Feature Conflicts of Interest in Research

Scientists take first steps to form united front over interactions with global food industry

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6859 (Published 17 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6859
  1. Matthew Limb, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. limb{at}btinternet.com

Matthew Limb reports from a conference that sought to build bridges between scientists split over food industry funding of nutrition research

Researchers in dietary public health are seeking to reach a new “consensus” agreement to define common rules for the way they engage with the global food industry. Leading figures say a framework of approved principles is needed to protect scientific integrity and avert harmful splits over what actions constitute conflicts of interest.

Many want food corporations banned from direct funding of public health research and to create a separate funding mechanism. Longer term ideas for funding include a tax on the big food manufacturers.

Around 70 researchers joined a meeting at Cambridge University on 11 December intended to start the process of building consensus. It was organised by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research, one of five UK centres of excellence in public health research.

The participants, almost all from the UK, included representatives from universities and charities, with some specialising in areas such as obesity, …

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