By Dr. Royal Lee
Summary: In this 1957 article, Dr. Royal Lee reflects on the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Food and Drug Administration—originally called the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry—by detailing the corruption that transformed the agency from watchdog of America’s food supply to lapdog of the country’s food manufacturing, medical, and pharmaceutical industries. Dr. Lee recalls the noble vision of the FDA’s founder, Dr. Harvey Wiley, who fought for years to establish federal oversight of food safety and purity in America, only to see the agency he helped create become corrupted, quickly and secretly, by a confluence of commercial and political interests. Dr. Lee writes: “In the midst of public praise for Wiley’s pioneering and public thanksgiving over the (supposed) fact that foods, drugs, and cosmetics are pure and truly labeled, we are likely to overlook the way in which Wiley’s work has been perverted. We may remain ignorant of the way in which the FDA protects the food, drug, and cosmetic industries and the medical monopoly at the expense of the public it is supposed to serve. We may forget that Wiley himself was ousted for trying to stand up against these powerful interests.” This is a rich historical document alerting the American people to a matter on which they had been—and continue to be—intentionally and systematically deceived. From Liberation magazine, 1957. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 94.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Pure Food and Pure Fraud
1955 was the fiftieth anniversary of the federal Food and Drug Administration [FDA], which was brought into existence largely through a twenty-three-year battle by its first chief, Dr. Harvey W. Wiley. Dr. Wiley, now long dead, has been honored by a special commemorative stamp.
In the midst of public praise for Wiley’s pioneering and public thanksgiving over the (supposed) fact that foods, drugs, and cosmetics are pure and truly labeled, we are likely to overlook the way in which Wiley’s work has been perverted. We may remain ignorant of the way in which the FDA protects the food, drug and cosmetic industries and the medical monopoly at the expense of the public it is supposed to serve. We may forget that Wiley himself was ousted for trying to stand up against these powerful interests.
In 1929, in The History of a Crime Against the Food Law, Wiley wrote up the story of the colossal crookedness in the Washington scene that had resulted in his ouster and the victory of the makers of counterfeit foods, drugs, and drinks. He told how the Coca-Cola Company had for years defied a federal Supreme Court decision banning its product from interstate commerce and how the FDA had done nothing about it. He told how the FDA had reinterpreted another Supreme Court decision, against the bleaching of flour, into its exact opposite and thus enabled the powerful milling interests to go on selling bleached flour. He told how the makers of artificial whisky had got the official approval of the FDA to label as “whisky” their counterfeit mixture of alcohol and colored water. He called this ruling “the most astonishing exhibition of illegality ever perpetrated…Not only was every decision of the courts violated by this order, but President Taft’s specific directions for labeling were also disregarded.…The dikes that held the swelling floods of adulterations and misbranding of our beverages were broken down, and waves of food adulterations swept over and devastated the country.”
White Becomes Black
Wiley had no intimation of how the FDA would get laws passed to twist the word “food” so as to make it mean “drug” and thus turn white into black.
In Wiley’s day there was no confusion about the meaning of a food or a drug. Drugs were poisons, used only by licensed medical doctors and supplied upon prescription by registered pharmacists—both licenses being essential by reason of the dangerous nature of poisons in general and drugs in particular. In The History of a Crime, Wiley contrasts the effect of a food with that of a drug. The lethal dose of a drug is a quantity specific for each drug; the normal dose is none. The lethal dose of a food is none; the normal dose is a quantity specific for each food. In Wiley’s day the official definition of a drug was that it must be a poison.
Nowadays, a drug is anything used to treat disease, anything used to prevent disease, or anything (except a “device”) used to diagnose disease. Dr. Elmer Nelson, Chief of the Division of Nutrition of the FDA, said in a recent article that what determines the question of when a food becomes a drug is the intended use—that foods become drugs if they are used to cure, mitigate, or prevent disease. Thus, according to the FDA, the only true food is synthetic or processed food, unfit to promote life. And really true, health-building foods are often rated as “drugs.”
How does this twisted definition work? It serves to 1) drive off the market genuine whole foods that contain health-building vitamins and minerals and 2) eliminate the competition of drugless doctors. Those who gain are the powerfully organized drug companies, the manufacturers of refined and synthetic foods, and the medical monopolists who seek to control all of the healing arts.
A drugless doctor who sets up a food schedule to improve the chance of recovery of any staving or deficient patient may be charged with “illegal practice of medicine,” since he is administering a “drug.” This is a very clear way to eliminate all drugless doctors. Many states (Minnesota in particular) have followed the lead of the FDA and are actually classifying as “drugs” all whole natural foods sold as “health foods.” They require them to be sold by registered pharmacists, thus driving independent “health food” dealers out of existence.
Food dealers are not supposed to educate the public about the correlation between good food and good health. As the [federal] pure food laws are interpreted by the Federal District Court of Southern California, it is illegal for any seller of foods to loan or give to his customers The National Malnutrition, by Daniel T. Quigley, MD, You Can Live Longer Than You Think, by Daniel C. Munro, MD, or similar books. In Wisconsin and other states, you must have a prescription from a medical doctor before you can buy natural, unpasteurized cow’s milk—another “drug.” It is no wonder that the Drug Trade News recently called the pure food and drug laws “the Magna Carta of the modern drug industry.”
The same perverted reasoning that makes pure foods “drugs”—and therefore unavailable to the general public—makes drugs “foods,” to be forced on the public. The campaign to fluoridate drinking water is a fine example of this reworking of scientific definitions and facts.
In the Journal of the American Dental Association (April 1936, p. 574) will be found proof that fluorine compounds are not essential to the health or integrity of the teeth. According to the ADA’s journal, fluorine in water causes poisonous effects at dilutions of one in a million. [More recently] authorities have held that fluorine can be toxic in amounts fifteen times as dilute. Under the principle established by Wiley, fluorine could not legally be put into any food or drink in any amount, however small. Wiley said that poisons are poisons in any dilution—they act to destroy life in the proportions in which they are used, just like emery powder in a ball bearing. There can be no “harmless” dosage.
The FDA should forbid the use of such poisons. But instead we find it lined up with the ADA, the AMA [American Medical Association], and the U.S. Public Health Service to force fluoridation down our throats. According to these new prophets of public health, poisons in small doses may be used up to the point where they start to have visible toxic effects. Unfortunately, by that time the damage is already done.
To take a poisonous drug voluntarily—believing that in one’s particular case, the beneficial effects will outweigh the harmful ones—is one thing. To force others to take it as part of their drinking water is a totalitarian invasion of the privacy of their bodies. Moreover, reliance on fluorine tends to obscure and prevent treatment of the underlying causes of dental caries. As Weston A. Price and many others have shown, tooth decay is primarily a disease of civilization and is virtually unknown among peoples with well-rounded diets of whole, natural foods.
Eat, Drink, and Be Underfed
The “pure” food we eat, with the blessing of the FDA, is at least as questionable as medicated drinking water. Under the FDA’s “newspeak” definition of the terms, the only food products that are not potentially “drugs” are the refined, synthetic, counterfeit “death foods” that load the shelves of our supermarkets. By comparison with the damage they do, the adulterated and mislabeled foods and drugs that the FDA does crack down on are relatively harmless.
All refined and synthetic foods are illegal under a seldom heard of federal law that imposes a fine of up to $5,000 for removal from any food of any essential nutrient component. Yet to my knowledge that law has never been invoked against anyone. If the FDA were doing its job under this law, it could stop the sale of 95 percent of the “foods” in our markets.
The apologists for the death foods say that there is no evidence that diseases are the result of malnutrition. For them proof requires a controlled experiment on a few hundred human subjects. They assert that no animal tests are to be accepted because of the difference or reaction in different species. We would all object to such human experimentation. But the evidence we do have from comparative studies of nutrition among different peoples indicates that if we could perform such human experiments, they would demonstrate just what the animal tests show: the pitiful inadequacy of our official protection against impure and counterfeit foods.
If the practical man finds that diseases are far less frequent where there is less use of counterfeit foods, that is proof enough. If animals become predisposed to cancer from eating refined food, I myself do not want any. When I find that heart disease and arthritis are practically nonexistent in China (where the typical diet of soybean curd, fresh vegetables, and occasional fish or meat is meager but still better rounded than ours), I want to know why those two diseases top the list here. When I find the nutritionist Sir Robert McCarrison reporting that in eleven years of medical practice among the “healthy Hunzas” of the Himalayas, known for their natural diet and their vitality, he saw not a single case of cancer and hardly any disease of any kind, I want to know why we are falling apart and dropping dead from degenerative diseases to which such people are almost immune. The semantic jugglery behind the interpretation of the pure food laws is, I think, one of the biggest reasons.
The Crime Pays Well
Because so much money is spent on the advertising of counterfeit foods and drinks, it is hard for most people to realize how their health is being undermined by the food they eat—with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration. It is hard for them to accept the colossal picture of dishonesty to be traced once we look behind the scenes into this matter of counterfeit foods. No newspaper or magazine dares to refuse to cooperate in this vicious racket, which exchanges human life for profits. Even such relatively conscientious journals as the Saturday Evening Post, which refuses advertisements for alcoholic drinks, accepts [an ad] that lies about the effects of refined sugar, that tries to tell us that the calories of sugar are different and do not “fatten.”
Many people are deceived by longevity statistics into believing that we Americans are healthy and long lived. It is true that modern medicine has increased our life expectancy at birth by reducing infant mortality and death from infectious diseases. But meanwhile, all the degenerative diseases are increasing, and they are attacking at even earlier ages. Sudden deaths from heart disease, for example, are no longer rare in the thirties or even in the twenties. When we have become a victim of cancer, polio, heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis caused by nutritional deficiency, it is then too late to act. If we fail to act now, we must pay the price. That price is about twenty years off our lives.
By Royal Lee. Reprinted from Liberation, Vol. 11, No. 1, March 1957, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.
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