Agriculture, Beverages & Food
One of the world's biggest tobacco companies aims to make billions of pounds from the diseases caused by cigarette smoking through deals with biotech companies for the exclusive rights to market future lung cancer vaccines.
Agricultural workers and their families are being poisoned, rural lands, forests, oceans and waters are devastated, biodiversity is being destroyed, and food is unfit for human consumption. With these words, 140 participants from 17 countries at the First Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific Congress in Manila last week warned the world that industrial agriculture as conducted by transnational corporations is undermining the resources needed to sustain food production.
EuropaBio, the European biotech lobby group, has recently suffered a major blow when it had to cancel its annual congress. The Fourth Annual European Biotechnology Congress was scheduled to take place in Edinburgh, Scotland on October 9-13. According to the Dutch daily newspaper, De Volkskrant, EuropaBio, ''cannot deny that the conference was cancelled due to the fierce critique of genetic engineering in the UK and the resulting lack of sponsors.''
Today's meat packing industry relies increasingly on high-speed, treacherous disassembly lines. Perhaps that's why Tyson Foods, Inc. -- a giant in a flourishing industry -- is working to take apart a union that prioritizes safety over speed.
The tobacco industry offers a compelling case study in the breakdown of democratic principles. Facing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of their deadly product in the US, tobacco giants Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco set the pace for the spending frenzy of 1996. Philip Morris was the #1 contributor overall in the federal election cycle, and spent over $12 million to lobby federal officials in just the first six months of the election year. RJR Nabisco was a top corporate donor, especially of unregulated ''soft'' money, and is a pioneer in ''astroturf'' lobbying to rally its consumers behind the corporate agenda.
DBCP, or dibromochloropropane, is one of the pesticides used on Nicaragua's banana plantations in the 1970s. Workers say it has affected 22,000 people, directly or indirectly, and that DBCP-related illnesses have already killed at least 83 of their comrades.
The Yerisiam Gua indigenous community of West Papua filed a complaint six months ago against a Sri Lankan owned conglomerate for taking over their land to create a palm oil plantation. To this day, the industry body charged with oversight has yet to formally respond to their concerns.
Here is a statement from John R. Garrison, the CEO of the American Lung Association on the global tobacco bailout.