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Governments To Curb Political Influence Of Major Corporations To Tackle Several Global Crisis: Study

This is the final vindication for those of us who have warned about the slippery slope of regulation

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Obesity
An overweight woman sits on a chair in Times Square in New York, May 8, 2012. (Representational image). VOA

To defeat the intertwined pandemics of obesity, hunger and climate change, governments must curb the political influence of major corporations, said a major report Monday calling for a ‘global treaty’ similar to one for tobacco control.

But this will not happen unless ordinary citizens demand a “radical rethink” of the relationship between policymakers and business, nearly four dozen experts from The Lancet Commission on Obesity concluded.

“Powerful opposition from vested interests, lack of political leadership, and insufficient societal demand for change are preventing action,” they said in a statement.

Nearly a billion people are hungry and another two billion are eating too much of the wrong foods, causing epidemics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Children, Hunger
A severely malnourished boy rests on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen. VOA

Unhealthy diets account for up to 11 million premature deaths every year, according to the most recent Global Disease Burden report.

“Malnutrition in all its forms — including undernutrition and obesity — is by far the biggest cause of ill-health and premature death globally,” said Commission co-chair Boyd Swinburn, a professor at the University of Aukland.

“Both undernutrition and obesity are expected to be made significantly worse by climate change.”

The way in which food is currently produced, distributed and consumed not only fuels the hunger and obesity pandemics, it also generates 25 to 30 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Cattle production alone accounts for more than have of those gases, in the form of methane-laden flatulence and CO2 when forests — especially in Brazil — are cleared to accommodate livestock.

Climate, emissions
– Greenpeace activists wear white morphsuits as they stage an action against particulate matter and health burden caused by diesel exhaust in Stuttgart, southern Germany. VOA

A transport system dominated by cars contributes another 15 to 25 percent of emissions, and supports a sedentary lifestyle.

– Triple pandemic –

“Underpinning all of these are weak political governance, the unchallenging economic pursuit of GPD growth, and the powerful commercial engineering of overconsumption,” the report said.

“Undernutrition is declining too slowly to meet global targets, no country has reversed its obesity epidemic, and comprehensive policy responses to the threat of climate change have barely begun.”

Despite 30 years of warnings from science about the dire impacts of global warming, CO2 emissions hit record levels in 2017 and again last year.

Because all these problems are interwoven, the answers must be too, the researchers emphasized.

BMI, Asthma Risk
High BMI in early life is linked to asthma risk later: Study. Pixabay

“Joining three pandemics” — hunger, obesity, climate — “together as ‘The Global Syndemic’ allows us to consider common drivers and shared solutions.”

Another Lancet Commission report published last week calling for a dramatic shift in global diet to improve health and avoid “catastrophic” damage to the planet.

“Until now, undernutrition and obesity have been seen as polar opposites of either too few or too many calories,” said Swinburn.

“In reality, they are both driven by the same unhealthy, inequitable food systems, underpinned by the same political economy.”

The report calls for a Framework Convention on Food Systems — similar to global conventions for tobacco control and climate change — to restrict the influence of the food industry.

Cold drinks can cause tooth decay, obesity, etc. Wikimedia Commons
Cold drinks can cause tooth decay, obesity, etc. Wikimedia Commons

– How we eat, live, move –

The experts also argue that economic incentives must be overhauled.

Some five trillion dollars (4.4 trillion euros) in government subsidies for fossil fuels and large-scale agribusiness should be rechanneled toward “sustainable, healthy and environmentally friendly activities,” they said.

To sharply reduce red meat consumption, for example, the report favors high taxes, abolishing subsidies, along with transparent health and environment labeling.

In addition, they favor the creation of a one billion dollar philanthropic fund to support grassroots action.

“Tackling ‘The Global Syndemic’ requires an urgent rethink of how we eat, live, consume and move,” said Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet.

The two Lancet reports are not the only urgent appeal from science in recent months. In October, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change likewise called for an economic and social “paradigm shift” to avoid global chaos.

Reaction to the Lancet recommendations has been sharply divided. Health advocates and climate experts hailed its sweeping call for deep change.

U.N. Climate Conference
In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo a participant in U.N. climate conference walks by a photo of a satellite in Katowice, Poland. VOA

“For too long we have been day-dreaming our way to a diseased future,” said Katie Dain, CEO of the Noncommunicable Disease Alliance.

“A food system that secures a better diet for this and the immediate next generations will save millions of lives and, at the same time, help save the planet.”

Industry representatives and libertarians slammed the findings as overwrought and an assault on free choice.

Also Read: Eliminate World Hunger By Selling Burgers

“This is the final vindication for those of us who have warned about the slippery slope of regulation,” said Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs.

“Nanny-state zealots are no longer hiding their intention to use the anti-tobacco blueprint to control other areas of our lives.” (VOA)

Next Story

COVID-19: The Worst Global Crisis

A world in perpetual change - Is COVID-19 the worst?

