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6-Regulation: WHO 'infiltrated by food industry'



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TITLE:  WHO 'infiltrated by food industry'
SOURCE: The Guardian, UK, by Sarah Boseley
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/food/Story/0,2763,871250,00.html
DATE:   Jan 9, 2003

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


WHO 'infiltrated by food industry'

The food industry has infiltrated the World Health Organisation, just as 
the tobacco industry did, and succeeded in exerting "undue influence" over 
policies intended to safeguard public health by limiting the amount of fat, 
sugar and salt we consume, according to a confidential report obtained by 
the Guardian.

The report, by an independent consultant to the WHO, finds that:

 food companies attempted to place scientists favourable to their views on 
WHO and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) committees

 they financially supported non-governmental organisations which were 
invited to formal discussions on key issues with the UN agencies

 they financed research and policy groups that supported their views

 they financed individuals who would promote "anti-regulation ideology" to 
the public, for instance in newspaper articles.

"The easy movement of experts - toxicologists in particular - between 
private firms, universities, tobacco and food industries and international 
agencies creates the conditions for conflict of interest," says the report 
by Norbert Hirschhorn, a Connecticut-based public health academic who 
searched archives set up during litigation in the US for references to food 
companies owned or linked to the tobacco industry.

He finds that there is reasonable suspicion that undue influence was 
exerted "on specific WHO/FAO food policies dealing with dietary guidelines, 
pesticide use, additives, trans-fatty acids and sugar.

"The food industry is considerably engaged in genetically modified foods 
and the tobacco industry has studied the matter closely with respect to its 
product; there is evidence the tobacco industry planned also to influence 
the debate over biotechnology."

The WHO and FAO need the scientific input of the food industry, says the 
report, but that input must be transparent and subject to open debate.

"One industry-led organisation, International Life Sciences Institute 
(ILSI), has positioned its experts and expertise across the whole spectrum 
of food and tobacco policies: at conferences, on FAO/WHO food policy 
committees and within WHO, and with monographs, journals and technical 
briefs."

Some of the strongest criticism in the report is levelled against the ILSI, 
founded in Washington in 1978 by the Heinz Foundation, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-
Cola, General Foods, Kraft (owned by Philip Morris) and Procter & Gamble. 
Until 1991 it was led by Alex Malaspina, vice-president of Coca-Cola.

Dr Malaspina established ILSI as a non-governmental organisation "in 
official relations" with the WHO and secured it "specialised consultative 
status" with the FAO.

Eileen Kennedy, global executive director of ILSI, said that the funding of 
its regional groups came exclusively from industry, while the central body 
received money from the branches, from government and from an endowment set 
up by Dr Malaspina. Nonetheless, she said, ILSI regarded itself as an 
independent body.


[ILSI together with Monsanto and other biotech companies also developed the 
"official" approach how to evaluate the allergenic potential of GE food. 
Especially the part on unknown allergenes has been judged by independent 
experts as not appropriate. HM/GENET]

 

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