Author Archive

Boston Law School Sells Out to Big Alcohol Front Group

          

By Jason Blanchette and Michele Simon

Overconsumption of alcohol remains the third largest cause of preventable death in the United States, causing roughly 88,000 Americans to die prematurely each year. Moreover the costs of alcohol problems to society top $200 billion annually. The alcohol industry, in attempting to deflect blame away from its incessant and exploitative marketing practices, especially to youth, loves to keep the focus on illegal activities such as drunk driving. (Never mind that most alcohol harm stems from disease, crimes, and other forms of injury.)

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How a PepsiCo flavor partner fooled Wall Street and the press

The food and beverage giant’s new sweetener causes confusion with claims of FDA approval

For years, the processed-food industry has searched in vain for a low-calorie sweetener that actually tastes good, let alone one that retains the flavor profile of the underlying product. In 2010, the food and beverage giant PepsiCo formed an agreement with the flavor company Senomyx to “focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of sweet enhancers and natural high-potency sweeteners.” That partnership appears to be paying off; there is tremendous profit potential for both companies, given the recent dips in soda sales. Which makes the deceptive nature of a recent press release that much more troubling. Read rest at Al Jazeera America …

Want to Legalize Marijuana? Learn from Regulating Alcohol and Tobacco

By Michele Simon and Leslie Zellers

Some commentators have compared the current effort to legalize marijuana to the post-prohibition days of alcohol. And many advocates for marijuana legalization are making the comparison to alcohol. Indeed the entire campaign in Colorado in 2012 was called “Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.” But if supporters of marijuana legalization are serious about this comparison, they might learn some valuable lessons from both alcohol and tobacco control. In each of these areas, advocates have spent decades figuring out what works and what doesn’t in regulating legal products that also have the potential for harm.

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Big Food defies first lady with own nutrition label

Last week, with an assist from first lady Michelle Obama, the Food and Drug Administration announced a set of proposed improvements — the first in 20 years — to the nutrition facts label found on most food packages. Read rest at Al Jazeera America …

Big Soda’s Front Group Arrives Early in San Francisco

logosoda

Ballot measure could become first sugary drink tax in California

Earlier this month, lawmakers in San Francisco introduced a bill that would tax sugary beverages at two cents per ounce, thereby setting off the latest big fight with Big Soda. The estimated $31 million in annual revenue would go to local health programs. Voters will decide the measure’s fate in November, with a two-thirds majority being required to pass.

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Suing Big Food for Financial Liability – Lawyer Responds

Earlier this month, POLITICO’s Helena Bottemiller stirred things up with “The plot to make Big Food Pay” about the potential for tobacco-style litigation brought by states to recoup medical expenses incurred for diet-related health problems. Several other media outlets responded with knee-jerk negative reactions to the idea, mostly out of ignorance. So Paul McDonald, the attorney pitching the idea to several states, is now setting the record straight. He allowed me to post his op-ed in POLITICO, in which he aims to explain the legal theory and moral rationale. Download the article here.

The Fallacy of Marketing “Healthy Food” to Children

By focusing on marketing, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign won’t save our children’s health

Michelle Obama is probably the most popular first lady in recent memory, with approval ratings embarrassingly higher than her husband’s, at least in 2012. She is the picture of health, speaks openly about the challenges of raising two daughters and feeding them right and uses her platform to call attention to the country’s childhood obesity crisis through her Let’s Move program. And yet, with all this going for her, even she cannot make a serious dent in the problem of how food and media corporations are targeting children with junk-food advertising. Read rest at Al Jazeera America ….

The Other NRA: National Restaurant Association eviscerates the rights of customers, workers, and children

213By Michele Simon and Saru Jayaraman

Food movement leaders tend to stick to their specific issues, whether it’s advocating for healthy food, fighting for workers’ rights or curbing marketing to children. For each of these issues, there are numerous food corporations that need to change. But there is one organization that conveniently provides us with one giant target for all of them: the National Restaurant Association.

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Too Soon to Celebrate New SNAP Incentive Program in the Farm Bill

By Michele Simon and Daniel Bowman Simon

Some local food advocates are applauding the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program in the finally-passed farm bill. The idea is to provide cash incentives to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) for healthy eating. But a closer look reveals the celebration may be premature at best.

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Junk Food Lobby Brings its Bag of Dirty Tricks to New Hampshire to Fight GMO Labeling

NH logoThe Grocery Manufacturers Association may soon be coming to your state capital. Take note of their rap sheet before you let them in the door.

In secret documents that I uncovered in November, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (aka food industry lobbyists) laid out its five-point plan for opposing the labeling of foods containing genetically-modified organisms or GMOs. First on the list: “To oppose all state efforts that would impose mandatory labels” including state legislation. With more than 20 states having introduced state bills to require GMO labeling, the junk food lobby has its work cut out for it. But they’ve wasted no time as the 2014 legislative session gets underway, starting with targeting the New Hampshire capital.

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