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Bush Administration Urges Junk Food
Lobby to Wage War on its Critics

Commercial Alert, November 15, 2002

Commercial Alert sent a letter today to U. S. Health and Human Services
Secretary Tommy Thompson, criticizing him for urging the junk food lobby to
wage war on those who would protect children from obesity.

Secretary Thompson told members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association
(GMA) to "go on the offensive’ against critics blaming the food industry for
obesity," according to a November 12 GMA news release. GMA members include
major junk food companies such as the Coca Cola Co., Mars Inc., PepsiCo
Inc., and Philip Morris Cos.

The letter to Secretary Thompson follows.

Dear Secretary Thompson:

It appears that you are now urging war on Americans who are fighting obesity
in children.

According to a recent release from the Grocery Manufacturers Association
(GMA), you stated as much at a recent meeting of the organization's board.
To quote the GMA release, you "encouraged GMA members to 'go on the
offensive' against critics blaming the food industry for obesity."

This is most interesting. As the nation's Secretary of Health and Human
Services, you might have raised some questions for the nation's corporate
food processors and dealers. You might have asked them, for example, why
the foods they push at kids are so often high in sugar, calories and fat,
and low in vitamins and minerals -- in other words, junk food.

You might have asked them too why they barrage kids with junk food
advertising in the first place. After all, the Bush Administration claims
to champion the role of parents in the home. How then could you condone the
way that giant food corporations bypass parents and speak directly to
impressionable children in order to seduce them into buying and eating junk

Many American parents would like to see you raise such questions. They would
like to see someone in Washington with the character and gumption to stand
up to an industry that is constantly luring their kids. Instead you have
told the food corporations exactly what they want to hear – that the problem
is their critics and not themselves.

To deny that the junk food industry, and its artillery of marketing, has any
role in the epidemic of childhood obesity is as absurd as the size of the
soft money contributions that some GMA members made to the Republican Party
during the 2002 election cycle.

You are currently under the employ of the United States Government; you are
not a cheerleader for the likes of Philip Morris and Coca-Cola. If you
cannot promote the health of our nation’s children, or conceive of serving
them and not the junk food industry, then it is time for you to clean out
your desk, and join the corporate lobbyists on K Street.


Gary Ruskin
Executive Director
Commercial Alert

<-------letter ends here------->

The November 12 Grocery Manufacturers Association news release is available
at: <
<> ;>.

Commercial Alert's mission is to keep the commercial culture within its
proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the
higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy.
Commercial Alert has more than 1,500 members representing all 50 states and
the District of Columbia. To become a member, see our website at

Commercial Alert's materials are distributed via our email list. To
subscribe, go to
<>, or send a
blank message to <>. Subscribers receive 1-2
emails per week.

This note is posted at:
Gary Ruskin |
Commercial Alert |
Congressional Accountability Project |
phone: 503.235.8012 | fax: 503.235.5073

Commercial Alert
4110 SE Hawthorne Blvd. #123
Portland, OR 97214


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