Report Blames Giant Food and Beverage Companies for Contributing to Chronic Diseases Worldwide

International research team calls for government oversight to rein in multinational food and drink companies. In an analysis of the practices of “unhealthy commodity” companies, researchers from Australia, Britain, Brazil and elsewhere said industry self-regulation has failed. The researchers said that, through the aggressive marketing of ultra-processed food and drink, multinational companies were now major drivers of the world’s growing epidemic of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Writing in The Lancet medical journal, the researchers also said the multinational companies have relied on strategies similar to those used by the tobacco industry to undermine public health policies globally. Reuters

U.S. advisory panel urges more research into environmental causes of breast cancer. The report by the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee notes that most cases of breast cancer “occur in people with no family history,” suggesting that “environmental factors — broadly defined — must play a major role” in the disease. Yet only a fraction of federal research funding has gone toward examining links between breast cancer and widespread chemicals such as the plastic hardening agent BPA; the herbicide atrazine; and dioxin, a byproduct of plastics manufacturing. The report says exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals “can be especially dangerous.” The Center for Public Integrity

Advocacy groups demand broadened probe of Environmental Protection Agency. At issue is whether the EPA behaved improperly when it abruptly dropped enforcement actions against a gas driller it had accused of contaminating water in Texas. In all, 86 groups wrote to the EPA’s inspector general to ask that he widen an existing probe into the agency. They cited a report that the EPA had evidence linking Range Resources to water tainted with explosive methane and cancer-causing benzene in Weatherford, near Fort Worth. Range Resources said the EPA dropped demands that it provide affected families with clean water and locate the contamination source after the driller threatened not to cooperate with a national fracking study. The Associated Press

Flying on a commercial jetliner has never been safer. Four years have passed since the last fatal crash in the U.S., a record unmatched since propeller planes gave way to jets more than half a century ago. Globally, last year was the safest since 1945, with 23 deadly accidents and 475 fatalities. That was less than half the 1,147 deaths, in 42 crashes, in 2000. One expert calculates that, in the last five years, the death risk for passengers in the U.S. has been one in 45 million flights — meaning that a traveler could fly every day for an average of 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash. Reasons for improvement include new navigation and warning technology; more information-sharing about hazards and regulators’ more proactive safety measures. The New York Times

Florida bottling plant accused of 12 safety violations after fatal accident. The charges by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration against the Bacardi Bottling plant in Jacksonville, Fla., followed the death of a 21-year-old temporary worker in August on his first day on the job. The worker, who was cleaning glass from under heavy equipment, was crushed when another worker restarted the machine. OSHA accused Bacardi of, among other things, failing to train temporary employees on the safe use of equipment. Two of the offenses were classified as willfull, OSHA’s most serious charge. It proposed fines of $192,000. Bacardi said it has taken steps to “resolve all safety and health matters identified by OSHA.” The Florida Times-Union, First Coast NewsOSHA

 Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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