Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"It seemed all the large health organizations were encouraging people to eat the very foods linked to the diseases they're supposed to be fighting against."  (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

How the Food and Drug Companies Ensure that We Get Sick and They Make Money

Paul Buchheit

Another reason for single-payer health care: The documentary What the Health shows how the lives and health of human beings are considered insignificant, and in many ways threatened, by the pursuit of profits in the meat and dairy and drug industries. 

The corporate disdain revealed by this film is nearly beyond belief. And our 'trusted' watchdog agencies, both non-profit and government, are beholden to the biggest companies, accepting money in return for their silence about the dangers of animal and pharmaceutical products. 

Some of the contentions in the documentary have been disputed, most notably the implication that sugar is not a major factor in diabetes, and that dairy is. Indeed there may be flaws in the documentary. But it clearly reveals the damaging behavior of the businesses and organizations that are contributing to human suffering. 

Despicable: Corporate Profits at the Expense of Our Health 

According to the documentary (and other sources), the World Health Organization and other major health groups have labeled both processed and red meats as carcinogenic. Yet powerful lobbying efforts have kept America near the top of the world in meat consumption. The drug and chemical industries do their part by providing pesticide-filled GMO corn and soy, fed mostly to dairy cows, and with most of their antibiotic products going to fatten up the animals most of us eat. 

Hypocritical: Our Watchdog Non-Profits on the Payroll of Big Ag 

At the time of the documentary, beef and/or dairy menu items were promoted on the websites of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, prompting the narrator to say, "It seemed all the large health organizations were encouraging people to eat the very foods linked to the diseases they're supposed to be fighting against." 

It all started to make sense when some of the health organization funders were discovered: Kraft Foods, Oscar Mayer, Tyson Chicken, Dannon and Yoplait Yogurts, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Subway, Domino's, and the beef and dairy industries themselves. Not a single one of the four health organizations was willing to be interviewed. 

It gets worse. ACS, AHA, and ADA are accepting millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies that are making BILLIONS of dollars from the diseases the health organizations are supposedly trying to combat. That includes Pfizer, Merck, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott, and others. These Big Pharma firms HAVE A VESTED INTEREST IN OUR SICKNESS. A Time report explains the diabolical 'cascading' of drugs through our lives: "If you become addicted to painkillers, there are pills to help you stop taking the pills, by reducing the symptoms of withdrawal. And if you take too many pills, there's a pill for that too."

Detestable: U.S. Government Assisting Big Ag 

We Americans are unknowingly helping to promote the very products that are making us sick. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains its industry-funded checkoff programs: "Promoting a commodity as a whole instead of by individual businesses means everyone in the industry benefits through increased sales, consumer awareness and higher overall demand." Through checkoffs and lobbying (Big Pharma is the #1 industry lobbyist), food and drug industries have coerced government officials to make it even HARDER FOR US to fight back against big business bullies. Consider: 

We Can't Sue the Industries that Make Us Fat and Sick 

The average American has gained 25-30 pounds since 1960, along with the growth of the meat and dairy and sugar industries. But we can't fight the system. The so-called "Cheeseburger Law" bans lawsuits related to industry culpability for our obesity woes. 

We Can't Even Know What's in Our Food 

In a world of common sense, we would have the right to know what we're eating. Just the opposite. The food industry's DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know) negated existing GMO labeling laws. 

We Become 'Terrorists' If We Object to Animal Cruelty 

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act denies the free speech rights of animal activists who object to the exploitative practices in animal production 

The Absurdity of the Capitalist Approach to Health 

Our system of health care focuses on symptoms rather than causes. A plant-based diet promotes good health, but thanks to Big Ag and Big Pharma our diets are built around meat and dairy products, and then drugs to fix the inevitable problems. 

Where are the nutrition classes? Every child, every young adult, every doctor-in-training should get this information, but they don't. So we wallow in ignorance, as corporations thrive on the tobacco industry's old slogan, "Doubt Is Our Product." The less we know, the better for them


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit is an advocate for social and economic justice, and the author of numerous papers on economic inequality and cognitive science. He was recently named one of 300 Living Peace and Justice Leaders and Models. He is the author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (2008) and "Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income" (2017). Contact email: paul (at) youdeservefacts.org.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn US Lawmakers Against Fueling 'New Cold War' With China

A policy of hostility toward Beijing, says a global justice advocate, has "become a convenient excuse for pushing a corporate, militarist agenda."

Jessica Corbett ·


Democracy 'On the Line' Says Bowman After Protest Arrest

"I will not stand by and I will not stay quiet while the fate of our democracy continues to hang loosely by a thread that the Senate is hellbent on tearing apart."

Julia Conley ·


To 'Hold Her Accountable for What She Did,' Primary Sinema Project Gets Into Gear

"Kyrsten Sinema is unfit to be a United States senator," the project asserts. "Just like the filibuster itself, we need to get rid of her if we want to save our democracy before it's too late."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo