U.S. Elections: A Romney Win Installs A Republican Taliban

U.S. Elections: A Romney Win Installs A Republican Taliban

By N Oji Mzilikazi

October 30, 2012

Ever since Barack Obama was installed as the president of the United States, the Republican Party has engaged in orchestrated hostility against him, and all the plans and ideas his administration had for moving the country forward.

A successful 4-year term ensures Obama stays in the White House – a thought blasphemous to Republican ears. Hence, their opposition to everything, their spreading of dissention, fear, lies, and bigotry, and their willingness to see America fall, if it means they’ll return to the corridors of power.

Compounding opposition and acrimonious attitudes to Obama are racists in the disguise of “patriots,” and who feel inherently superior to the holder of the presidency. And so Obama’s term has been marked with increased racism, increased anti-Latino sentiments, and the increase of militias and right-wing extremists whose ideology is rooted in white nationalism.

Judging from their 4-year agenda of backwardness, a vote for Romney on November 6, 2012, is to vote for only the rich being able to afford health-care, a return to women having no rights over their bodies, America to wage war on Iran on behalf of Israel, and an American style Taliban.

A win by Romney on November 6, 2012, is to install a Republican Taliban.

Conrad Black: Shameless

Conrad Black: Shameless

By N Oji Mzilikazi

October 29, 2012

Psychopaths, we are taught, have no sense of emotion or regard for others. They will doggedly go after, charm, bully, abuse, trample, stop at nothing to get what they want, and have no remorse whatsoever.

Former newspaper tycoon and convicted felon Conrad Black meets the above-mentioned criteria.

Though convicted of defrauding Hollinger, the company he ran, and having served a 42-month prison sentence in America, Black sees himself as “innocent” and unfairly targeted by the U.S. justice system.

In his U.K. jaunt this month, Black was interviewed by Susanna Rustin of The Guardian. When asked, “What is the appropriate punishment for people convicted, as you were, of financial crimes,” his response was “Working for free.”

When BBC television interviewer Jeremy Paxman made the point that Black was a convicted criminal, Mr. Arrogance Personified declared he was not a criminal. Black then called Paxman “a priggish gullible British fool.”

This is the same Black, who in pursuit of “class and status in relation to Empire” renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to be British, to be inducted into the British House of Lords, blasting Paxman for the very Britishness he craved, identified with.

Black was honoured with the Order of Canada in 1990.

Any recipient convicted of a criminal offence could lose the honour, be stripped. Black’s conviction led to endless calls for revocation of his status as an officer of the Order of Canada.

Although Black pyssed on Canadians in the process of becoming British, that insatiable desire to be “somebody with prestigious titles” saw Black going all out to try and keep the Order of Canada.

Failing in his bid to appear in person before the Order of Canada Advisory Council to plead his case (Perchance in the belief his charm, force of character, and skill at manipulation would win them over.), he told CBC’s Susan Ormiston, “I would not wait for giving these junior officials the evidently almost aphrodisiacal pleasure of throwing me out. I would withdraw.”

Poor Conrad Black…everyone is out to get him…

Beyond Sangre Grande: Book Launch Montreal

Book Launch:

Beyond Sangre Grande: Caribbean Writing Today

Edited by Cyril Dabydeen

Thanks to the effort and hard work by H. Nigel Thomas, “Beyond Sangre Grande: Caribbean Writing Today” had its Montreal book launch on Wednesday, October 24, 2012, at the UNIA Hall, 2741 Notre-Dame West.

Billed as a Caribbean Literary Evening, the turnout was awesome.

Readers were Novel Thomas, Richard Best (guest readers), book editor, Cyril Dabydeen, Horace Goddard, H. Nigel Thomas and I.

The four of us also made our John Hancock available for everyone who purchased a copy of “Beyond Sangre Grande.”  Quite a number of books were sold.

Dabydeen was simply inspirational, brilliant.

I did not read “Shards of Glass,” my contribution to “Beyond Sangre Grande.” I opted for a new piece – “Papa Bois: The Midnight Robber.” I was humbled by the response to this rather lengthy piece.

