In a letter in BMJ signed by 188 food and health experts from 38 countries called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, to initiate an inclusive process to develop guidelines on human rights, healthy diets and sustainable food systems. The letter notes, “As we approach the midpoint in the UN Decade on Nutrition, the status quo is untenable and bold actions are needed.Continue reading 188 Experts call on UN Human Rights Commission and WHO to develop guidelines on proper roles for market forces in healthy diets and sustainable food systems
A special issue of the Australian journal Public Health Research and Practice edited by Becky Freeman and Colin Sindall considers the ‘commercial determinants of health’ defined as the practices of corporations which produce and market unhealthy commodities such as tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks and processed food. The limited regulatory control of these industries has contributed to their role in driving the growing global epidemic of noncommunicable disease. The papers in this issue help to further illuminate how the behaviour of these companies serves to undermine advances in chronic disease prevention.
Transnational corporations (TNCs) shape population health both positively and negatively through their national and international social, political and economic power and influence; and are a vital commercial determinant of health. In an articlein Health Promotion International, Julia Anaf and colleagues discuss the unequal power relations existing between TNCs that promote their own financial interests, and activists and advocates who support population and environmental health by challenging corporate power.
David Sanders 1945-2019
Professor David Sanders , an activist, scholar, colleague, mentor, role model and friend to health activists around the world passed away in Wales on 30th August after a heart attack. David was a founding member of the People’s Health Movement in 2000 and the co-chair of PHM for the past six years. A pediatrician by qualification, David was very much interested in the issues of public health. He went on to head the School of Public Health at University of Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa from its inception in 1993 till 2009.
Neoliberal globalization has opened the doors for the savage exploitation of the world by the big economic powers. Megaprojects, agribusiness and militarization, among other processes, express a patriarchal, neoliberal and racist system that amounts to an assault on life as such. As a result, peoples’ rights have been systematically violated, the Earth and its resources destroyed, pillaged and contaminated, while corporations continue committing economic and ecological crimes with total impunity. They also throw us into an environmental and climate crisis of unknown proportions, for which they do not take responsibility.
Since corporations are at the center of many of the world’s most serious public health crises, improvements in health require more focus on the harmful practices of global corporations. In an interview with Corporate Crime Reporter, a newsletter for those concerned about corporate crime, Corporations and Health Watch’s Nicholas Freudenberg explained the rationale for this approach to public health. In decent societies, Freudenberg said, healthy choices ought to be easy choices.
In late 2018 the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed a new trade agreement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Although not yet ratified, the agreement is widely seen as indicative of how the US will engage in future international trade negotiations.
A recent book by Gerald Otero, The Neoliberal Diet: Unhealthy Profits, Unhealthy People, analyzes how global diets have changed in recent decades, what caused these changes, and who loses and gains by the transformation. In the book, Otero describes how the global diet that emerged at the turn of the 21st century has contributed to world-wide increases in overweight and obesity and how neoliberalism, the variant of capitalism that evolved in this period, promotes obesogenic diets.
In September, 2017, notes a new letter in Lancet, Philip Morris International, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, set up the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, with almost US $1 billion of funding over 12 years. The Foundation claims to be an independent scientific body aiming to “accelerate an end to smoking”. Yet controversy has surrounded the Foundation since its inception; its claims of legitimacy and independence have been strongly disputed and WHO and hundreds of public health organizations globally have taken a strong stance in rejecting collaboration with the Foundation.
A smoggy Los Angeles street in 1960. Credit
As President Trump, the auto industry and the state of California battle over air pollution standards, a new article in Public Health Reports analyzes the early years of 20th-century air pollution control in Los Angeles. In both scholarship and public memory, mid-century efforts at the regional level were overshadowed by major federal developments, namely the Clean Air Act and creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.