New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 183

new internationalist
issue 183 - May 1988

BRIEFLY...

CONSUMER POWER

Boycott Cape's grannies
Exports of South African Granny Smiths, long the focus of boycott activity by anti-apartheid groups, look set to be badly hit this year. African Analysis reports the country usually supplies about 150,000 tonnes of apples a year to Europe. But an increase of 10 per cent in domestic apple production last year - yes, yet another EEC food mountain - together with an export push by North American growers threatens the fruit exports of the racist regime.

Anti-apartheid lobbyists have been receiving a sympathetic hearing from those protectors of European farming interests among Members of the European Parliament. Warehouses are groaning with two million tonnes of home-produced apples and prices have fallen between 10 and 20 per cent. So the European Commission has just adopted regulations to tighten up controls on the importation of apples.

From African Analysis, No. 41, 1988.

WORLD HEALTH

Vital statistics
Highlights from she World Health Statistics Annual 1987, just released include:

· HEART There has been an improvement in mortality from cardiovascular disease between the early 1970s and the early 1980s in industrialized countries. Coronaries have declined by 30-40 per cent in Australia, Canada and the US, by 10-15 per cent in the UK.

· CANCER Stomach cancer was the most common form of the disease in 1980, making up 10.5 per cent of new cases, with lung cancer a close second at 10.4 per cent. The variations between countries reflect closely, says WHO, differing diets, personal habits and smoking. The highest death rate from lung cancer in the world is in Scotland with 69 per 100,000 population, followed by England and Wales with 57 deaths per 100,000.

· AIDS The number of new AIDS cases is expected to rise steeply over the next five years, with between 500,000 and three million new cases. WHO reckons between five and ten million people carry the human immuno-deficiency virus - believed to be the agent of the disease.

From World Health Organization Features. No. 116, 1988.

MULTINATIONAL
CORPORATIONS

Lighting up in Ghana
The tobacco industry is alive and well in Ghana, even if its consumers are coughing their way to the grave. Government regulation of cigarette advertising by multinational tobacco corporations, according to a Canadian visitor writing in the Toronto Globe and Mail, is almost non-existent. International Monetary Fund inspired cutbacks in government spending and encouragement of private enterprise mean that road signs, speed limits and town signs have a cigarette brand name incorporated into them. Nurses wear wristwatches with cigarette brands on the face.

In the city of Tamale a British tobacco firm sponsored a teenage dance. As a side event, there was a smoking contest where entrants tried to smoke as many cigarettes as possible in a five minute period ... the cancer-sticks provided free of course.

From correspondence received.

TOBACCO

Who pays the piper?
In the Third World, the prospect of a fast cash return from a tobacco crop can be irresistible to poor farmers. It is equally irresistible to their governments. Taxes on cigarettes accounted in 1980 for 47 per cent of government income in the Philippines. Is it any wonder that the country also refused to print health warnings on cigarette packs?

From CUSO Newsletter. Fall, 1987.

MOZAMBIQUE

Foreign meddling
'Low intensity warfare' is the term used to sum up South Africa's covert aid to Mozambiquan guerillas. It involves destabilizing the country by promoting insurgency and further weakening an impoverished government, forcing it to waste resources on defence. And the victims of this adroit foreign policy power play? In the past six years more than 300,000 Mozambiquan children under five have died from the war and consequent disruption of health care, food production and distribution. Since 1980 the child mortality rate has doubled. It is now the highest in the world - estimated between 325 and 375 per 1,000.

From American Jewish World Service, reported in World Development Forum, Vol. 6. No. 3 1988.

PEACE

Ethical Church investment
Sixty-two religiously affiliated shareholders are asking 19 major US corporations to stop building weapons and convert their work force and factories to peaceful, civilian production. 'It is profitable to produce tanks, missiles and nuclear weapons,' charges spokesperson Valerie Heinonen. 'If it were not, the technical ingenuity and management creativity of US corporations would be directed toward building a sound economy and a just society.'

The church-related investors are sponsoring 21 shareholder resolutions to corporations like DuPont, General Electric, ITT, and Motorola, owning over 165,000 shares of stock valued at more than $7.5 million. Their campaign is coordinated by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, an ecumenical coalition with combined holdings of more than $20 billion. Religious investors have campaigned against nuclear weapons manufacturers for nine years and Star Wars contractors for the last five years.

From Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, ICCR 1/29/88.

GUATEMALA

Militarization of the economy
The armed forces in some nations of the South amount to a third business sector - after the private and state sectors. This is especially true of Guatemala. The aptly named Military Social Welfare Institute is ostensibly a pension and investment fund. Its activities include running an insurance scheme, a multi-story car park and developing real estate. The army also runs its own bank, the seventh largest in the country, with assets of $95 million in 1985.

Officers of the Guatemalan armed forces have privileged access to duty-free imports like electrical goods, cheap air travel abroad, ample petrol allowances and a retirement haven in Antigua Yet despite these legal perks, the military is mired by its illicit activities. The National Center for Economic Research claimed that more than half the 1984 national budget was lost to 'corruption, debt, squandering and confidential disbursements . that are used to pay government-sponsored paramilitary groups and death squads, maintain clandestine jails and bribe delegates, politicians, journalists, union leaders and business leaders'.

From South, No. 89, 1988.

NUCLEAR POWER

Libya's nuclear accident
Scientists from the Egyptian Atomic Energy Board have been camping for months on the north east border with Libya, monitoring changes in sea water and air and examining the sand for radiation. The red alert follows an intelligence report about a nuclear accident after a fire at a 10 megawatt nuclear reactor in Tajura, Libya, last August. Four died and 23 people suffered from severe burns and other effects of radiation. Five East German scientists have flown home for treatment and not yet returned. Egypt is angry at Libya, since there has been no official word about the accident nor the state of the prevailing winds at the time.

From African Analysis, No. 42. 1988.

'Third world debt must become a concern for Christians, for the simple reason that it has
become a weapon against the poor, an instrument of oppression and a cause of despair.'
Susan George

'Those not busy being born are busy dying.'
Bob Dylan

'The social costs of this IMF programme ... are awful. In the last four years the workers' buying power has been cut by half ... The number of babies who die before they learn to walk has jumped some 30 par cent, to 100 per thousand. That translates into an additional 13,000 infant deaths a year. Noone seems to notice. Children have a way of dying quietly. It's a massacre of the innocents.'
Thomas Burns, US priest, Peru.

 

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