Food & Drink Industry

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"Our limbic brains love sugar, fat, salt... so formulate products to deliver these. Perhaps add low-cost ingredients to boost profit margins. Then "supersize" to sell more... and advertise/promote to lock in heavy users." — Bob Drane, former vice-president, Oscar Mayer


  • Nov.02.2018: Supermarket USA: Food and Power in the Cold War Farms Race. Who knew that supermarkets were key elements of US free-enterprise, anti-Soviet, Cold War propaganda? Hamilton fully explains how “farm wars” led directly to today’s international industrial agribusinesses. Shane Hamilton, Food Politics.
  • Feb.24.2013: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food. In 1999, the men who controlled America's largest food companies met to discuss the emerging obesity epidemic. General Mills effectively ended the meeting by responding that they would not pull back; they would push onward. Over 4 years of research and reporting, I found a conscious effort to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive. Michael MossWikipedia-W.svg, Indigenous Environmental Network.

Spinning Food: How food industry front groups and covert communications are shaping the story of food. These companies have spent $hundreds of millions in the past few years on stealth PR tactics, deploying over a dozen front groupsWikipedia-W.svg to push coordinated messages attacking organic food production, defending pesticides and the routine use of antibiotics and promoting GMOs - trying to preserve their profits and markets. This report aims to shed light on how the industrial food and agriculture sector is trying to defuse concerns about the real risks. Friends of the Earth, Jun.30.2015.

Food, Inc. Oscar-nominated documentary Food, Inc. exposes a system rife with corruptive, secretive and abusive practices, and whose products contribute to the rising epidemic of obesity and the deadly diseases that result. Less than a handful of companies control the production of the foods we eat. Their too-big-to-fail monopoly comes at a disastrous price. The film delves into big agriculture's operational practices, reliance on dangerous pesticides and other chemicals, cost-cutting measures, unprecedented legal and political lobbying power, and insidious marketing tactics. The filmmakers don't let consumers off the hook, however. After all, the industry is only responding to the public's insatiable cravings for more food at cheaper costs. Many aren't aware of the consequences exposed in the film. That's just one reason why Food, Inc. is required viewing. Robert Kenner, Director, YouTube, 2008.

Market Concentration

It is no coincidence that the growth of supermarket power has taken place at the same time as govts have pursued a neoliberal agenda of trade liberalisation and deregulation of agricultural and labour markets.
Three conglomerates - Bayer-Monsanto, DowDuPont, and Chem-China Syngenta - dominate ~60% of commercial seed and agricultural chemicals.
1% of all farms control 65% of the world's agricultural land. These farms are humongous.
Four companies - Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus Co - account for 70% of trade in agricultural commodities, by revenue.
Fifty food manufacturers account for half of all food sales.
Ten supermarkets account for more than 50% of all food retail sales in the EU. In the UK, 4 supermarkets control 67% of the grocery market.

Where Does the Money Go?

The 8 largest supermarkets made $22 bn in profit in 2016.
Shareholders pocketed $15bn (2016). Dividends have increased by 59% over the last decade.
#FatCats: CEOs pay ranged from $3.1m at Morrisons, to $19.8m at Walmart. Executive pay has increased by 74% over the last 10 years.

Fast Food Industry

  • Sept.03.2020: Eating a lot of processed foods could cause your body to age more quickly, a new study suggests. A diet high in ultra-processed foods loaded with sugars, oils, fats, and starches could age you more quickly; eating three or more servings a day of highly-processed food was linked to shorter telomeres, chromosome structures that mark your biological age; In contrast, a diet rich in whole foods and plants, like the Mediterranean diet, is linked to longer telomeres and lower risk of chronic illnesses. Processed foods are linked to a greater risk of long-term illness, depression, obesity. Gabby Landsverk, Insider.
  • Nov.08.2018: Seven out of ten back junk food advertising ban. The report for Irish Heart Foundation said that a third of children were overweight — a tenfold rise in obesity among boys between 1975 and 2016, and a nine-fold rise among girls. The research, commissioned by the charity and carried out by Ipsos MRBI, found that 71% of parents backed a ban on advertising sugary drinks, snacks, chocolate and crisps, while 26% were against the idea. The Department of Health this year launched a voluntary code of practice for advertising and marketing of junk foods. The code restricts junk food producers’ ability to sponsor child events and their marketing capability. Kate O'Neill, The Times.

Imports

Let's look at Bananas.
It takes 10-13 months to produce harvest-ready bananas. The fruit is packed while still green. Bananas must be transportedCO2 by ship, which takes 2-3 weeks. The refrigerated ships chillCO2 the fruit to 13° C to stop them ripening.
On arrival, the bananas are placed in a ripening chamber for 4-7 days. The arrested ripening process is brought into motion again by raising the temperature to 14-18° Celsius. At the beginning of the ripening process, the fruit is treated with a ripening gas, ethylene, which most fruit produces on its own while ripening anyway.
The fruit is transportedCO2 from the banana ripening chamber to a logistics centre, and is then transportedCO2 to stores.
One kg of bananas imported to Europe produces 1.3 kgs of CO2. 45% of all CO2 emissions associated with bananas are created by shipments to Europe. ref

Intensive Farming

ToDo: This needs to be on a separate page... linked into Environment, Meat Industry, etc.

How did intesive agriculture start? Short publication "The Rise of Intensive Agriculture in the UK" from the APPG Agroecology for Sustainable Farming, Sept.2018.

  • Excellent article here on Pros and Cons of Intensive Farming. Would make a really good basis for the page. Also covers eg. Corporate Farming, Monopolistic Economies, etc. An Overview of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Intensive Farming, Feb.28.2018. Excerpt: Intensive farming is a technique used to yield high productivity by using measures such as keeping a large number of livestock indoors, and using an excessive amount of chemical fertilizers on a tiny acreage. It is carried out to meet the rising demand for cheap food and to prevent future shortages. While it is true that agricultural intensification is necessary to meet the ever-increasing population growth, it is also true that intensive use of chemical fertilizers will largely affect the health of human beings, plants, fish, honey bees, frogs, birds, and livestock.
  • The Agribusiness / Intensive Farming page is where the Heinrich Boll Foundation report should go.
  • Good pic here, http://sciencebitz.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/intensive-beef1.jpg
  • Nov.07.2018: Antibiotic resistant superbugs 'will kill 90,000 Britons by 2050'. OECD says superbugs could kill 1.3m people in Europe unless more is done to tackle issue. Not mentioned in the article, but the main source is Factory Farming. Intensive farming practices account for most of the antibiotic usage. If the industry cut their usage, they would have to adopt different farming practices, which would = lower profits. So won't happen. Over to citizens. Hannah Devlin, The Guardian.

Meat Industry

See main article Meat Industry

Agriculture

Pesticides Don’t Feed the World
The assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading. In principle, there is adequate food to feed the world; inequitable production and distribution systems present major blockages that prevent those in need from accessing it. Reliance on hazardous pesticides is a short-term solution that undermines the right to adequate food and health for present and future generations.”
— Hilal Elver, Baskut Tuncak, UN Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mar.2017
  • Feb.12.2018: Big Agriculture’s Brexiteers are pulling the wool over our eyes. Big Agriculture wants wholesale deregulation, New Zealand-style – and is buying influence and positive news coverage to skew the debate. In 2014, a Sheffield University study found that the UK’s soils only had 100 harvests left in them (updated to 30 harvests as of 2020.[1]). In common with much of the rest of the world, the EU has allowed agribusinesses to push technologies which deliver rapid increases in short term yields, but burn in a few short seasons through top-soil built up over millennia. Although the EU mumbles its objections in endlessly updated biodiversity strategies and soil policies, each one fails to adequately address ever more species extinctions, lost habitats, and topsoil blowing in the wind - or running off in rivers. And CAP is deeply unjust. It funnels money to mega-rich land owners, whilst the small-scale struggling farmers who get their hands dirty growing our food scrimp by. What will Brexit do to our farming communities, the food they produce and the wildlife that lives alongside them? The new openMedia project is looking at corporate influence over journalism across Europe. In 2017 the Swiss agricultural giant Syngenta bought positive coverage in London's Evening Standard. But their clever piece of spin side-steps the real debate, which isn't about whether new tech is a good thing, but about what tech and who controls it. Legatum has met with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs six times since the referendum. And they are pushing for what they call a "New Zealand style" farming policy: a model which comprises the removal of all farm subsidies and dropping of all trade tariffs. When Suella Fernandes, then ERG chair and now a Brexit minister, was interviewed by Conservative Home about what she saw as the opportunities of Brexit, the first thing she cited was "the chance to move to a New Zealand system of agriculture". In reality, when they say a ‘New Zealand model’, they mean mass deregulation: getting rid of those pesky and already insufficient laws which control pesticide use, protect our water supplies and stop our soils from disappearing even faster. We can expect our wildlife to die off faster, our hedgerows to be bulldozed, our small-scale farmers to go bankrupt, and Agribusiness and big land owners to cash the cheque. Global agribusiness sees Brexit as a rare opportunity to reshape farming policy to their advantage. Adam Ramsay, openDemocracy.

