Monday, June 23, 2008

Health Risks Rise with Bunge in Pakistan

Bunge, the third biggest US agribusiness company after Archer-Daniel-Midland and Cargill, is buying Chicago-based Corn Products International Inc. for $4.2 billion in stock to add corn-based sweeteners as demand increases for soft drinks and processed foods in China, India and Pakistan, according to US media reports. This acquisition enlarges Bunge's international footprint in emerging economies to drive its growth.

Corn Products is the fourth-largest maker of high-fructose corn syrup in the U.S. and will give Bunge new customers in Pakistan, South Korea and Thailand, Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow said in a note on this deal. Corn sweeteners are used in soft drinks and processed foods instead of traditional cane or beet sugar because of their lower cost and higher concentration. A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, according to San Francisco Chronicle. China, India and Pakistan have all seen double digit annual growth in consumption of soft drinks and processed foods for several years. Last year, the PepsiCo growth in US and Europe was less than 3% but PepsiCo International sales were up 22%, an impressive increase fueled by double-digit growth in China, Russia, Pakistan and the Middle East.

According to the Wall Street Journal, corn and soybeans are the two biggest crops grown in North America and the two companies already are selling ingredients to many of the same players in the food and brewing industries. For Bunge, the combination will give it a bigger presence in several developing countries where a growing middle class is demanding more Western-style foods. Corn Products has extensive corn milling operations throughout South America. The company also operates in Mexico, Pakistan, South Korea and Thailand, among other places.

Corn Products was established in 1906 through a combination of U.S. corn-refining companies. The company processes corn in South America and has operations in Asia and Africa. In April, the company said first-quarter profit advanced 29 percent to $64.3 million, according to Bloomberg.

Processed foods and soft drink companies are often blamed in the United States for dramatic increases in obesity and diabetes, particularly among children. Some even accuse them of being merchants of death, not unlike the big tobacco companies. Many health experts argue that the issue is bigger than more calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream leading to heart disease.

While the presence and growth of Bunge, Pepsi and other food giants are likely to create more jobs in emerging economies such as India and Pakistan, the price for this opportunity is likely to be the danger of greater health problems associated with fats and corn sweeteners in processed foods and soft drinks.

Similar or even greater health threats are coming from the major expansion of tobacco giant Philip Morris in emerging economies. As the smoking rates in developed countries have slowly declined, they have risen dramatically in some developing counties, where PMI is a major player. These include Pakistan (up 42% since 2001), Ukraine (up 36%) and Argentina (up 18%), according to the Wall Street Journal. Philip Morris is currently building a major new plant in Pakistan.

Globalization offers many benefits, including access to good jobs and better living conditions in the emerging economies. However, globalization also brings with it all the ills that have been witnessed in the West, including environmental deterioration and life-style diseases such as diabetes, heart-disease, various forms of cancer etc. The challenge for Pakistan, and other countries like it, is to learn from the mistakes of the West. Instead of just repeating such mistakes, Pakistan, India and China must find ways to extract the benefits while minimizing the cost of modernization.

5 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nations newspaper story about rise in smoking deaths in Pakistan:

KARACHI - Chest specialists strongly criticised the government on its failure to take effective measures for the control of tobacco use in the country. They demanded that the “Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of non-smoker Ordinance of 2002” be strictly enforced in order to protect the public health from tobacco, the single largest preventable cause of death in Pakistan.
Shahzad Alam from WHO said that 5.4 million people died last year as a result of tobacco and unless some urgent actions are taken by 2030 more than 8 million people will be dying every year from tobacco.
He said that in Pakistan about 100,000 people die every year as a result of tobacco. Lung cancer is a vital cause of cancer deaths in males followed by mouth cancer. Both these cancers are tobacco related and can be prevented if this powerful addictive substance is avoided. Tobacco use is also a major risk factor for heart attacks, stroke, pneumonia, Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD) as well as 20 other serious diseases, he added.
Quoting a research conducted by the Agha Khan University (AKU), Prof Javaid Khan, Chair National Alliance for Tobacco Control, said that 24 per cent of male and 16 per cent of female college students were regular smokers in Karachi.
The prevalence of smoking in the youth of Islamabad is even higher at 28 per cent, adding that tobacco use is on the increase in the Pakistani youth because of aggressive marketing by the tobacco companies. He said that government of Pakistan was a signatory to Framework Convention on Tobacco control and according to this United Nation’s treaty our government was bound to take strong anti-tobacco measures in the country, but sadly our government was failing in its obligation.
Prof Khan regretted the recent decision of the ministry to allow designated smoking areas at indoor public places. He demanded that in order to protect its citizen from the hazards of passive smoking, government must ensure that all indoor public places are completely tobacco smoke free.
Dr Muhammad Irfan, Consultant Chest Physician at AKU, urged public to give up tobacco ‘use’ immediately, as most people when they are young do not think about quitting this habit and by the time they decide to give up this addiction it is often too late and permanent damage to health had already been done. By citing an example, he said that if one continues to smoke he is bound to lose 3 months/year of his life after the age of 40 every year. He informed that nicotine withdrawal symptoms only last for couple of weeks which requires strong will power, and by using certain medicines quitting smoking is now much easier than ever before.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from CBS 60 Minutes story on Givaudan, the largest flavoring company in the world:


When you chug a sports drink or chew a stick of gum, you probably don't think of science. But there is a precise science - and a delicate art - behind what you're tasting. Morley Safer reports on the multibillion dollar flavor industry, whose scientists create natural and artificial flavorings that make your mouth water and keep you coming back for more.

