April 16, 2020

The most powerful food industry group you’ve never heard of

“A shadowy industry group.” “The most powerful food industry group you’ve never heard of.” Those are just two ways the New York Times described the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) in a recent exposè.

So what exactly is ILSI?

Based in Washington, D.C., ILSI boasts 16 affiliated chapters across the world dedicated to advancing industry interests that often undermine environmental and public health protections on the behalf of some of the world’s biggest polluters, public health menaces, and labor rights abusers. For over four decades, ILSI has been peddling junk science and political influence for corporations like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dupont, Bayer-Monsanto, and McDonald’s.

It’s time for corporations to stop funding junk science, peddling it as public health information, and trying to influence public policies, often at the cost of public health

That’s why, in the lead up to the annual shareholders’ meetings of these abusive corporations, we’re demanding that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, and ILSI’s other contributors stop funding this shadowy industry group immediately.

Here’s just one example of how ILSI muddles the facts, sows doubt, and makes it harder to protect people’s health: When the World Health Organization released guidelines recommending people eat less sugar, ILSI swiftly funded a review that seemed to undermine these guidelines. The report “ignored the hundreds of randomized controlled trials” documenting the harms of sugar, according to Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As New York University Professor Marion Nestle put it, “This comes right out of the tobacco industry’s playbook: cast doubt on the science… It’s shameful.”

Together with a coalition of allies, we’re taking this message to Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, and ILSI’s other bankrollers: We demand you stop funding ILSI immediately. Its junk science and shadowy policy interference aren’t only bad for global public health, workers, and the environment, they are also at odds with your corporations’ professed values.

As we head into the time of year when many of these corporations will hold their annual shareholders’ meetings, we need as many people speaking out as possible. Together, we’ll make it clear to the executives and board members — while shareholders are present — that it is unacceptable to fund junk science.

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