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Originally posted 5/19/08 - The Codex Alimentarius Commission is an inter-governmental body with over 170 member countries, established in 1963, within the framework of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Its primary stated purpose is “protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.” The Commission also promotes coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations (INGOs). Guidelines and standards are used as a benchmark for regional/national legislation and in World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes. Work is conducted through nearly 30 committees, each dealing with specific areas of food, and decisions are based on consensus voting by member countries. INGOs do not have voting rights, but may influence proceedings. Most INGOs present at Codex meetings represent transnational corporation interests.