There Is Definitely Collusion

Think of a contemporary public health risk in which industry, with the help of a federal oversight agency, keeps posing a threat to us all? Who are the major players? What are the consequences? You may have to do a bit of research, but I’ll give you at least one place to look: the pharmaceutical industry. THE RULE: once someone posts regarding a particular health threat, you may not post on that hazard again. There are more than enough threats for everyone to claim something different.

10 thoughts on “There Is Definitely Collusion

  • September 11, 2019 at 4:26 pm
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    DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) was originally developed as an insecticide in the 1940s in order to combat diseases such as malaria and typhus which were spread by mosquitoes. It was also used as a pesticide on crops and gardens. However, Rachel Carson’s famous novel “Silent Spring” published in the 70s brought to light some of the major environmental harms DDT has. Further research since then has provided evidence that even low levels of exposure to DDT cause harm to humans. It has been listed as a probable carcinogen and research has shown that it could have negative effects on reproductive capabilities. Once aware of this the EPA did ban the use of DDT in the United States. Alas, it did not ban the production of DDT in the US. The United States to this day produces DDT and sells it to countries elsewhere despite being very aware of its negative effects on people and the environment. DDT is still heavily used in India, Africa, and South America and in many cases it is still sprayed inside of people’s homes. A practice that is in fact supported by the World Health Organization as of 2006 when they promoted the continued use of it to combat malaria. It is also supported by Africa Fighting Malaria, who are very outspoken about its continued use. Not only that but many conservative groups also support the continued support of DDT, but more because they wish to promote the idea that pesticides pose no threat to humans or our environment. However, research has shown that DDT is rarely the best way to help a community rid itself of malaria. In fact they are many safer and more effective ways of eradicating insect borne diseases. Yet we still see DDT being too many country’s go to choice. The consequences of this are grim. Instead of investing in more effective and efficient ways of combating malaria and insect borne diseases, these countries are instead choosing to continue to expose their communities to a long lasting and harmful chemical.

    Articles used to gather evidence:
    https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/ddt-brief-history-and-status
    https://www.panna.org/resources/ddt-story

  • September 15, 2019 at 3:41 pm
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    Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) pose a serious threat to individuals living within close proximity. These facilities manage their waste through a lagoon system where liquid waste is stored and later sprayed as fertilizer.

    During a study between 2007-2013, Duke researchers found a correlation between proximity to CAFOs and certain health issues. They found that, “compared to communities without big hog farms, in the communities with the highest hog farm density, there were 30 percent more deaths among patients with kidney disease, 50 percent more deaths among patients with anemia, and 130 percent more deaths among patients with a blood bacterial infection, called sepsis” (Naidenko & Evans). Significantly, these communities are largely African-American, Native-American, and Hispanic. CAFO waste not only negatively affects health, it also has an impact on residents’ general quality of life—the waste ponds create widespread odors and invite insects.

    Multiple lawsuits have been brought forward in North Carolina two of which were won by community members in 2018. However, because of the high number of court cases being brought forward, North Carolina, among other states, is hoping to bolster its right to farm law, which would make suing more difficult for community members. Smithfield, the company that was sued, is the largest producer of pork in the world and claims that they have followed all laws and regulations.

    In 2005 the AFO industry (Animal Feeding Operations) funded The National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS). A group of Purdue researchers monitored 24 farms in 9 states for a period of two years. These farms all volunteered to participate. The data collected is still being analyzed by the EPA, which has not yet to released a date that their final report will be published.

    These communities face serious health risks in addition to the degradation of their quality of life, while Smithfield and other pork producers continue to profit. The EPA is currently working on analyzing a study which was funded by the AFO, while the North Carolina government is simultaneously hoping to make it harder for citizens to exercise their right to sue. Clearly profits take precedence over our nation’s rural communities.

    Sources:
    https://www.epa.gov/afos-air/national-air-emissions-monitoring-study

    https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2018/09/duke-university-study-nc-residents-living-near-large-hog-farms-have

    https://earthjustice.org/blog/2019-january/hog-waste-creates-problems-for-north-carolina-residents

    http://theconversation.com/rural-americans-struggles-against-factory-farm-pollution-find-traction-in-court-98226

