How propaganda is destroying your health
by Bob Livingston
The American consumer is so inundated with propaganda that he couldn’t find the truth with both hands and a shovel.
The alphabet soup government regulatory agencies, their research scientists, corporate media, athletes and media stars are for sale to the highest bidder. The truth is whatever their benefactor says it is.
Conventional wisdom holds that this system seemingly took root in the 1950s as Big Tobacco tried to counter the damage inflicted by a 1952 report published in Readers Digest titled “Cancer by the Carton.”
In the two years following the report, cigarette sales plummeted. It was the first sales contraction for Big Tobacco of the 20th century (outside the Great Depression).
In order to reverse the sales decline and get back out in front of public perception, the CEOs of the major tobacco companies met and hatched a plan. They hired public relations giant Hill and Knowlton, created a document called “A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers,” and doled out large sums of money to have the statement published in hundreds of newspapers across the country on Jan. 4, 1954.
The statement sought to give Big Tobacco a human face — it included the signatures of the nation’s top tobacco executives — and it promised consumers that tobacco companies had their best interests at heart and would not sell a product it knew to be harmful.
But the tobacco lobby didn’t stop there. It began buying off top scientists by funding their research. It began buying off politicians and government functionaries. It began buying up more lobbyists and more lawyers. And tobacco executives and spokespeople got on a script that said, basically, that smoking had not been “proven” to cause cancer. And they beat that message home: “Not proven, not proven, not proven.”
A decade later, the U.S. surgeon general put out his first report on smoking and health. While the report noted some negative health effects of smoking, what didn’t make the report is the fact that Big Tobacco had veto power over the members of the committee that produced the report.
In March 2009, Milbank Quarterly published a report comparing the PR efforts of Big Tobacco in middle to late part of the 20th century with the full-court press put on by Big Food as the century drew to a close and 21st began.
From the report:
A first step is to understand the industry players. Unlike tobacco, with one major product and a handful of companies producing it, food involves an immense array of products made by thousands of companies worldwide. The industry is diverse and fragmented in some ways, counting as its players a local baker making bread for a few stores; a family running a convenience store; an organic farmer; mega companies like Kraft, McDonalds, and Coca-Cola; and even Girl Scouts selling cookies. The same company making fried foods laden with saturated fat might also sell whole-grain cereal.
In other ways, the industry is organized and politically powerful. It consists of massive agribusiness companies like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, and Monsanto; food sellers as large as Kraft (so big as to own Nabisco) and Pepsi-Co (owner of Frito Lay); and restaurant companies as large as McDonald’s and Yum! Brands (owner of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, and more). These are represented by lobbyists, lawyers, and trade organizations that in turn represent a type of food (e.g., Snack Food Association, American Beverage Association), a segment of the industry (e.g., National Restaurant Association), a constituent of food (e.g., Sugar Association, Corn Refiners Association), or the entire industry (e.g., Grocery Manufacturers of America).
Common to all these players is an arresting logic: to successfully address the obesity epidemic, the nation must consume fewer calories, which means eating less food. Marion Nestle (2002) estimates that the number of daily calories created for the American food supply rose from 3,300 per person in 1970 to 3,800 in the late 1990s, far in excess of what the average person needs to maintain a healthy weight. If consumers’ demand for food were to reflect what they needed to maintain a healthy weight, the market would contract. A shrinking market for all those calories would mean less money — a lot less.
To counter that, Big Food adopted the Big Tobacco playbook. It adopted a strategy to:
•Focus on personal responsibility as the cause of the nation’s unhealthy diet.
•Raise fears that government action usurps personal freedom.
•Vilify critics using totalitarian language and by characterizing them as the food police, leaders of a nanny state, and even “food fascists,” and accuse them of desiring to strip people of their civil liberties.
•Criticize studies that hurt industry as “junk science.”
•Emphasize physical activity over diet.
•State there are no good or bad foods; hence, no food or food type (soft drinks, fast foods, etc.) should be targeted for change.
•Plant doubt when concerns are raised about the industry.
This tactic was especially important for the sugar industry. The Milbank Quarterly report notes that after the World Health Organization issued a report in 2004 that called for reducing sugar intake as one of several measures to reduce obesity, the sugar lobby, “enlisted the support of officials high in the U.S. government and led a vigorous attack on both the report and the WHO. Beginning with letters to the WHO’s director general, the Sugar Association criticized both the science and the process by which the report was prepared and asked that it be stopped, or at the very least, delayed. Not receiving the desired response, the industry quickly raised the stakes when two U.S. senators, Larry Craig and John Breaux, co-chairs of the ‘U.S. Senate Sweetener Caucus,’ implored (Health and Human Services Director Tommy) Thompson to use his ‘personal intervention’ in blocking the report.”