The following is a script of "The Flavorists" which aired on Nov. 27, 2011. Morley Safer is correspondent, Ruth Streeter, producer.

As the Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, you may feel as overstuffed as that turkey you ate. And if you're overweight - and the chances are, you are, it's probably because you eat too much, too much of the wrong stuff. Most of the wrong stuff we eat comes in a bottle, a can, or a box - food that's been processed - much of that food has been flavored.

The flavoring industry is the enabler of the food processing business - which depends on it to create a craving for everything from soda pop to chicken soup. It is Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory as a multibillion dollar industry; an industry cloaked in secrecy. But recently Givaudan, the largest flavoring company in the world, allowed us in to see them work their magic.

[Jim Hassel: So definitely an aroma, the mandarin, dancy tangerine. Real mild though. Not in your face.]

These are "super sniffers," "super tasters"...

[Andy Daniher: And more bitter.]

...on the prowl. The special forces - first responders to the call for the next best taste.

[Andy Daniher: The mandarin notes are fantastic.]

They are braving the wilds of a citrus grove in Riverside, California, where Jim Hassel - whose nose and palette are legendary - leads a Givaudan team on a taste safari. Big game hunters in search of the next great taste in soft drinks. Their inspiration? The greatest flavorist of them all: Mother Nature.

Jim Hassel: Seeing everything that's available really just drives the whole creative process.

Morley Safer: Like an artist going to Rome or something?

Hassel: Correct. Correct.

Safer: But the ultimate purpose is to sell more soft drinks or whatever?

Hassel: That's what we're in the business of, selling flavors....

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57330816/the-flavorists-tweaking-tastes-and-creating-cravings/?tag=currentVideoInfo;videoMetaInfo

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Business Recorder report on Philip Morris in Pakistan:

Amongst the two multinational tobacco companies in Pakistan, Philip Morris Pakistan Limited (formerly known as Lakson Tobacco) stands at number two to Pakistan Tobacco Company.

Philip Morris Pakistan Limited is a public listed company on the Karachi and Lahore Stock Exchanges and is an affiliate of Philip Morris International Inc (PMI).

The company is involved in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes for Pakistan's domestic market.

It currently operates three cigarette factories with primary and secondary facilities and one tobacco leaf threshing plant, all located in various parts of the country.

It also runs an extensive tobacco leaf agronomy program in the tobacco growing areas of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

The company is also involved in CSR where it is engaged in undertaking various initiatives in the education, environmental sustainability and disaster relief sectors to give back to the community it operates in.

Brand Portfolio Philip Morris Pakistan has a portfolio of ten brands for the domestic market.

Of the main ones, it markets and sells both international brands like Marlboro and Red & White, and locally owned brands like Morven Gold, Diplomat, K2.

Highlights 2011 has been a challenging year for Philip Morris so far like the rest of the FMCGs due to the weakening economic situation fuelled by power crisis and rising inflation.

Moreover, the performance of the company is highly affected by the illicit cigarette market that accounts for almost a 20 to 25 percent market share.

The detrimental impact of the non-tax paid industry extends to not only the company but to the legitimate industry as a whole and also the government as it reduces government revenue.

Being a cigarette manufacturer and importer, the company has high taxes and duties expenditure.

The company's sales tax and excise duty as a percentage of its gross turnover for the 9MCY11 stood at a little above 61 percent as compared to 60 percent same period CY10.

The company saw weaker sales of 2,847 million cigarettes mainly attributed to the adverse impact of the non-tax paid tobacco industry.

Overall, compared to 9MCY10, the nine months ending September CY11 has shown declined profitability.

Its contribution to the national exchequer went down from 16,330 for 9MCY10 to 16,178 million for 9MCY11.

The company faces tough competition from not only the unaccounted for sector but also its peer and the biggest rival in the industry, Pakistan Tobacco Company, an associate of British American Tobacco Company

Profitability Gross turnover experienced a decline of 3.9 percent from Rs 25.7 billion for 9MCY10 to Rs 24.7 billion in 9MCY11.

The decline in gross revenue is not only due to the tough economic environment, high government taxes and illicit trade but also due to the successful launch by PTC of its brand, Capstan which alone has a market share of 14 percent.

Though the sales tax and excise duty were considerably less for the nine months CY11, the gross profit was seriously injured by a surge in the cost of sales by 9.8 percent for the 9MCY11 compared to the same period CY10.

