Public Health

News Release | NJPIRG | Public Health, Transportation

Chemical Security Getting On the Right Track

“The President’s Executive Order is a great step forward in modernizing the security of our chemical facilities.”

News Release | NJPIRG | Public Health, Health Care

NJPIRG Urges Governor Christie to Invest in Outreach For New Healthcare Options

We are two months away from New Jersey’s health insurance exchange going live, and thousands of New Jerseyans who stand to benefit won't even know about their new, affordable options unless the Governor releases the funds for outreach and education.

News Release | NJPIRG | Budget, Public Health, Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 20 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only Half of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high-fructose corn syrup, at a rate that would buy 20 Twinkies for each taxpayer every year, according to NJPIRG's new report, “Apples to Twinkies 2013: Comparing Taxpayer Subsidies for Fresh Produce and Junk Food.”

Report | NJPIRG | Budget, Public Health, Food

Apples to Twinkies 2013

At a time when America faces high obesity rates and tough federal budget choices, taxpayer dollars are funding the production of junk food ingredients. Since 1995, the government has spent $292.5 billion on agricultural subsidies, $19.2 billion of which have subsidized corn- and soy-derived junk food ingredients. These subsidies are all the more egregious at a time when America is facing an obesity epidemic. Children are three times more likely to be obese than their counterparts three decades ago. With over 31 percent of the adolescent population now overweight or obese, and estimates of obesity-related medical costs reaching $150 billion per year, it is absurd that the federal government continues to finance the production of sweeteners and oil additives.

The concentrated distribution of subsidypayments further demonstrates how the current system fails to appropriately direct federal dollars. The system disproportionately benefits larger commodity cropproducers, sending tax subsidies to large, already-profitable players. These subsidies also do not fund all crops equally. Apples, the only fruit or vegetable to receive significant federal subsidies, garnered only $689 million over the same period. Had these subsidies gone directly to America’s 146 million taxpayers, the apple subsidies would enable each taxpayer to buy half an apple each year—but the annual junk food subsidies would add up to nearly 20 Twinkies each.

Key findings:

 

  • Of the total $292.5 billion allotted in agriculture subsidies, 3.8 percent of farmers collected $178.5 billion, while 62 percent of farms did not receive any federal funds.
  • Taxpayers spent $84.4 billion on corn production, $8.1 billion of which funded production of corn starch and sweeteners. Of the total domestic corn produced, 9.6 percent ended up in junk food and beverages as sweeteners or thickeners.
  • Soy subsidies rank fifth on the list of subsidized crops, costing taxpayers $27.8 billion. Since 1995, soy oils have consumed approximately $11.1 billion in taxpayer subsidies.
  • With the money used to subsidize corn and soy junk food ingredients, the government could buy almost 52 billion Twinkies—enough to circle the Earth 132 times when placed end to end, or meet the caloric needs of the entire U.S. population for 12 days.

Twenty Top Generic Drugs Delayed By Industry Payoffs

New Jerseyans with cancer, heart disease, epilepsy and other conditions have been forced to pay an average of 10 times more than necessary for at least 20 blockbuster drugs. Brand drug manufacturers have made $98 billion in total sales off the drugs while the generic versions were delayed.

Top Twenty Pay-For-Delay Drugs

Too often, consumers are forced to shoulder a heavy financial burden, or even go without needed medicine, due to the high cost of brand-name drugs. Our research indicates that one significant cause is the practice called “pay for delay,” which inflates the drug prices paid by tens of millions of Americans. 

News Release | NJPIRG | Public Health

Chemical Tragedies Reminder of Need for Better Chemical Safety Rules

Statement of Jen Kim, NJPIRG State Director, on Senate EPW Hearing on Chemical Safety

New Report Documents A Decade Of Safety Violations By Compounding Pharmacies

The contaminated drug that caused last fall’s fungal meningitis outbreak, killing 55 people nation-wide and sickening 51 New Jerseyans, is just the tip of the iceberg of an industry-wide problem, according to a new report released today by NJPIRG.

Prescription For Danger

The fungal meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated steroid injections that killed 55 people to date and sickened more than 740 is one of the worst public health disasters the nation has seen in recent history. The tainted injections came from a drug manufacturer doing business as a “compounding pharmacy,” a classification which allowed them to evade the system of safety rules, inspections, and oversight that keep our drug supply safe.

Result | Public Health

KIDS’ SCHOOL LUNCHES NOW SAFER

For years, America’s schoolchildren have been eating beef, chicken and other foods that would have been rejected as substandard even by fast food chains. Thanks in part to our advocacy, the U.S.D.A. has stopped buying such low-quality meat for school lunches.

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