First You Get The Sugar, Then You Get The Lobbyists, Then You Get The Cover-Ups

oh what a world

Sugar. As American as Apple Pie-Flavored "juice drink." We love it. But documents recently unearthed at the University of California at San Francisco show the Sugar Lobby lurks as an underrated lobbying titan, replete with all the self-serving propaganda that inflated their members' bottom lines and endangered public health.

Let's take you back to the early '60s. The Cold War raged. Racial tensions surged. We were all Spartacus. Studies tying heart disease to high-sugar diets confronted Americans right in their smug M&M-smeared faces. They were not the greatest diet generation.

That's when a group of sugar shills sprung into action to defend the sweetness of a product which, despite its sordid history of imperialist motivation, was number one in Americans' diseased hearts.

The documents show that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.

Propping up the sugar industry is one thing. But impugning the character of our fatty treats? That's not the sugar/fat shame spiral that we deserve.

For many decades, health officials encouraged Americans to reduce their fat intake, which led many people to consume low-fat, high-sugar foods that some experts now blame for fueling the obesity crisis.

Put down that bacon and have a tasty diet soda. Your heart will clap weakly in appreciation. The doctor might call that an arrhythmia, but who knows better -- medical professionals or industry lobbyists? Or even better, medical professionals paid by the industry lobbyists? If this all sounds a little like how the tobacco industry went to war against science, it should -- and if you haven't read Merchants of Doubt, you certainly need to. (Buy it with the linky and kick back some money to Yr Wonkette!)

In any case, all this alleged sugar propaganda is ancient history.

In June, The Associated Press reported that candy makers were funding studies that claimed that children who eat candy tend to weigh less than those who do not.

Touting undernourished children makes sense. Can you even imagine the low obesity rates among children who eat methamphetamine?

Opioid producer knows which drug poses a danger to your kids (hint: not an opioid)

Speaking of drugs, let's talk about pot, maaaaannn. But let's start with the opposite of pot - the insanely dangerous synthetic opioid Fentanyl. DO NOT DO THE FENTANYL!

Insys Therapeutics, maker of a Fentanyl spray called Subsys, recently donated $500,000 toward defeating a Arizona ballot initiative that would make recreational use of marijuana legal. A truly selfless Corporate Person -- digging into its own pockets to make it a little more difficult for kids to get their hands on the demon weed.

Insys made its large contribution to the anti-legalization campaign group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy on Aug. 31, according to information posted online by the Arizona secretary of state's office.

After they defeat legal weed (they probably won't defeat legal weed), these "Responsible Drug Policy" Arizonans might want to turn their attention to one of its shadier corporate citizens. Subsys is Insys's only product so it's almost like the company depends on the continued use of a product that's 50 times stronger than morphine. We are not surprised that the U.S. Attorney recently charged two former Insys employees in an illegal kickback scheme that encouraged physicians to prescribe loads of Subsys. We are not surprised that the Illinois Attorney General alleges that Insys pushed the drug on doctors to subsequently push on patients in blatant disregard for patient health. OK, we get it, they're shady. Water is wet (even if there's no water in Arizona). But how does this tie into the legalization of recreational marijuana use?

From 2011 through at least last year, Insys also sold a second product: a generic equivalent to Marinol, a synthetic version of the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which the Food and Drug Administration allows for treatment of cancer and HIV-related symptoms like nausea and loss of appetite, which cannabis advocates say the raw plant material can treat without a corporate middleman. Insys said in its August filing it has no plans to resume those sales, though it is preparing a similar drug.

Like the Sugar Lobby finding another heart disease scapegoat, pharmaceutical interest in combating drug legalization is quintessentially American as well. The only part missing is how industry exploits some terrible (possibly made up) crime committed by drugged up immigrants or African-Americans to stir up a frenzied and scurred public. Then the corporate persons' purchased politicians and media magnates pass their draconian drug legislation. And of course: Profit. Maybe we can try this strategy to strictly limit the proliferation of Fentanyl -- which, after all, killed fucking Prince. But nah, maybe just keep arresting people smoking joints in movie theater parking lots.

[NYT / US News]


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