Thompson tried to deliver, and the Sugar Association also pressured it congressweasel puppets to threaten to eliminate the United States’ then-$406 million appropriation to WHO. (That’s something that should be done, not to benefit Big Food or Big Pharma, but because such an expenditure from the Federal Treasury is simply unconstitutional. — BL)
In addition to controlling Congress and government regulatory agencies through a revolving-door system that sees people move from industry to congressional staffs to regulatory agencies and back again, Big Food has also taken control of supposed charity-research-advocacy organizations and professional organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), which claims to be devoted to “improving the nation’s health.”
In order to improve the nation’s health, it produces what it calls Nutrition Fact Sheets. Examples of these “fact sheets” are:
•“What’s a Mom to Do: Healthy Eating Tips for Families,” sponsored by Wendy’s.
•“Lamb: The Essence of Nutrient Rich Flavor,” sponsored by the Tri-Lamb Group.
•“Cocoa and Chocolate: Sweet News,” sponsored by the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition.
•“Eggs: A Good Choice for Moms-to-Be,” sponsored by the Egg Nutrition Center.
•“Adult Beverage Consumption: Making Responsible Drinking Choices,” in connection with the Distilled Spirits Council.
•“The Benefits of Chewing Gum,” sponsored by the Wrigley Science Institute.
The sponsorship of these “fact sheets” cost the company or lobbying group $20,000 and gave it editorial control over the content of the “fact sheets.”
What Big Food was successful in doing was, among other things, to cover up the role played by sugar in obesity. Its PR campaign drove the discussion away from sugar and over to a focus on activity levels and fatty foods. (Sugar is also one of the most-subsidized agricultural products in the nation.)
There’s a reason for that. Recently uncovered by a former dentist-turned-researcher for the University of California-San Francisco are documents, research and notes from scientists, executives and sugar lobbyists dating back to the 1940s detailing efforts cover up the deleterious health effects of sugar consumption.
Late one night, using a Google search, Cristin Kearns happened upon the name of famed nutritionist Ancel Keys in a book titled “Zoology Reprints and Separata, etc., Vol. 166.” Looking deeper, Kearns found copies of sugar company pamphlets with titles like “Sugar is the Foundation of All Life” and “Some Facts About the Sugar Research Foundation, Inc. and its Prize Award Program.”
Information in those led her to other papers, buried in university archives, showing how corporations influenced American research on sugar’s health effects and, of particular interest to her, sugar’s relationship to cavities.
She discovered that the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF), and its successor The International Sugar Research Foundation (supported by the fees paid by cane- and beet-sugar manufacturers), invited federal scientists to serve on panels that happened to convene just before those federal scientists were to determine what dental studies the government should fund. Following the panel sessions, the SRF sent research recommendations to a federal panel called the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) that downplayed the relationship of sugar to calories. Kearns discovered the NIDR took 78 percent of the sugar group’s recommendations.
About Kearns’ revelations, Pacific Standard magazine writes, “If sugar industry efforts skewed research about sugar’s harmful health effects, then national and international guidelines about sugar consumption are, in fact, based on flawed science.”
One example Kearns uncovered and later wrote about involved Harvard University’s School of Public Health and its founder, the late Frederick Stare. The ISRF funded 30 studies in Stare’s department between 1952 and 1956 alone. In the 1970s, Stare directed a review called “Sugar in the Diet of Man” that Food and Drug Administration Officials used to help decide whether to regulate the amount of sugar that food processors could add to food. The review cited industry-funded studies that found “conflicting” or zero links between eating too much sugar and heart disease and diabetes. The FDA then classified sugar so that it didn’t require regulation.
So just like with drugs, in which the FDA takes industry research at face value when it decides which drugs to approve and inflict on the American populace, it also takes industry research from Big Food at face value, allowing people to consume harmful and unhealthful foods and drinks without knowing the truth about their effects.
The American system is fascism through and through. And hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans perish each year because of it.
Healthcare in America is actually deathcare; and it and Big Food are nothing more than a big-dollar racket fostering unnecessary pain, suffering and death.
And as I wrote Friday, whatever the stated cause of government, it degenerates into a colossal parasite that is immoral, illegal, fraudulent and deceptive. By nature and by definition, government under any name is oppressive.
Behind it all is hidden and seductive population control. Population control lies at the heart of the New World Order.
There are many ways to subtly kill millions of people without any announcement or admission. Population control is here and now and has been a part of the American system since the beginning of the 20th century, at least.
Why does population control have such an urgent priority? I wrote about it in “How the elites make murder acceptable.”