Home' Greymouth Star : October 7th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, October 7, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1769 - Captain James Cook lands in New
Zealand for the first time, at Poverty Bay.
1849 - Death of Edgar Allan Poe, US writer,
1949 - The Republic of East Germany is
1950 - UN General Assembly
approves Allied advance north of
38th parallel in Korean conflict.
1956 - Clarence Birdseye, inventor
of a process to deep freeze food for
1959 - Death of Mario Lanza, US
tenor and film actor, aged 38.
1963 - US President John F Kennedy signs
nuclear test ban treaty between United States,
Britain and Soviet Union.
1985 - Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro is
hijacked by Palestinians in Mediterranean.
1987 - Coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka declares
himself head of state of the new republic of
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Sir Walter Raleigh, English explorer-poet-
courtier (1552-1618); Heinrich Himmler, Nazi
Gestapo chief (1900-1945); Al Martino, US
singer (1927-2009); Desmond Tutu, Anglican
Archbishop in South Africa (1931-); Oliver
North, former US National Security Council
aide (1943-); Kevin Godley, British
rock musician of 10CC (1945-);
John Mellencamp, US singer (1951-
); Vladimir Putin, Russian president
(1952-); Jayne Tor vill, British
skating champion (1957-); Simon
Cowell, British record executive and
tv judge (1959-); Toni Braxton, US
singer (1967-); Thom Yorke, British rock singer
of Radiohead (1968-).
“There is many a mistake made on purpose.”
— Thomas Haliburton, Canadian jurist-
“ Why are you frightened, and why do doubts
arise in your hearts?” — (Luke 24:38).
For many of
Christmas dinner will
come on wheels this
year. By that time the Greymouth Hospital’s
‘meals on wheels’ scheme should be fully
operational with a small convoy of cars daily
converging on the hospital to take delivery of
hot dinners. The hospital’s shiny new kitchen
should be finished by the end of this month
and then the scheme — completely novel to
Greymouth — will spring into action.
In command of the meals on wheels
operation is Miss Stella Ladd, super visor
of Greymouth district nurses. Miss Ladd
— a n e nthusiast for the scheme — told the
Greymouth Evening Star that in Greymouth it
would begin in a small way but it was hoped it
would build up till all older people who needed
help were getting the meals.
Controller of the ‘traffic pool’ is Mrs L M
Schaef, who will organise a roster of citizens
or ser vice organisations who will provide the
delivery ser vice.
Winds of up to 160kph played havoc in the
railway township of Otira over the weekend.
An unoccupied 20ft by 10ft bach was turned
upside down when hit by a vacuum caused by
the wind, garages and other flimsy outbuildings
were reduced to firewood and chimneys were
Over a foot of rain has fallen in six days
and the township is covered in snow. Otira is
experiencing its worst weather for this time of
year for the past 15 years. Today the township
is covered in a 5cm mantle of snow.
Again, over half an inch of rain fell yesterday
and overnight, and a three-knot run was
recorded in the Grey River.
uFood for thought
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Roberto A. Ferdman
ou may think you have come
to like soft drinks all on your
own. But that desire is the
product of decades worth of
focused and often troubling
efforts on behalf of the soft
This is, in so many words, one of the
takeaways from a new book about how the
industry has paid, lobbied and hypnotised
its way into the hearts of people around
the world. The book, called Soda Politics,
is written by esteemed New York
University professor and long-time food
industry activist Marion Nestle. And it
will leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth.
Over the past 60-plus years, Coca-Cola
and Pepsico have invested unfathomable
amounts of money to ensure that people
crave their core products.
And that investment has often come in
forms far more devious than most would
imagine, Nestle argues. Sure, the soft
drink industry has paid for its fair share of
television commercials, bulletin board ads
and marketing campaigns. But it has also
worked (i.e. paid) to block unfavourable
legislation, influence policy, maintain its
popularity among poor people, young
people, and minorities, undermining
In recent years, soft drink consumption
has slowed, leading many to chronicle its
demise. A recent New York Times piece
argued that the industry might still win
battles, but it is losing the war. Such a
disastrous time for an industry as ruthless
as the soft drink industry, however, has
only brought forth some of its most
The truth is that whatever happens
going for ward, as Coca-Cola and Pepsico
struggle to ensure the longevity of their
carbonated drinks in the United States
and elsewhere, it should come as little
surprise given what the industry has done
in the past.
