Category Archives Global

The Lancet Commission has issued a report on “The Global Syndemic,” a combination of “three pandemics—obesity, undernutrition, and climate change.” The report was intended to focus on obesity as the Commission did in similar reports issued in 2011 and 2015, but the authors apparently found the roles of undernutrition and climate change to be key in understanding global obesity during the process of preparing the report and ultimately expanded its scope. The Commission’s recommendations to improve “The Global Syndemic” include implementing stronger laws at national and lower levels, strengthening accountability systems and “creating sustainable and health-promoting business models,” such as “eliminat[ing] or redirect[ing] subsidies away from products that contribute to The Global Syndemic.” The Commission also suggested that governments “reduce the influence of large commercial interests in public policy development … so that governments can implement policies in the public interest that benefit the health of current and future generations,…

The European Union has requested a World Trade Organization consultation with the United States to address the imposition of tariffs on Spanish olives in August 2018. The United States reportedly applied countervailing and anti-dumping tariffs of 34.75 percent to the import of Spanish black olives on the grounds that Spanish growers receive benefits from the EU that are unavailable to other growers, such as those in California.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced "a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply." The plan consists of six steps represented by the acronym REPLACE: (i) "review" sources of trans fat and the landscape for policy change; (ii) "promote" the replacement of trans fats; (iii) "legislate" regulatory actions to eliminate trans fats; (iv) "assess" trans fat content in the food supply; (v) "create" awareness; and (vi) "enforce" compliance. "The world is now embarking on the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, using it as a driver for improved access to healthy food and nutrition," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release. "WHO is also using this milestone to work with governments, the food industry, academia and civil society to make food systems healthier for future generations, including by eliminating industrially-produced trans fats."

China’s Ministry of Commerce has reportedly announced that it will require importers of U.S.-grown sorghum to pay a 178.6 percent deposit in anticipation of anti-dumping tariffs, which may discourage imports and directly affect American growers. A Chinese investigation apparently concluded that U.S. sorghum is being dumped on the Chinese market, despite denials from U.S. officials. “This approach is in line with Chinese law and [World Trade Organization] rules; it aims at correcting unfair trade practices, maintaining normal trade and competition order,” Wang Hejun, director of the ministry’s trade remedy and investigation bureau, reportedly said in a statement.

After the Vietnamese government asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to discuss U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) restrictions on catfish imports, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asking him to support repeal of the restrictions. “Since its implementation, the USDA Catfish Inspection Program has done nothing more than erect a damaging trade barrier against Asian catfish imports to protect a handful of domestic catfish farmers in Southern states," the senators wrote. “If the U.S. loses this latest WTO battle, it could negatively impact U.S. agriculture exports to Vietnam, including cotton, wheat, pork, soybeans, beef, poultry, eggs and fruit. Vietnam is one of our largest Asian trading partners and our 10th largest agricultural export market. Additionally, more than 525,000 American jobs directly rely on imported seafood.” McCain and Shaheen have been critics of the catfish restrictions since at least 2013,…

The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has upheld complaints that Rusty Yak Ginger Ale's advertising, which urged viewers to “stop the ginger gene” from spreading by looking for bottles of the product hidden in six-packs of beer, was offensive to people with red hair. Carlton and United Breweries ran the television and internet ads for the product and told ASB the ads were intended to launch the product “in an affectionate, light-hearted and humorous way by linking the hair colour with [its] ‘crisp and zingy Rusty Yak gingery flavor.’” The Ad Standards Community Panel considered the ad in relation to its advertising code of ethics, which refers to discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and other personal characteristics. The panel said, “DNA can be considered to be related to ancestry and descent . . . in this context the reference to people with red hair falls within the definition of…

Alleging unfair trade restrictions, the Vietnamese government has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to consult with the United States to discuss limitations on catfish imports. Vietnam alleges that a recent move to shift import inspections from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture subjects shipments of Vietnamese catfish (Siluriformes Pangasius) to unfairly stringent food safety rules. Vietnam argues that it has “objectively demonstrated” that its food safety standards “achieve the appropriate level” of safety demanded by the United States. If the requested consultations do not achieve a quick resolution, WTO may authorize Vietnam to ask for a formal adjudication.

German candy manufacturer Haribo is reportedly investigating allegations of human slavery on carnauba wax suppliers’ plantations in Brazil. According to Reuters, a German television documentary showed palm-leaf harvest workers forced to sleep outside, denied access to clean water and paid $12 a day. In June 2017, Haribo’s board posted a “Modern Slavery Statement” on its website, stating it was “absolutely committed to preventing any form of slavery and human trafficking in its corporate activities.” The statement also included a mandate for due diligence reviews of its supply chain to assess “particular product or geographical risks” of slavery.

In response to a petition for a constitutional injunction from a group of Mexican potato growers, a federal district court in Los Mochis, Mexico, has banned the import of U.S. potatoes to “preserve food sovereignty and the health of Mexican crop fields.” The growers reportedly argued that imported potatoes create a risk of crop disease and that Mexican agricultural authorities had failed to take preventive action. See New York Times, August 4, 2017.   Issue 644

The holding company of Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA has reportedly agreed to pay a $3.2­-billion fine for the company’s involvement in a graft and bribery scandal involving more than 1,800 politicians, including President Michel Temer and former President Dilma Rousseff. J&F Investimentos, co-­owned by brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista, will pay the fine to U.S. and Brazilian authorities over a period of 25 years. Joesley Batista stepped down as chairman and member of the JBS SA board of directors; Wesley Batista has resigned from the board but remains chief executive of the company. The Batistas purportedly told Brazilian federal prosecutors they had paid about $186 million in bribes to politicians, and JBS SA had already agreed to pay $183.8 million to settle its criminal liability for the bribes. See NPR, May 31, 2017.   Issue 636