Publication Date: February 18, 2014 | ISBN-10: 0199937192 | ISBN-13: 978-0199937196 | Edition: 1
Decisions made by the food, tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceutical, gun, and automobile industries have a greater impact on today’s health than the decisions of scientists and policymakers. As the collective influence of corporations has grown, governments around the world have stepped back from their responsibility to protect public health by privatizing key services, weakening regulations, and cutting funding for consumer and environmental protection. Today’s corporations are increasingly free to make decisions that benefit their bottom line at the expense of public health.
Lethal but Legal examines how corporations have impacted — and plagued — public health over the last century, first in industrialized countries and now in developing regions. It is both a current history of corporations’ antagonism towards health and an analysis of the emerging movements that are challenging these industries’ dangerous practices. The reforms outlined here aim to strike a healthier balance between large companies’ right to make a profit and governments’ responsibility to protect their populations.
While other books have addressed parts of this story, Lethal but Legal is the first to connect the dots between unhealthy products, business-dominated politics, and the growing burdens of disease and health care costs. By identifying the common causes of all these problems, then situating them in the context of other health challenges that societies have overcome in the past, this book provides readers with the insights they need to take practical and effective action to restore consumers’ right to health.
In a nutshell, public-health professor Freudenberg finds that the greatest threat to the health and well-being of humanity is an upside-down health system. He contends that, rather than a political-economic system that supports the health of the general population, public health is compromised to support the well-being of our current political-economic system. He refers to what he calls a “corporate consumption complex,” a disproportionately small group of business and political interests, as if it is an entity that thrives on “hyperconsumption” by a mass populace whose good health is being sacrificed in the name of profit. He makes his case via examples of both blatant and unintentional disregard for public health within the food, alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical, gun, and automobile industries, which value profit over consumer health. His argument is so strong, passionate, and laced with intemperate phrases that it is clear that Freudenberg’s intention is less a call to reason than a rallying cry for an army of Davids against a systemic Goliath. –Donna Chavez
“Superb, magnificently written, courageous, and compelling exposé of how corporations enrich themselves at the expense of public health–and how we can organize to counter corporate power and achieve a healthier and more sustainable food environment. This should be required reading for anyone who cares about promoting health, protecting democratic institutions, and achieving a more equitable and just society.” -Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University; author Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
“A reservoir of constructive indignation that can arouse all Americans who adhere to basic human values.” –Ralph Nader
“A real eye-opener. Freudenberg lays out the labyrinth of connections between corporate misbehavior and the health of the world, then and gives a roadmap to fix it. I love this book.” –Cheryl G. Healton, Director, NYU Global Institute of Public Health; former President and CEO, American Legacy Foundation
“After documenting how multinational corporations manipulate us into hyperconsumption, this book goes on to identify the strategies we can, together, use to liberate ourselves.” –Richard Wilkinson, Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology, University of Nottingham
“Freudenberg brings clarity to our understanding of these fundamental determinants of population health in a way that no one else has.” –Sandro Galea, Gelman Professor and Chair of Epidemiology, Columbia University
“A richly detailed account of how corporate power has been used to corrupt health and well-being, along with excellent advice on what readers can do about it.” –Kirkus Reviews
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Hardcover: 344 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (February 18, 2014)