Genetically Modified Organisms

See main article: Genetically Modified Organisms
  • Nov.08.2013: Owen Paterson: the minister for GM hype. GM has never been about feeding the world, or tackling environmental problems. It is and has always been about control of the global food economy by a tiny handful of giant corporations. Owen Paterson says farmers wouldn't grow it, govts wouldn't license it, and consumers wouldn't buy it if it were not cost-effective and beneficial. But the facts tell a different story. Improving and selling crop varieties that farmers can use year after year is not as profitable to the industry as a GM model that requires farmers to purchase patented seeds each year, locking them into dependence on the giant companies - just three of which control a staggering 70% of global seed sales. Zac Goldsmith, The Ecologist.
  • EU Commission uses Christmas period to grant authorisation for imports of GM soybeans, http://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/archive/2018/18068

Greenhouses

Organic Farming

See main article Organic Farming

Oil Industry

Drinks Industry

Bottled Water Deception

The Story of Bottled Water
The Story of Stuff Project

The bottled water industry created the greatest deception since the tobacco industry in the 1950’s - and in the same way, with false advertising. It's all about manufactured demand. When bottled water was first introduced, consumers thought it was a joke. Consumers pay nearly 2,000 times more than they normally would. And nearly 50% of it is bottled tap water. And then there's Bisphenol A. Consider the extra costs:

  • 1.5m tons of plastic are used to bottle water annually.
  • The USA. uses 1.5m barrels of oil for plastic water bottle manufacturing.
  • 1,500 bottles are thrown away every second.
  • 4bn pounds of PET plastic bottles end up in landfills or as roadside litter. Much of the rest are incinerated while releasing chemicals into the air. And others end up in the ocean where they slowly disintegrate into our water.
  • Bottled water takes ~2000 time more energy to produce than an equivalent amount of tap water.

Bottled and Sold - the story behind our obsession with bottled water (2010). ref, ref, excerpt

Tapped: Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce? Stephanie Soechtig's film is an unflinching examination of the big business of bottled water. Make no mistake: water is the next oil. Corporates should not be permitted to own it. link, Europe

