Monday 3 February 2014

'Secret' meetings with ministers

From the Daily Mail...

How food giants sweet talk ministers: Sugar campaigners' fears over 'secret stitch-up' meetings

The food industry lobby has been given unprecedented access to the heart of government, a Daily Mail investigation has found.

Fast food companies, supermarkets, restaurant chains and chocolate and fizzy drinks firms have had dozens of meetings with ministers.

... Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘These meetings are an example of how the industry has a charmed route into the corridors of power that is denied to everyone else."

This bears an uncanny resemblance to the Daily Mail's story of January 8th...

Anger at 'shabby truth' of meetings between ministers and drinks industry in weeks before minimum alcohol pricing was axed

David Cameron today faced claims the government caved in to pressure from the drinks industry to ditch plans to impose minimum alcohol pricing.

Ministers met drinks firms, trade bodies and supermarkets dozens of times before dropping the policy last year.

Tory MP Sarah Wollaston said condemned the ‘shabby truth’ which had emerged while Labour accused the Prime Minister of ‘cosying up to vested interests’.

The first story is pretty much a carbon copy of the second, but with the word 'drinks' replaced with 'food'. Public health lobbyists know a good template when they see one.

The same comments can be made of both these 'stories'.

1. The food industry is made up of many different companies, all of which deserve to have meetings with the government.

2. Many of the 'health groups' have thrown their toys out of the pram and walked out of the government's Responsibility Deal and have therefore resigned their seat at the table.

3. The meetings were not 'secret', hence the Daily Mail being able to get the details of them by simply asking.

4. Unless we know how many meetings have been held between the government and the 'health groups', we have no way of knowing whether there is an imbalance of access. Neither last month's BMJ hatchet job on the alcohol industry nor today's pisspoor (and yet front page) investigation at the Mail gives us these figures.

I would be very interested to know how many meetings the National Obesity Forum, the UK Faculty of Public Health, Action on Sugar, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Medical Association and all the other authoritarian special interest groups have held with ministers but they are secret no one has asked. I suspect the number is large and that the health lobby has an influence that far exceeds its level of public support.

The idea that the food industry has exceptional access while the 'health groups' are left out in the cold is ridiculous, as unwittingly demonstrated by the anti-sugar clown Aseem Malhotra when he pointed his Twitter followers towards the Mail's story earlier today.



JohnB said...


Chris, you might be interested.
They’re at it again – “thirdhand smoke”. A mice study produced these conclusions:

The most important finding of this study is the clear similarity between our results in THS-exposed mice under conditions that simulate human exposure and the studies in humans described above. This is particularly evident in the hyperactive behavior of THS-exposed mice that validates previously existing correlative data in children exposed to SHS/THS and the impaired healing in THS-exposed mice that parallels the reluctance of surgeons to operate on smokers for fear of their surgical wounds reopening [41]. Also very important is that THS-exposed mice exhibit changes in liver metabolism that, in humans, have important implications for development of metabolic syndrome, a condition that predisposes humans to stroke, coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes [34]–[36]. In the lung, the combined alterations in the alveoli and the elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokines suggest an increased risk for fibrosis, with potential consequences for tissue scarring and decreased oxygen diffusion. Lastly, in terms of real world consequences for children of smoking parents, a recent study showed that children living with 1–2 adults who smoke in the home, where SHS and its residues (THS) are abundant, were absent 40% more days from school due to illness than children who did not live with smokers [48].

There is still much to learn about the specific mechanisms by which cigarette smoke residues (THS) harm nonsmokers but that there is such an effect is now clear. Our studies in mice that are never exposed to smoke itself but are exposed to residues of the smoke, strongly implicate tobacco smoke residues in these pathologies. It follows that children in environments where smoking is, or has been allowed, are at significant risk for suffering from multiple short-term and longer health problems, many of which may not manifest fully until later in life.

And to what end?
These results provide a basis for studies on the toxic effects of THS in humans and inform potential regulatory policies to prevent involuntary exposure to THS.

To prevent involuntary exposure to THS!!!!!!

JohnB said...

The study was funded by TRDRP, a funding pool for antismoking research.

