August 11th, 2009 08:54 EST
Soda Tax, Organic Dispute, Swine Flu Vaccine
A headline in the Washington Post asks, Can We Fight Obesity by Slapping a Heavy Tax on Soda? " ACSH`s Todd Seavey has a succinct answer: No. " http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/07/AR2009080702488.html
When pressed for further details, he explains, ACSH has always said it`s pointless to single out one food as if it`s the magic bullet for solving the obesity problem. Even if you discourage people from drinking soda, it wouldn`t stop obese people from compensating with more calorie-dense foods or even larger amounts of the beloved low-fat foods. "
The article raises an important question: To some critics [the soda tax] approach smacks of paternalism and over-reliance on government intervention. Shouldn`t diet and weight be a matter of personal responsibility, not the government`s concern? "
Yes, " says Seavey, true to his laconic form. The idea that the government should decide how large we can be ought to strike people as creepy. "
ACSH`s Dr. Gilbert Ross adds, The "tax soda to cure obesity` dogma is a prime illustration of the "simple solution to a complex problem` approach touted by pro-government-solution types. Such cures are always wrong. The answer lies in portion control, increased exercise, and balanced nutrition education for parents and kids. Moreover, they always add the come-on "the extra tax monies will be used to fund anti-obesity programs and education.` Don`t fall for that one. They said the same thing when they cobbled together the tobacco "Master Settlement` in 1998, and the funds extracted from the tobacco companies went towards roads, bridges, and reducing deficits, and almost none of it went towards anti-smoking efforts. "
The Organic Conniption
ACSH staffers are grateful to Dominic Lawson, whose article on the UK`s TimesOnline offers support for his belief that Organic food is just a tax on the gullible. " Lawson chronicles organic proponents` recent shift to abusive personal attacks against scientists in light of the UK`s FSA report proving that organic food isn`t any more nutritious than conventionally produced food. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/dominic_lawson/article6788644.ece
He quotes Dr. Ben Goldacre of the NHS, author of the acclaimed book Bad Science, who says, In my experience the [comments of the] organic food, anti-vaccine, and homeopathy movements are unusually hateful and generally revolve around bizarre allegations that you covertly represent some financial or corporate interest. I do not, but I do think it reveals something about their own motives that they can only conceive of a person holding a position as a result of financial self-interest. "
He`s not the only one who has observed the deceitful trend. Dr. Joseph Rosen noticed recent studies once more discrediting the claim that organic food is nutritionally superior, " says Seavey. He`ll be writing a series of articles on the topic for our HealthFactsAndFears blog in the next few weeks. "
The article concludes by reiterating ACSH`s oft-repeated organic disclaimer: This just demonstrates the common-sense point that diet, rather than whether food is produced "organically` or not, is the key to healthy eating. "
Sanofi-Aventis Leads the Charge Against Swine Flu
Sanofi-Aventis has filed a supplemental license application with the FDA and started human testing of its H1N1 swine flu vaccine last Thursday. The first swine flu vaccines should be approved and ready for use in some countries starting next month, according to the World Health Organization. http://www.reuters.com/article/governmentFilingsNews/idUSL771967820090807
One reason to be relieved about the swine flu situation is that although it`s very contagious, it doesn`t seem to be more harmful to most people than seasonal flu, " says Seavey. We`ll have an article soon on HealthFactsAndFears by someone who had swine flu and whose admirably calm doctor told him not to worry about it too much and to just stay away from his kids for a few days. "
Dr. Ross is surprised by this news item: I believe it will take several more weeks at least before our FDA allows clinical use of the new vaccine. Given the innate aversion to risk of the FDA, and the collective memory of the Swine flu vaccine debacle in 1976, I think the drug regulators will take as few chances as possible with releasing vaccine before its safety is assured. "
By Curtis Porter
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