The launch is undoubtedly one of my 2012 highlights.


Can We Trust The Food & Drug Industry Part 2

Can We Trust The Food & Drug Industry Part 2


Reshaping Physiognomy: Obesity, Fat is Normal

By N Oji Mzilikazi

Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 22, Number 20

October 18, 2012

When I was growing up (and I dare say, up to 30-years ago), obesity, including childhood obesity was uncommon. And even then, the overweight and obese didn’t log around the shapeless jiggling type of fat or have the misshapen look that is so prevalent. Theirs were solid fat, a thick fat, and both males and fat females could throw a hard right at that.

I came of age in a country, and at a time when all schools had P.E. – physical education, and there were inter-school and intra-schools sport competitions. Parents would kick children out of the house with the command, “Go outside for a walk!” “Go outside and play!”

Teenagers and adults would regularly swim/bathe in the sea, hike, go into the bush, play football, cricket, exercise, lift weights, often home-made, go for a walk, a run – run a couple miles, as fun activities. Guys would party on a Saturday night, hang out late, drink, get drunk, get high, and bright and early Sunday morning be on the football field – running some ball.

In short, the culture of my youth embraced, supported physical activity without the need to reference its benefits or use its ideological virtues to persuade. Physical, sporting activities were enjoyable recreation, communal, agents of socialization.

Migrating to Canada brought me face to face with a different mindset towards physical activity. It wasn’t lifestyle or fun. Physical activity was only fun up to primary school level. After that, it was perceived as a non-essential activity or a chore. Something one need to apply steely resolve to, in order to stay healthy, lose weight, fit into a dress, or was something one did in pursuit of an athletic/sporting career.

The failures to integrate physical activity as part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle accounts for thousands of Canadian males and females, who admire the magnificence of trees, having never climb a tree for fun, much more to pick a fruit. Also, parents unable to get their children out of their room, off the couch, and/or off the computer – to go outside and play, much more exercise.

Television, technology and their seductiveness have entrenched sedentary living. Victimized by poor diets and nutritionally bankrupt foods, society is inundated with shapeless young boys and girls; preteens and teenagers given to wearing large and extra large clothing, boys with “love handles” and gynecomastia – “tits”/“man boobs”/“moobs.”

The results of shapelessness, being fat/overweight/obese in a culture obsessed by sex appeal, beauty, and where slender is the “face” of advertising are teasing, bullying, being made fun off, called names, insults, self-esteem and confidence taking a battering, self-loathing, body issues, mental issues, and children driven to suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

The July 2005 “Canadian Community Health Survey: Obesity among children and adults” pointed out that 23% of Canadian adults were obese in 2004, 21% people aged 25 to 34 were obese, and one in four children overweight or obese.

Statistics Canada, in its September 2012, report on overweight and obesity in children and adolescents” revealed that almost a third of Canadians aged five to 17 are overweight or obese. Among children aged five to 11, the percentage of obese boys was more than three times that of obese girls.

Given all the statistics and warnings about obesity, how did it reach epidemic proportions? The answer lies with the government being beholden to the food and drug industry, the addictions deliberately spawned by their nutritionally bankrupt foods, and the preponderance of same in the marketplace, which makes it easy for people to continue to eat badly.

Nutritionally bankrupt foods invite illness and diseases, is the major player in the epidemic that is obesity.

Easy to cook, pre-packaged, fast foods, over-processed and engineered foods are the cheapest to manufacture, and easiest to sell. Their low price guarantees massive consumption, huge profits. They also have high salt, high fat, high sugar, a high glycemic index, high caloric contents, and are nutritionally poor.

Furthermore, they are designed for sensory appeal, physiological and psychological responses, and addiction. People cannot but get hooked.

Addiction of any kind creates a chemical imbalance in one’s system. Addiction results in biological and mental re-wiring. The cravings brought on by addiction must be fed. For that reason, addicts do anything to get their fix, and careen out of control when without. Hence, people cannot but eat, want to eat, all the time.

Frequent consumption of nutritionally poor foods and junk foods, and over-indulgence in same result in the intake of excessive calories. Calories that aren’t burnt are stored as fat. Excess fat leads to overweight, obesity.