I spoke with Nestle to pick her brain
about how the soft drink industry gets its
way and learn more about her new book.
The inter view has been edited for length
Q. We are drinking less soft drinks.
That has been well documented. But we
still drink a lot of soda. Is that right?
A. On a per capita basis there are a
couple countries in Latin America that
drink more soft drinks. But what is
interesting about the consumption is
that half the population in America does
not drink it at all. So whenever you see
consumption figures you have really got to
double them if you want a sense of what
people who drink soda drink on average.
Q. So, these messages about drinking
less soft drinks are only catching on with
half of the population?
A. Well, here is what the breakdown
looks like. This is what we know :
Educated, wealthier people are the ones
who avoid it. These are the healthiest
people in society, and the healthiest
people in society do not drink soft drinks.
They either do not touch it, or drink it in
extremely small amounts.
There is a table from an industry
publication that lays out who drinks soda.
Males drink more than females. Younger
people drink more than older people.
Single people drink more than those who
are married. High school graduates drink
more than college graduates. Blue collar
workers drink more than white collar
workers. Hispanics and African Americans
drink more than whites and Asians. And
people from the south drink more than do
people in the north-east.
Then you have the amounts. As I said
before, half of the population does not
drink any soft drinks. A quarter of the
population drinks more than one 12oz can
each day. Twenty percent of the population
has between more than one and four cans.
And 5% has more than four cans each day.
The thing is, I am pretty sure those
numbers are under-estimates, because
there are people who drink the stuff all day
long. I mean, I think that is amazing.
Q. Let ’s talk about your new book.
Millions of Americans buy soft drinks
ever y day. They choose to drink it. Why
are they choosing to drink it?
A. I mean, most of it is marketing.
Brilliant marketing. I have just come
back from the World of Coca-Cola
exhibit in Atlanta, and it is breathtaking.
If there is one thing I learned from
doing the research for this book is
how extraordinarily comprehensive the
marketing is around soft drinks. I had not
appreciated that before.
This is a strategy that encompasses
every possible way in which you can reach
people. And you know, you reach people
emotionally. They do, I mean. They show
a movie at this place, and let me tell
you there is not a dry eye in the house.
Everybody is so moved by the kinds of
things that are exhibited, which have
nothing to do with Coca-Cola, except for
the fact that at the end of the videos there
are people drinking soft drinks. It is just
an amazing document.
The advertising is designed to sell
happiness. They are not selling a drink. But
on an emotional level you attach to it.
And it is so per vasive that you do not
even notice it. You are not supposed to
notice it. If you start putting your critical
thinking cap on and looking at all the
places you see subtle or not so subtle
marketing for Coca-Cola and Pepsi, you
are kind of stunned by how much of it
there is. But other wise it is just kind of
there. And you do not notice it, save for
on some kind of subliminal level. We do
not like to talk about subliminal levels,
because we think we were completely
rational actors in all of this. But the soda
companies know better, and they use that
to their advantage.
That is, largely, the reason why we love
soft drinks so much.
Q. How far back does this hypnosis
go? When did it start? Can you talk a bit
about how Coca-Cola and Pepsi became
symbols of America.
A. It started early on, with very small
amounts of soft drinks. It was never a
problem when the bottles were only 6.5oz.
(0.19 litre) People did not have much
money then. Even if you were buying
them for a nickel, it was still a considerable
But even in the early years of the 20th
century, the companies were producing
vast numbers of tchotchkes (trinkets/
souvenirs). There was an extraordinary
number of items that were given out. So
there were tangible objects attached to
the Coca-Cola logo that people started
collecting very early on. The check out
line at World of Coca-Cola today is still
brimming with people. You could furnish
a house with Coca-Cola logoed items
They started doing this very early and
it was fun and wholesome and healthy.
