Giant Food Corporations Work Hand-In-Glove With Corrupt Government Agencies To Dish Up Cheap, Unhealthy Food

 

The Independent reports that small farmers are being challenged by food companies are becoming insanely concentrated:

Increasingly, a handful of multinationals are tightening their grip on the commodity markets, with potentially dramatic effects for consumers and food producers alike.

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Three companies now account for more than 40 per cent of global coffee sales, eight companies control the supply of cocoa and chocolate, seven control 85 per cent of tea production, five account for 75 per cent of the world banana trade, and the largest six sugar traders account for about two-thirds of world trade, according to the new publication from the Fairtrade Foundation.

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This is the year “to put the politics of food on the public agenda and find better solutions to the insanity of our broken food system”.

More people may be shopping ethically – sales of Fairtrade cocoa grew by more than 20 per cent last year to £153m – but, according to the report, the world’s food system is “dangerously out of control”.

How is that effecting the safety of our food supply? Reuters notes:

Multinational food, drink and alcohol companies are using strategies similar to those employed by the tobacco industry to undermine public health policies, health experts said on Tuesday.

In an international analysis of involvement by so-called “unhealthy commodity” companies in health policy-making, researchers from Australia, Britain, Brazil and elsewhere said … that through the aggressive marketing of ultra-processed food and drink, multinational companies were now major drivers of the world’s growing epidemic of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Writing in The Lancet medical journal, the researchers cited industry documents they said revealed how companies seek to shape health legislation and avoid regulation.

This is done by “building financial and institutional relations” with health professionals, non-governmental organizations and health agencies, distorting research findings, and lobbying politicians to oppose health reforms, they said.

They cited analysis of published research which found systematic bias from industry funding: articles sponsored exclusively by food and drinks companies were between four and eight times more likely to have conclusions that favored the companies than those not sponsored by them.

How are giant food manufacturers trying to influence legislation?

As Waking Times reports, they’re trying to gag all reporting:

States are adopting laws meant to keep consumers in the dark about where their food comes from.

Do you have a right to know where that steak on your plate came from?

Should it be legal to photograph chicken farms and dairy cows?

Big Agriculture says you don’t and it shouldn’t. Armies of Big Ag lobbyists are pushing for new state-level laws across the country to keep us all in the dark. Less restrictive versions have been law in some states since the 1980s, but the meat industry has ratcheted up a radical new campaign.

This wave of “ag-gag” bills would criminalize whistleblowers, investigators, and journalists who expose animal welfare abuses at factory farms and slaughterhouses. Ten states considered “ag-gag” bills last year, and Iowa, Missouri, and Utah approved them. Even more are soon to follow.

Had these laws been in force, the Humane Society might have been prosecuted for documenting repeated animal welfare and food safety violations at Hallmark/Westland, formerly the second-largest supplier of beef to the National School Lunch Program. Cows too sick to walk were being slaughtered and that meat was shipped to our schools, endangering our kids. The investigation led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

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Big Ag wants to silence whistleblowers rather than clean up its act. Ag-gag bills are now pending in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Indiana, Nebraska, and New Hampshire. Similar legislation may crop up in North Carolina and Minnesota.

The bills aren’t identical, but they share common language — sometimes even word-for-word. Some criminalize anyone who even “records an image or sound” from a factory farm. Others mandate that witnesses report abuses within a few hours, which would make it impossible for whistleblowers to secure advice and protection, or for them to document a pattern of abuses.

Indiana’s version of this cookie-cutter legislation ominously begins with the statement that farmers have the right to “engage in agricultural operations free from the threat of terrorism and interference from unauthorized third persons.” [The Feds are treating people who expose abuse in factory farms as potential terrorists … and the states want the same power.]

Yet these bills aren’t about violence or terrorism. They’re about truth-telling that’s bad for branding. For these corporations, a “terrorist” is anyone who threatens their profits by exposing inhumane practices that jeopardize consumer health.

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Ag-gag bills aren’t about silencing journalists and whistleblowers. They’re about curbing consumer access to information at a time when more and more Americans want to know where our food comes from and how it’s produced.

The problem for corporations is that when people have information, they act on it. During a recent ag-gag hearing in Indiana, one of the nation’s largest egg producers told lawmakers about a recent investigation. After an undercover video was posted online, 50 customers quickly called and stopped buying their eggs. An informed public is the biggest threat to business as usual.

An informed public is also the biggest threat to these ag-gag bills. In Wyoming, one of the bills has already failed. According to sponsors, it was abandoned in part because of negative publicity. By shining a light on these attempts, we can make sure that the rest fail as well, while protecting the right of consumers to know what they’re buying.

So what – exactly – are the giant food corporations trying to hide?