Fat is not an inert mass. Fat is alive – living tissue. Fat lives, moves and craves food – demands feeding. Thus, overweight folks cannot but eat and drink all the time.

Obesity leads to a host of physical and psychological problems. Obesity brings on weight-related cancers, urinary incontinence, arthritic knees and hips, and increases the risks of surgical and obstetrical complications.

People with belly fat, abdominal fat are at the highest risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The International Diabetes Federation calls diabetes the epidemic of the 21st century. The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences study, published July 2010, predicts a surge in diabetes cases over the next decade – an estimated two million Canadians.

According to Statistics Canada 2010:  61 per cent – 13 million adult Canadians are considered to be either obese or overweight.

Overweight and obese people live shorter lives. The overweight and the obese reduce the productivity of a nation. Obesity could bankrupt the health care system.

Fat people need more of everything. The fatter the nation, the faster the resources/budget allocated for heath care is going to be utilized – consumed.

Policy originates from the legislature/government. When a government gets in bed with special interest groups of any kind, their agenda is the one that is always advanced. Take George W. Bush.

When he was Governor of Texas and seeking to become the president of the United States, he promised cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. He became president, and in March 2001, reneged on that assurance citing “incomplete state of scientific knowledge of the causes of, and solutions to, global climatic change.”

The food and drug industries have been able to influence; exert tremendous pressure on governments, thus allowed to pedal products inimical to good health, as well as financially penalise those desirous of eating healthy.

As detailed in CBC’s “The politics of food guides” (July 30, 2012), Canada’s first Food Guide – Official Food Rules, released in 1942, closely mirrored the interests of Canada’s main domestic agricultural producers.”

Also, the draft of the 1992 rewrite saw objections by the Grocery Products Manufacturing Council, the Canadian Meat Council, the Dairy Bureau of Canada and the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency.  In the final version, recommended servings of their products were upped.

Recent studies show that egg yolks are unhealthy, and they accelerate coronary artery disease. Having more than two eggs a week puts you at risk.

For all the touting of milk as the perfect food, cow’s milk is not that healthy for human consumption. Now, more than ever, since steroids and antibiotics are essential feed for cows. Cow milk fattens.

Milk producing mammals, including humans produce unique milk for the nourishment of their young. They are then weaned off milk when growth determines their ability to eat solid foods.

Milk is baby food. Breast milk is perfect for the human young. When infants are weaned off breast milk, they do not need milk – cow’s milk. There is a protein in cow’s milk, absent in breast milk that causes allergies. (Milk allergies and lactose intolerance are two entirely different things.)

Contrary to what is preached by the Dairy industry, neither children nor adults need milk. It’s drinking can lead, and is a contributor to many illnesses. Don’t take my word for it. You can do your own research. Nonetheless, the Dairy industry will push milk, and push milk, and push milk – the telling we need calcium, as if milk is the best and only source, and so continue to fatten the nation.

Just as the Food and Drug industry produced a whole range of products to combat gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn, for people to eat foods their body rejects, earlier this month, scientists reported the creation of a genetically modified cow that will cut milk allergies in children.

In the name of profit, not health, millions of dollars were spent in experimentation so children with milk allergies would be able to drink a product their bodies don’t really need.

Soft drinks are one of the biggest sources of sugar. Sugar can kill you. Many foods and beverages advertised as “sugar-free” or “sugarless” contain artificial sweeteners that are just as dangerous and bad for one’s health as sugar. Studies show that boys are most at risk of obesity from consuming sugary drinks.

You cannot tell an addict to just say no. Government collaboration with the nutritional industrial complex has us chemically rewired and addicted to unwholesome foods. We do not want to eat them. We know they are bad for us. But we cannot control the desire to eat them.

Still, the food industry sell the illusion of the freedom of choice, and blame our lack of self-control together with “bad” parenting for overweight and obese children, and for us being fat.

After three years of talks, Health Canada’s sodium working group declared defeat in 2010. They couldn’t get the food industry to agree to a sodium-reduction strategy.

