Sunday 12 June 2011

Bashing Diageo

From the Beeb:

Drinks company Diageo is to pay for 10,000 midwives in England and Wales to be trained to offer advice on the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy.

The Department of Health hopes the training initiative will in turn help more than one million expectant mothers over three years.

This sounds like pretty good news. I imagine that nearly all women are aware they should drink little or nothing during pregnancy already—indeed, only 4% do not reduce their drinking when they get pregnant—but no doubt there is more that could be done. So this sounds like a sensible scheme to prevent damage to unborn children, based on solid evidence that heavy drinking can cause Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is very happy about it...

Susan Fleisher, from the charity, said the scheme would have have huge benefits.

"The thing that's so fantastic is that they're helping us with prevention, we can actually prevent children being born with foetal alcohol brain damage," she said.

"But it costs money, and thanks to Diageo we expect we will be educating in the next three years 10,000 midwives. Ultimately, if it all goes well, they will reach at least a million women."

Hurrah! Everyone's a winner and no need for bans, taxes or coercion. What kind of misery-guts could possibly find reason for gripe about this?

Vivienne Nathanson from British Medical Association said there were concerns over the scheme.

"They certainly have a conflict of interest because it's in the interest of the drinks industry for people to continue to drink and it's in the interest of health for people to drink much less, and certainly not to drink during pregnancy or to drink really minimally."

Only someone whose income has always comes from the state could interpret the role of business in such a simple-minded and misanthropic manner. As far as Nathanson is concerned, if it wasn't for the angels of government, the drinks industry would be telling pregnant women that drinking makes babies big and strong while selling whisky doped with heroin outside schools.

Because businesses only cares about profit, don'cha know? It's not as if they're run by men of flesh and blood who want the world to be a better place like the rest of us do. No, they want babies to be born retarded and adults to die of liver disease. And if this kills their customers and ruins their company's reputation, then so be it, because not only are business-owners fiendishly clever, they are—by a strange paradox—also incredibly stupid.

At least, that's how it is if your understanding of business started and ended when you read a book by Naomi Klein, as seems to be the case with most 'public health professionals'.

There is an element of sour grapes here because, as I mentioned in March, a bunch of fake charities and temperance groups—including the BMA—spat their dummy out and "walked away from the table" in protest at the government including industry in these discussions. And a good thing too. The policy announced today is the kind of reasonable, effective and efficient use of money they would have dismissed out of hand.

Over at The Guardianwhere naysayers dominate the news story—none other than Anna Gilmore, professor of no fixed ability, tries to join in the industry-bashing...

But Prof Anna Gilmore, a public health expert from Bath University, said there was a fundamental conflict of interest in the "responsibility deal". She said: "These large corporations, whether they sell tobacco, food or alcohol, are legally obliged to maximise shareholder returns. They therefore have to oppose any policies that could reduce sales and profitability – in other words, the most effective policies."

Sorry? Corporations are "legally obliged" to maximise shareholder returns? I know Labour made a lot of laws when they were in power but I hadn't heard of this one. Have there been many prosecutions? Do business get raided by police if they launch a duff product? Are there advertising executives languishing in jail for making poor use of the marketing budget?

Or is this just more proof of Anna Gilmore's estrangement from reality? It's almost as if she's being sponsored to go around getting things wrong on as many different subjects as she can. No wonder Uncle Stan looks so proud.

UPDATE: Leggy has more on this, including a gem of a quote from that massive hypocrite Don Shenker.


Bill Gibson said...

Another twist, look who is listed with competing interests within the Pharma / UK Tobacco Control, yes Anne Gilmore

Leg-iron said...

'4% did not reduce their intake'

It's entirely possible that four percent of any group of women are non-drinkers, therefore cannot reduce their intake below zero unless they magically develop the ability to piss gin.

Should such a woman exist, my phone number is...

Christopher Snowdon said...


Although it's never safe to assume a degree of competence from these folk, I expect they excluded non-drinkers from the sample. More than 10% of women are teetotallers.


Anonymous said...

@ LI

The same sort of thing applies to people going to pubs.

According to the ONS survey (which Snowdon has talked about recently), which ASH rely upon to claim that pubs have not suffered since the smoking ban, the following facts apply:

No change to pub going habits (just one particular set of figures):




ASH are trying to say that these figure show that there has been hardly any change, but wait! Taking just the men, in 2008, 21% said that their habits have changed. That is a lot of people, if the 21% are the regular drinkers. The 79% could easily be those people who only go to pubs once every blue moon, for all we know. So the % of people who said that their habits have not changed went up to 80% in 2009. (Is that 80% of the 79%?) So what? The same considerations apply. Other figures relate to 'going more often than before' and 'going less often than before', but the same ideas apply there too.

MSM headlines:


Chances of seeing that headline?

Anonymous said...

Anna Gilmore and Naomi Klein are both left wing and, as such, have a view of business and free markets (or 'capitalism' in their minds) that hasn't changed in 50 years that I know of. You only have to watch that stupid BBC programme The apprentice to see the infantile view they have of 'business'.

You see we're all ruthless, self interested, cannibals with no care or concern for anything other than profit. These people never went away in the 80's and 90's, they just changed their appearance to hide behind different 'causes' but still with the same agenda.

DaveA said...

It does not seem that FAS is that common <0.3%. Which is in line with the accepted scotch on the cornflakes in the morning figure of 0.4%.

"Catchment data on the incidence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are derived from the Birth Defects Monitoring Program of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (13). Based on data from 1,500 hospitals, CDC reported the nationwide incidence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to be 0.3-0.9 per 10,000 births (excluding Native Americans). In contrast, Abel and Sokol (10) surveyed 19 published epidemiologic studies worldwide. The overall rate from all studies was 1.9 cases per 1,000 live births. The average for retrospective studies surveyed by Abel and Sokol was 2.9 per 1,000, compared with 1.1 per 1,000 for prospective studies."

Ivan D said...

So it isn’t OK for commercial companies to fund health initiatives unless the monies are controlled by political extremists riding high on the public health gravy train? Failed medics like Anna Gilmore should be grateful that their own performances are not subject to the same scrutiny as any of those who actually have to work for a living. No doubt Anna will come up with some statistical trick to explain why this straightforward initiative will be disastrous for public health. Why not? When she lied about heart attacks and smoking bans, the BBC lapped it up and the taxpayer funded her through her mate Kevin Barron and the less than incorruptible DH.

Aconite said...

'4% did not reduce their intake'

What a load of crap !! The majority of women are not total piss heads and would see no need to reduce their 'intake'

A few gin and tonics or glasses of wine are not going to cause a baby to be born half pissed.

These 96% of women who say that they have reduced their alcohol intake are just saying that to keep the quacks happy.

Maybe the odd few health freaks do a zero alcohol during pregnancy, but the rest just carry on as usual until they get heartburn.

That is the reason that most women stop drinking while pregnant.

Anonymous said...

Silly question I know, but what did women do in the bad old days when the water was not safe to drink and everyone drank small beer or wine? Were thousands of fetal alcohol syndrome babies born in the middle ages? Was this common in Ancient Rome, classical Greece? I think the answer is probably no, but bigger problems like giving birth to a live child, surviving the whole process and then keeping the sprog alive for more than a year were probably higher on peoples list of priorities in those days. It seems to me that the less we have to worry about the more hysterical we get. I recall reading a "health" article in one of the "quality" newspapers advising pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid spicy food. That's it for Asian women then, nothing to eat for at least a year.