Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Another reason for single-payer health care: The documentary What the Health shows how the lives and health of human beings are considered insignificant, and in many ways threatened, by the pursuit of profits in the meat and dairy and drug industries.
The corporate disdain revealed by this film is nearly beyond belief. And our trusted watchdog agencies, both non-profit and government, are beholden to the biggest companies, accepting money in return for their silence about the dangers of animal and pharmaceutical products.
Some of the contentions in the documentary have been disputed, most notably the implication that sugar is not a major factor in diabetes, and that dairy is. Indeed, there may be flaws in the documentary. But it clearly reveals the damaging behavior of the businesses and organizations that are contributing to human and animal suffering.
Despicable: Corporate Profits at the Expense of Our Health
According to the documentary (and other sources), the World Health Organization and other major health groups have labeled both processed and red meats as carcinogenic. Yet powerful lobbying efforts have kept America near the top of the world in meat consumption. The drug and chemical industries do their part by providing pesticide-filled GMO corn and soy, fed mostly to dairy cows, and with most of their antibiotic products going to fatten up the animals most of us eat.
Hypocritical: Our Watchdog Non-Profits on the Payroll of Big Ag
At the time of the documentary, beef and/or dairy menu items were promoted on the websites of the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, prompting the narrator to say, “It seemed all the large health organizations were encouraging people to eat the very foods linked to the diseases they’re supposed to be fighting against.”
It all started to make sense when some of the health organization funders were discovered: Kraft Foods, Oscar Mayer, Tyson Chicken, Dannon and Yoplait Yogurts, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Subway, Domino’s, and the beef and dairy industries themselves. Not a single one of the four health organizations was willing to be interviewed.
It gets worse. ACS, AHA and ADA are accepting millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies that are making billions of dollars from the diseases the health organizations are supposedly trying to combat. That includes Pfizer, Merck, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott, and others. These Big Pharma firms have a vested interest. A Time report explains the diabolical “cascading” of drugs through our lives: “If you become addicted to painkillers, there are pills to help you stop taking the pills, by reducing the symptoms of withdrawal. And if you take too many pills, there’s a pill for that too.”
Detestable: U.S. Government Assisting Big Ag
We Americans are unknowingly helping to promote the very products that are making us sick.
The United States Department of Agriculture explains its industry-funded checkoff programs: “Promoting a commodity as a whole instead of by individual businesses means everyone in the industry benefits through increased sales, consumer awareness and higher overall demand.”
Through checkoffs and lobbying (Big Pharma is the #1 industry lobbyist), food and drug industries have coerced government officials to make it even harder for us to fight back against big business bullies.
Consider: We can’t sue the industries that make us fat and sick.
The average American has gained 25-30 pounds since 1960, along with the growth of the meat and dairy and sugar industries. But we can’t fight the system. The so-called “Cheeseburger Law” bans lawsuits related to industry culpability for our obesity woes.
We can’t even know what’s in our food.
We are labeled terrorists if we object to animal cruelty.
The Absurdity of the Capitalist Approach to Health
Our system of health care focuses on symptoms rather than causes. A plant-based diet promotes good health, but thanks to Big Ag and Big Pharma, our diets are built around meat and dairy products, and then drugs to fix the inevitable problems.
Where are the nutrition classes? Every child, every young adult, every doctor-in-training should get this information, but they don’t. So we wallow in ignorance, as corporations thrive on the tobacco industry’s old slogan, “Doubt Is Our Product.”
The less we know, the better for them.
Paul Buchheit is the author of Disposable Americans (2017). He is an advocate for social and economic justice. His essays, videos, and poems can be found at YouDeserveFacts.org.