For all its sweetness, salt kills. Less salt equals less profit so they don’t want salt reduction.

Campbell’s Soup USA reduced the sodium content in their products, and boasted about the same and their healthy goodness in a TV commercial. To combat sluggish sales, in July 2011, they turned around and boosted the sodium content of their products.

If the populace weren’t addicted to high salt content in foods, Campbell would’ve seen no reduction in sales.

Fighting addiction to nutritionally poor foods is an uphill battle. But if you don’t, not only is your physical, mental and sexual health compromised, but you are going to produce defective offspring, children with weaker physical and mental constitutions.  Begin by cutting out as much sugar and salt as is possible from your diets. Minimize your soda intake, and read those food labels.

Unless people (and parents) decide to personally take charge of their health, Health Canada take a stand against the nutritional industrial complex and their subversion of proper nutrition, and food addiction isn’t addressed, obesity rates will continue to climb. Fat will install itself as the new normal, and there is nothing nice about fat.

To come:

Part 3: Health & Sex

Part 4 (Conclusion): Health & Race

Nexen: Canada Sells, China Protects

Canada Sells: China Protects

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 22, Number 19)

October 4, 2012

Almost the same day shareholders of Calgary-based energy company, Nexen Inc. voted overwhelmingly in favour of its takeover by China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), the Chinese state-controlled oil giant, to the tune of $15bn, China’s Ministry of Land and Resources cut the number of permits for rare earths mining by 40 per cent from 113 to 67.

Rare earths minerals are needed to manufacture mobile phones, electric cars and other high-tech goods. China has 30 per cent of world supplies of rare earths, but accounts for more than 90 per cent of production. The reduction of permits further tightens China’s controls over the minerals. Restriction on its production and exports are already in place.

Social stability, political stability, and economic prosperity of society are contingent upon people being able to eat bread and/or earn a dollar. The inability to do so will unleash unprecedented criminality, violence and social unrest. Draconian laws and repression by the police and army could only go so far.

China is a country of billions. Out of necessity – its social stability, its government must find ways to ensure its citizenry eat. Thus, we saw China instituting a one-child policy. She cannot afford uncontrolled population growth.

In its new march forward, ostensibly to be the world power, China cannot afford to suffer causalities like Mao Zedong. In 1935, Mao led 100,000 followers on a 9600-kilometre march. 6,000 made it.

In taking its entire population on a global march of dominance, China has to ensure it has access to resources. Accordingly, cash-rich China has been strategic and aggressive in its pursuit of oil and other commodities.

A leaked letter from the office of the President of Nigeria, published by the Financial Times in September 2009, and dated August 13, 2009, revealed CNOOC sought to buy a sixth of Nigeria’s crude oil reserves. According to the Telegraph, CNOOC’s initial offer was rumoured to be between $30bn – $50bn.

China became a “trading partner” with Africa and other developing and struggling economies of the world that Western Nations couldn’t be bothered with. Investments, financing to support sustainable development gave China access to develop, exploit the resources of those countries.

In the past decade, over a million Chinese have moved to work in Africa, building roads, bridges and other infrastructure across the continent, drastically changing the economic landscape, and getting rich in the process, and with China’s cheap goods in tow.

Never mind that China has had a significant role, enabling ethnic conflicts in Africa, China-Africa trade grew from $6bn in 1999 to $166.3bn U.S. in 2011, according to the July 18, 2012, People’s Daily online.

It’s one thing when a “private” company buys an enterprise and another when it’s a state-owned company that’s doing the buying.

China has been buying into and buying up energy resources worldwide. And Canada, for all its developed, “First World” status is more than happy to sell.

In 2005, CNOOC paid $122-million for a 16.7 per cent stake in MEG Energy Corp. In August 2009, PetroChina Co. agreed to buy 60 per cent in two Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. properties. In April 2010, China’s Sinopec agreed to pay $4.65bn (U.S.) for a 9 per cent stake in Syncrude Canada.

As revealed in the May 13, 2010, Globe and Mail, China Investment Corp. paid $817-million for “a 45 per cent stake in an oil sands-like project owned by Penn West Energy Trust. The Chinese firm has also agreed to pay $435-million for a 5 per cent interest in Penn West.”

