PBI-Colombia accompanied CCAJAR lawyers back proposed junk food law in Colombia to advance the right to health, decry industry opposition

Published by Brent Patterson on

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CCAJAR lawyer Yessika Hoyos: “The interference of the ultra-processed and sweetened beverages industry in the scheduling and approval of the [Junk Food Law] is an attack against the public interest, democracy and human rights.”

El Espectador reports: “Bill 347 of 2020 – #LeyComidaChatarra [Junk Food Law] seeks to establish that ultra-processed beverages and edibles have front warning seals that inform us if the product contains sweeteners or excess sugar, sodium or saturated fats.”

That article adds: “This law, which seeks to put clearer labelling on ultra-processed foods and thus prevent their consumption, may sink in its final stretch. …If it is not discussed [in the Senate] before June 20, it will be shelved for lack of formalities.”

El Pais also reports: “The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ collective sent a letter to the President of the Senate, Arturo Char, stating that ‘we consider that the adoption of public health measures aimed at preventing non-communicable diseases is a necessary measure to advance in the level of guarantee of the right to health’.”

And Semana further notes: “The José Alvear Restrepo group of lawyers also made the call to the Senate. ‘Apparently, our Senate congressmen care little or nothing about public health and many legislate in favor of their particular interests or legislate for contributors to their political campaigns’, said Yessika Hoyos, a lawyer for the group.”

Industry lobbying defeated Canada’s Junk Food Law

In September 2016, Senator Nancy Greene Raine introduced the Child Health Protection Act (Bill S-228) that would have placed restrictions on advertising foods high in salt, sugar or fat to children under 12 years of age.

The legislation stalled in the Senate and died in June 2019.

A University of Toronto study earlier this year found that industry lobbied heavily against the proposed legislation.

Their study, published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), “analyzed 139 meetings, 65 lobbying registrants, 215 lobbying registrations and 3418 communications related to children’s marketing and Bill S-228.”

It found that: “Most interactions were from industry stakeholders, including 84.2% of meetings (117/139), 81.5% of lobbying registrants (53/65), 83.3% of lobbying registrations (179/215) and 83.9% of communications (2866/3418). Most interactions (> 80%) in the highest-ranking government offices were by industry.”

PBI accompaniment

PBI has accompanied the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) since 1995. Over 400 lawyers have been killed in Colombia since 1991. Alirio Uribe of CCAJAR has stated: “The death sentences against each and every one of us have not been carried out because we are not alone, we have the accompaniment of PBI.”

CCAJAR: “Colombia cannot continue to be a victim of industry interference…”

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