Multinational Monitor

OCT 2004
VOL 25 No. 10


A People's Health System: Venezuela Works to Bring Healthcare to the Excluded
by Peter Maybarduke

Managed Care Goes Global: Latin America Confronts the Multinational Health Insurers
by Celia Iriart, Howard Waitzkin and Emerson Merhy


Nursing Power: California Nurses’ Collective Advocacy for Patients and Nurses
an interview with Rose Ann DeMoro

Physicians Rx For An Ailing Healthcare System
an interview with Claudia Fegan

NHS, Inc: The Accelerating Marketization of the UK's National Health Service
an interview with Allyson Pollock


Behind the Lines

The Right to Healthcare

The Front
Justice DeLay'd - Flu Profiteers

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Behind the Lines

U.S. Protects Pesticide

U.S. government representatives in September announced plans to block a North American phase out of the dangerous pesticide lindane.

Canada plans to eliminate agricultural uses of lindane by the end of 2004, reports the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), and Mexico plans a full phase out of agricultural, veterinary and pharmaceutical uses of the pesticide. Lindane is a neurotoxin that persists in air and water and has been found at high levels in the Arctic.

The United States announced at a September meeting organized by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America — established in connection with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — that it plans to continue use of the pesticide.

“The U.S. position allowing continued use of lindane is downright shameful,” says Pam Miller, the official nongovernmental organization (NGO) representative on the task force considering pesticide policy and executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “The United States should take a lead role in getting rid of this old and dangerous chemical, not lag behind the rest of the world.”

Lindane is a known neurotoxin that causes seizures, damages the nervous system and weakens the immune system, according to PANNA. Exposure may also cause cancer and disrupt the human and animal hormone systems. Because lindane is highly persistent and travels globally via air and water, its continued use in agriculture poses an exposure risk to people far from the source, explains PANNA. Lindane is now one of the most abundant pesticides in Arctic air, water and wildlife; as a result, northern indigenous peoples consuming traditional diets risk lindane exposures above levels considered safe.

Dealing with Saddam

Chevron, Mobil and Texaco were among the corporations that purchased oil from Iraq under the UN-operated oil-for-food program while sanctions were in place against the regime of Saddam Hussein.

The companies’ activities were not illegal. They were conducted under UN oversight. Hundreds of other companies from around the world participated in the program, either purchasing oil or supplying products designated as humanitarian.

The names of these companies, and hundreds of others that did business with the Saddam Hussein regime, first became public in October following publication of the Duelfer report, the Iraq Survey Group report issued by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Another list was published weeks later by the Independent Inquiry Committee into the UN Oil-for-Food Program, a committee established by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and chaired by Paul Volcker, former chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Oil sales under the program were subject to review by the Security Council’s Iraq sanctions committee.

U.S. sanctions against Iraq prohibited doing business with the country, but a special exemption was created to purchase the oil as part of the UN food-for-oil program.

“The program was abused when Saddam Hussein intervened, personally selecting individuals and companies to receive oil allocations,” reports the New York Times. Over time, Saddam Hussein allegedly demanded kickbacks from the oil dealers, and may have used the funds to purchase weapons.

A U.S. federal grand jury is investigating possible abuses of the program, and, reports the New York Times, has subpoenaed El Paso Corporation, which assumed control of the assets of a company, Coastal Corporation, once run by Oscar Wyatt, who received allocations from the Saddam Hussein government for 74 million barrels of oil.

B&W: Not Cool

Cigarette maker Brown & Williamson in October agreed to stop targeting African-American youth with a hip-hop-oriented promotional campaign for Kool cigarettes.

The company agreed to change marketing practices to settle lawsuits brought by state attorneys general from New York, Maryland and Illinois.

The lawsuits had asserted that the company’s 2004 “Kool MIXX” promotion — billed by the company as a “celebration” of Hip Hop music and culture — violated the 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) by targeting African-American youth. The MSA settled large-scale suits brought by the states against the tobacco industry in order to recover medical costs of treating smoking-related illness.

The settlement was reached with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which acquired the assets of Brown & Williamson in July.

Under the settlement, R.J. Reynolds agreed to substantial limitations on all future “Kool MIXX” promotions, and agreed to pay $1.46 million to be used for youth smoking prevention purposes.

“This is the first time that the industry has agreed to marketing limitations that are even stricter than those set forth in the MSA,” says New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

The “Kool MIXX” promotion focused on Hip Hop music and culture, and included a wide variety of marketing efforts, including: Hip Hop DJ “mixing” competitions with cash prizes held in New York, Illinois, Maryland and 10 other states; the nationwide distribution of over 1 million CD-ROMs featuring Hip Hop music and interactive games; the distribution of over 750,000 “special edition” Kool cigarette packs with Hip Hop design graphics; and the creation of a “House of Menthol” website that had a flawed “age verification” system.

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