Also, “China Investment Corp. is a major shareholder of mining company Teck Resources Ltd., and has holdings in gold producer Kinross Gold Corp. and Potash Corp.”

The Calgary Herald, July 20, 2011, pointed out that CNOOC “has agreed to buy struggling Opti Canada Inc. for $34 million and $2 billion in debt, bolstering its position in the Canadian oilsands.” The Nexen deal is the icing on the “awaken dragon’s” cake.

In the meanwhile, Canadians can’t wait for 2018, and the arrival of Er Shun and Ji Li, two giant pandas from China.

In February 2012, our erudite Prime Minister, the Honourable Stephen Harper, signed an agreement with China to borrow the two pandas for 10 years – at a lending fee of $1 million dollars annually.

Since they are a mating pair, it wouldn’t surprise me if the agreement is, should they breed, their offspring(s) belongs to China.

While the oilsands are perfect for growing bamboo, should Canada ever have to import bamboo from China for Shun and Li, that’s more profit going China’s way.

Canadians need not worry about China’s long history of protectionism (The Great Wall is a testament to its attempt to keep foreigners out.), its forays into our energy sector – ensuring future domestic supplies, and the concerns of CSIS in regards to foreign takeovers or control over strategic sectors of the Canadian economy.

Shareholders in firms like Nexen are going to get paid, and they and theirs are going live happily ever after. Our selling off wouldn’t come back and bite us in the arse. Alberta would not become a province of China.

Canadians need not worry about China’s long history of no respect for human life, and human rights abuse. It’s not as if they’ll convert their share and interest of oil extracted from Canada into goods, “Poorly Made In China” as is the title of manufacturing expert Paul Midler’s book.

With no abatement to outsourcing, employment scarcity, poor economic prospects, and the universally strong economic culture, Harper knows Shun and Li will be a viable industry, and a source of unceasing revenue – foreign exchange – a profitable commodity, and Canada’s biggest attraction. Visitors to the Zoo will fork out millions.

It’s not for nothing Harper received the World Statesman of the Year award last month in New York, and this past August received The Righteous Who Fight Antisemitism award.

Still, the Council of Canadians Media Release (September, 27, 2012), called upon “MPs to reject the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).” They claimed the bilateral investment treaty between Canada and China “will put unacceptable constraints on Canadian energy and environmental policy.”

Canadians went to the polls and gave Harper a majority. And though governments are increasingly a front for corporate interests, and the clique of multinationals that control the world economy, Harper is of impeccable decency. His opening of Canada’s energy sector to Chinese investment is solely for the benefit of Canadians.

I for one do not intend to let the future catch me with my pants down. I learnt French to survive in Quebec; I’m going to learn Chinese and brush up on my Gung Fu. (I haven’t seen Martin Siu Choy, my sifu in some 30 plus years.) My only problem – would it be Mandarin or Cantonese?


Can We Trust The Food and Drug Industry?

Can We Trust The Food and Drug Industry?

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 22, Number 18)

September 20, 2012

In 2004, Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo, two 14-year-old high school students in New Zealand, tested Ribena for a science project. Ribena, a blackcurrant based juice has a long history of being a healthy drink. Advertisements touted it as having more vitamin C than orange juice. The duo found Ribena contained no detectable vitamin C.

Given that food is the source of fuel and nutrients for the human body, and that healthy foods build a healthy body and a healthy mind, one would think that the food industry would have the interest of the public at heart, pharmaceutical industries is truly about wellness through science, and the medical community are guardians and defenders of good health.

Illnesses, death, and injury from bad science and bad medication, lawsuits, court documents, studies, and exposés affirm otherwise.

As much as humans need food to live, and drugs to combat illness, food and drugs are also a business. Business is preoccupied with profit, not loss. Consequently, a high return on investments by food and Big Pharma takes priority over health. Dubious health claims by food manufacturers attest to their profit at-all-cost driven agenda.

