The fast food industry is notorious for handing out lean paychecks to their burger flippers and fat ones to their CEOs. What’s less well-known is that taxpayers are actually subsidizing fast food incomes at both the bottom — and top — of the industry.
Take, for example, Yum Brands, which operates the Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut chains. Wages for the corporation’s nearly 380,000 U.S. workers are so low that many of them have to turn to taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs just to get by. The National Employment Law Project estimates that Yum Brands’ workers draw nearly $650 million in Medicaid and other public assistance annually.
Meanwhile, at the top end of the company’s pay ladder, CEO David Novak pocketed $94 million over the years 2011 and 2012 in stock options gains, bonuses and other so-called “performance pay.” That was a nice windfall for him, but a big burden for the rest of us taxpayers.
Under the current tax code, corporations can deduct unlimited amounts of such “performance pay” from their federal income taxes. In other words, the more corporations pay their CEO, the lower their tax burden. Novak’s $94 million payout, for example, lowered YUM’s IRS bill by $33 million. Guess who makes up the difference?
Combined, these firms’ CEOs pocketed more than $183 million in fully deductible “performance pay” in 2011 and 2012, lowering their companies’ IRS bills by an estimated $64 million. To put that figure in perspective, it would be enough to cover the average cost of food stamps for 40,000 American families for a year.My new Institute for Policy Studies report calculates the cost to taxpayers of this “performance pay” loophole at all of the top six publicly held fast food chains — McDonald’s, Yum, Wendy’s, Burger King, Domino’s, and Dunkin’ Brands.
People have know for at least a century that cranberries can help combat urinary tract infections but scientists are only now beginning to understand how. Canadian researchers exposed bacteria that cause the infections to cranberry powder and discovered that cranberries damage bacteria’s ability to grow the whip-like flagella appendages they use to move around, LiveScience finds. The bacteria almost completely lost the ability to swim and swarm—an ability that can be especially dangerous in urinary tract bacteria.
Even Proteus mirabilis—described as a “really aggressive swarmer” that can cause serious infections in catheterized patients—was crippled by the cranberry powder. The powder could be a very valuable treatment because it disables bacteria to be flushed out harmlessly by the body, whereas antibiotics kill most but not all bacteria, leading to hardy strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. One problem was the the concentration of cranberries most effective against bacteria was higher than what you would find even in a regular drinker of cranberry juice, so researchers are looking at embedding cranberry powder directly into catheters.
It’s tempting to call David Perlmutter’s dietary advice radical.
The neurologist and president of the Perlmutter Health Center in Naples, Fla., believes all carbs, including highly touted whole grains, are devastating to our brains.
He claims we must make major changes in our eating habits as a society to ward off terrifying increases in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia rates.
And yet Perlmutter argues that his recommendations are not radical at all. In fact, he says, his suggested menu adheres more closely to the way mankind has eaten for most of human history.
What’s deviant, he insists, is our modern diet. Dementia, chronic headaches, depression, epilepsy and other contemporary scourges are not in our genes, he claims. “It’s in the food you eat,” Perlmutter writes in his bestselling new book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar — Your Brain’s Silent Killers. “The origin of brain disease is in many cases predominantly dietary.”
NASA is bravely venturing into new scientific territory with a plan to start growing plants on the moon no later than 2015. The experiment is designed to yield important knowledge about life’s long-term chances in space – including for us.
The initiative comes courtesy of the Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team – a small group of scientists, students, volunteers and contractors – who plan to install specially-designed containers about the size of a coffee can, in which the plants will be encased, complete with sensors, cameras and other devices that will be relaying information down to Earth.
This is to be the first life sciences project conducted on another world and is ambitious about exploring opportunities for future human life support, apart from the obvious benefits of learning more about growing life in extreme temperatures.
The dream is to be able to freely live on the moon for decades on end – instead of hours. Follow-up experiments are already in the making.
Morrissey has given his public support of Russell Brand’s call to abstain from voting in rebellion against the ‘broken political system’.
The singer said he agreed with the comedian that “the most powerful vote you can give is No Vote”.
In a 2,000 word tirade ranging from the monarchy to Sarah Palin, the singer said: “Thank you to Russell Brand for standing up and speaking out in recent weeks.
“Like Russell, I believe that the most powerful vote you can give is No Vote; for the days of Prime Ministers have gone, and it’s time for a form of change that is far more meaningful than simply switching blue to red.”