This is mainly because of rising energy costs, security related expenses and high inflation.

GP margins had a steep decline to 23.7 percent for the 9 months of 2011 compared to 35.5 percent for same period CY10.

As if to compensate to some extent, the distribution and marketing expenses demonstrated a fall of approximately 12 percent for periods in comparison.

The company recorded a loss after tax of Rs 284 million with an NP margin of -2.8 percent compared to the profit after tax Rs 767 million for the same period in 2010.

This was primarily due to an increase in the finance costs by approximately 270 percent.....


http://www.brecorder.com/component/news/single/592/0/1260461/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News story on rising obesity in Pakistan:

KARACHI: The obesity is an emerging challenge to human well-being like other parts of the world, it was also on the increase in Pakistan.



The overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths.



The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates suggest that 26 percent of women and 19 percent of men in Pakistan are obese. Women are 2-3 times more likely to be obese.Childhood obesity is increasing with an estimated value of 10 percent.



This was stated by Prof Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary, Director International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi University.



He was delivering a lecture on Wednesday at the 4th International Symposium-Cum-Training Course on Molecular Medicine and Drug Research being held at the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS).



Over 350 scientists, including 35 scientists from 24 countries, are attending the international event, organised by Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), University of Karachi.



Dr. Iqbal said that obesity had become a serious health problem worldwide, which is a result of an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure; the molecular cascade involves in obesity and associated disorders are not fully understood.



Proliferation of adipocytes plays an important role in the onset and progression of obesity, he added.



`Obesity has been linked to several serious health ailments like heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer.



Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer; once considered a problem only in high income countries, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low and middle-income countries.



Overweight and obesity are largely preventable; the intake of healthier foods, and regular physical activity are easiest ways to prevent obesity, he said.



There is an urgent need to have R&D programme in the field of anti-obesity drug discovery and development, he urged, saying that the fundamental causes of obesity are an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat, salt and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients; and a decrease in physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation and increasing urbanization.



Talking about the multi-drug-resistant pathogens, he said that a rapid decline in research and development on new antibiotics coincides with increasing frequency of infections caused by multi-drug-resistant pathogens.



The key reason of bacterial resistance is the indiscriminate of suboptimal use of antibiotics. During the last three days of the symposium, various lectures of the national and international scientists were held on different scientific issues.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-83095-Obesity-on-the-increase-in-Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

A recent analysis of nearly 320 internal sugar industry documents from 1959 to 1971 shows how the industry sought to influence the setting of U.S. research priorities during that time. Disturbingly, it's a strategy that continues to this very day.

Forty or 50 years ago, at least in the United States, tooth decay was seen as the major health problem associated with consumption of refined sugars. Back then, many dentists (probably unsuccessfully) warned patients away from sugar, and public health researchers sought ways to reduce the toll of caries, the most prevalent chronic disease in children and adolescents. Few, if any, were looking into the relationship between refined sugars and obesity or diabetes or heart disease. Now, in a remarkable piece of dental-political forensics, researchers at the University of California San Francisco have brought to light the forces that shaped oral-health policy in that era.

In a research article appearing in PLOS Medicine this week, Cristin E. Kearns, Stanton A. Glantz, and Laura A. Schmidt mined an archive of industry papers long buried in the library of the University of Illinois, Urbana, as well as ancient documents at the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR). They skillfully wove a public health whodunit that we didn't even know had been done to us, showing how sugar-industry executives and the International Sugar Research Foundation (ISRF, which later became the Sugar Association) sought, successfully, to influence NIDR policy.

The documents reveal a virtual capture of the NIDR by an affected industry. In the late 1960s NIDR began planning a National Caries Program (NCP) to fund research on the prevention of caries. The cane and beet sugar industry, understandably, was concerned that the committee might recommend measures to reduce sugar consumption, which even it had recognized as contributing to caries. Hence, the industry mounted a campaign to ensure that research focused not on the public health goal of reducing sugar consumption, but instead on prophylactic measures like vaccines, dextranases, and other approaches to reducing caries.

To achieve their goal, the industry formed a task force to influence NIDR. The membership of the industry committee was almost identical to that of NIDR's; nine of 11 members of NIDR's Caries Task Force Steering Committee also served on the ISRF's Panel of Dental Caries Task Force. Remarkably, several high officials of NIDR served on the industry committee. The revolving door was also swinging. Dr. Philip Ross, who had been chief of the NIDR/NIH Research Grants Section from 1963–1965, was elected president of the ISRF in 1968. He went on to coordinate meetings with NIDR.

Kearns, Glantz, and Schmidt found that 78 percent of the industry's 1969 submission to NIDR was directly incorporated into NIDR's 1971 request for contracts. And industry prevailed: NIDR's 1971 invitation for research proposals did not request proposals for research on the cariogenicity of foods or reducing sugar consumption. Out of hundreds of grants rewarded, only one or two grants related to the cariogenicity of foods.

http://io9.com/how-the-sugar-industry-continues-to-subvert-public-heal-1690803552