Big Pharma, Big Food, Big Trouble

In Born With a Junk Food Deficiency, Martha Rosenberg takes on many of the outrageous practices of the pharmaceutical and food industries. With scandalous food and drug safety lapses in the news nearly every day, it might seem impossible to expose anything very startling, yet as each new disturbing chapter unfolds, Rosenberg gets deeper into the many despicable and sometimes deadly ways that these industries threaten our health.

The lengthy review of several recent drug company scandals, for example, is rife with tales of doctored studies, misleading advertising (including illegally pushing so-called “off-label” drug uses), government collusion and more. The industry’s marketing of powerful drugs to children, often for “disorders” that invented by industry to fit their cures, is a particularly disturbing development. The drug industry loves pushing its products for kids because, as one former drug rep stated, since children are “compliant” and will be forced to take their pills by their elders, they’re certain to be “repeat customers.”

What’s more, the drug pushers can (and do) take advantage of the excesses of the food industry by pushing products on younger and younger markets. Statins are widely prescribed for managing high cholesterol in adults, but who knew that they’re now prescribed to thousands of children (there’s even a chewable version of one top seller). So obese kids don’t need to cut out the chips and get off the couch- they can just take drugs! As one expert wrote, “Imagine a 10-year-old who loves his fast food and who knows he can get away with it if he pops his pills.”

So that kid becomes a great customer for the drug pushers and for the industrial food industry.  Among other horrors, Rosenberg exposes how veterinarians overwhelmingly side with factory animal farms against animal welfare advocates on issues like confined living conditions, hormone use, and overuse of antibiotics. The vets are often joined by the pharm industry front group, the Animal Health Institute, a coalition of the major drug companies. Their main priority is to insure that no government regulations get in the way of more and more drug use by factory animal farms – regardless of decades of warnings from doctors and public health advocates that the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs in humans is linked to the overuse of antibiotics by factory farms.

Then we learn about genetically modified (GM) foods and the absurd FDA process for approval of GM salmon. Recounting one moment at an FDA hearing on the untested Frankenfish, Rosenberg notes how the salmon company executives and FDA regulators both lauded the results of a study purporting to show that the GM fish would not pose allergy problems. But when confronted with obvious statistical errors, technical flaws, and skewed data from the study, the agency had no answers. Rosenberg writes, “Could anyone in the government or [the company] count? Could anyone design a valid study? ….Why, if the science is so flawed, is the salmon even under consideration?”

There’s much more in Born With a Junk Food Deficiency to make you lose your appetite. But it will also make you anxious to change the systems that put our families’ and children’s health at risk. Give it a read today.