In a typically impassioned rant that spared no member of the British establishment, Morrissey railed against David Cameron, Princess Anne, Pippa Middleton, PJ Harvey, Jamie Oliver, the Queen, David Beckham, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William.
New Harvard research provides the strongest evidence to date that eating nuts can reduce a person’s risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and a number of other causes.
The study, published Wednesday in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine,involved more than 118,000 healthy volunteers and found that those who regularly consumed a one-ounce daily serving of walnuts, almonds, cashews or other tree nuts had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from any cause during the three-decade long study compared to those who did not eat nuts.
Nut eaters were 25 percent less likely to die from heart disease, 10 percent less likely to die from cancer, and 20 percent less likely to die from diabetes as well as lung diseases. The study found that nut eaters enjoyed longer lifespans even if they did not exercise, avoided fruits and vegetables, and were overweight.
Five major banks made an estimated £2.2 billion over two years from betting on the price of food including wheat, maize and soy, which has sparked accusations that they have been profiting off a global hunger crisis.
[...] Investment banks Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley made this haul through betting on the global commodity markets, with a £640 million from speculating on food in 2012 alone, according to anti-poverty group the World Development Movement.
Campaigners fear that the banks’ financial speculation fuels price spikes and can send food prices soaring.
Limitless growth is the fantasy of economists, businesses and politicians. It is seen as a measure of progress. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP), which is supposed to measure the wealth of nations, has emerged as both the most powerful number and dominant concept in our times. However, economic growth hides the poverty it creates through the destruction of nature, which in turn leads to communities lacking the capacity to provide for themselves.
The concept of growth was put forward as a measure to mobilise resources during the second world war. GDP is based on creating an artificial and fictitious boundary, assuming that if you produce what you consume, you do not produce. In effect , “growth” measures the conversion of nature into cash, and commons into commodities.
The latest Oxfam video campaign has taken aim at the biggest giants in the sugar industry, accusing them of massive land grabs and the displacement of poor farmers across the world.
“The companies that supply your favorite food brands with sugar may be kicking poor farmers off their lands and out of their homes…Tell Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co and Associated British Foods to make sure their sugar doesn’t lead to land grabs,” demands Oxfam in the new video.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that commodity behemoth Cargill plans to spend up to $2 billion to buy agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland’s (ADM’s) cocoa business. If the deal goes through, it’ll be the second massive industry tie-up of the year: in July, Switzerland-based chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut scooped up the cocoa unit of Petra Foods for $860 million, becoming the world’s largest cocoa processor.
Once fully completed, the two deals will bring more than 60 percent of the world market for cocoa processing under the control of two companies — the latest step in a slow consolidation of the industry that has been ongoing for decades.
While the big companies who buy from these processors — Hershey’s, Mars — don’t have much to fear, independent chocolatiers around the world are anxious that the deals could not only result in higher prices, but also sap diversity, as these new choco-superpowers no longer have to cater to the special taste and texture requests of smaller producers. But the deals have also got experts worried about the well-being of the people who sell the raw materials to companies like Cargill and Callebaut: cocoa bean farmers, often from the world’s poorest countries, who now may face even lower prices for their products.
“We’re doing this for your own protection.” Protesters with the Australian group BurgerOff are hearing a similar phrase from McDonald’s. The fast food giant is suing protestors who object to the birth of a new McDonald’s restaurant near an elementary school. What’s more, Mickey D’s (slang for McDonald’s) is saying that the lawsuit is for the protesters’ own protection. It isn’t clear what this protection is against, unless McDonald’s thinks they can protect people from good health.
Nearly 100,000 people from Australia, mostly in the town of Tecoma, have signed a petition seeking to stop McDonald’s from building there. But McDonald’s doesn’t care what the people want.
Members of the group BurgerOff, so committed to keeping Ronald and the Fry Guys out, recently flew around the world to deliver their petition to McDonald’s global headquarters near Chicago. Not only were they not given an audience with the company’s execs, but representatives refused to even touch the petition.
The battle for Tecoma has been going on for more than two years. McDonald’s wants to build one of their 24-hour drive-thrus near an elementary school, a location townspeople say would serve as a giant advertisement affecting their smallest citizens. Tecomans don’t want the restaurant there, or anywhere near them.
Voters in Washington on Tuesday rejected Initiative 522, a ballot measure to label groceries containing genetically engineered ingredients that was leading in the polls for weeks before big biotech and processed food companies injected millions of dollars into the campaign, including more than $7 million in allegedly illegal donations from a trade group that concealed its corporate donors.
