Freedom of Health: Does Uncle Sam Own Your Body?
Watch out for the Food Police! New laws are now threatening the freedoms that Americans enjoy to make their own health decisions.
Americans have long had the liberty to make their own choices about what to eat and drink. However, new legal infrastructures are now putting that freedom in jeopardy.
Health freedom has been a concern of mine ever since 2009 when I wrote “An Historic Perspective on the Health Care Debate”. In that article I used the example of Germany under Hitler and America under Woodrow Wilson to show that when a government succumbs to the totalitarian temptation, one of the first impulses is to assert authority over the food and health of its subjects, thereby gaining control of their physical bodies.
The concerns I raised in 2009 are now becoming a reality. Reports have been pouring in from all over America of armed raids from police to confiscate honey, milk and other products, in addition to banning a variety of perfectly harmless foods. Moreover, under recent health care legislation, Americans could soon be forced to buy commercial products aimed at keeping them healthy.
These threats to our liberties prompted Ryan Close, an architect in Springfield Missouri, to draft a Declaration of Health Freedom. The Declaration, which can be read here, asserts that Americans have a fundamental right to make their own health choices.
I recently interviewed Ryan about this issue and what ordinary Americans can do to protect their health freedom. Following is a transcript of our interview:
Robin: Thank you Ryan for joining us at Alfred the Great Society to do this interview on health freedom. Can you tell us what health freedom is and what led you to write the Declaration?
Ryan: Health freedom is the right to make our own health choices. This includes the right to eat nutrient dense food that we believe to be healthy, free from dangerous additives, pesticides, or genetic manipulation, and the right to make our own choices on how to prevent disease and to pursue a course of treatment that we believe to be most beneficial. It also includes right to refuse foods, medicines, interventions, scans, or other medical procedures that we believe to be harmful.
The ideas behind the Declaration were inspired partly by C.S. Lewis. When addressing capital punishment in “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” in God in the Dock, Lewis remarks that capital punishment used to be a subject that all men and women had a right to comment on based on the mere fact that they were human beings. But since criminal correction has become the domain of certain “experts”, the only people who have a right to comment on what is appropriate punishment are the correctional professionals who then have no restraint on the kind and duration of any punishment that they choose to implement.
The same thing happened with food and medicine. In the past each person had the right to decide what food and medicine was healthy for them based on the mere fact that they were human because they had a stake in their own health. But gradually the people delegated that responsibility to “experts” who now dictate what is healthy based their own prejudices and the pseudo-authority they derive merely from being scientists. But their version of “science” is too myopic and politically correct to understand the full scope of human life and the unexpected consequences of a centralized and industrialized food supply.
Robin: Are you against modern medicine then?
Ryan: Proponents of Health Freedom are not against modern medicine when it is genuinely necessary. High-tech American medicine is the best in the world for dealing with certain major illnesses and diseases but should not be implemented for minor illnesses or for routine preventive health. Often a less costly, less invasive, low-tech approach can achieve better results.
Robin: But the government isn’t stopping anyone from pursuing the type of alternative approaches you are suggesting.
Ryan: Health Freedom is continually under attack through the ongoing sabotage of what remains of our nation’s safe, reliable, and local food supply and the criminalization of natural health alternatives.
Many Americans feel that this systematic erosion of our freedoms has as its object the establishment of a tyranny over the individual bodies of the American people. I wrote the Declaration of Health Freedom to publicly assert our right to make our own health choices unrestrained by corporate or Statist interference.
Robin: Okay, so what are some practical ways that the health freedom of Americans is under attack? Give me some examples.
Ryan: The producers and consumers of whole foods and natural alternatives are often targeted by regulatory agencies for searches, seizures, and confiscations that violate our rights to private property. For instance, on June 30th, 2010 Rawesome Foods, a 1500 member privately owned whole food-buying club in Venice Beach, CA, was raided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Four police officers with drawn guns entered the club. Investigators seized the club’s computer and 17 coolers filled with bottles of organic honey, 10 gallons of raw whole milk and two bottles of raw cane syrup. The health department allegedly left a closure notice on the front door accusing the club of “operating a food facility without a valid public health permit.”
Farmers suspected of being the source of food borne contaminations are presumed guilty until proven innocent and can only establish their innocence when government laboratories destroy their inventory in the process of testing, thus depriving them of their private property and the means of providing for themselves. This recently happened to two dairy farms in Missouri, Estrella Family Creamery and Morningland Dairy, attracting national attention.
