Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/753/16192
Self-regulation: 'Like having the burglars install your locks'
Calls for a tax on fizzy drinks have sparked hurt outrage among manufacturers. How could they be accused of doing anything wrong when all they want is to bring health and happiness to the world!
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges proposed testing a 20% tax for a year and said that the estimated £1 billion it would raise could be used to help fund weight management programmes. Obesity, which sugary drinks contribute to, affects one in four adults.
The response from the British Retail Consortium, which includes Burger King, McDonalds and KFC, was reported in the Guardian: "It's wrong to demonise any particular type of food or food outlet.
What our members are hugely engaged in is encouraging healthy balanced diets and giving customers the choices and information they need." Ahem...
For the Con-Dem government 'self-regulation' has, unsurprisingly, been the name of the game to tackle health-related issues.
But self-regulation is a sick joke. One academic writing for the Lancet commented: "It is like having the burglars install your locks. You think it might work and you are safe but you are not."
This is not the only way the food industry influences government. Huge amounts are spent on lobbying politicians to delay or prevent regulating policy that can damage profit, regardless of its effect on health.
The Independent reported that Tesco spent five years and £4 million opposing the introduction of the red, amber and green "traffic light" system for the labelling of food's nutritional values - the preferred method of the Food Standards Agency.
In the US, with a food industry worth $1.2 trillion annually, food inspections are being privatised, ie allowing self-regulation by the industry. Producers can set the guidelines for testing.
One example of the fatal consequences was reported by Salon last October: "A Colorado melon farm was audited by a for-profit inspection company in 2011 with top safety ratings, just before its fruit was causing the deadliest outbreak of foodborne disease in the US in nearly 100 years."
Internationally big business food production is burrowing its way into policy-making and gradually (or rapidly) poisoning us all for their profits.
We can't trust them to self-regulate. We can't trust capitalist politicians to resist their lobbying and regulate them to ensure our health.
The only way to do that, as well as taking measures to protect the land and the environment, is for food production to be democratically owned and planned to meet need, not profit. That requires socialism.
- Sales of soft drinks across the world have more than doubled in the past decade, to $532 billion; in India, Brazil and China sales of fizzy drinks have more than quadrupled.
- Sugary drinks accounted for at least 20% of America's weight gain between 1977 and 2007, according to research at the University of California, Berkeley.
- The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. The book which changed US food law £8.99
- Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel £8.99
- Belching Out the Devil: Global adventures with Coca-Cola by Mark Thomas. £7.99
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In The Socialist 20 February 2013:
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