will be able to endorse DSEA, even though we are in complete agreement that a PR campaign IS necessary to counter the negative press our industry has been receiving for the past several years. I know you are busy, but please take the time to read the following information about H&Ks fabricating the bogus news story that invading Iraqui Troops yanked babies out of incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals. It simply never happened. and

IAHF would be pleased to work with you to find another PR firm, if you'd like us to, but there is no way we can recommend that consumers or anyone in the industry back the DSEA if H&K will be spearheading things. If they are permitted to remain in place, we won't have any choice but to regard DSEA with suspicion as a controlled opposition group since there is no way you will be able to pay them more than the European Commission can.

Large PR firms will attempt to play both sides in any conflict as they can help one side to attack the other, then help the other fight back, but in the end, it should be pretty obvious whose side they will be on THE MOST. Please Elliot, lets not play their game, if we try to swim with these sharks by playing their game, they will eat us alive in the end. They're masters of deception.They have already proven this through their willingness to manufacture consent for the Gulf War on behalf of the CIA with the fabricated story of Iraqui invaders killing Kuwaiti babies, but do you really think they can be trusted in light of this and in light of the work they did for the European Commission to assist in "manufacturing consent" for the highly draconian EU Vitamin directive? I sure don't.

Candace Campbell of American Preventive Medical Assn is a PR professional, and I called her about all of this to ask for her advice. I feel certain that she could lead us to a better choice of PR firms to assist with this endeavor. If you would like to call her, she can be reached at 703-759-0662. I also discussed this matter extensively with Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, and they share my concerns that we just can't trust H&K.

They will try to bullshit you a mile a minute, and they're quite skilled at finessing people this way. Please don't fall for it. Lets work together to find a better choice. If you'd like to discuss any aspect of this with me please give me a call at 800-333-2553. I look forward to assisting you in any way I can, and thank you for your praiseworthy efforts to help defend all of our interests, its just that unless a group such as DSEA is established on a basis of consensus, it won't have any support, and that would be a terrible thing because the basic idea is very timely. Please, lets set aside our respective egos and just look very soberly at this, because there really is a lot here that is worthy of very careful consideration because so much is riding on what we're trying to do. We simply can't win by inviting H&K into our camp. They have already established whose side they're on, and its not ours.

Very Sincerely,
John Hammell

Ed Fry wrote:
I've read H&K's response to you, and their comments leave no doubt of their deftness and ability to articulate.

But, Elliott, indulge me, if you will. How can a commoner like me living in suburban California, with no "expertise," know about H&K's global activities, and the potential impact of a (their) European report on our industry, while H&K, residing in the bowels of the government of the world's largest economy, doesn't?

Do you believe I'm that smart, and they're that oblivious? How can they have it both ways? They're the pros from Dover, coming to save us, yet their team was blithely unaware of looming proposals -- drafted by their corporate counterparts abroad -- that could turn our industry on its ear? I can appreciate the desire to go with pros and experts to do a tough job that clearly needs doing. I also understand the concept of professionalism, wherein the professional does his or her utmost for a particular client for a specified fee.

The cognitive dissonance I'm experiencing is that you and I both KNOW that the bigger the money, the louder it talks. You and I also know that in recent years there's been an alarming escalation in the frequency and amplitude with which people of influence have been bought. Am I making sense here?

My concern, as previously expressed in regard to NNFA membership issues, is about conflicts of interest. What assurances, in addition to self serving claims of sober, upright professionalism, do we have that H&K isn't working both sides of the street? Are we to trust that they might not quietly, subtly, skillfully steer the process of legal and regulatory globalization (which, after all, is part of their job description) in the direction that favors their largest and most remunerative clients? Handshakes, winks, nods, and, certainly, words don't carry the assurance of loyalty and integrity they once did. Elliott, corporations with whom you are attempting to curry support have battalions of minds far more gifted than mine, and possibly, yours. The concentration of wealth and power into fewer and fewer corporate hands (via "consolidation," as it's euphemistically referred) isn't occurring by accident. Be vigilant. We can't afford to be provincial. We'd better start studying what's happening in Europe much more carefully. A lot's at stake, and it's coming right at us.


Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 11:13:40 -0700
From: "Elliott Balbert"
To: "Edward Fry", "N Hastings"

Perhaps this will answer some of your concerns.

Someone at H&K wrote:
In responding to the concerns of Mr. Fry, please explain that Hill and Knowlton is a global agency with offices in the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Clearly, H&K is highly regarded for its communications expertise, which is why the EU commissioned one of our offices in Europe to conduct a study on nutritional claims. But the fact that another office in another country conducted the research and wrote the report does not indicate a bias in that country or within the firm. The report was based on a research methodology approved by the client-- in this case, the EU-- and the ultimate findings are those of the commission's. Similarly, when we prepare the report linking dietary supplements with the national health objectives, we will draft the report but the source will be the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau. Since H&K is a large company with well over 1,000 clients around the world, the US team had no knowledge of this report and the fact that an office in Europe prepared it has no bearing on our work for DSEA. Quite to the contrary, we have an excellent track record of working in the food/nutrition arena in the US-- which is where this campaign will be conducted-- and it is this expertise that we are using to design and implement the campaign for the industry. We know the players in the food/nutrition arena, like those at CSPI, but that is a positive, not a negative. The fact that we understand their views means that we can develop the materials and the messages that are essential to a positive campaign for the industry.

Ultimately, DSEA chose H&K because we are professionals who know how to get the job done and have an excellent reputation for delivering quality work. Our mission is to provide the best communications counsel possible so that DSEA and the industry can reclaim the high ground with consumers and the media. Through the work the team has done to date and the plans in place, we are certainly on track to meet this objective. If there are other questions/comments about H&K, we have a website- -- which explains the company, its history, and our areas of expertise. I think the information will speak for itself.