In 2007 GlaxoSmithKline was fined $217, 000 New Zealand dollars for its misleading Ribena advertising from 2002 to 2006. When a multinational drugs company like GlaxoSmithKline can resort to shorting consumers with a drink, can we expect them (and others) to be ethical with their drugs?

In April 2012 chocolate maker Ferrero lost a $3 million lawsuit in the United States over its Nutella. Long touted as part of a healthy breakfast, Nutella has its own world celebration day – February 5. The court found the nutritional claims of Nutella false.

Nutella Canada is a sponsor of the Canadian Soccer Association.

In September 2009 Dannon settled the false advertising lawsuit – false health claims of Activia and DanActive yogurt. Claims, the company said were supported by scientific evidence.

Dannon set up a $35-million fund to reimburse consumers who bought those products. (And how many people keep receipts for food long consumed?) In December 2010 Dannon agreed to pay $21 million to settle the charges.

In Washington, in May 1999, the Swiss Pharmaceutical giant, F. Hoffman La Roche Ltd. was fined $500 million US, and German BASF AG. $225 million US for conspiracy to raise and fix the prices of vitamins.

In March 2000, Canada’s Federal Competition Bureau fined the Japanese firm, Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd. $5.2 million for vitamins price-fixing.

In 2000, 2.4 million Africans had reportedly died from Aids. In an effort to arrest the epidemic, the South African government decided to buy cheap, generic versions of patented HIV drugs from countries with the lowest prices. Their treasury couldn’t support the more expensive drugs.

Big Pharma would have none of that. Pain is their gain. In March 2001, over 30 pharmaceutical companies along with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of South Africa initiated a lawsuit against the South African Government, as its proposed action infringed on world trade agreements.

Although the suit was later abandoned, it displayed the nature of the industry, which so many blindly trust – “to hell with the health of the populace.”

Doctors have been complicit in the food and drug industries agenda of profits before health, and by extension, human extermination.

The mandatory taking of the now abandoned Hippocratic Oath by doctors – the “First do no evil,” resulted in people and patients unreservedly trusting the medical profession. Doctors knew best. Even then, drug companies exploited the implied trust between doctors and patients.

Financial incentives and perks saw doctors working as agents for drug companies – hawking their products, as well as using their patients as guinea pigs to test new medications. The respect to their profession, trust, and long term relationship with patients made it easy for them to do so.

My wife saw the same obstetrician gynaecologist for 27 years. One day, he asked her to try a new product, for which she will be paid, upon her return, scheduled when the prescribed number of days for its usage was completed.

Though it is illegal for pharmaceuticals to pay doctors to prescribe their medicines to patients, it hasn’t stopped them.

In February 2009, federal prosecutors in Boston announced a civil lawsuit against Forest Laboratories. The charge: The Company illegally marketed Lexapro and Celexa, two closely related antidepressants for use in children and paid kickbacks to doctors to induce them to prescribe the medicines to children.

According to The New York Times, “Forest’s payments to doctors in 2008 were surpassed only by those of Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Novartis and Merck — companies with annual sales that are five to 10 times larger than Forest’s.”

The New York Times exposure of Forest’s 2004 plan for marketing Lexapro revealed the company allocated $36 million to provide lunch to doctors in their offices, and “$34.7 million to pay 2,000 psychiatrists and primary care doctors to deliver 15,000 marketing lectures to their peers in one year.” Psychiatrists make more money from drug makers than any other medical specialty.

Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University is one of America’s most influential psychiatrists. He earned $2.8 million in fees from 2000 to 2007, and had at one point consulted for 21 drug and device companies simultaneously.

According to The New York Times, in 2004 he failed “to disclose conflicts of interest in trials of drugs from Merck, Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson.” In 2006 he failed “to disclose that he and his co-authors had financial ties to Cyberonics, the maker of a controversial device that they reviewed favorably in a journal he edited.”

Although Big Business finance research, as well as chairs at universities, scientists tailor studies to reflect the opinion of their benefactors, reputable scientists, doctors and academics, and even politicians are recruited to support a product, contradict information scientific or otherwise from detractors, as well as silence them, the industry isn’t averse to using ghostwriters.