  • These 5 giant companies control the world's beer: Infographic
  • Aug.31.2018: Energy drink makers accused of bending rules to target children. Producers of energy drinks are facing calls for a crackdown on their advertising as critics accuse them of targeting children. Campaigners are demanding that the government review how brands such as Monster, Red Bull and Carabao, market their products after the prime minister announced plans to ban sales to children. The government said that the proposal would help to tackle child obesity and bad behaviour in the classroom and was a response to studies suggesting that excessive use could cause physical and mental health problems in children, including disturbed sleep, hyperactivity and headaches. Campaigners want the government to turn its focus on to how the drinks are promoted to young people. Carabao, a popular brand, sponsors the Football League Cup and Monster, which is part owned by Coca-Cola, sponsors teenage athletes as young as 13. The Red Bull Rampage, a mountain bike challenge, has been watched tens of millions of times on YouTube. Dr Lake said that the manufacturers tried to give the impression their drinks were positive but in reality they had no nutritional benefit so promoting them through sport was inappropriate. Advertising rules prevent food and drink companies from targeting children on TV or online with promotions for products high in fat, salt or sugar. The National Obesity Forum believes that energy drink makers are exploiting loopholes to get around the rules. One scheme by Monster is called “the Monster Army”... Last year Britons drank almost 700 million litres of energy drink, the equivalent of 41 cans of Red Bull per person. Andrew Ellson, The Times.
  • Aug.30.2018: Energy drink ban: essential for children’s health or just more nannying by the state? Proposals to outlaw sales to youngsters are welcomed by many, but critics say it is part of a banning culture in govt. British children consume 50 per cent more energy drinks than European children, with more than a third saying it affects their sleep and concentration. Children will be banned from buying energy drinks under plans announced by the govt last night. The decision has been welcomed by anti-obesity campaigners but has met disapproval from some politicians who accuse the government of being a nanny state. The government has published a consultation paper inviting views on its proposal to ban the sale of drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre to children. The ban will not apply to tea or coffee. The document says that no final decision has been taken and the consultation is to “gather further views and evidence on the advantages and disadvantages” of a ban. the proposals have caused disquiet among the libertarian wing of the Tory party with some MPs saying banning such items is a denial of choice. They argue that parents must take more responsibility for their children’s welfare. There is even unhappiness in the government. One senior minister, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph that government policy was in danger of being reduced to “a ban a day”. Andrew Ellson, The Times.
  • Oct.06.2016: Liquid assets: how the business of bottled water went mad. The £1 that a bottle of water often costs could pay for around 1,000 gallons of tap water. Some waters – Evian, Perrier, Highland Spring and Harrogate Spring – come from natural sources, so at least you feel you’re paying for geography, for the fantasy of a shepherd sitting on a rock catching the icy flow in a glass jar specifically for your pleasure. But plenty of bottled waters are simply refashioned tap water. In February 2004, Coca-Cola attempted to launch Dasani in the UK. (“Dasani”, by the way, means "nothing".) Coca-Cola’s new water is called Glacéau Smartwater. The water, which comes from a spring in Morpeth, Northumberland, is “vapour distilled”, then injected with electrolytes. In other words, the water is evaporated and then condensed again, a process Coca-Cola describes as being “inspired by the clouds”. more Sophie Elmhirst, The Guardian.
  • Feb.06.2014: Misunderstanding Orange Juice as a Health Drink. Juice is, nutritionally, not much better than soda. How did consumers come to believe that oranges, in any form, were an important part of a healthy diet? ... There is practically nothing fresh or pure about it. Most commercial orange juice is so heavily processed that it would be undrinkable if not for the addition of something called flavor packs. Recently there has been a series of lawsuits against PepsiCo, Tropicana's parent company, disputing its “all-natural” labeling, in part because of Hamilton’s exposure of industry practices. “Not only is orange juice heavily processed, but it’s straight sugar which today people recognize as contributing to obesity and diabetes.” Adee Braun, The Atlantic.

