Once again, new revelations about the illegal and deceptive practices of German car makers Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW attract media and public scrutiny. A few recent highlights:
Fortune reported that “Volkswagen’s CEO said he was ‘stunned’ by reports the carmaker had sponsored tests that exposed monkeys and humans to toxic diesel fumes and two years after an emissions cheating scandal, pledged once again to get to the bottom of the wrongdoing. Europe’s largest automaker has come under fresh scrutiny after the New York Times said last week that Volkswagen and German peers BMW and Daimler funded an organization called European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) to commission the tests. The report came more than two years after VW admitted to cheating U.S. diesel emissions tests, sparking the biggest business crisis in its history, and pledged sweeping changes to ensure such misconduct never happened again.
The New York Times reported that in 2014 scientists in an Albuquerque laboratory conducted an unusual experiment: Ten monkeys squatted in airtight chambers, watching cartoons for entertainment as they inhaled fumes from a diesel Volkswagen Beetle. The details of the Albuquerque experiment have been disclosed in a lawsuit brought against Volkswagen in the United States, offering a rare window into the world of industry-backed academic research. The organization that commissioned the study, the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, received all of its funding from Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW. It shut down last year amid controversy over its work. It also produced a skeptical assessment of data showing that diesel pollution far exceeded permitted levels in cities like Barcelona, Spain.
According to The Washington Post, the study by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) was never published, and the research institute overseeing it has since been dissolved. All three carmakers involved in the study — Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen — distanced themselves from the research after the studies were disclosed. But the research institute behind the controversial tests on monkeys was founded by Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen and automotive components supplier Bosch, which has raised questions over the extent to which experiments with humans was backed by the three major carmakers, too.
Another account of the VW diesel emissions is featured on a new Netflix series “Dirty Money” an investigative series that exposes “brazen acts of corporate corruption and greed.” The first episode, Hard NOx, examines the VW deception on emissions.
After decades of lawsuits, public campaigns and painful struggles, Americans have finally done what once seemed impossible: Most of the country has quit smoking, saving millions of lives and leading to massive reductions in cancer. Unless, reports The Washington Post, those Americans are poor, uneducated or live in a rural area. Hidden among the steady declines in recent years is the stark reality that cigarettes are becoming a habit of the poor. The national smoking rate has fallen to historic lows, with just 15 percent of adults still smoking. But the socioeconomic gap has never been bigger. Cigarette companies are focusing their marketing on lower income communities to retain their customer base, researchers say. “Poorer people don’t smoke because anything’s different or wrong about them,” said Robin Koval, president of Truth Initiative, a leading tobacco-control nonprofit group. “Their communities are not protected like others are. They don’t have access to good health care and cessation programs. If you have a bull’s eye painted on your back, it’s harder to get away.” Tobacco companies have also invested considerable resources in recent years lobbying against smoking restrictions and taxes, especially in poorer, rural and often Southern states, where smoking remains highest.
Gilead Sciences executives were acutely aware in 2013 that their plan to charge an exorbitantly high price for a powerful new hepatitis C drug would spark public outrage, reports the Washington Post, but they pursued the profit-driven strategy anyway, according to a Senate Finance Committee investigation report released Tuesday.
The Washington Post writes that General Mills has a clever new trick, according to a lawsuit brought against the company this week by Center for Science in the Public Interest. The suit alleges that the cereal maker has been selling a new product called Cheerios Protein, which the company introduced last year, under false pretenses.
Ellen R. Shaffer, Joseph E. Brenner Nov. 6, 2015 Cross-posted from CPATH
The vacuous “tobacco control” provision in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) virtually capitulates to the demands of multinational tobacco corporations, jeopardizing nations’ health and economic welfare. Public health and medical advocates in the U.S. and abroad consistently urged negotiators to exclude tobacco control protections from trade challenges under the TPP. But tobacco industry opposition won the day, bolstered by corporate allies concerned that addressing the uniquely lethal effects of tobacco in trade agreements could set a precedent for reining in their own practices.
Continue reading TPP Caves to the Tobacco Industry, Threatens Public Health