Vioxx was an extremely popular drug, pain killer, and a best seller before Merck took it off the market in 2004. Evidence linked Vioxx to heart attacks. As detailed in the April 16, 2008, New York Times, Merck drafted dozens of research studies for Vioxx, “then lined up prestigious doctors to put their names on the reports before publication.”

In 2007 Merck agreed to a $4.85 billion settlement to resolve tens of thousands of lawsuits filed by former Vioxx patients or their families. Merck, Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca are among the pharmaceuticals accused by lawyers and investigators of providing ghostwriters for research papers.

The New York Times, August 4, 2009, publicized that court documents show ghostwriters paid by Wyeth “played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women” that made their way into reputable journals.

The Montreal Gazette informed readers that Dr. Barbara Sherwin, a psychology professor who does hormone research at McGill University was implicated in Wyeth Pharmaceuticals ghostwriting scandal, and that “The ghostwriting was uncovered by lawyers working for 8,400 women who are suing Wyeth and claiming the hormone drugs caused them harm.”

According to the December 12, 2008, New York Times, more than a year after a US federal study linked Wyeth’s Prempro, a combination of estrogen and progestin, to breast cancer, The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology carried an article – an “Editors’ Choice” feature in its May 2003 issue, claiming “there was no definitive evidence that progestins cause breast cancer and added that hormone users had a better chance of surviving cancer.”

The manipulation of scientific data and scientific literature mislead doctors to prescribe drugs that do not work and/or cause harm and death, as well as for patients to request the same.

The size, wealth, lobbying, and ownership of politicians by the food and drug industries have governments unwilling, and in some cases unable to refuse the entry of products in the marketplace. Products that endanger the quality of human life.

Prof. Donald Light, a sociologist and professor of comparative health policy at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, and a critic of the pharmaceutical industry made known in the Telegraph newspaper (UK), “Data from independent reviewers suggested that five out of six new drugs provided few, if any, new benefits.”

Interestingly, Gardiner Harris opening paragraph in the September 1, 2009, New York Times is, “The pharmaceutical industry has developed thousands of medicines that have saved millions of lives, but it has also used its marketing muscle to successfully peddle expensive pills that are no more effective than older drugs sold at a fraction of the cost.”

Though drugs for children have gone into the marketplace in the past without trials (their side-effects discovered later), a British study reported in the March 19, 2008, Guardian found that 98 per cent of drug trials on children lack “an independent safety monitoring committee to pick up potentially dangerous side-effects.”

80 per cent of the drugs approved for sale in the United States in 2008 had human trials in foreign countries. The industry and their mouthpieces would like us to believe ethical controls and patient protection in those countries were just as robust as those in the United States.

The historical record is that poor, incarcerated populations and mental patients have always been guinea pigs, and without safeguards.

Canada was involved – McGill University psychiatric facility, the Allan Memorial Institute was a participant in MK-ULTRA, the CIA mind-control research program that included LSD, experimental drugs, brainwashing techniques and electroshocks as treatment. And, without the knowledge or permission of patients.

While the medical experimentation of poor and illiterate Blacks in the USA – the Tuskegee Syphilis Study is well-known, what isn’t is the one carried out by the USA in Guatemala. Peasants, soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients were deliberately exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea, and chancroid, and even re-infected.

August 20, 2008, Times (UK) reported that forty-nine babies died in drug tests at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, “an elite medical college and public hospital renowned for providing low-cost treatment to the poor.” India is the leading destination for international pharmaceutical companies to outsource clinical trials.

Given that research fraud occurs “here” – all should be concerned about clinical trials in foreign countries for reasons that are self-evident. Especially, in those that have a culture of lower standards, cutting corners, and no respect for human life.

The Globe and Mail editorial of September 7, 2011, blasted Health Canada over its “failing to publicly disclose information about safety and efficacy of drugs, including study designs and results.”

It took issue with their withholding crucial information in regards to clinical trials as “trade secrets” or “confidential business information,” and pointed out many doctors were prescribing a class of drugs used to treat depression and anxiety “off-label to teenagers, not knowing about their potentially serious side effects.”

Part 2 Next Issue