Filed Under: Food Police

CSPI Goes International

Last week we told you about the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) plan to circumvent the democratic process through the lottery of the courts. CSPI’s long-term strategy of sidestepping the American voters also includes a sustained effort to influence international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Codex Alimentarius Commission, the World Trade Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

CSPI has organized a handful of “consumer” groups from other countries into the International Association of Consumer Food Organizations (IACFO). Bruce Silverglade of CSPI is IACFO’s president, and the group’s contact information is Silverglade’s Washington, DC office. Still, IAFCO has secured official “observer” status at the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and has already been referenced several times in FAO documents.

IACFO recently released a report calling on the World Health Organization to implement CSPI’s anti-business agenda on an international scale. Specifically, IACFO asked WHO to start expressing opinions on “food-industry marketing practices” and “restrict or ban direct and indirect advertising and promotion of energy-dense, low-nutrient foods to children.” IACFO also called on WHO to help:

“impose sales taxes on energy-dense, low-nutrient foods and drinks”;

“require calorie and fat labeling on menus and display boards in restaurants”; and

“review the ‘technological need’ for cosmetic color and flavor additives in energy-dense, low-nutrient foods.”

Doesn’t the World Health Organization have better things to do? Like deal with AIDS in Africa or the continuing scourge of influenza? It takes serious gall to ask WHO to waste precious resources on figuring out whether Gummy Bears need to be multi-colored.

The IACFO report demonstrates that CSPI truly has no grasp of international health priorities. On page one of section one, four graphs demonstrate the growth, since 1961, of per-person fat and sugar consumption in China, India, South America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Here’s the rub: CSPI paints this as a bad thing.

We note that since 1961 millions of people in China, India, and sub-Saharan Africa have died of starvation. In this light, increasing caloric intake of any kind is a cause for celebration. CSPI seems to have forgotten that in 1961 China was still reeling from Mao Tse-tung’s “Great Leap Forward,” which caused the worst famine in recorded history — 30 million starved.

The rest of the CSPI/IACFO report makes for amusing reading. It complains that consumption of “animal products” in Eastern and Southern Europe is too high, and that McDonald’s has expanded to countries like South Korea, Turkey, and Argentina. The report’s case study on McDonald’s marketing frets that the restaurant chain would “make the food cheap,” “adapt to local cultures,” and “pay literacy assistants to work with children in schools.”

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