Public health and human rights are at a serious disadvantage in trade and investment negotiations where preference is given to alcohol industry interests.
How and to what extent the alcohol industry uses the trade policy arena to shape alcohol policy around the world remains poorly understand. This conversation with Dr Pepita Barlow sheds light on the issue and provides deep insights into a parallel arena that shapes health policy, without public health expertise even being present.
This episode provides profound new insights into a topic that needs much more attention.

The Alcohol Issues Podcast – Season 2 Episode 05

This podcast episode is part of Movendi International’s work to raise awareness about the unethical practices of the alcohol industry and how to advance public health oriented alcohol policy solutions to protect people and communities from the harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry.

No Ordinary Commodity: Trade, Big Alcohol and Alcohol Harm

This episode provides profound new insights into a topic that needs much more attention.

Public health and human rights are at a serious disadvantage in trade and investment negotiations where preference is given to alcohol industry interests.

How and to what extent the alcohol industry uses the trade policy arena to shape alcohol policy around the world remains poorly understand. This conversation with Dr Pepita Barlow sheds light on the issue and provides deep insights into a parallel arena that shapes health policy, without public health expertise even being present.

The guest

Pepita Barlow is an Assistant Professor at the London School of Economics. Previously, Dr Barlow was a Research Associate at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge and completed a DPhil (PhD) at the University of Oxford. Pepita’s research examines how policies and actors outside the health sector impact on health and health policy, with a particular focus on using novel methods and data to study the health impacts of trade policies and agreements.

S2 E5 Topic

Dr Barlow and colleagues conducted a qualitative analysis, studying discussions on alcohol health warning labelling policies at the WTO’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee meetings. Using the WTO Documents Online archive, they analyzed documents covering a 14 year period to identify minutes and referenced documents pertaining to discussions on alcohol health warning labelling policies.

Host Maik Dünnbier talks with Pepita about this analysis, how they worked and why this methodology matters. And they dive into the details of the findings. Maik and Pepita discuss what the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee is and why it matters for alcohol policy making.

Pepita and colleagues identified instances in which WTO member representatives indicated that their statements represented industry. They also developed and applied a taxonomy of alcohol industry lobbying talking points. That facilitated the identification of whether or not WTO member statements advanced arguments made by industry in domestic forums.

Pepita talks about the significance of the findings that alcohol industry friendly countries challenge another country’s alcohol policy in the WTO using alcohol industry talking points. And Maik and Pepita discuss the global justice dimension that most countries, 8 out of 10, listed in the study that wanted to improve their alcohol labeling regulation where low- and middle-income countries. But the challenges to their alcohol labelling efforts come from high-income countries that produce and export alcohol.

In the conversation, Pepita reveals the alcohol industry playbook deployed at the WTO. And Maik and Pepita talk about why the WTO matters so much for Big Alcohol and how public health concerns can play a stronger role in the future at the WTO.

Resources for the episode 

The study: “Industry Influence Over Global Alcohol Policies via the World Trade Organization: A Qualitative Analysis of Discussions on Alcohol Health Warning Labelling, 2010–19”

The Special Feature: “No Ordinary Commodity: Trade, Big Alcohol and Alcohol Harm

Feedback

Your feedback, questions, and suggestions for future topics and guests is most welcome. Please get in touch at: maik.duennbier@movendi.ngo.

You are most welcome to follow Movendi International and Maik Dünnbier on Twitter, too.

Listen to the episode

Listen to season 2, episode 05 of the Alcohol Issues Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

About The Alcohol Issues Podcast

The Alcohol Issues Podcast is an original production by Movendi International. It’s a show about current alcohol issues of global importance. Through in-depth conversations with policy makers, community leaders and scientists, we explore alcohol policy issues, discuss landmark scientific studies, and expose the alcohol industry.


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