Sugar Industry

  • The EU is the largest beet producer in the world. The CAP is protectionist towards EU produced beet. Cane sugar importers pay a tariff of €339 per ton and they do not like it.
  • Two big players in the UK sugar industry: British Sugar uses beet in its production process and EU (mostly British) suppliers and thus manufactures its commodity tariff free. Tate & Lyle Sugars is a cane importer and is thus obliged to pay tariffs on imports. T+LS has been opposed to British membership of the EU from the very start.
  • During decades of hostility to the EU/EEC, T+L made friends... Prior to becoming an MP, Brexit Secretary David Davis worked for them for 17 years and was actively engaged in lobbying against the then EEC tariff. During the EURef-2016 T+LS was one of the few big companies to support #Leave and sponsored the Brexit-heavy Conservative Party Conference 2017.
  • Sugar cane plays a vital role in the economies of ... poor and small Latin American nations eg. Belize. Sugar cane is its principle export (~25% of all exports) and 15% of the population rely directly on it for a living.
  • Here's a quick reminder of Brexit links to Belize: Brexiteer Lord "Panama Papers" Ashcroft is a Belizean citizen..., served as their Ambassador to the UN 1998 – 2000. Ashcroft allegedly gave the [People's United Party] $1m when in opposition; it then introduced laws which are claimed to have been financially advantageous to Ashcroft.
  • Arron Banks, former UKIP donor and Leave.EU official boss-man also has very close personal and financial links to Belize. Banks has managed to draw something of a veil over his associations with the Central American state but at least some of his wealth is said to be held in off-shore Belize.
  • Arron's father David Banks was awarded an OBE for services to overseas sugar in 2002.
  • ---------------
  • The president of the Sugar Association to the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which had just released a report that recommended a 10% intake limit on added sugars and showed that they "threaten the nutritional quality of diets." The letter suggests that the Sugar Association would persuade the US Congress to deny federal funding to the WHO if they didn’t pull the report. The Sugar Association and other trade groups also wrote a letter to the USA's Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, asking for his "personal intervention" on the matter. When WHO issued its global health strategy on diet and health the following year, there was no mention of the sugar study. The threat and lobbying appeared to have worked. {NewsWeek, Jun.27.2014 (more...)}
  • In the UK, a draft report released Friday by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition urged people to cut their sugar intake by half the recommended limit, from 10% to 5%, to avoid obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  • Jun.11.2012, The Guardian: Scientists are wary about going on the record because they fear their funding will be taken away if they speak out.
    • The relationship between govt and the Food Industry is far from straightforward. Health secretary Andrew Lansley worked, until 2009, as a non-executive director of Profero, a marketing agency whose clients have included Pizza Hut, Mars and PepsiCo. Public Health expert Professor Simon Capewell was amazed at the degree to which the Food Industry was being consulted: "the equivalent of putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank". The govt argues that it is essential to have the industry on board to get anything done. But the relationships are not always kept at arms length. Professor James was part of a WHO committee to recommend global limits on sugar in 1990. As the report was being drafted, the US secretary of state for health Tommy Thompson flew to Geneva to lobby on behalf of the Sugar Industry. "Those recommendations were never made," says James.
    • Why has Kessler not done the same thing for processed foods high in sugar that he did for tobacco? Because when the warnings came in on cigarettes, the game was already up in the west for the Tobacco Industry. The Food Industry is a different matter. It is more powerful than the Tobacco Lobby. It is tied into a complex matrix of other interests: drugs, chemicals, even dieting products. The panoply of satellite industries that make money from obesity means the food industry's relationship to obesity is an incredibly complex one.
    • Anne Milton, Minister for Public Health, tells me that legislation against the Food Industry isn't being ruled out, because of the escalating costs to the NHS. Previous govts have always taken the route of partnership. Why? Because the Food Industry provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in revenue. It is immensely powerful, and any politician who takes it on does so at their peril. [...] Eventually, the point will be reached when the cost to the NHS of obesity, now £5bn a year, outweighs the revenue from the UK snacks and confectionery market, which is currently approximately £8bn a year.
  • Dec.03.2011: How the Food Industry Eats Your Kid’s Lunch. An increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals is making students — a captive market — fat and sick while pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. About a quarter of the school nutrition program has been privatized, much of it outsourced to food service management giants like Aramark, based in Philadelphia; Sodexo, based in France; and the Chartwells division of the Compass Group, based in Britain. They work in tandem with food manufacturers like the chicken producers Tyson and Pilgrim’s, all of which profit when good food is turned to bad. Here’s one way it works... Lucy Komisar, The New York Times.

Food Additives

  • Dec.29.2018: Stop adding cancer-causing chemicals to our bacon, experts tell meat industry. ... the coalition says there is evidence that consumption of processed meats containing cancer-causing chemicals - nitrites - which produce carcinogens called nitrosamines when eaten, resulting in 6,600 bowel cancer cases every year in the UK. In 2015 the World Health Organisation published evidence (link) that linked processed meats to 34,000 cases of colorectal cancer worldwide each year – and identified nitrites and nitrosamines as the likely cause. Glasgow University researchers suggested reducing processed meat consumption could cut a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. A John Hopkins University School of Medicine (USA) study suggested a direct link between nitrites and the onset of mental health problems. Parma ham producers have not used nitrites for 25 years. Northern Irish company Finnebrogue launched the “first truly nitrite-free bacon”, stocked by major supermarkets. Ocado sells nitrite-free streaky bacon from Northamptonshire-based Houghton Hams and a nitrite-free prosciutto from [Unearthed]. Jamie Doward, The Guardian.