That went on all the way up to the World
War Two, at which point Coca-Cola did
something even more brilliant, which
was that it partnered with the army to
provide Coca-Cola to soldiers anywhere
in the world. And as a result of that
partnership, the military actually paid
for the transportation of Coca-Cola and
helped them build bottling plants. It was
completely embedded in military culture,
so that by the time soldiers came back
from World War Two, Coca-Cola was part
of the allied effort to win the war. That was
The astonishing thing about the World
of Coca-Cola is that you pay a fee to
go into it. People sit there and watch
advertisements for hours without blinking.
And they do it willingly! That is a feat.
Q. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have not just
built up their brands over the years.
They have also been masterful about
defending them. Lately, that has been
warding off health and obesity. How have
they done that?
A. Well at first they denied that their
product was at all responsible for the rise
in obesity in the United States. They have
literally gone through many of the stages
of death and dying. First they denied.
Then they realised they could not straight
out deny it. Now, over the past 10 years or
so, Coca-Cola at least has disclosed to the
securities and exchange commission that
obesity is the number one threat to their
profits. they make it very clearly to health
advocates and government agencies.
Q. One of the more troubling aspects
about the way in which they have
advertised is how they target specific
groups. The first is children, which
you talk about in your book. Can you
elaborate a little?
A. The companies have pledged not to
market under the age of 12 on children’s
television programming. And by all
accounts they are adhering to that. But
that does not mean they are not marketing
The easiest ways to see this is to look at
the collection of objects that Coca-Cola
makes for sale, and how many of them are
aimed at children. They are not making
baby bottles anymore, but they did. If you
go to the Coca-Cola store, there are loads
of items that are specifically tailored to
There is also a tremendous amount of
marketing to teenagers. They see sports
and music figures, as well as celebrities
that they see on television, aligned with
these brands. So it ’s really not possible
to draw a line at an age. Much of the
marketing is aimed directly at teenagers,
but it spills over, and the companies know
this. They also know that the earlier they
get people on board, the more likely it is
that they will have a lifetime customer.
Q. The other group that they target are
the poor and minorities. They are more
likely than any other demographic to
drink soft drinks. Is that right?
A. Many other groups drink Coke and
Pepsi, but the groups that are their core
customers are young men and, in general,
minorities. They have a higher consumption
than any other demographic. But soft drink
consumption also tracks with low income,
and low education.
The minority situation is very interesting,
because of the history, part of which I
recount in the book. Before the night
he died, Martin Luther King Jr called
for a boycott of Coca-Cola, because
the company was not hiring African
Americans. That is no longer the case —
very much the opposite, in fact. The soft
drink industry employs and ser ves millions
of African Americans today. You have to
understand that history to understand why
the big African American and Hispanic
organisations supported the soft drink
industry when Michael Bloomberg put a
cap on the sizes of sodas in New York City,
and why that is significant.
Q. Are there parallels between the soda
industry and the cigarette industry?
A. Oh, I mean, absolutely. Both of them
are selling a product that is not good for
health. Now, cigarettes are much worse.
But they are not good.
The message for cigarettes is stop
smoking, and put cigarette companies out
of business. The message for soft drinks,
however, is for people to drink a whole
lot less. And stop the companies from
marketing their products to kids and
other vulnerable populations. It is much
more complicated message, but a lot of
what the soft drink industry is doing is
extremely similar to what the tobacco
industry was doing back when it was
fighting concerns about the health effects
of tobacco use.
Q. What sort of parallels are we
talking about here?
A. Well, firstly, you deflect attention
from the product. You talk about
hydration, you talk about exercise, you
fund a bunch of community health
organisations. I remember when Philip
Morris used to do that. They funded all of
these arts organisations.
Coca-Cola funds hundreds of
organisations. They have just been forced
to reveal that, and the list is astonishing.