As a result of the increasing cost of regulatory compliance, the smallest and most vulnerable food producers, small family farmers, are pushed out of the market, leaving the factory farm industry with greater control of our food supply, thus centralizing it and making it more susceptible to instability and large scale contamination.
Robin: How does health freedom relate to other important freedoms that Americans cherish?
Ryan: Health freedoms are embedded in the fabric of almost all our rights. As I have said in the Declaration, if a government body or a corporation has the power to force people to receive potentially toxic medicines against their will then the people have been deprived of their liberty. And if they become ill from such interventions they may lose their money and property caring for their continued medical expenses. They may even lose their lives.
In cases of epidemic government officials can decide that an individual is a risk to public health and hold them in quarantine as long as they see fit. This violates our right to habeas corpus.
Robin: Can you give me an example of that?
Ryan: In 2007, personal injury lawyer, Andrew Speaker, was flying from Atlanta to Europe and then from Europe to Montreal, Canada. While attempting to return to the United States he was placed under involuntary isolation using a provision of the Public Health Service Act because he was believed to have tuberculosis. This was the first time the law had been used since 1963. The Public Health Service Act is a United States federal law enacted in 1944. The full act is under Title 42 of the United States Code, “The Public Health and Welfare.”
Robin: But it is the responsibility of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect the public from potentially hazardous food, right?
Ryan: The FDA is allegedly an agency meant to regulate food and drug companies and protect the public, but in my opinion it has become the most vocal marketing wing of the factory farm and pharmaceutical industry.
By allowing drugs that are known to be toxic and food additives that contribute to degenerative disease to remain on the market, the FDA has actually harmed millions of Americans. And by trying to create regulatory barriers that favor Big-Ag and shut down small family farms, the FDA is not making food any safer. It is actually controlling people. This contributes to the erosion of freedom that moves our nation further and further toward a Soft Tyranny.
Moreover, the FDA interferes with commerce by regulating and censoring truthful free speech guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The FDA recently stated publicly, in opposition to a lawsuit against them, that in their opinion individuals and corporations do not have the right to form contracts without government restrictions. This was reported by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. The freedom to contract is the underpinning of laissez-faire economics and is a cornerstone of free market libertarianism.
As all of this illustrates, the erosion of health freedoms are actually a symptom of the erosion of freedom in general. If Americans enjoyed a robust liberty that included the right to life, the right to private property and the freedom of contract, then they would not have to worry about defending their rights to produce, purchase and consume the natural whole foods and alternative remedies or medical treatments that they choose for themselves.
Robin: In your Declaration you talk about the US regulatory standards being aligned with those of international bodies. Could you tell us more about that and why it threatens health freedom?
Ryan: In 1994, the American people won back for themselves the right to use dietary supplements through the Dietary Supplements Health Education Act (DSHEA) that classified nutrients and herbs as foods rather than drugs. This meant people had greater access to supplements than they otherwise would have if the FDA had been allowed to regulate as drugs.
However, this privilege is being undermined by an attempt to harmonize our regulatory standards with that of an international trade commission known as Codex Alimentarius. The name is Latin for “food list.” Established in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the commission intends to create a global standard for foods that will govern the arbitration of international trade disputes.
Robin: What’s wrong with that?
Ryan: Codex Alimentarius threatens health freedoms because it subjects our access to vitamin and herbal supplements to the decisions of unelected international bodies, thus mitigating the power of local government and self-government. By delegating authority to make laws the sovereignty of the United States is undermined. Furthermore, it is not clear whether there are conflicting interests controlling this secretive international commission.
Under the tradition of Common Law, upon which our nation’s legal system is based, anything not prohibited is permitted. This means that there are more things that are legal than illegal. Most things that people want to do or grow or eat should be lawful. Only a finite number of prohibited activities or products are illegal. This goes along with the principal of limited government that circumscribes the powers of government while leaving all remaining un-enumerated powers to either self-government or the authority of local governments.
Under Codex, only those foods on a finite list will be legal. All foods will be guilty until proven innocent.
Robin: That’s pretty scary. But is there any precedent for your concerns in the writings of the founding fathers or the Constitution? This seems to be a pretty recent issue.
Ryan: In the list of grievances against King George, the Declaration of Independence says, “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” This grievance is just as pertinent today, although now the perpetrator is the United States’ own federal government. Our governing class has erected massive new agencies, in addition to strengthening the police powers of old agencies in order to protect the people from themselves. Some of these agencies send armed agents into the countryside to harass raw milk dairies, subscription farms and home school mothers and to confiscate their cheese. (Just do a google search of “Missour Dairy Raid” or “Morningland Dairy” or “Estrella Family Creamery” and you’ll see what I mean.)
The United States Constitution was written specifically to put restraint on the power of government, since the founders believed it could easily by hijacked by the natural human impulse to control one’s fellow man. Thus, the Constitution lists a short number of expressly enumerated powers and then declares that every other power belongs to local government and self-government. Health freedom is implied as an un-enumerated power outside of the jurisdiction of the Federal government.
The Constitution worked so well at restraining tyranny that we now take many liberties for granted. This is why health freedoms are subliminal.
Robin: Very interesting. In your Declaration you talk about the government’s suppression of free speech when it comes to health. Could you tell our readers a bit more about that?
Ryan: On February 2010, the FDA sent warning letters to Diamond Foods, a producer of walnuts, accusing the company of violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because the company had suggested walnuts are beneficial to human health.
The National Library of Medicine database includes thirty-five peer-reviewed papers supporting the health claim that walnuts improve vascular health and may reduce the risk of heart attack. Walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosteros that may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The FDA says that these are “unauthorized health claims” and that walnuts are “not generally recognized as safe and effective.” The FDA did the same thing to the producers of cherries in October 2005, even threatening to imprison those responsible for making “unauthorized health claims.”
To put this in context, the FDA allows Frito-Lay to advertise its chips (crisps in the UK) as “heart healthy”!
Robin: Are you being serious? So what you’re telling me is that the FDA doesn’t allow people to claim that walnuts are healthy while they do allow Frito-Law to advertise their products as being healthy?
Ryan: That’s just the tip of the iceberg Robin. The FDA allows companies to put high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, MSG, and aspartame in almost all processed foods. Is the FDA even interested in science? By censoring truthful health claims the FDA is limiting free speech, controlling commerce, and thus attacking our Bill of Rights. They seek to isolate people from truths that may benefit them creating an information asymmetry that controls people’s choices. In the end, our whole food supply may be at risk because many other foods, such as blueberries, garlic, cabbage, onions, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, aloe vera and almonds, contain natural medicine.
Robin: It’s interesting what you say about the government getting so worked up over raw milk. I’ve had trouble digesting milk for a long time but discovered last year that I was fine with unpasteurized milk.
To change the subject slightly though, can you tell us about the cozy relationship that the “junk food” industry enjoys with the American government?
Ryan: The government food and drug regulators think that Twinkies are just as healthy as an apple and much healthier than raw milk. They can say this because they tend to think of food as neutral and they generally do not acknowledge that nutrients can have a positive or preventive effect on health. They have also taught us to believe that all bacteria are indiscriminately bad. Therefore the only healthy food is an entirely dead food, which shouldn’t contain biological contagions. Twinkies are dead so they are good. Raw milk is living so it is bad.
Furthermore, the makers of junk food have millions of dollars to lobby the government to prevent the dissemination of truthful scientific free speech that would expose junk food for its toxic effects. The regulatory system therefore seeks to outlaw whole foods and supplements under the pretext of public safety even though the industrial alternatives are much more toxic and even potentially deadly. Even though some of the claims that health freedom activists make may be fantastic, exaggerated, unproven or unprovable, the regulatory system they are fighting has proven itself to be even more biased, dangerous, unconcerned with public health, and unconcerned with real scientific findings.
Robin: That’s interesting that the government is particularly antagonistic to living food. When I was in London I had a friend who shared some kefir with me made from live kefir grains. When I returned to the States I tried to buy some kefir grains I was told that Uncle Sam had criminalized the commercial sale of them.
Ryan: There is apparently a California Law that forbids any yeast from being present in kefir sold on the California market. Kefir grains are a combination of good bacteria and yeasts much like a sourdough starter, which is why they are such a nutrient rich food. Since most foods in the US are regularly shipped over state lines, this means that commercial kefir must be free from yeast.
As this suggests, the federal government is not the sole offender. Many states are guilty of trampling on our food freedom as well.
Robin: Does any of this relate to the recent controversy over health care?
Ryan: In the face of a skyrocketing federal budget deficit, curing people from degenerative disease could help reduce the growing government health care obligations. But the controversial Health Care Reform Bill only changed who pays for “sick care.” It isn’t going to make people healthier. In fact it will only grow the national debt because more people will be accessing high priced and possibly toxic pharmaceuticals.
