If you missed it, read Part 1 here.
The reader was very emotional when relating that the mother of a cognitively impaired, blind and cerebral palsied child was told by 2 Mannatech saleswomen that her son could be cured with their product. They even said it could cure epilepsy (which the reader suffers from). In her words: “So I grab a bottle for a grand and take it to another friend to have it analyzed. Fructose. Well, who the fuck would have thought? Why the hell does my neurologist not know about this miracle cure. HOW FUCKING DARE THOSE BITCHES tell my friend that this would “cure” her son? I hate these people. I loathe them. They prey on the weak and the desperate for their own financial gain.”
This made me pop into Baden’s Facebook page where he had stated, like a religious fanatic, that: “To see ‘brittle’ people discover themselves over a matter of 5 (or so) days, and transform themselves into the beautiful ‘Earth Angels”‘, which they were born to be in the first place! People are my passion. The Angel’s Network is one of my many projects. I am now bringing HOPE of Health & Wealth to thousands of people through the vehicle of an American Public Company called MANNATECH. It is truly awesome, not to mention miraculous.”
Is Baden batty and abusive or he is truly onto something that will help the world whilst simultaneously making him, his wife and others lots of money? Note that his wife, Melanie Hall, is also active on Knysna FM (as Melanie Masson) where her description includes that of a “Nutriceutical Representative” (marketing term for foods alleged to favorably alter the structure or function of the body beyond what normal foods can accomplish).
According to Wikipedia, Mannatech is most widely known for Ambrotose, its “glyconutritional” dietary supplement which is a patented blend of plant-sourced saccharides. Glyconutritionals were formulated to support cellular communication by positively impacting human glycoforms, a claim that has generated controversy among some members of the scientific community, some for and some against. Note that one doctor, whose wife worked for Mannatech, validated Mannatech products before it was discovered that he’d done no research – even though Mannatech had stated that they’d verified his research. Ronald L. Schnaar, Ph.D. (a prominent pharmacologist) and Hudson H. Freeze, Ph.D. (a prominent glycobiology researcher) accused Mannatech of making unwarranted claims for its “glyconutrient” (sugar-based) products.
Whether true or not, the character of the company behind it is important. In 2005 a class-action lawsuit was filed against Mannatech for alleged violations for failing to control its sales people and allowing them to make false claims concerning the effectiveness of their products. Mannatech settled for $11.25 million.
In 2006, the Texas Attorney General investigated Mannatech for alleged violations of that state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act. A press release stated, “Today’s enforcement action stems from a large-scale investigation by state authorities, who examined Mannatech’s dubious claims about the health benefits of its products.” Marketing materials had falsely claimed that Mannatech’s dietary supplements could cure and treat Down Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, cancer, and other serious illnesses. Mannatech settled the civil complaint by agreeing to pay $4 million in restitution to clients who purchased products and $2 million to the state to cover its costs in the case. In addition, Sam Caster, their founder, agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty and steer clear of any type of leadership position or employment relationship with Mannatech or any multi-level marketing company for five years.
Important to note that Sam Caster, previous to Mannatech, was involved in selling 2 fraudulent products, Eagle Shield (a supposed insulation product that claimed to utilize new technology developed by NASA and could reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 40%) and Electrocat (a pest control device that the Attorney General declared was a hoax).
Sam Caster and his wife, Linda, also founded MannaRelief Ministries, a supposed non-profit organization that provides nutraceuticals to orphanages in Africa (including South Africa). They are in operation today and Sam Caster makes appeals through Mannatech for their salespeople (they call them associates) to help. I said “supposed” because i would be curious to know who manufactures the products they’re dealing with (Nutriversus and PhytoBlend) and what salaries are earned. Linda released a book called Undeniable Destiny in which she refers to Mannatech as a “Joseph company” based on Joseph in the Bible, who, as she noted in her book, had a divinely inspired destiny to fulfill.
Owing to the controversies and settlements, Mannatech ran at a loss from 2007 to 2011 (but posted a profit in the third quarter of 2012).
Has South Africa and Knysna caught up on international opinion? What makes it difficult to keep track of companies like this is that they issue so many products and even open companies or distributors under different names. If you want more info, pop over to Quackwatch.
Despite Baden’s Hall threatening me and being the marketer of a dubious product, what finally pushed me into blogging about him, and reporting him and Knysna FM to the BCCSA (Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa), was what shockingly happened between a tourist and Baden. You can read about that in Part 3: Knysna FM DJ Threatens Tourist on Wednesday (Feb 13). If Knysna FM is not a signatory of the BCC (which would stop them from pursing a complaint), then the BIG question is, “Why not?” If not, then i’ll have to pursue ICASA. Of course, the station gets the opportunity to rethink their non-action and sort this!