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COVID-19
Humankind is now facing a global crisis, which is COVID-19. Pixabay

BY PRADIP BAIJAL

Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture. We must act quickly and decisively. We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes. Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive e but we will inhabit a different world.

Looking at the period AD, It was a static world till 1830. Nothing changed, the world GDP and inter-country GDP too, remained static. In a period not impacted by colonial rule, massive trade and new technologies, India and China dominated the world. They dominated because they had the maximum primary resources, which attracted exploitative trade from the west and also colonial rule.

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We entered a new phase of rapid changes thereafter, also with the onset of first industrial revolution in the UK and Europe in 1760, and the second in the US in 1900. First and second industrial revolution changed everything, particularly the countries where the new technologies were discovered, and used. The UK grew from 1 per cent to 5 per cent of world’s GDP, and the US from 6 per cent to 35 per cent in 100 years, after having remained static for ages (particularly after 1 AD). India and China fell from 50 per cent to 5 per cent in about 100 years from 1860 to 1970.

COVID-19
COVID-19 and the new tariff agreement between China and the US has turned every thing on its head. Pixabay

Now comes a miraculous reversal in 1970 (I have explained in detail in my book, “Containing the China Onslaught”).

Both countries started new policies after being independent, used the IR 3.0 technologies and India and China came back to 30 per cent of world’s GDP in 2010, in just about 40 years, without the help of any indigenous technology.

What helped these poor countries was globalization, as predicted by Bhagwati (In Defence of Globalisation), and the connected world described by many, and particularly explained well in Parag Khanna’s “Connectography”). Globalisation helped the ideas and technologies flow to the backward areas, and the connected world facilitated easy transmission.

IR 3.0 technologies were only useful, if they were made available to the whole world. The post 1950 period belonged to IR 3.0. It was also in US interest to help China (so they were convinced by Deng to Nixon and seven US Presidents, may be through deception, after their post 1980 collaboration).

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We now move to IR 4.0, machines interacting with machines and 5.0, machines talking to men etc. and robots, which are also based on communication technologies, and the trend should continue.

But suddenly and from nowhere, has appeared Covid-19, bringing in another BC and AC (before and after COVID-19, after before and after China/Communication technologies), and also Trump and Xi, all unpredictable, and we do not know where they would all take us.

Trump’s tariff measures against China, are bringing in unpredictable anti-globalisation, and a technology war against China. China was merrily producing most of world’s demand in many sectors, and to facilitate their movement, had launched BRI. But now with the resistance of USA and many other countries like India and Japan (for BRI), none is sure where these products would land, and at what price, and how they would be impacted by anti-globalisation forces..

Due to amendments in Politburo’s rules of 2015, Xi was anticipated to rule, almost forever, with Chinese Aambassador brimming with confidence in US that China was so powerful that no one could touch, and a US ambassador-designate to India also saying that China was so powerful that they had to be smothered with kindness, to convince them to change. So now Xi’s future is uncertain, and there is opposition. Maslovian forces are also catching up with leaders like Deng’s son recognized as pro-democracy.

COVID-19 and the new tariff agreement between China and the US has turned every thing on its head. Suddenly where is the powerful China now that it has signed an unfavourable tariff agreement with the US, and perhaps COVID-19/maslovian forces have added: “Anger inside China is growing. There stands not an emperor in his new clothes but a clown who is stripped of his clothes but still wants to be an emperor.”

COVID-19
Most economist still believe that despite reverses in COVID-19, China, India and the US will rule the world in 2050. Pixabay

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“Atleast 175,000 people left Wuhan just on that day when Wuhan outbreak happened. The departures from Wuhan accelerated over the next three weeks. About 7 million people left in January, before travel was restricted.”

And we have the 2020 Presidential elections in the US, almost fighting a US-China war. Where has the support of seven US Presidents after Nixon, to China vanished now. We will soon know the results, but the world has changed and the new world would never be the same again. We do not know whether this would mean growth to India with its digital DNA or whether Covid will bring unanticipated reversals like the reversals of 1830/19501970/1980 described earlier, and this time impacted by COVID-19, the biggest unanticipated change of only a few weeks.

Or maybe, the world would go with, “But most economist still believe that despite reverses in COVID-19, China, India and the US will rule the world in 2050:

Also Read- Avoid Usage of Alcohol and Tobacco Amid Lockdown: Health Ministry

“Lindsey Galloway BBC, 23 March 2020: Brexit, coronavirus, and trade tiffs may be making economic headwinds, but despite immediate challenges, the world economy is projected to keep growing at a rapid pace over the next few decades. In fact, by 2050, the global market is projected to double its current size, even as the UN forecasts the world’s population will only grow by a modest 26 per cent.”

All new technologies lead to faster changes/disruptions. Admittedly, IR 4.0 and 5.0 will help those who implement fast/efficiently. Where would COVID-19 take the competing countries, only the next few weeks will tell?. (IANS)