Why Big Food Spends Millions Every Year in Washington
Coming up on this episode of the Doctors Pharmacy the combined. Lobbying effort between twenty thirteen twenty fifteen was one hundred and forty three million dollars that was spent by the food industry to prevent Chima Labor. Welcome to the Doctor Pharmacy. I'm Dr Mark Hyman and that's pharmacy than FFA ARSIA Y. A. Place for conversation the matter and if you care about our food system today's conversations going to matter because there's another one of my mini so's my new book. Food fix how to save our health. Our economy our communities and our planet one bite at a time in today's subject is the dirty politics of big food and how that influences our government food policies and why we need to change it. You know if you look at our government's booed policies. It's just a mess. Agencies oversee the government's food related policies. And they all work in. Silos. They don't coordinate with each other. Very often and their policies are confused contradictory and conflicted. In many cases they're completely in opposition to each other. For example we tell people to avoid sugar and to eat whole foods and to avoid junk food and processed foods on the one hand with our dietary guidelines on the other end with our food stamp or snap program. We spent seventy five billion dollars a year. Three quarters of which is for junk food and ten percent of that is for soda. So how does that make any sense? The problem is that most of our food and agriculture policies undermine public health harming environment and increase profits. They put private profits over public. Good I'm going to show you in this podcast. How big food plays a big role in this mess through corporate lobbying efforts? The food industry is hijacked so morose powerful food programs like the farm bill. It profits from sickness and disease and environmental destruction. And then it sticks you. The taxpayer with the bill. A big food companies claim to be good stewards of public health. They argue that obesity is complex. And they have an important role to play okay. Great we'll show us. They say well you know. We HAVE TO ENGAGE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. And we have to work on policy issues as a critical part of the effort to change things but them much more insidious. Motive the real reason they spend so much money in Washington is so they can block policies that hurt their bottom lines and promote policies. Making money they have answer their shareholders. They have a responsibility to maximize shareholder profits and they are focused on this goal. Whether or not it's harmful to society or the environment and that is not a good thing but the good news is that there are lots of groceries efforts and there's just now an undeniable harm from our food system and what it's doing to human health to environment or climate and that causing many big food companies to now focus on solutions including healthy product development and even regenerative agriculture. You know the sad thing is our nation's disjointed food policies drive a disease creating economy not to mention climate change social inequities and a host of other bad consequences and most people have no idea. Do follow the money you know. We see what food is doing on the front end. We see the advertisements. We see the marketing. We see the stuff everywhere. But what's invisible is even more scary because there are very few citizen activists or people spending their own money to go to. Washington to lobby their congressmen and senators and literally. There's billions of dollars spent by industry by the Food Industry the egg industry and other industries lobbying our government to get what they want and not. What's good for us? A big big big food big Pharma. They spent five hundred million dollars just on the twenty fourteen farmville alone and hundreds of millions more been spent the last decade lauding whole range of government programs to get what they want. They're in there every level from the city hall of the state capital to the halls of Congress to the White House the USDA the FDA and even globally concerning is what we call the revolving door where lobbyists in up in government positions in the first six months. The trump administration a hundred and thirty three registered lobbyists were appointed to government positions heads. Crazy them have been active in the last two years And thirty six had lobbied agencies with issues that were directly related to their new government roles They had ethics pledges. Of course which are vague and not enforced And recently the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb who was the head of the Food and Drug Administration recently took a post at Pfizer right after he left the government. How does that make sense? There was another sugar. Lobbyists named Kaley Zach. Who was an adviser on the dietary guidelines Before that she was the lobbyists for the Corn Refiners Association which represents the biggest producers of high fructose Corn Syrup in the world and prior to that she was a lobbyist for the snack. Food Association nicknamed sugars voice for Sugar Fat and salt because its members include companies like Kraft and away. She in a blatant conflict of interest. And it should have disqualified her but the White House permitted her appointment. Sancti was uniquely qualified to assist the Secretary of Agriculture and a senior leadership team initiating the twenty twenty dietary guidelines really. How does that make sense? Where someone who's lobbying for sugar and snacks is qualified to criticize dietary guidelines. What's pretty bad? Is these lobbying. Groups are doing things to harm us for example ninety seven percent of the time the American Beverage Association took positions that were antagonistic to public health opposing limits to marketing junk food to kids or even for better childhood nutrition. The American Beverage Association formerly called the American Soda. Pop Association is Super Active in lobbying congress. They issued eighty different lobbying reports related to twenty four bills in two thousand nine and one of the pieces of legislation that they saw influence was the ban poisonous addidas act of two thousand nine or BP and it would have ended the use of biscuits. Roy which is commonly known as BP which is found in children's food and drink containers. Bpa WE KNOW is a dangerous synthetic hormone that imitates estrogen the body. It's been linked to cancer. Obesity and heart disease. It's banned in most other countries. Why would anyone want to keep these chemicals in kids food and beverage containers it simple for many of the food industry including software companies profit trump's public health and replacing? Bpa costs money. The American Beverage Association far more than a dozen lobbying reports documenting its effort to stop the BPA act and you know what it worked. The bill failed. That never made it out of committee for vote now some states have banned the use of BPA but the FDA still says it safe. Who are they protecting citizens or these corporations now one of the things? She's most scared off is lawsuits. So working with a Republican congressman from Florida. Rick Keller who sponsored two separate bills protecting fast food makers from obesity related lawsuits was called the quote personal responsibility in Food Consumption Act and it passed the house but not the Senate. Why would Keller support these ridiculous bills? Well it could be the fact that he took hundreds of thousands of dollars from donations from a pack that represented or Political Action Committee represented. Mcdonald's Wendy's Burger King and from the NRA