[...] The campaign was the most expensive in the state’s history, drawing national attention and millions of dollars in out-of-state campaign cash. The No on 522 campaign raised an unprecedented $22 million, largely from big biotech firms and junk food companies. The Yes on 522 raised almost $8 million from GMO opponents and natural foods and products companies.
The Grocery Manufacturers of America donated $11 million from its member companies to No on 522 and was sued by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in October for concealing donors. The trade group then voluntarily revealed that members such as Pepsico ($2.4 million), Coca-Cola ($1.5 million) and Nestle ($1.5 million) gave hefty donations to defeat the labeling initiative.
The trade group began planning for the campaign about a year ago after it joined Monsanto and other labeling opponents in raising a whopping $46 million to defeat a similar GMO labeling initiative in California last year.
Artificial trans fats, a key ingredient in everything from pastries to pizzas to microwave popcorn for generations, will be banished from America’s food supply under a new federal proposal because of their risk to public health.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday took the first steps toward eliminating the
artery-clogging substance, saying the change could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths caused by heart disease each year.
Products containing trans fats have increasingly disappeared from grocery stores and restaurant menus in recent years amid widespread agreement about the risks they pose to public health. But trans fats still linger in an array of processed foods, including pancake mix, packaged cookies and ready-made frosting.
Thursday’s action, one of the FDA’s most aggressive efforts to limit Americans’ consumption of a specific food ingredient, was aimed at ending the era of trans fats altogether.
A new study from England indicates portion sizes there have doubled in the past twenty years. According to the Daily Mail, compared with portions in 1993, today we are eating twice as much.
The study, from the British Heart Foundation, looked at 245 food products within popular grocery stores in the U.K. They found, for example, a chicken curry frozen meal was 53% larger than it was in 1993. Crumpets were 20 to 30% bigger.
The study also indicates consumers are confused about labels, portion sizes, and just how much they should be eating.
Health leaders from across the Americas have agreed a pledge to cut the number of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases by 25% by the year 2025.
The action plan has been agreed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). This is a regional body of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the world’s oldest international public health organization, working with all the countries of the Americas to improve health and quality of life.
PAHO says the leading causes of death in the Americas, excluding infections, are preventable. The organization says a common thread runs through the four leading non-communicable diseases: their risks are raised by the same factors.
Common risk factors:
- Tobacco use
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excess alcohol.
Member countries from across the Americas have pledged to give priority to non-communicable diseases in their state health and development agendas. PAHO says they have agreed to implement “the necessary policies and programs” to achieve the health organization’s goals.
The following list of objectives has been set for all the health authorities signed up to the Pan American Health Organization’s plan:
- Involve sectors beyond health to promote the prevention of non-communicable diseases, including agriculture, trade, education, labor, finance, the environment, transport and urban development
- Provide universal access to health services for non-communicable diseases
- Reduce tobacco consumption and exposure to second-hand smoke by 30% by the year 2025
- Reduce the impact on children of marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages
- Promote active lifestyles through policies that reduce physical inactivity in adults and adolescents
- Improve access to essential medicines and technologies for detecting, diagnosing, treating and controlling non-communicable diseases and for rehabilitation and palliative care
- Improve surveillance of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors and strengthen research to improve interventions and evaluation of policies and programs.
Member states pledged to work beyond health institutions to “promote dialogue and coordination with other sectors and institutions with a view to ensuring integrated implementation of interventions.” The strategies were approved on October 3rd by the 52nd directing council of PAHO, following a week of deliberations.
- 2011 report on non-communicable diseases (WHO)
- U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health (CPOP)
- American Health Lags Behind Other Countries – Blame the Food! (Natural Society)
- America Has Higher Rate of “Death from All Causes” than 16 Other Developed Nations (Natural Society)
It hasn’t been a good week for Monsanto and the rest of the biotech industry.
Just three days ago, Mexico banned genetically engineered corn. Citing the risk of imminent harm to the environment, a Mexican judge ruled that, effective immediately, no genetically engineered corn can be planted in the country. This means that companies like Monsanto will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country’s borders.
At the same time, the County Council for the island of Kauai passed a law that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops. The bill also requires a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes — among other locations.
And the big island of Hawaii County Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that prohibits open air cultivation, propagation, development or testing of genetically engineered crops or plants. The bill, which still needs further confirmation to become law, would also prohibit biotech companies from operating on the Big Island.
