Food and soft drink industry has too much influence over US dietary guidelines, report saysBMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1666 (Published 24 April 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1666
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Dear BMJ’s Editor in Chief,
It is concerning that BMJ has chosen to highlight the most recent propaganda efforts from the self-proclaimed anti-business activist group known as Corporate Accountability, which is designed to cause confusion. This group does not appear to have any scientists on their staff or as outside advisors, and they do not raise one single issue of science in their pamphlet. As one of the world’s top four most cited general medical journals with a high impact factor, it is surprising that BMJ chose to feature information that is a clear political attack and not supported by science.
Public-private partnerships requiring collaboration between governmental, academic and industrial scientists are supported by and promoted by the most respected international agencies, such as demonstrated currently by the World Health Organization and by the United Nations under Sustainable Development Goal 17. Many governments even require public-private collaborations to initiate funding such as New Zealand’s National Science Challenge/High Value Nutrition program and an important portion of the European Union’s (EU) research program.
The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is a global, non-profit, member-supported scientific organization that does indeed try to foster scientific cooperation among and between scientists in government, academia and industry. Like all organizations, we do not claim perfection, but ILSI’s collaborative scientific-partnerships model has enabled much needed scientific-capacity building in many underdeveloped countries. Many low-income countries have benefited from the science that has been generated at ILSI during its history, as well as the interactions scientists from those countries have established with leading scientists from around the globe.
ILSI is proud to be working with top scientists in their fields of nutrition, food safety, risk assessment and sustainability. Precisely because ILSI supports multi-sector cooperation, every scientist we interact with will have some connection to the food sector and agri-food industry, even if it is only to engage in dialogue.
By charter, the global ILSI board and all entity boards have a minimum of 50% of their members from the public sector. It should be noted that one of ILSI’s mandatory internal policies is that Trustees are not compensated by any ILSI entity for serving on the board or any committee.
ILSI has worked for decades to address potential conflicts of interest, with numerous papers in the peer-reviewed literature. Most recently, ILSI North America has partnered with the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) to form a consortium addressing scientific integrity . And ILSI Europe has recently been accepted in the Transparency Register of the European Union (EU).
In the history of our planet, there has never been a more critical time for government, academia and industry to work together to improve public health. ILSI stands ready to cooperate with scientists from all of these stakeholders.
Stéphane Vidry, PhD
Director of Operations
International Life Sciences Institute
Competing interests: Full time employee at ILSI Governance and Coordination