August is a time for vacations and reading on the beach—or in an air-conditioned library. For those dedicated Corporations and Health Watch readers who can’t resist an opportunity to find out more about how corporations influence well-being, here are a few recent novels that provide additional insights into this process. For those who worry about the quality of the scientific evidence in these accounts, remember it was the public outrage generated by Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle that played a key role in creating the United State Food and Drug Administration in 1906.
While the western United States is suffering from crippling drought, the Midwest is reeling from an unprecedented outbreak of avian flu, mostly among egg-laying chickens and other forms of poultry.
The numbers are staggering. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 223 outbreaks in 15 states have been identified over the past six months, affecting more than 48 million birds, with more cases expected. The hardest-hit states, all of which have declared states of emergency, are Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. About 11 percent of the nation’s egg-laying hens have been slaughtered out of fear that they might be infected.
Since the 1980s, preemption has been used to undermine grassroots movements across public health issues including tobacco, nutrition, housing and gun violence. But over the last few years, opponents of public health have dramatically accelerated the use of preemption to hinder public health. From e-cigarettes to paid sick days, more and more communities are threatened with losing their ability to protect their own residents. This not only affects the community health and safety, but it can kill effective grassroots movements before they even start.
Monsanto, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds and herbicides, is campaigning for a federal law to block state and local GMO labelling laws. Here are a few recent stories on the campaign and its response.
The Network for Consumer Protection, a Pakastani consumer protection organization, has won a judgment against Newsweek Pakistan for publishing an article that both implicitly and explicitly promoted tobacco use and the use of Philip Morris products. In the opinion of the Inquiry Commission of the Press Council of Pakistan, this violated the country’s Ethical Code of Practice.
“Tobacco control advocates are celebrating the ruling,” says Dr Ehsan Latif, Director of The Union’s Department of Tobacco Control, “because it strikes back against the tobacco industry’s use of opinion pieces by influential people as a means to circumvent laws, such as Pakistan’s, that ban tobacco advertising.”
The offending article, “My Favorite Mistake: When Syeda Abida Hussain Fell in Love with the Marlboro Man”, is a first-person testimonial by the well-known Pakistani politician that dwells more on the upside of her “mistake” than any downside to smoking. Although the tone is light, she paints a highly misleading picture: attributing some of her success in politics to her husky smoker’s voice, pointing out that her non-smoker father died of cancer at 55, and poignantly describing sharing a last cigarette with her mother just six hours before she died at the much older age of 76.
The article appeared on 24 February 2012 and TheNetwork for Consumer Protection filed a complaint immediately, but the final ruling of Islamabad Inquiry Commission of the Press Council of Pakistan only came on 17 June 2015. While Newsweek Pakistan’s Editor-in-Chief Fasih Ahmed denied that there was any violation if the article was read correctly, the Commission found against it and ruled that the magazine must publish an apology promptly on the same page and space.
SumOfUs.org is a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy. The executive summary of their new report Bad Medicine is below and the full report is here.
The effective treatment of infections and diseases, which has been taken for granted for decades, is under threat. The emergence of virulent strains of drug-resistant bacteria, commonly known as superbugs, is prompting scientists and medical practitioners around the world to warn of a return to the pre-antibiotic era and a looming public health disaster.
By Michele Simon, cross –posted from Eat Drink Politics
In my new report, I expose the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the nation’s leading authority of nutrition scientists and researchers, for its cozy relationships with the likes of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, McDonalds, Monsanto, Mars, and even the Sugar Association. Such conflicts of interest are similar to those exposed in my previous report about the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Powerful junk food companies purchase “sustaining partnerships” from the American Society for Nutrition, gaining access to the nation’s leading nutrition researchers at their annual meetings, and in their policy positions. ASN’s “Sustaining Member Roundtable Committee” includes PepsiCo’s Chief Scientific Officer and the Chief Science Officer at National Dairy Council.