October 1, 2015
|Emilie K. Aguirre
Liberalising Agricultural Policy for Sugar in Europe Risks Damaging Public Health (with Oliver Mytton and Pablo Monsivais), British Medical Journal (2015).
Concerns about the health effects of dietary sugars have recently gained traction, reflecting an emerging understanding of the importance of sugars, and particularly sugary drinks, in the development of obesity and diabetes. There have been calls for action to reduce sugar consumption, including voluntary industry reformulation and taxes or warning labels on sugary foods. Yet so far, relatively little attention has been given to important structural factors, including in agriculture, which influence sugar consumption in the UK. Agricultural policy, through its effect on price and availability of foods, is known to be an important determinant of health. The European common agricultural policy has historically protected the European sucrose (sugar beet) industry through interventions that have kept commodity prices high and prevented foreign imports. For the past decade, the EU has been phasing out these protections ("liberalisation") and this process will be nearly complete by 2017. In this article Emilie Aguirre describes the effect liberalisation may have on the production, price, and addition of sugars to processed foods.