The United States is falling further and further behind other countries in protecting our food supply. While our leaders curry favor with Big Pharma and Big Agriculture, both junk food and genetically modified food seriously undermine our health.
The new Biden administration might take a few tips from our neighbors to the south in Mexico, who are standing up to the food industry by not only banning the sale of junk food to minors but also phasing out glyphosate, the active ingredient in the world’s most popular, dangerous and lucrative herbicide Roundup, which is used with genetically modified crops.
Junk food sales have been booming as the COVID pandemic promotes more comfort eating at the same time it often limits access to healthy food. But according to a report in The Washington Post, in Mexico, it has also led to an “explosion of awareness” about how factors like obesity and poor diet make people more vulnerable to COVID and other diseases.
And it’s led to action.
Mexico City, along with eleven of Mexico’s 31 states will prohibit the sale of junk food products like chips, candy, soda & other sugar-sweetened beverages to children under the age of 18, putting these foods in the same category as cigarettes and alcohol. Junk food vending machines will be removed from schools and shopkeepers caught selling junk food to minors will be fined and risk having their stores closed and even, for repeat offenders, going to jail.
Mexico was already on the right track when six years ago it imposed a 10% “soda tax”, which has led to a 12% reduction in the consumption of sugary beverages by low-income Mexicans, and a 5% reduction among those with higher incomes.
Deputy health minister Hugo López-Gatell, the country’s coronavirus czar, has described sugary drinks as “bottled poison.”
One reason processed foods are so bad for us is that up to 75% of non-organic processed foods contain genetically-modified (GM) foods and glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the powerful plant poison Roundup. Certain foods—corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil—have been genetically modified to withstand this poison and are called “Roundup Ready.” See this article for the reasons why.
Last October, Mexico’s President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador announced that Mexico would gradually phase out glyphosate. While the Mexican government has stopped using glyphosate on its own projects, the private sector will have until late 2024 to phase out all glyphosate use.
While Mexico and many other countries are making progress on saving their food supplies from the corporatized food industry, the United States has not even been able to get GM foods labeled so consumers know what they’re buying.
- Reiley L. Latin America’s war on obesity could be a model for the US. The Washington Post. July 16, 2019.
- Rieley L. Mexico moves to ban junk food sales to children, citing obesity as coronavirus risk factor. The Washington Post. August 19, 2020.
- Alliance for Natural Health. Carcinogenic glyphosate banned in Mexico, but still “safe” in the US. October 22, 2020.
- Kollmeyer B. The U.S. is the most obese nation in the world, just ahead of Mexico. MarketWatch. May 29, 2017.