Restaurants

Articles

2018

  • May.30.2018: Food industry on last warning over sugar, say MPs. The food industry needs to realise that it is in the “last-chance saloon” and a levy on sugary drinks and VAT will be broadened if sugar is not reduced in other products, the Health Select Committee says. Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites must “take responsibility” to protect children from junk food advertising. Restrictions on advertising and promotion of unhealthy food have been included in draft plans due to be published within weeks. The cross-party group of MPs says that Theresa May must take personal responsibility for cutting obesity through action across the whole of government, as it reiterates demands for a ban on “buy one get one free” deals and the removal of sweets and chocolates from checkouts in all kinds of shops. 33% of children are overweight and the poorest are three times as likely to be obese. Sarah Wollaston advised ministers to tell the industry: “They’ve got one more year [to cut sugar] and if it’s not working there will be regulation to back it up. Christopher Snowdon] of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said that the plans would increase shopping bills for millions. “Everybody will be hit, not just the obese, and people on low incomes will be hit hardest of all,” he said. Tim Rycroft of the Food and Drink Federation, argued that it was wrong to single out individual products and insisted that the industry was “pulling its weight” on voluntary measures. Chris Smyth, The Times.
  • May.14.2018: The food you buy really is shrinking. According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics, 2,529 products on supermarket shelves decreased in size or weight in the five years between 2012 and 2017. Veronique Greenwood, BBC News.
  • Oct.06.2017: "The Real Food Politics" (video). Talk given by Nina Teicholz, who is a New York Times bestselling investigative science journalist who has played a pivotal role in challenging the conventional wisdom on dietary fat. Her groundbreaking work, 'The Big Fat Surprise', which The Economist named as the #1 science book of 2014, has led to a profound rethinking on whether we have been wrong to think that fat, including saturated fat, causes disease. Nina Teicholz, YouTube. Twitter comment by @SiriusWhite2006: You only have to look at the appalling record US has for violence and corruption to see UK will come out worse off in any supposed 'trade deal' with it. Tragic video by Nina Teicholz about awful corruption problem from the US processed 'food' industry..
  • Apr.22.2018: Cheap food imports after Brexit ‘will hit farmers and consumers’, says report by MPs. A report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said the govt was running out of time to seal an EU trade deal, which is vital to the UK’s £28.8bn food and drink industry. Cutting tariffs on food imports after Brexit would be “extremely damaging” for British farmers and would bring only small benefits to consumers in terms of lower prices. The findings are the latest blow to the “Global Britain” vision promoted by some leading Brexit supporters in govt, who have argued that Britain should be prepared to shift its regulatory system away from the EU’s to pursue the benefits of trade farther afield. The industry, which employs 400,000 people, currently sends 60% of its exports to EU markets. In the event of a “no deal” Brexit, these exports would be subject to the EU’s external tariffs under World Trade Organisation rules, including taxes of between 35% and 96% on dairy products, and as high as 104% on animal products. This scenario would be “disastrous for UK exports and must be avoided at all costs”, according to the committee’s report. Tim Martin, chairman of pubs operator Wetherspoons, told the committee that Brexit provided a unique opportunity to scrap tariffs on imports from both EU and non-EU countries, leading to lower prices for consumers. The committee’s report, however, pointed to evidence from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which said that cutting all tariffs to zero would reduce prices by 1.2% at most. The National Farmers' Union said the industry would be “severely damaged” if it faced competition from cheaper imports while being hit by high tariffs abroad. Although the report said there were “substantial growth opportunities” outside the EU, it called on the government to focus on securing a trade agreement with the EU and rolling over existing non-EU deals. Tommy Stubbington, The Times.
  • Mar.06.2018: Food makers told to cut calories by 20% by 2024. Public Health England says the target would slash costs to the NHS by £4.5bn and prevent more than 35,000 premature deaths. Officials are calling on food sellers and manufacturers to cut calories in their products by 20% by 2024, with big businesses that fail to make progress set to be named and shamed. The latest initiative lays down the gauntlet to big businesses, incl. manufacturers, supermarkets and high street fast-food outlets. ...said it was not yet clear that the obesity epidemic is due to calories alone, noting that other chemicals in modern food might be involved and that calorie restriction was most helpful for prevention of obesity. Another potential problem is what substances the Food Industry might use to reduce calories in products: "If you ask the food industry to change their products to reduce calories, you don't know exactly how they will accomplish that". The Guardian, Nicola Davis