As I like to say, you scroll and scroll
through the list, and you are still only
on the Ds, you’ve still got the rest of the
alphabet to go. You can not believe the
number of organisations that get money
from them. And that buys silence from
them, it deflects criticism, and it puts
those organisations in a very difficult
position when it comes to making health
recommendations about soda drinking.
So, I mean, that is what a classic conflict
of interest looks like.
All of those are things that the tobacco
industry did as well. But, of course, there
are tons of behind the scenes things that
have gone on that people never see. You
never see the lobbying, you never see
the funding of really anti-health public
organisations, such as the Centre for
Consumer Freedom, which came out very
strongly against the Bloomberg soft drink
cap in New York. We do not know who
funded it, because the group operates
in secret, but the American Beverage
Association must have been behind that.
You just do not see the ugly stuff.
I have ended up feeling like the soda
industry was two completely different
companies, entirely schizophrenic within
the organisation. On the one hand, all
about love and happiness; on the other,
all about doing every single hardball
thing they could do to make sure that
people do not fight them or do anything
to promote drinking less soft drinks.
Nobody is worried about an occasional
soda. It is the quantity that ’s the problem.
And the quantity is of course what makes
profits for everyone involved.
Q. What would worr y the average
consumer the most if they were made
aware of it? About how the soft drink
industr y gets its way?
A. Well, probably, how extraordinarily
focused this industry is on getting people
to consume more of its products. The
extraordinary sense of focus.
Q. There is this kind of false sense
of agency on the side of soft drink
drinkers, right? We think we decided to
love soda, but really we were told to.
A. I mean, yes, exactly. America fell in
love without even realising it.
The revelations this summer about
Coca-Cola’s funding of researchers to
talk about exercise instead of diet gave
a big shock to a lot of people I know.
People tell me that they were really
shocked by this. So that is a revelation for
The food industry is not alone in this.
But the food industry is unique in that
we need food, we have to consume it to
live. So you don’t expect food companies
to be behaving like tobacco companies or
like the gun lobby, or any other of these
heavy-hitting industries. You do not
expect that. And it feels like a betrayal.
That was the big take-home lesson for
me from this book. These companies are
acting just the same, for the same reason,
but at the expense of public health.
People are drinking so much of this, on
top of diets that already are not healthy
and have too many calories. — AP
How Coca-Cola tricked you
The weather phenomenon known as
El Nino could lead to an epidemic of
dengue fever cases in south-east Asia,
international researchers say.
Cases of dengue fever have been shown
to rise along with the ocean warming
trend, which occurs some years but not
others. The current El Nino, which has
already begun and is forecast to last into
next year, is expected to be among the
most intense in 20 years, researchers say.
“Large dengue epidemics occur
unexpectedly, which can overburden the
health care systems,” said lead author
Willem van Panhuis, assistant professor of
epidemiology at University of Pittsburgh
Graduate School of Public Health.
“O ur analysis shows that elevated
temperatures can create the ideal
circumstance for large-scale dengue
epidemics to spread across a wide region. ”
Researchers analysed 18 years of monthly
dengue sur veillance reports across South-
east Asia, according to the study published
in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US
They found trends among the total of 3.5
million reported cases in eight countries.
During the last particularly strong
El Nino season, in 1997 and 1998,
“dengue transmission was very high,
matching up perfectly with high
temperatures that allowed mosquitoes to
reproduce faster and spread dengue virus
more efficiently”, said the study.
The higher temperatures in the
tropics and sub-tropics were brought
on by El Nino, moving warm sea water
temperatures in the eastern Pacific toward
Dengue fever is caused by a mosquito-
borne virus in the tropics and sub-tropics,
causing nearly 400 million infections each
Symptoms can include fever, severe
pain, headache, nausea, vomiting and skin
rashes. In some patients, the infection can
There is no vaccine to prevent dengue
and no medical treatment other than
The World Health Organisation says
the global incidence of dengue has grown
dramatically in recent decades, and about
half of the world’s population is now at
risk. — AFP
El Nino could spark dengue fever epidemic
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