Who controls the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and what
are the real goals of this powerful agency? These are the central
questions explored in Health at Gunpoint, a book that brings into
clear focus the silent war being waged by the FDA against
The FDA was established in 1906 to protect the U.S. public from
misbranded and adulterated foods and drugs. While the original
intent may have been honorable, over the years, the mission has
become tainted by lobbyists and money. In Health at Gunpoint,
award-winning health writer James Gormley presents a history of
this Federal agency’s long-standing battle against health products
and examines some of its most controversial decisions and the
troubling reasons behind them.
Now, the FDA is once again poised to make decisions that would
have a major impact on the public’s health—this time, by imposing
restrictions that would eventually eliminate many of the nutritional
supplements Americans take every day. Health at Gunpoint not
only sheds light on what is happening, but also prepares you for
the coming battle.
James J. Gormley is an award-winning editor and journalist with over twenty years of experience in the area of nutrition. His landmark articles have appeared in both national consumer magazines and medical journals, focusing attention on issues such as the National School Lunch Program, food irradiation, right-to-know GMO labeling, biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture. He has been instrumental in managing consumer health magazines, analyzing national and international regulatory efforts, representing industry and consumer groups, and handling global scientific and trade relations. Mr. Gormley is also the author of the best-selling book DHA: A Good Fat.
1. The Origins of the U.S. Natural Health Movement,
2. Harvest of Shame: Business, Politics, and the Food Supply,
3. Politics, the FDA, and Your Health Choices: The Great Health-Freedom Battles in U.S. History,
4. The Global Fix: Food Insecurity, Supplement Regulation, and Codex,
5. Straddling Two Worlds: The Canada Example,
Conclusion: The FDA, Big-Pharma, and the Future of Health Freedom,
About the Author,
In the United States today, there is, perhaps, no greater source of controversy than the subjects of health and healthcare. A growing number of Americans are dissatisfied not only with the regulations and outrageous costs associated with healthcare, but also the inadequacy of many conventional medical treatments, as evidenced by the increasing popularity of alternative and complementary medicine. Unfortunately, over the last several decades, medical and government authorities, especially the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have taken steps to restrict access to natural therapies and disseminate inaccurate information about natural products—all the while approving and promoting unsafe pharmaceuticals and food additives that put the nation’s health at risk.
It is this essential conflict that gave rise to the health freedom movement, a loose coalition of natural health advocates who actively oppose measures taken by the FDA, industry lobbyists, and politicians that reduce health choices. The movement also seeks to make consumers more aware of the risks of using certain medications and eating certain foods, as well as the potential benefits of natural healing methods and remedies. Health at Gunpoint is a part of this movement, and each chapter presents a distinct part of the decades-long fight for health freedom.
Chapter One provides historical background on the U.S. natural health movement, which arose in the nineteenth century and was influenced by factors such as deadly mainstream medicine, urbanization, poverty, and “mini-movements” like temperance, right-living, and physical culture. Chapter Two then traces the development of U.S. agriculture, which has become increasingly controlled by big business and politics and, in turn, a source of nutritionally bankrupt crops that negatively affect both the food supply and environment. As you will see, the problems stemming from commercialized agriculture have spurred health food advocates and environmentalists alike to call for a return to natural and sustainable ways of producing and consuming food.
In Chapter Three, you will learn about the major political milestones that have determined and shaped policies towards dietary supplements and natural products. These battles, fought mainly between the FDA and the natural health industry, culminated in the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, the law that governs rights regarding dietary supplements today. Many believe that this legislation is the sole legal document standing between consumer freedom in the United States and the more restrictive inclinations of the FDA.
The final two chapters consider natural health in the U.S. within a global context. Chapter Four focuses on the Codex Alimentarius Commission, or simply “Codex,” an international body established in 1963 to set food purity standards and guidelines. While the stated purpose of Codex was to protect and serve the public health, it has become strongly influenced by the European Union, which is much more restrictive than the United States when it comes to dietary supplements. In other words, European regulations and Codex guidelines may soon hinder, rather than facilitate, health freedom by attempting to standardize and globalize food and food products.
Chapter Five, which is centered on the current situation in Canada, provides a glimpse at what may happen in the United States if globalization (euphemistically referred to as “harmonization”) of international regulations is pursued. Due largely to the country’s close cultural, social, and political ties to Europe, Canada is more prohibitive when it comes to supplements and yet more open-minded in its attitude towards traditional healing methods. Now at a crossroads in terms of health policy, “The Canada Example” reveals where the United States could be headed as well if consumers do not take action and demand more changes—and accountability—from Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, the medical establishment, and government authorities like the FDA.
Health at Gunpoint was written not only to shed light on the troubling decisions that the FDA has made for over a century, but to prepare you, the consumer, for the present and future battles facing your health. The world in which we live is controlled by lobbyists and money, and it’s crucial that you understand how these factors impact your wellbeing. By uncovering the silent war that has been waged on public health, you will be in a better position to preserve and safeguard your health rights and freedom.