not the one you're thinking about but the National Restaurant Association who represents Taco Bell donuts Domino's and lots more now the issue here is whether someone's going to get a little Salman. The issue is goverry process which scares them. More than big jury verdicts. Why well when you have a discovery process lawyers are allowed to access defendants documents and other inside information. Which can unearth damning information about these industry practices and that can open up a door to a clutter of new government regulation. And that's what happened with the tobacco industry. There was an avalanche of damning documents through litigation against tobacco industry which revealed so much information that there's an entire research group at University of California's dedicated just to studying the documents that they were able to discover. They don't want any lawsuits and they're doing everything they can to prevent them another big effort by the food industry was to block the GMO. Labeling law now sixty four countries have laws mandating. Gmo labeling including the twenty eight nations of the European Union and most other developed countries including China and Russia which are generally not known for their consumer protections transparency and their number states at past GMO labeling laws including Vermont Maine and Connecticut. Now that caused a big outcry from the food industry who did like that so they lobby. Congress to create an act referred to by its opponents as the dark act known for denying Americans the right to know they. Big Food poured huge amounts of money into this bill and more than fifty million dollars was spent lobbying Congress for the first half of Twenty fifteen alone that money could have been better spent on labelling better ingredients in their products which they said it was going to cost a lot. But an independent study showed. It wouldn't cost more to label them. The combined lobbying effort between two thousand thirteen and twenty fifteen was one hundred and forty three million dollars that was spent by the food industry to prevent GMO. Labeling the grocery manufacture America which is now defunct because of some of its shenanigans which represents most or represented in most of the big food companies launched a campaign to fight a ballot initiative called initiative. Five twenty two in Washington state that was to label. Gmo's well they didn't like that and between two thousand and five and two thousand sixteen. The grocery manufacturers spent about fifty million dollars lobbying the federal government and the top agenda was GMO labeling if the GMO labeling law into effect. Well they'd have to slap their. Jim Labels on packages of cinnamon toast crunch or honey nut. Cheerios coke and Pepsi would have to put it on their soft drinks and Kellogg's would be forced to put other frozen waffles and pop tarts incorporates. Even Welsh is fruit juice would have to carry. Jima label and they were wanting to stop. That in Washington was one of their big efforts and they gathered all the big food companies in got people to contribute to an illegal fund that was supported by its member organizations about fifteen million dollars to create a no one five twenty two campaign Pepsi Putting About Three Million Coconuts. H put about one point seven million general mills putting a million now without getting too much in the details which. I get into my book food fix. Gma violated campaign finance laws in ways. That were a little bit shady and they in court were forced to pay an eighteen million dollar fine for knowingly breaking the law to conceal the identities of corporations behind this astroturf campaigns largest campaign finance penalty in American history. In even more than the attorney general who brought the case the Attorney General of Washington abroad the case recommended and they were ordered to pay the state's legal fees as well. The penalty was later. Reduced by an appeals court because they fought thought it obviously to six million which the attorney general said he would fight. He said it was a good day for law and for integrity a bad day for big food and his playbook of dirty tricks. It's one of the days of my life he said GMA's conduct was just so egregious. Still for them. The law didn't pass. It was like. Don't ask for permission. Ask for forgiveness. So what's a few million dollars in fines? Compared to hundreds of billions in profits. The lawsuit was lost at the battle was won anyway. There's NO GMO labels in Washington state. Now you may say GMO. We don't know it's bad. Well we could debate all day about that but we do know that glyphosate which is sprayed as an herbicide on soybeans that are Monsanto soybeans. Now Bear are toxic that they've been linked to cancer they destroy your gut microbiome that have intergenerational effects leading to many diseases. They'RE NOT SUPER SAFE IN AFFORD DECADE SINCE. Monsanto released its blockbuster weed killer the amount sprayed on the nation's crop has risen more than a hundred fold accord the EPA some two hundred and twenty million pounds of random active ingredient were used in the US in two thousand fifteen in one year. It is sprayed on all we just before harvest even though we didn't GMO because it defoliants the wheat making an easier to harvest. It's pretty scary stuff. It puts your children and grandchildren. Great grandchildren at risk. So what can you do to stop this mess? Well you can donate to campaigns that have integrity and politicians who talk about and care about these issues. You can buy non. Gmo food is increasingly companies. Are labeling their food is non. Gmo which is good. Look out for the non. Gmo project verified sale which guarantees look out for the USDA organic co which also means. It's not going to be GMO. Use your fill. Containers DEVOID EPA. And lots of other harmful subsidies and plastics. Try to buy locally sourced meat and lobby your representatives ship nutrition egg policies to ones that promote health and promote regenerative sustainable agriculture. You can support new rules on lobbying corporate responsibility and we should stop the revolving door if you worked as a lobbyist for the sugar industry. Mcdonald's you shouldn't be allowed to take a job at the. Usda or an adviser on the dietary guidelines. How does that make any sense? We got a lot of work to do but we can fix it. I know we can. I think there are countries that have shown us how to do this. I think the industry's changing. Its behavior politicians are waking up to these issues. Consumers are becoming more aware and that's really the purpose of my book food fix how to save our health our economy our communities and our planet one bite at a time is to raise awareness is to start the conversation about how we can change the industry and how we need to change the food industry to save ourselves and everything else matters to us so. I encourage you to check out the book. Go to food fixed book Dot Com and you can get a free video called how to save the planet and your health at the same time you can also get access to my action guide which gives you details instructions on many things that you can do as well as policy strategies that we've talked about sort of a one stop shop for how to fix. The food system is just to start. It's the beginning of the conversation. But I hope you'll join me in this conversation. I hope you join me in changing the food system and doing things that actually can make a big difference. And if you love this podcast please share with your friends and family and social media. Leave a comment. I love to hear from you. Subscribe Career podcasts. And we'll see next time on the Doctor Pharmacy.