A lot of people don’t study much science, but they still rely on scientists to tell them about their world. I have studied a lot of science, and I have a scientist’s respect for the integrity and dedication of this field. But the human capacity to do everything and anything imaginable in pursuit of money have made integrity and dedication harder to find in every field. What tobacco and sugar have in common is the same strategy to try to prevent consumers from knowing how toxic and deadly their products are.
Tobacco came first, and they had to invent the field of fake science to hide what real scientists were proving. When research showed that smoking caused lung cancer (and a slew of other health problems), the tobacco industry began a 40 year campaign of fake science. Paying dishonest scientists to do dishonest “research”, suing and harrassing legitimate scientists for doing real research, and lobbying our always-up-for-sale politicians with the fake data kept the evidence “inconclusive” for decades. Decades which translated to many millions of cases of cancer which might have been prevented.
Now, the sugar industry is following their strategy closely. In the mid 1960’s, sugar consumption was declining. Consumers were coming to regard sugar as fattening, and doctors were suspecting it contributed to heart disease and diabetes. The sugar industy (including Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, General Mills, Nabisco, all contributing to the Sugar Association) knew what to do, because they watched Big Tobacco do it before them. Real research found funding scarce, fake research and dishonest scientists found money easily available. By the 1980’s, scientists knew that there was no career in researching links between sugar and chronic disease. Meanwhile, since 1970, obesity rates in the U.S. have more than doubled, while the rate of diabetes has more than tripled. And sugar consumption (including sugars, corn sweeteners, and syrups) is up to 132 lbs. a year, per person. That is double what it was a generation ago, and, well, 132 lbs. a year more than what our bodies evolved eating in the natural environment.
The Food and Drug Administration is supposed to oversee the safety of our food and drugs. But they accept the industry’s own research without question. So, based on the Sugar Association’s “research”, the FDA concluded that sugar is safe. Just as they concluded that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are really the same as natural foods, based on Monsanto corporation telling them so. And drug company research which almost always demonstrates the safety of the drugs is accepted as adequate proof. Many millions of lives will be lost to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc., before these corporate lies are curbed.
It is extremely bad for the health of the American public when bad science is used to create bad public policy and laws. And it is wrong at a very fundamental level when you have to ask “who paid for it?” every time a scientific study is cited. But that is what you have to do, because no regulatory agency is going to do it for you.