  • September 17, 2019 at 12:40 am
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    The pharmaceutical industry is a global network of markets that are responsible for the development, production, and marketing of medications and drugs to provide critical healthcare for all people. While the intent behind the pharmaceutical industry seems humane and necessary in nature, this industry is just like any other large industry in capitalist economies, and they look to maximize profits. Up until recently the pharmaceutical industry has focused on development of specific drugs to help in common diseases in developed countries, such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, etc. The goal being to market these drugs and rake in the elevated cash flow from these countries. Only 4 percent of all new therapeutic products were dedicated to aiding diseases that predominantly affected developing countries, since the total revenue would be lower. Pharmaceutical companies will go beyond negligence, however, as they have been shown to corrupt drug regulatory processes and control the knowledge presented about their drugs in order to draw in customers. This behavior has lead to a widespread opiate addiction epidemic with 4.9 million nonmedical users of prescription opioids.
    Opioids are prescribed to relieve pain and depress the central and respiratory system, while often producing a euphoric feeling to users. Opioids such as oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin are becoming recurring treatments for post-surgery procedures even as common as wisdom-teeth removal. Opioids are extremely serious drugs that could lead to slow breathing, coma, and death, in addition to severe addiction. Users of opioids put themselves at a higher risk of using heroin, a much more dangerous drug, to achieve greater pain relief and euphoria once they build a tolerance from opioids. “In 2012, 335,000 people were reported as heroin users. In the United States in 2010, 16,651 deaths were reported as opiate related overdoses” (Bagalman). Despite these alarming statistics, the pharmaceutical industry has come up with ways to keep the production of these drugs continuing through placing representatives of their industry in position to influence overall economic policy. By creating a system which has far broader regulatory systems, the pharmaceutical industry can produce drugs with fewer background requirements and higher user fees. The FDA was put under resource constraints and was ignored by Congress when they asked for a budget increase (Lexchin). Thus, pharmaceutical drugs were more easily developed and produced.
    The pharmaceutical industry is an extremely wealthy and powerful industry. With such a massive spread of companies it is almost impossible to completely resolve the issue of corruption and illegal selling of opiates and other restricted potentially harmful drugs. However, ideas like Arthur Schafer’s “sequestration thesis” offers hope that the situation of drug abuse can be changed. A director of Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, he proposes that “the National Institutes of Health or its equivalent in other countries would organize and manage clinical trials and the data that come from them, with funding generated through taxes collected from the pharmaceutical industry and/or general tax revenue.59 “Drug companies would no longer directly compensate scientists for evaluating their own products; instead, scientists would work for the testing agency.” People need to start recognizing the power and influence the pharmaceutical industry has over the general population and begin to think about ways in which they can be regulated.

  • September 19, 2019 at 1:02 pm
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    Nowadays, the huge use of sugar is normalized and in fact a big cause of not only diabetes and obesity but other illnesses like heart disease. It is all around us and its consequences are usually hidden by the processed-food industry. The effects of sugar have two faces, because it is bad for our physical health but it also provokes psychological reactions that we often ignore like decrease of satiety or problems with concentration.
    Thinking about sugar as a public health risk may be surprising but it actually is, moreover when we think of how the industry has kept on introducing it in our diet making the products more tasty and addictive. An excess of sugar causes a huge peak of energy that suddenly goes down and makes us feel more tired, and is sometimes used for calming the stress but it has a two-way process by which cortisol goes down, reducing the stress, but insulin increases in tolerance, which at the same time increases stress. High levels of sugar have huge consequences in our body and metabolism.
    What really surprises me is how the industry has been able to manipulate our thoughts about certain products and made us think, with the help of the government, that they are healthy when they actually have huge quantities of sugar. The government approves that and gives this kind of products in hospitals as healthy stuff, recommend them to children and babies from their very first years and authorizes standards of health that does not correspond to what most nutritionist say.
    Sugar is not harmful for our health but anything in excess is and sugar is not an exception. The addictive effect that it provokes and the interests from the lobbyists to maintain this feeling cannot make us forget what its consumption produces in our bodies.

    Sources
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar
    https://www.health.com/nutrition/sugar-health-effects

  • September 20, 2019 at 10:53 am
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    Levels of salt consumed in the average American’s diet is a serious risk to public health. The average American consumes 3400mg of sodium a day, which is 1100mg more than the recommended 2300mg a day. This has led to one in three US adults being diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure); a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. This public health risk is costing the US healthcare system over $20 billion each year.
    It can be argued that the major players in this issue are food production companies and restaurants with 80% of all sodium consumed comes from these sources. However, the government must take some responsibility for the lack of regulation they have enforced in this industry. Even though high levels of sodium are so damaging to the population, and has been an ongoing issue for years, Trump’s administration have chosen not to address this in the 2020 USDA (US department of agriculture) dietary guidelines.
    Although there has been some effort taken by restaurants and chains, such as subway, to reduce the levels of salt in their produce, a wider government led initiative needs to be taken so that the industry is responsible for this chronic sodium intoxication across the United States. Currently, without a government initiative to motivate all industry players, companies are not willing to make the first move. There is the fear that if they lower their salt levels, their food loses flavour and they loose business. Unless the government steps in to make sure everyone is on a level playing field, companies will continue to prioritise profit over the health of their consumers.