Part of the controversial health care reform bill mandates that every American citizen must purchase health insurance. Some people who would prefer to use integrative health or alternative remedies that are not covered under health insurance would be compelled to purchase health insurance for medical practitioners that they would never use thus supporting a system that they may find morally repugnant.
Robin: Tell us about the Health Emergency Declaration?
Ryan: On Friday, October 23, 2009 the honorable President Barack Obama signed the Health Emergency Declaration suspending human and civil rights in response to a supposed epidemic. It gave the un-elected Health and Human Services Secretary the power to suspend our rights to habeas corpus, informed consent, to make one’s own health decisions, and to leave a health care facility.
The authority to create such a declaration was established by the National Emergencies Act passed in 1976 and then strengthened by President George W. Bush on May 4, 2007 through the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive. This gives executive power to provide continuity of the federal government in the event of a “catastrophic emergency” defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.”
There is no redress or appeal built into this power so that, once taken to a distant holding facility, a “patient” has no way out of that facility until he or she is released at the determination of the State or until they die. Hospitals will have the ability to designate citizens as “patients” and hold them until they are no longer a threat. This Declaration uses people’s fears of an epidemic to “justify” and “legitimize” abuses of power that have historically been used by fascist and totalitarian states that declared war on their own people using existing legal structures as an assault on the life, location (mobility), and liberty of their citizens.
Robin: Wow, that’s pretty scary! While we’re on the subject of President Obama, what does he think about health freedom in general?
Ryan: “Health Freedom” was actually one of the “Top Ten” social issues of the President’s campaign. On June 10, 2010 President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council. Among the experts and bureaucrats appointed to this council, none of them represented alternative health practitioners that I know of.
The President strongly promoted the Health Care Reform Bill and signed the repressive Food Safety and Modernization Act that would negatively affect small family farmers. However, his wife seems to be very concerned about the harmful effects of junk food on children and is promoting a greater awareness of health and nutrition issues and greater access to nutrient dense foods.
Robin: Is there widespread awareness of this problem and what are some of the groups that have been drawing attention to it?
Ryan: A number of films have been released in the last ten years that raise awareness of food and health freedoms. Food Inc. exposes the industrialization of food, the dangers of concentrated animal feeding operations, the treatment of raw beef with ammonia, the litigation against farmers who save their seeds, and the optimistic surge in the organic whole foods movement. The film features an interview with Joel Saladin, of Polyface Farms and author of Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front. Simply Raw, a film by Alex Ortner was released on National Diabetes Day promoting wellness through raw and vegan nutrition especially as a potential cure for diabetes. Another interesting film demonstrating the harmful effects of cascading sick-care interventions and systemic opposition to alternative point of view is The Business of Being Born. Made by former talk show host Ricky Lake, the film explores the increasing risks of modern obstetrics and hospital birth and the growing movement of women who are seeking out traditional midwives for home birth.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, Mike Adams the Health Ranger at Natural News and Health Freedom USA provide people on their mailing lists with information about health freedom issues and give specific political actions to take to confront threats to food freedom.
Robin: What can individual Americans do to protect their health freedom?
Ryan: The most important thing you can do to protect your health freedom is to support local agriculture. In so doing, you will be helping small family farmers and restoring your area’s local agriculture economy. This will promote and secure a safe local food supply. Do not under estimate the power of supply and demand.
Secondly, call your representatives in government. Republicans tend to support big business and attack big government while democrats tend to support big government and attack big business. Since threats to health freedom stem from an alliance between big government and big business, it should be easy to move both Republicans and Democrats away from dangerous policies. Thus, when talking with Republicans I focus on how policy should protect people’s health freedoms from an ever-growing governmental bureaucracy. When talking with Democrats I focus on how policy should protect people’s health freedoms from an ever-encroaching mercantile imperialism.
It is time that people everywhere stand up to corrupt un-elected government agencies and their mafia like tactics and take back the authority to determine their own health choices. Health freedom is about liberty and tyranny, life and death. It is everyone’s responsibility.
Robin: Thank you Ryan very much for this interview and for helping to raise attention on these important issues.
(Those wishing further information can email at r y a n . c l o s e 1 (at) g m a i l . c o m.)
A shorter version of this interview will be appearing in the monthly magazine of Christian Voice, a UK ministry whose website is http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/. The article is reprinted here with permission.