And take a look at the study authors. There are quite a number of long-time antismoking maniacs:
Manuela Martins-Green , Neema Adhami, Michael Frankos, Mathew Valdez, Benjamin Goodwin, Julia Lyubovitsky, Sandeep Dhall, Monika Garcia, Ivie Egiebor, Bethanne Martinez, Harry W. Green, Christopher Havel, Lisa Yu, Sandy Liles, Georg Matt, Hugo Destaillats, Mohammed Sleiman, Laura A. Gundel, Neal Benowitz, Peyton Jacob III, Melbourne Hovell, Jonathan P. Winickoff, Margarita Curras-Collazo

Take a look at the proposal for the grant from Martins-Green:

These studies will lend themselves to preparation of educational materials that can be provided to adults who smoke to raise their awareness of the impact that their smoking can have on their children and elderly parents. Furthermore, these studies will also help adult smokers understand that their family members are severely affected if they undergo surgery and return to a THS-polluted environment because their healing process will be not only be altered but will also be significantly delayed. Finally, the proposed work will benefit the public by providing a better understanding of the cause of impaired healing among individuals who are constantly exposed to Third Hand Smoke, i.e. smokers themselves, children and elderly parents in households of smokers, waiters and waitresses in bars and housekeepers in hotels or houses of smokers.

She seems to know the results of the study before it had been conducted. And, yes, that’s a $250,000 grant!

proglodyte said...

from 2011

'A charity which criticised the Government for accepting money from junk food companies was itself secretly paid £50,000 by Coca-Cola to promote low-calorie sweeteners.

The National Obesity Forum signed a deal with Coca-Cola in January, a few months after trustee Tam Fry had said he was ‘horror-struck’ at plans for such companies to provide cash to back public health campaigns.

Mr Fry, 75, is understood to have brokered the Coca-Cola deal, despite accusing the Government last July of being ‘bribed’ by fast food giants.'

JohnB said...

Chris, the latest “thirdhand smoke” study is doing the rounds of the media. How’s this for a headline:

We have a small group of antismoking maniacs feeding from the trough of antismoking funding that have created, through a handful of “studies”, a “catastrophe” out of nothing. And within just a short time, with the assistance of stupid journalists/editors, we’ve arrived at “Third-Hand Smoke Exposure As Deadly As Smoking”.

JohnB said...

Chris, more on the unfolding madness (from Glasgow).

T.J. Samson enforces thirdhand smoke policy
T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow has a thirdhand smoke policy for all employees, including those who are under contract.

“Thirdhand smoke is smoke that is on a person’s body, on their clothing, on their hair,” said
Laura Belcher, chief of planning and business development for the hospital. “Just like excessive perfumes and colognes may be difficult for people with breathing conditions to be around, now we’ve added tobacco as well.”

“They have to maintain a dress code, and that includes smoke residue. If they cannot do that during their work time or break time, their option is to keep from smoking,” she said. “If you (or a patient) smell it on that person, you’re supposed to address them.”

Action will be taken against those who fail to adhere to the policy, starting with a verbal warning and continuing through the chain of discipline, Belcher said. Employees could be fired if they do not comply.

“By no means do we want that to happen, but we want to provide a safe environment for our patients and our employees,” she said.

“As a health care provider, we see firsthand how third-hand exposure affects individuals. Exposure to those residues has a negative impact on a person’s health. It can be very irritating,” she said. “This doesn’t only affect patients, but also coworkers. When you bring coats back in the building and store them together, it can be overwhelming.”

Thirdhand smoke is dangerous, said Carol Douglas, health educator at the Barren River District Health Department. She has been reading the University of Kentucky College of Nursing’s Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy at, which has information about thirdhand smoke.
“It has cancer-causing agents and can cause respiratory issues just like smoking and secondhand smoke,” she said.”

It’s not limited to just the body, Douglas said.

“It’s any of the particles that would be on surfaces long after the smoke is gone. It can react with other chemicals to create pollution,” she said.

This means that cleaning or painting places such as rental property, hotel and motel rooms or vehicles where smoking has occurred does not get rid of the danger of thirdhand smoke, Douglas said.
“Cleaning can stir it up. Once smoking has occurred in those areas, it’s going to persist. No one is going to be able to get it out of everything, especially porous surfaces like carpeting and upholstery,” she said. “It’s basically impossible to get out all of the stuff once that occurs, but some say it can be gotten out of hard surfaces by using acidic solutions like vinegar.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up….. unless, of course, you’re an antismoking nutcase. For antismoking nutcases this inflammatory drivel comes naturally. And these people (i.e., nitwits) are in charge of “health”. They’re using the University of Kentucky College of Nursing’s Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy as the “authority”. Unbelievable!

JohnB said...

That's Glasgow, Kentucky

Junican said...

Myth, superstition and miasma.