Stop Subsidizing Obesity

HOW TAX DOLLARS BECOME TWINKIES—Since 1995, $17 billion in subsidies for big agribusiness have gone to common junk food ingredients including high-fructose corn syrup.

PUT JUNK FOOD SUBSIDIES ON A DIET

Almost anything you can think of would be a better use of our tax dollars than subsidizing the ingredients in junk food, but every year more than a billion taxpayer dollars do just that. Huge, profitable corporations like Cargill and Monsanto have pocketed $17 billion in the last 15 years and turned subsidized crops into junk food ingredients — including high-fructose corn syrup.

These taxpayer giveaways are all the more absurd at a time when 1 in 3 kids is overweight or obese, and obesity-related diseases like diabetes are turning into an epidemic.

Many of these wasteful subsidies are set to expire this year, but industry lobbyists are urging Congress to keep them. In 2008 alone, big agribusinesses spent $200 million on lobbying and campaign contributions.

No one in Congress wants to be seen standing up for taxpayer giveaways to junk food. Cutting wasteful spending while attacking childhood obesity could be the perfect storm we need to push past the junk food industry.

Obesity Quick Facts:

    • Diets high in saturated fats impair learning and memory.
    • Once an adult problem, diabetes associated with obesity is growing among children.
    • One in three school-age children is overweight or obese.
    • The rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years.

Issue updates

News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Consumer Protection, Food

FDA Protects Public by Releasing Two Long-Delayed Food Safety Rules

Statement of Jennifer Kim, NJPIRG State Director, on the FDA’s proposed new rules for food safety.

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Tax

Subsidizing Bad Behavior

BP’s recent $4.5 billion legal settlement with the Justice Department for its misdeeds in the Gulf oil spill was historic for being the largest ever criminal settlement. But it was historic for another reason as well—none of it is allowed to be tax deductible. Unfortunately, too many settlements for wrongdoing end up as tax deductions.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Tax

“IT’S TIME TO LISTEN TO MAIN STREET, NOT WALL STREET”

TRENTON, December 6th – With Congress scrambling to agree on ways to reduce the deficit, NJPIRG and the NJ Main Street Alliance joined with New Jersey small business owners today, urging Congress and the President to listen to the needs of small businesses in ongoing debates over the fate of the Bush tax cuts and corporate tax loopholes. The groups were supported in their push for more equitable individual and corporate taxation by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06).

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Tax

What America Could Do with $150 Billion Lost to Offshore Tax Havens

Many corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—to avoid paying $150 billion in U.S. taxes each year. To put this sum in perspective, this factsheet provides examples of how it could be used.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Consumer Protection, Food

New Report: American Lives at Risk from Unsafe Foods

Despite government commitments to address the problem, food recalls are on the rise and our food safety systems are broken, according to a new report by New Jersey PIRG.  Contaminated food makes 48 million Americans sick every year and costs over $77 billion in aggregated economic costs.  Here in New Jersey, in the last 21 months 121 people were made sick from foodborne illnesses linked directly to food recalls; the cost of these illnesses to our state's economy was over $5.1 million.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget

New Report Shows That New Jersey Has High Risk for Misuse of Developer Subsidies

A new research report today shows that New Jersey is at high risk for misuse of tax revenue thanks to a problematic system of funding commercial development.  The report outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to borrow against future growth and divert tax revenues as a way to attract economic development. 

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Media Hit | Budget, Food

newjerseynewsroom.com: Report: Federal agriculture subsidies pay for 19 Twinkies per N.J. taxpayer

Have you received your 19 free Twinkies and quarter of an apple from the federal government yet?  Well ok, it doesn’t exactly work that way but federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 19 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to the report "Apples to Twinkies" made public Thursday by New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Food, Health Care

Ag Subsidies Pay for 19 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only a Quarter of an Apple

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are also subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 19 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to Apples to Twinkies, a new report by NJPIRG released today at Lincoln Park Community Farm.   Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy less than a quarter of an apple per taxpayer.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

New Report: Misplaced highway spending to blame for crumbling roads and bridges

Drivers in New Jersey pay an extra $596 per year on car repairs due to highways and bridges in disrepair. Drivers in the New York-Newark metropolitan area spend upwards of $638 extra on car repairs in a year.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Democracy

New Jersey Earns "C+" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

New Jersey got a “C+” when it comes to openness about government spending, according to Following the Money 2011: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, the second annual report of its kind by the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG).  Included with the report is aninteractive online tool that allows users to view what New Jersey is doing best and worst compared to other states’ transparency practices.

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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

Do Roads Pay For Themselves?

Highway advocates often claim that roads “pay for themselves,” with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering – or nearly covering – the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong.

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Report | NJPIRG | Food

Recipe for Disaster

The recall of more than 500 million eggs from two Iowa egg farms is the largest but not the last of 85 recalls that have taken place in the year since food safety reform moved to the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) on July 30, 2009. However, the Senate’s version of the bill – the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) – has languished while waiting for time on the Senate’s floor schedule.

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You Can Help

We have a chance to cut billions in junk food subsidies this year. Your support will help us do the research, advocacy and grassroots organizing to convince our elected officials to act.

Priority Action

Every year, our tax dollars pay for enough corn syrup and other junk food additives to buy 2.8 million Twinkies. It's time to stop subsidizing obesity.

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