But perhaps the biggest bombshell of all is now unfolding in Washington state. The mail-in ballot state’s voters are already weighing in on Initiative 522, which would mandate the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Knowing full well that 93 percent of the American public supports GMO labeling, and that if one state passes it, many others are likely to follow, entrenched agribusiness interests are pulling out all the stops to try to squelch yet another state labeling effort.
This time, however, things aren’t going quite as planned. On Wednesday, Washington state Attorney General Bob Feguson filed a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). The GMA, a lobby for the junk food industry, has been by far the largest donor to efforts to defeat the labeling initiative. The lawsuit alleges that the GMA illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its contributors.
Global warming could mean big business for controversial agriculture giant Monsanto, which announced last week it was purchasing the climate change-oriented startup Climate Corporation for $930 million.
Agriculture, which uses roughly 40 percent of the world’s land, will be deeply affected by climate change in the coming years. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that warming will lead to pest outbreaks, that climate-related severe weather will impact food security, and that rising temperatures will hurt production for farms in equatorial areas. (In areas further from the equator, temperature rise is actually estimated to increase production in the short term, then harm production if temperatures continue to rise over 3 degrees Celsius in the long term.) Meanwhile, increases in the global population will make it crucial for farmers to be efficient with their land, says UC Davis professor Tu Jarvis. “The increase in food production, essentially, in the future needs to be in yields—output per acre,” Jarvis says, even while weather patterns make farming less predictable or more difficult in some places.
Monsanto, meanwhile, has been gearing up to sell its wares to farmers adapting to climate change.
A headline in the bi-monthly magazine,Pacific Standard declares: “The Scientific Debate About GM Foods Is Over: They’re Safe“. The article cites multiple scientific journals and governmental organizations to support the assertion.
Anyone reading the article might assume that, like global climate change, there is a consensus within the scientific community that food made of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are perfectly safe for human consumption; that there’s no need for a debate; that the now-pending initiativeto require GM foods to be labeled as such in Washington State is just silly.
After articles like the one offered by Pacific Standard — and a $17.2 million ad campaign by Monsanto and the Grocer’s Manufacturing Association — enough Evergreen State voters are seemingly now convinced that there is no need to label GMOs that pollsters have declared the initiative “too close to call” at the moment. Why, after all, should we bother to label food in the face of a scientific consensus that GMOs are perfectly safe?
The problem is, according to the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Studies (ENSSER), no such scientific consensus exists…
In an Oct. 21 Statement [PDF] signed by 90 scientists, academics and physicians, ENSSER insists the debate over GMO safety is far from over.
- Owen Paterson: the minister for GM hype (Guardian)
- Top Corporate Lobbyist: American agriculture, GMOs and Europe (The Hill)
- Dirty White Gold: Monsanto’s Claim That It’s a “Sustainable Agriculture Company” Doesn’t Hold Water (Belén Fernandez)
- Monsanto Spends Nearly $1 Billion on Crop Insurance Company (Take Part)
- Los Angeles Could Become the Country’s Largest GMO-Free Zone (Care 2)
- Do GMO Crops Really Have Higher Yields? (Mother Jones)
- Argentines Link Health Problems To Agrochemicals (NPR)
- Food Companies Give Millions to Block GMO Labeling (Epoch Times)
- Wikileaks reveals Monsanto’s close relationship with the US government (tdiv)
- Why Are People Protesting GMO’s and Monsanto (WRC)
- The Corporation: Fox News Kills Monsanto Milk Story
- Pesticides killed bees, analysis shows (Minnesota Daily)
- UK Government rejects case for ban on pesticides (Parliament)
Abby Martin speaks with Michael Ruppert, investigative journalist and author of ‘Crossing the Rubicon’, about destructive energy policies, the global energy crisis and the potential for a collapse of industrial civilization as we know it unless people become more than just passive actors. (BREAKING THE SET)
Street artist Banksy has unleashed a slaughterhouse delivery truck filled with squealing, animatronic lambs, cows, and chickens on the streets of New York City.
The mobile installation, called “Sirens of the Lambs,” is the eleventh work in the artist’s month-long series in the Big Apple.
People of every society have their own distinct lifestyles and eating habits. Its a well known facts that people from western world consume 2 to 3 times more food per capita than people from eastern countries. This can be attributed to different cultures, income levels and difference in prosperity of the countries. Peter Menzel came up with an amazing idea of capturing a week of groceries in different countries all over the world. He traveled around the globe and observed people’s one week grocery.
