2011-06-23 "Is the Food Industry Funding Deceptive Science?" by Angela B.
We have heard a lot in recent years about the questionable or sometimes downright unethical corporate business practices of “Big Pharma” and “Big Tobacco“–now, even “Big Soda.” But what about “Big Food?” Well, according to recent reports, some experts are convinced the corporate food and agribusiness industry is also in need of some watchdogging.
According to ABC news [http://abcnews.go.com/US/big-food-money-accused-influencing-science/story?id=13845186], premier scientific researchers, such as David Allison of the University of Alabama, are increasingly being funded by the big names in corporate food, and their financial ties to such companies as Coca Cola, Kraft, McDonald’s, Mars and Nabisco (just to name a few) may be threatening their objectivity:
“Critics say Allison is part of a concerted effort by big food to co-opt scientists not only by funding their research but by offering them lucrative speaking and consulting deals, in an effort to confuse U.S. families about the health effects of popular food products. Such tactics, critics say, are similar to those once used by Big Tobacco.”
In a recent commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) [http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/304/13/1487.extract?sid=88a59f32-075a-4e8b-a3a0-d5585f29d59d], researchers warn that “the food and beverage industry has created or funded front groups reminiscent of the tobacco institute that give the appearance of grassroots support.”
One such group the JAMA writers cite is the Center for Consumer Freedom, an organization which in truth was founded by a $600, 000 gift from big tobacco and is funded by powerful agribusinesses (as well as America’s most prominent tobacco and alcohol barons) [http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/opposition/facts/things_you_didnt_know_about.html]. The center is known for maliciously opposing public health and advocacy groups such as PETA, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, Center for Science in the Public Interest, The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
From the CCF website [http://consumerfreedom.com/about.cfm]:
“A growing cabal of activists has meddled in Americans' lives in recent years. They include self-anointed ‘food police,’ health campaigners, trial lawyers, personal-finance do-gooders, animal-rights misanthropes, and meddling bureaucrats. Their common denominator? They all claim to know ‘what’s best for you.’ In reality, they're eroding our basic freedoms: the freedom to buy what we want, eat what we want, drink what we want, and raise our children as we see fit.”
The question of unbiased science in the food industry and its impact on our health has also been explored in such recent blogs-gone-books as Michele Simon’s "Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health" and "How to Fight Back and Marion Nestle’s Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health".