How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food

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Nestlé candies from Brazil.  Credit.

A New York Times examination of corporate records, epidemiological studies and government reports — as well as interviews with scores of nutritionists and health experts around the world — reveals a sea change in the way food is produced, distributed and advertised across much of the globe. The shift is contributing to a new epidemic of diabetes and heart disease, chronic illnesses that are fed by soaring rates of obesity in places that struggled with hunger and malnutrition just a generation ago.  “What we have is a war between two food systems, a traditional diet of real food once produced by the farmers around you and the producers of ultra-processed food designed to be over-consumed and which in some cases are addictive,” said Carlos A. Monteiro, a professor of nutrition and public health at the University of São Paulo.  “It’s a war,” he said, “but one food system has disproportionately more power than the other.”  Watch a Times video of the story.

Guns kill 40,000 Brazilians a year. Some lawmakers think more guns will make the country safer.

Brazil has a murder problem. It also has a gun problem. Both could get worse if some Brazilian lawmakers have their way, reports Public Radio International.  Most of the roughly 60,000 Brazilian citizens violently killed each year die from gunshot wounds. And the majority of the guns doing the killing were made in Brazil. The country is the fourth-largest firearms and ammunition manufacturer on the planet.  Now a small group of Brazilian lawmakers is on the verge of worsening the country’s homicide epidemic. Rather than tighten responsible firearms legislation, the so-called Bullet Caucus wants to make weapons even more accessible and untraceable. Their proposed legislation, Bill 3.722, would permit anyone over 21 to own up to six weapons with access to 100 rounds per firearm each year.

Welcome to Brazil, Where a Food Revolution Is Changing the Way People Eat

Over the last 30 years, big transnational food companies have aggressively expanded into Latin America. Taking advantage of economic reforms that opened markets, they’ve courted a consumer class that has grown in size due to generally increasing prosperity and antipoverty efforts. In recent years, Brazil has inscribed the right to food in its Constitution and reformed its federal school-lunch program to broaden its reach while bolstering local farms. And in 2014, the Ministry of Health released new dietary guidelines that emphasized unprocessed food. Read more from Bridget Huber’s report on food developments in Brazil in The Nation.