Some of the biggest names in American fast food are on a mission to bring burritos, Buffalo wings and Blizzards to untapped markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
Their products are so far largely unknown here. But having seen the success of McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken in some African countries, they are convinced that their brands have big potential.
It’s the latest example of the lure of business in Africa, viewed by many investors as the next frontier market in the developing world. As foreign interest in Africa’s emerging middle class continues to grow, a more diverse range of companies are seeking a toehold on the continent.
Farmers in California may finally begin growing industrial hemp under a new law signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Lawmakers have been discussing the proposal since 1999 to allow approved residents to grow hemp for industrial purposes by reclassifying the plant as a fiber or oilseed crop.
The law defines the crop as the nonpsychoactive types of the Cannabis saliva plant containing no more than 3/10 of 1 percent of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
Supporters of the bill say hemp is a $500 million industry in California and is growing by 10 percent annually.
The benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption are not a new discovery. However, new research confirms their role in reducing mortality. This reduction is more significant in the case of deaths from cardiovascular disease.
The analysis, recently published in the ‘American Journal of Epidemiology’, was directed by researchers from ten countries, including Spain, as part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
The sample analyzed includes 25,682 deaths (10,438 due to cancer and 5,125 due to cardiovascular disease) among the 451,151 participants studied over more than 13 years.
“This study is the most significant epidemiological study that this association has examined to date,” María José Sánchez Pérez, director of the Andalusian School of Public Health’s (EASP) Granada Cancer Registry and one of the authors of the research, explains to SINC.
- Companies That Profit From Unhealthy Food Say Keep Eating Junk, Just Exercise More (Other Words)
- Life expectancy doubled in the past 150 years. Here’s why. (Slate)
- Bigger and healthier: European men grow 11cm in a century (Reuters)
- Eating broccoli may prevent osteoarthritis (Guardian)
- US Teens Are Actually Getting Healthier (Newser)
- UK: Half Of Seven-Year-Olds Not Exercising Enough (Sky)
- Six health myths you should ignore (New Scientist)
- Exercise and Caffeine Change Your DNA in the Same Way, Study Suggests (Science Daily)
- We all have hundreds of DNA flaws, UK geneticists say (BBC)
In China, the traditional diet of vegetables, rice, noodles, and small portions of meat—a diet hailed as one of the world’s healthiest—is disappearing. Chinese people are eating more Western food, more meat, and on top of that, more packaged, on-the-go food that comes with additives, artificial flavoring and other chemicals.
According to estimates by Euromonitor International, in terms of volume, the Chinese market for packaged processed food like ready-made meals, snacks and drinks like cookies, chips, and soda will surpass America’s by 2015. China could consume as much as 107 million tons of packaged food, compared to 102 million tons in the U.S.
That still means the average Chinese resident will eat only about a quarter as much processed food as the average American. And the American market will still be worth more ($369 billion versus an estimated $238 billion in China.) Still, Chinese consumption of these foods will have grown 66 percent from 2008, according to Euromonitor.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just published a first-of-its-kind assessment of the threat the country faces from antibiotic-resistant organisms, ranking them by the number of illnesses and deaths they cause each year and outlining urgent steps that need to be taken to roll back the trend.
The agency’s overall — and, it stressed, conservative — assessment of the problem:
- Each year, in the U.S., 2,049,442 illnesses caused by bacteria and fungi that are resistant to at least some classes of antibiotics;
- Each year, out of those illnesses, 23,000 deaths;
- Because of those illnesses and deaths, $20 billion each year in additional healthcare spending;
- And beyond the direct healthcare costs, an additional $35 billion lost to society in foregone productivity.
“If we are not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a media briefing. “And for some patients and for some microbes, we are already there.”
The report marks the first time the agency has provided hard numbers for the incidence, deaths and cost of all the major resistant organisms. (It had previously estimated illnesses and deaths from some families of organisms or types of drug resistance, but those numbers were never gathered in one place.) It also represents the first time the CDC has ranked resistant organisms by how much and how imminent a threat they pose, using seven criteria: health impact, economic impact, how common the infection is, how easily it spreads, how much further it might spread in the next 10 years, whether there are antibiotics that still work against it, and whether things other than administering antibiotics can be done to curb its spread.