    Sources:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/21/opinion/the-public-health-crisis-hiding-in-our-food.html

    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/sodium-public-health-concerns/

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/30/how-trump-administration-limited-scope-usdas-dietary-guidelines/

  • September 20, 2019 at 4:56 pm
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    Obesity one of the biggest problems for youth in America and the fast food industry is not keen towards solving it. Michelle Obama discovered this problem and became a pioneer and role model for encouraging health eating habitats, reducing childhood obesity, and implementing a better school lunch program through her Let’s Move! Campaign. The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act served as the vessel for her campaign to make the National School Lunch program nutritious and health conscious. This implementation was far from easy as Republican challenged the measure likely because they receive money and are endorsed by food industry giants like MARS and Coco-Cola. These giants lobby to provide sugary products to the schools and health initiatives like the one Michelle Obama proposed could hurt their bottom line. The goal to reduce childhood obesity has proved harder than first thought the CDC states rates have been “climbing from about 5% in 1974 to nearly 17% by 2008..12.7 million were obese” at the beginning of Let’s Move. Michelle Obama’s campaign has only proved successful among young children aging 2 to 5. Time Magazine points out that developing trends of health eating at a younger age may prove positive for future outcomes, but alarming changes will likely be unseen for another decade. The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity’s plan wishes by 2030 to reduce the rate of obesity to 5%, which is the equivalent of levels pre-1970. I think if public schools start to implement fair marketing principles and early education standards, then lunches can be made healthier. It first starts with disavowing the big food giants who provide incentives for the schools, states, and politicians.

    https://letsmove.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/white-house-task-force-childhood-obesity-report-president

    https://letsmove.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/TFCO_Summary_of_Recommendations.pdf

    https://www.vox.com/2016/10/3/12866484/michelle-obama-childhood-obesity-lets-move

    https://time.com/3700930/childhood-obesity-michelle-obama-lets-move/

  • September 30, 2019 at 9:54 pm
    Permalink

    The pharmaceutical industry is a global network of markets that are responsible for the development, production, and marketing of medications and drugs to provide critical healthcare for all people. While the intent behind the pharmaceutical industry seems humane and necessary in nature, this industry is just like any other large industry in capitalist economies, and they look to maximize profits. Up until recently the pharmaceutical industry has focused on development of specific drugs to help in common diseases in developed countries, such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, etc. The goal being to market these drugs and rake in the elevated cash flow from these countries. Only 4 percent of all new therapeutic products were dedicated to aiding diseases that predominantly affected developing countries, since the total revenue would be lower. Pharmaceutical companies will go beyond negligence, however, as they have been shown to corrupt drug regulatory processes and control the knowledge presented about their drugs in order to draw in customers. This behavior has lead to a widespread opiate addiction epidemic with 4.9 million nonmedical users of prescription opioids.
    Opioids are prescribed to relieve pain and depress the central and respiratory system, while often producing a euphoric feeling to users. Opioids such as oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin are becoming recurring treatments for post-surgery procedures even as common as wisdom-teeth removal. Opioids are extremely serious drugs that could lead to slow breathing, coma, and death, in addition to severe addiction. Users of opioids put themselves at a higher risk of using heroin, a much more dangerous drug, to achieve greater pain relief and euphoria once they build a tolerance from opioids. “In 2012, 335,000 people were reported as heroin users. In the United States in 2010, 16,651 deaths were reported as opiate related overdoses” (Bagalman). Despite these alarming statistics, the pharmaceutical industry has come up with ways to keep the production of these drugs continuing through placing representatives of their industry in position to influence overall economic policy. By creating a system which has far broader regulatory systems, the pharmaceutical industry can produce drugs with fewer background requirements and higher user fees. The FDA was put under resource constraints and was ignored by Congress when they asked for a budget increase (Lexchin). Thus, pharmaceutical drugs were more easily developed and produced.
    The pharmaceutical industry is an extremely wealthy and powerful industry. With such a massive spread of companies it is almost impossible to completely resolve the issue of corruption and illegal selling of opiates and other restricted potentially harmful drugs. However, ideas like Arthur Schafer’s “sequestration thesis” offers hope that the situation of drug abuse can be changed. A director of Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, he proposes that “the National Institutes of Health or its equivalent in other countries would organize and manage clinical trials and the data that come from them, with funding generated through taxes collected from the pharmaceutical industry and/or general tax revenue.59 “Drug companies would no longer directly compensate scientists for evaluating their own products; instead, scientists would work for the testing agency.” People need to start recognizing the power and influence the pharmaceutical industry has over the general population and begin to think about ways in which they can be regulated.

    Sources:
    https://congressional.proquest.com/congressional/result/pqpresultpage.gispdfhitspanel.pdflink/$2fapp-bin$2fgis-congresearch$2f0$2f7$2fe$2f3$2fcrs-2014-dsp-0361_from_1_to_3.pdf/entitlementkeys=1234%7Capp-gis%7Ccongresearch%7Ccrs-2014-dsp-0361
    https://monthlyreview.org/2018/03/01/the-pharmaceutical-industry-in-contemporary-capitalism/

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