They are fraudulently substituting cheaper – less healthy – food for high-quality food.   And see this.

Indeed, the dairy industry wants to add sweeteners – such as aspartame – to milk without any labeling.

Food fraud is rampant .. including huge proportions of fish.

The bottom line is that collusion between government and big business is dishing up cheap, unhealthy food … just like collusion between D.C. and giant corporations caused the financial crisis, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the Gulf oil spill and other major disasters (and see this; and take a peek at number 9).

For example, the FDA:

  • Declared fish from Fukushima a-okay after radiation spewed into the ocean

The Department of Agriculture:

An official U.S. government report finds that Americans ‘are sicker and die younger’ than people in other wealthy nations.  There are a number of factors making us sick … but unhealthy, cheap food is part of it.

One solution: buy from local farmers and ranchers … or grow your own as much as possible.

Category: Food and Drink, Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

6 Responses to “Big Food Is Making Us Sick”

  1. romerjt says:

    One small way of attempting to reduce my exposure to the stuff mentioned in this post is to buy air-chilled chicken. The usual process of reducing the temperature of freshly killed chicken is to plunge them in water which also contains disinfectants – bleach. Can you taste it? Air chilled chicken won the recent taste-test at America’s Test Kitchen (and mine too) Bell and Evans and Smart Chicken are air chilled.

  2. gloeschi says:

    I like my chicken on the rocks. Bleached, not stirred.

    Kudos to BR for posting this. Shame on the food industry. Food company stocks not so safe after all? Biggest risk to them is reputation, and they are doing everything to destroy that.

  3. Opinion8d says:

    Vegan diet is healthier anyway.
    We got suckered into believing a) the human body needs tons of protein and b) animal protein is the only good source.
    When we’re finally seeing all the lies the food industry has been feeding us and continues to try to feed us, and they way they’re trying to criminalize telling the truth, maybe we’re ready to stop believing the protein lie too.
    Eat local produce as much as possible, grow what you can (in window-sill containers, on porches or apartment roofs, or in community gardens if you have no space at home), and start eating animal-free. Not because you’re a PETA member but because you value your health and your body.
    If you worry about protein, use a vegan protein powder (not egg or whey) while your body adjusts to absorbing nutrients from veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
    Vote against the poison peddlers with your wallets!

  4. Winchupuata says:

    “Vegan diet is healthier anyway”

    Yeah, if you’re a cow.

    Please, just because today’s “Big Food Business” is disgusting and terrifying and we all should be alarmed by all this doesn’t mean humans are supposed to be vegans. We need animal protein in our diets.

  5. StillAboveWater says:

    “Vegan diet is healthier anyway.
    We got suckered into believing a) the human body needs tons of protein and b) animal protein is the only good source.”

    I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 30 years. A long time ago, I read in some vegetarian book ( perhaps “Diet For A Small Planet”) that most people get too much protein, vegetarians included. I took it as gospel truth, until in my late 40s, I started having health problems. After a battery of tests, my doctor told me, and I quote, “Your body needs a LOT more protein than it’s getting. I’m a vegan, so you know I’m not saying this lightly, but for the sake of your health you need to start eating meat.” I told her I couldn’t STAND the taste of meat so that was out of the question. Her response was, “well, the tests show that you digest dairy really well, so could you eat more cheese and yogurt?” Since I was already eating a fairly good amount of vegetable protein, I had to cut out all carbs and most vegetables to get my protein intake high enough. And I feel MUCH better as a result. Because my body needs “tons of protein”.

    A friend of mine, who went vegetarian around the same time I did, developed a chronic cough around the same time I started having health problems. Eating meat once a week cleared it up. He was taking plenty of supplements, but obviously he was missing something that he could only get from animal protein.

    I have another friend who finds most vegetables to be very bitter. The only green leafy vegetable he finds palatable is iceberg lettuce. It would be daft to put him on a veggie diet – he hates the taste of almost all veggies!

    Meanwhile, my wife is getting along fine on a low protein almost-vegan diet. The jury is still out as to whether that will continue to be the case or not.

    My point is, there is no “one size fits all” diet. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence should be able to look around them and see the evidence for this in the diets of those that they know. And anyone who says otherwise is a religious zealot that doesn’t want to see.

  6. peterpan says:

    Just wanted to throw some info into this big food debate. My kid was diagnosed with autistm in 2008 aged two and we have done pretty much everything a parent can do to help their kid. The most effective thing we did was to change his diet, this involved cutting out fast carbs and sugars and eating better quality meat veg and fish.

    Within 2 weeks his vocabulary doubled and he hasn’t looked back since.

    Since this is my first comment since I started following BR in 2007, I wanted to say thanks and keep up the good work.