2017

  • Dec.09.2017: The unraveling of the sugar conspiracy. Explosive new study in the PLOS Biology journal confirms three things that independent health researchers have been saying for years. Sugar-heavy diets are worse for your health than fat-heavy diets. Researchers have known this fact for decades. The sugar industry actively covered up the research supporting this fact. James Corbett, Signs of the Times (SOTT).
  • Nov.25.2017: EU sugar prices drop. The international sugar prices have decreased... the Belize Sugar Industry (BSI) is concerned. The price decrease came into effect in Oct.2017 due to the end of the EU's quota system. ...the EU previously purchased the product from Belize at a preferential price. The EU was the only sugar industry that was subjected to a quota system; it was introduced with the first rules on the sugar common market organization (CMO) in 1968, along with a support price for producers at a level significantly above the world market price. The quotas system helped raw sugar-producing countries achieve various goals in the sugar sector. Chairman of the Sugar Cane Production Committee, Dr Carlos Itza, believes that the only way that they will be able to compete with the international prices is for farmers to produce more efficiently at a lower price. The San Pedro Sun.
  • Oct.02.2017: Europe on the Brink of Sugar Deluge as Decade-Long Curbs End. Sugar firms in the EU can now produce and export as much as they want. The scrapping of quotas - the last of the EU's agriculture curbs - may also lead to major changes in the global sugar trade. The quotas that ended this weekend were set in 2006 in preparation to phase out limits that were first imposed in the 1960s to ensure food security were rejected by the World Trade Organisation. That curbed the amount of sugar EU producers could sell in the domestic market, and boosted imports. Scrapping the restrictions will help the EU boost exports by almost 50% to 2.2m metric tons this season. Agnieszka De Sousa, Bloomberg.
  • Aug.29.2017: The UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy: Implications for Dental Health. Despite recent improvements,there remains an epidemic of tooth decay in our children. (brief history of how soft drinks developed) Tooth decay is initiated and progresses when acid is produced within dental plaque as commensurable bacteria anaerobically metabolize simple sugars.11 Typically, the pH measured in dental plaque falls almost immediately sugars are taken into the mouth, with a slow recovery back to normal pH taking around 45 minutes. During this period, demineralization of the inorganic phase of tooth enamel and dentine takes place. Remember the Stephan Curve of undergraduate teaching? If repeated acid attacks occur because of a high frequency of sugar ingestion, demineralization continues, the organic phase of enamel and dentine is then lost so that mineral cannot be replaced, with the subsequent formation of a dental cavity. The more sugar individuals eat or drink and the more frequently they eat or drink sugar-containing foods, the more likely they are to suffer from tooth decay. Sugared soft drinks, drunk regularly, are believed to be a major cause of tooth decay. Dental erosion (tooth surface loss) is also caused by the citric, phosphoric or other acids added during the manufacture of carbonated drinks, even in sugar-free varieties. The Revu.
  • Jan.25.2017: If Sugar Is Harmless, Prove It. Interview with Gary Taubes, author of "The Case Against Sugar". To understand the case against sugar, you have to understand the crimes committed: epidemics of diabetes and obesity worldwide. The conventional wisdom is that obesity is a problem of energy imbalance. We secrete insulin in response to carbohydrates in our diet; insulin resistance is the fundamental defect in Type 2 diabetes and is so closely associated with obesity that we think it might be the cause. If you’re insulin resistant, your pancreas needs to secrete more insulin to control blood sugar, and that insulin will increase your fat accumulation as a consequence. David Bornstein, The New York Times.

