Study: Food industry and big pharma controls FDA and USDA

By Vigilant
September 20th, 2010
Source: Reuters
Eggs are pictured for sale at a Washington supermarket, August 23, 2010.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The food industry is jeopardizing U.S. public health by withholding information from food safety investigators or pressuring regulators to withdraw or alter policy designed to protect consumers, said a survey of government scientists and inspectors.
華盛頓(路透社) - 食品行業正在危害美國的公共健康,因食品安全調查者知情不報,或迫使監管機構去撤回或改變保護消費者的政策,一項政府科學家和督察的調查說。
The study released on Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists found one-in-four of those surveyed have seen corporate interests forcing their agency to withdraw or modify a policy or action designed to protect consumers during the past year.
Pressure to overhaul the food safety system has grown following high-profile outbreaks involving lettuce, peppers, eggs, peanuts, spinach and most recently, eggs that have sickened thousands and shaken the public’s confidence in the safety of the food supply.
The 44-question survey, conducted earlier this year, also found more than 38 percent of those respondents said “public health has been harmed by agency practices that defer to business interests” at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Agriculture Department.
In addition, 31 percent said the presence of top agency decision makers who have worked for the food or agriculture industry “inappropriately” influences decisions.
“Upper level management does not adequately support field inspectors and the actions they take to protect the food supply,” said Dean Wyatt, a USDA veterinarian who oversees federal slaughterhouse inspectors.
“Not only is there lack of support, but there’s outright obstruction, retaliation and abuse of power,” Wyatt said, noting he’s been demoted by USDA for documenting violations.

A USDA spokesman said in a statement the safety of meat and poultry “is the sole function of our Food Safety Inspection Service and no other considerations should detract from carrying out their mission.”

Brian Kennedy with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents the industry, did not address the study directly, but said a strong partnership between its members, FDA and USDA “with the goal of protecting our food supply is in the best interest of public health.”

Despite the concerns, 67 percent of the respondents — 72 percent at FDA and 65 percent at USDA — said their agency is “moving in the right direction.” It also found 75 percent said their agency gives public health a lot or much weight in policy decisions.

“I think the good news (is) … that we didn’t in fact just get angry, grumpy people, the disenchanted responding to the survey,” said Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program, of UCS.

The survey was sent to about 8,000 individuals working on food safety at the FDA and USDA. Just over 1,700 employees from all levels of the food safety system responded, with more than 60 percent identifying themselves as inspectors.

Foodborne illnesses sicken an estimated 76 million people in the United States each year and are fatal to 5,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The massive salmonella outbreak that sparked a recall of more than a half billion eggs from two Iowa plants in August could provide momentum for the Senate to act on its own food safety bill later this month.

The House passed food reform legislation in July 2009.


路透社:全球制藥大廠瞄準中國 明年將成第三大市場
2010年 09月 22日 09:33








(明報)2010年7月15日 星期四 05:10
【明報專訊】安糖健的安全爭議,是奧巴馬 的藥物監管班子首項重大考驗。美國 消費者組織一直抨擊小布殊 政府與跟藥廠「太過親近」,奧巴馬政府推行了多項增加保障消費者的政策改革,外界關注消費者與藥廠的博弈會否亦向消費者傾斜。

製藥是一門全球大生意,動輒涉及數以十億美元 ;一旦商譽建立,利潤更豐。可是要成功研製一款新藥,所耗的時間、心力乃至風險亦相對巨大。而美國食品及藥物管理局(FDA)是國際上批准新藥應用的權威機構,它的決定也會贏得歐亞等國的認受。

一直以來,FDA批準新藥面世前均嚴格把關,但被質疑對已上市藥物相對寬鬆,再加上不同範疇專家對各種研究作不同解讀,以致當藥物嚴重副作用浮現時,未能及時回應。以安糖健的風險為例,FDA內部長期有兩派對立觀點,心臟專家支持禁用,但糖尿病 專家反對。

有輿論相信,政府取態對FDA的決定亦有影響。FDA 2007年前雖認定安糖健對病人有風險,但未建議停售。美國消費者權益組織批評小布殊政府不願強硬對付藥廠,美國全國婦女與家庭研究中心主管(Diana Zuckerman)期望,FDA今次可展示「時代已經不同」。