Toxic lobby: the controversial ILSI

Toxic lobby: the controversial ILSI

An institute functions as an operator for brands trying to influence health and food. In this note, one of those responsible for unmasking him is interviewed. Courses, workshops and trainings to influence politics, industry and science.

“The global rise of the obesity and diabetes epidemics is not an accident. It is a product of the ultra-processed food industry, of the overwhelming bombardment of its advertising and marketing through the use of groups like ILSI that insidiously enter the very guts of scientific and regulatory bodies around the world, to influence them and dominate them, "says American Gary Ruskin, one of the founders and director of US Right to Know, a non-governmental organization that works for public health, and submitted five requests for access to information to analyze the work conducted by the International Life Science Institute (ILSI).

The complaint allowed Right to Know to access 17,163 pages of information revealing the work ILSI does as a lobbying tool in the political, scientific and industry environment.

Ruskin is also one of the authors of an article published in the journal Globalization and Health, which denies that ILSI develops "science for the public welfare" and "the improvement of human health, well-being and the environment", but rather It is a lobby group focused on blocking policies that affect the interests of corporations such as Monsanto and Coca-Cola.

The work is titled “Are industry-funded charities promoting‘ advocacy-led studies ’or“ evidence-based science ’? (Do industry-funded charities promote “influencing studies” or “evidence-based science”?). It was further signed by Sarah Steele, Lejla Sarcevic, Martin McKee and David Stucklerk, and states: “ILSI claims to work for the health and well-being of populations internationally, but we identify their attempts to influence people, professionals and politicians by observing evidence that its corporate members implement it as a tool to promote their interests globally ”.

Troy Horse

ILSI is a global foundation created in 1978 by Alex Malaspina, a former Coca-Cola executive. It is financed by corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont, Syngenta, Coca Cola and McDonalds, among others.

The 17,163 pages of documents were reviewed by two separate researchers, who thus managed to collect specific cases where ILSI has influenced research, information and public policies, and demonstrate how the NGO punishes organizations that promote unfavorable messages for corporations.

Ruskin, master in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Harvard University, is also co-director of USRTK, the same NGO that allowed the existence and dissemination of the Monsanto Papers that Lavaca has made available in Spanish since 2017. “ILSI has been made its way into central health, scientific and regulatory bodies around the world. They are a Trojan horse for the agri-food industry, ”says Ruskin. "They are the same tactics that the tobacco industry used at the time, trying to divert attention from the harm of corporate products."

On the obesity and diabetes epidemic, Ruskin states: “To begin to reverse the situation, we must understand where these messages come from that make public health not prevail over the power of the industry. ILSI plays a large role in that task. Only then can we put in place better and more effective policies to help prevent obesity and diabetes around the world. "

The work cautions: “Our analysis of the role of ILSI serves as a cautionary tale for those involved in global health governance. So that they mistrust the supposedly independent research groups and their funded studies ”. And it describes how prominent members of ILSI are members of international organizations related to food safety, as in the case of the JMPR.

The JMPR is the acronym in English for a group of experts from the WHO and the United Nations for Food and Agriculture (FAO) in charge of food safety, with responsibility for reviewing toxicological data of pesticides, the "acceptable" daily doses and to set the maximum limits for pesticide residues in food that are taken as a safety basis throughout the world.

In May 2016, the JMPR experts ruled out glyphosate as a problem in exposure through diet. Three of its members were from ILSI. Toxicologist Alan Boobis, co-chair of JMPR, was also chairman of the ILSI board of directors. Angelo Moretto was a rapporteur at JMPR while acting as a consultant from ILSI. Vicky Dellarco has served on several ILSI working groups.

Lobby is there?

ILSI settled in Argentina in 1990, with offices in the building of the Argentine Scientific Society. It is funded by companies such as Arcor, Basf, Bayer, Coca-Cola, Dow AgroSciences, Mondelez International, Monsanto and Syngenta, among others, according to its own website. The NGO is chaired by Dr. Clara Rubinstein, who also works for Monsanto Argentina.

One of their jobs has been to create, organize and "nurture" the Allergens Task Force with the ongoing advice and guidance from Monsanto International and scientists like Richard Goodman, as evidenced by the emails between them in the Monsanto Papers. Goodman is one of those responsible for the campaign orchestrated by Monsanto against the French geneticist Gilles-Eric Séralini for his research on the risks of GMOs.

ILSI Argentina remains almost anonymous. In 2016 it received attention when the Buenos Aires justice ordered to suspend the program for evaluating the habits of girls, boys and adolescents that the Chief of Staff and the NGO carried out through the “My Healthy School” program. MU took up the issue at the time, citing a 2012 report from the Observatory of Corporations of Europe (CEO), which already singled out ILSI as a large lobby group.

It describes how ILSI entered the WHO, FAO and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). He placed representatives in commissions of tobacco, pesticides, sugar, salt, trans fats, in moments of key debates about the toxicity of certain poisons, transgenics, additives. And, of course, the relationship between ultra-processed products and obesity. They support their position in studies in which their scientists write: "The decrease in energy expenditure and physical activity, and the number of hours invested in sedentary activities would play a critical role (in childhood obesity)", while "the increase of caloric intake is even more discussed and is due to individual characteristics of each region and to biological and cultural factors ”. Translation: the fault lies with the victims, not the industry.

The local ILSI conducts training programs, courses, workshops, and has oiled amplification media in newspapers, magazines, not including its own media such as the InfoAlimentos site.

Institutions linked to ILSI in Argentina: Codex Alimentarius, The Ministries of Health of Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos and Formosa, Secretariats of Agriculture and Environment, National Food Institute (INAL), Argentine Society of Cardiology, Argentine Medical Association (AMA), Society Argentina de Nutrition (SAN) and Pediatrics (SAP), National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI), National Technological University (UTN), among others. This ability to influence led to the ILSI bibliography being used in the approval of RR2 soybeans, or by SENASA to defend the safety of glyphosate.

Despite all the complaints, the links that ILSI Argentina maintains with a wide range of institutions show its penetration in key sectors: a deep and woven network interfering with institutions and organizations whose mission is to protect health away from corporate pressure.

Source: Monsanto Papers - La

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