2016

  • Oct.25.2016: British Sugar to cultivate cannabis plants in Norfolk for GW Pharmaceuticals. British Sugar will be swapping tomato plants for cannabis seedlings after signing a long-term contract to supply the crop to drugs company GW Pharmaceuticals plc. The marijuana plants, which are of a non-psychoactive variety, will be grown in British Sugar's 18-hectare glasshouse in Wissington, Norfolk, where the company, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, is currently cultivating tomatoes. The space is the equivalent of 23 football pitches. Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar, said "We had always been interested in looking at pharmaceutical crops but never quite found the right partner. We recently did in GW". GW Pharmaceuticals, a UK biotech, has developed an experimental treatment called Epidiolex for severe forms of childhood epilepsy. It is derived from compounds in the cannabis plant and has achieved stellar results in final-stage trials. The glasshouse will provide enough raw crop a year to treat 40,000 children globally, making British Sugar a major supplier to GW. British Sugar’s annual sales fluctuate with the sugar price, so when wholesale prices of the sweet stuff are low, the company’s peripheral businesses, such as power generation and horticulture, become quite significant. Epidiolex has the potential to be a breakthrough medication for children with rare forms of epilepsy, for whom there are no effective treatments. GW plans to file the drug with US regulators in the first half of 2017 and chief executive Justin Gover hopes that the treatment could be on the US market by the end of next year, with a European launch following shortly thereafter. Victoria Atkins MP, the UK Drugs Minister, vehemently opposes allowing the medicinal use of cannabis. (See Cannabis Law Reform, Feb.02.2018). She is married to Paul Kenward. Corruption? The legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use would scupper British Sugar's market. Julia Bradshaw, The Telegraph.

2015

  • Apr.13.2015: Marco Rubio's sugar problem. In Jun.13.2012, Rubio cast a very odd vote: he voted to save the indefensible federal sugar program. Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner.

2014

  • Jun.27.2014: The Sugar Lobby Threatens Organisations, Buries Science on Health Effects. We know that consuming too much sugar can lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a raft of other maladies. Yet sugar is the most popular food additive in the US, added with abandon to nearly every processed food we eat. So why don’t American food policies governing added sugar reflect that? ($$$$$s) Zoe Schlanger, NewsWeek (USA).
  • May.19.2014: Thousands of sugar cane workers die as wealthy nations stall on solutions. Wealthier nations are more focused on spurring biofuels production in the region's sugarcane industry and keeping up the heavy flow of sugar to U.S. consumers and food manufacturers than the plight of those who harvest it - chronic kidney disease. Sasha Chavkin, The Center for Public Integrity.

2013

  • Oct.07.2013: Coke, Pepsi Sugar Supplies Tied To Global Land Grabs, Conflict. Global demand for sugar is forecast to increase by another 25% by the end of this decade, Oxfam warns that the market is already fuelling land-related conflicts. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods. "Land grabbing" has increased in recent years, fuelled by multinational companies and investors eyeing potentially significant profits in large-scale agriculture in developing countries. Such moves have become particularly lucrative in the aftermath of the global spike in food prices in 2007-08, as well as in the context of the continued growth in the biofuel industry, which uses just under 50% of the sugarcane crop. (more...) Mint Press News.
  • Oct.06.2013: The Secrets of Sugar (Video). This Lab believes that Alzheimer's is really diabetes of the brain, linked to insulin resistance. "Insulin resistance can occur in any organ: in the muscles it is diabetes, in the brain we think that's Alzheimer's." The Fifth Estate, CBC News.
  • Feb.27.2013: Still Believe "A Calorie Is a Calorie"? If you do, you fly in the face of mounting and incontrovertible evidence that some calories — in particular, "sugar calories" — are jeopardizing both your and your family's health. The increase in sugar consumption over the past 30 years parallels the increase in obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Sugar in excess is a toxin, unrelated to its calories. The food industry has contaminated the American food supply with added sugar to "sell more product" and thereby uphold their Wall Street mandate to increase profits. Robert Lustig MD, HuffPost.

2012

  • Nov/Dec.2012: Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies. How the industry kept scientists from asking: Does sugar kill? -- PR. Gary Taubes, Cristin Kearns Couzens, Mother Jones.
  • Jun.11.2012: Why our food is making us fat. We are, on average, 3st heavier than we were in the 60s. And not because we're eating more or exercising less – we just unwittingly became sugar addicts. Professor John Yudkin blamed sugar, but his work was rubbished by what many believe was a concerted campaign to discredit him. Yudkin was "thrown under the bus" because there was a huge financial gain to be made by fingering fat, not sugar, as the culprit of heart disease. Excellent synopsis. Jacques Peretti, The Guardian.

Further Reading / Books

  • ^ The true cost of cheap food? We have only 30 harvests left. The Skylark, Aug.01.2020.