Science Institute Protects Interests of Big Food, Not Public Health, Researchers Say
By Jeremy Loffredo
An investigation by academics, journalists and public interest researchers reveals a web of corporate money and industry-funded science surrounding the nonprofit organization International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). ILSI describes itself as a network of think-tanks, science societies and institutes that promote food safety and nutrition. However, as research group U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) asserts, ILSI is a “food industry lobbying group” that works to benefit its corporate donors despite its proclaimed mission of improving “human health and well-being.”
USRTK details the revolving door between the ILSI and industry, which goes as far back as the organization’s foundation in 1978. It was started by former Coca-Cola executive Alex Malaspina, and as USRTK points out, the nonprofit has maintained its close ties to Coca-Cola. For example, Michael Ernest Knowles, president of ILSI from 2009-2011, hailed from Coca-Cola where he was the vice president of global scientific and regulatory affairs. As another example, ILSI’s president in 2015, Rhona Applebaum, was, at the same time, working as Coca-Cola’s chief health and science officer. Applebaum was forced to retire from both positions after reportsshowed that Coke funded and edited the mission statement of a prominent anti-obesity advocacy group in an effort to shift public conversation away from criticism of the effects of sugary drinks and instead blame the lack of physical activity on childhood obesity.
But, as noted in this recent study, sugary drinks are to blame for this epidemic. Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna looked at 20 studies addressing the link between sugary sweetened drinks and obesity in children and adults. Of all the studies, 93% concluded that there was a “positive association” between the onset of overweight or obesity and the consumption of sugary drinks in children and adults. Other research has found positive association between sugary drinks and cancer.
USRTK highlights ILSI’s influence on domestic health officials, in the U.S. and abroad. The report highlights the example of Chinese health officials, noting that ILSI-Chinese operations are actually located inside China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention offices in Beijing. USRTK notes Harvard Professor Susan Greenhalgh findings, which show that Western food and beverage corporations have helped shape decades of Chinese science and public policy on obesity and diet by operating through ILSI.
Greenhalgh explains, “Since 2015, when The New York Times exposed Coke’s efforts to promote activity as the main solution for obesity, we’ve known that Coke was involved in distorting the science of obesity. My work reveals the scale of the impact and the inner workings of the organizations involved,” which includes ILSI.
The researchers also shows how ILSI takes money directly from food and chemical companies. While ISLI does not publicly disclose its funding from industry, researchers were able to find a $500,000 contribution from Monsanto in 2012 and more than $163,500 from Coca-Cola the same year.
In 2013, the ILSI received $337,000 from Coca-Cola and more than $100,000 each from corporations like Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Bayer.
A draft of ILSI’s 2016 tax returns also reveals hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from giants such as Nestle, Kellogg, Kraft, General Mills and Unilever.
USRTK notes that these monetary contributions can affect global health policy. In 2016, the United Nations panel on Monsanto’s chemical glyphosate was chaired by ILSI Europe Vice President Alan Boobis. Co-chairing the sessions was Angelo Moretto, an ILSI board member. Neither individual declared their ILSI leadership roles as conflicts of interest, despite the significant financial contributions ILSI has received from Monsanto.
What’s more, USRTK points out that these monetary contributions can be earmarked for specific initiatives. Coca-Cola earmarked its ILSI contributions to fund the organization’s “Platform for International Partnerships,” which manages its relationships with regulatory bodies like the World Health Organization. USRTK then references a June 2019 paper in Globalization and Health, which explains that corporations deploy ILSI “as a tool to promote their interests globally.” Researchers further demonstrate the existence of a nonprofit industrial complex, where “science institutes” like ILSI serve as a vehicle for corporate influence, at the expense of objective science and public health.
Restaurants and their allies are lobbying President Trump and Congress to press insurance companies to cover “business interruption” claims stemming from the coronavirus, even where restaurants have policies that exclude losses from pandemics.
While insurers do offer coverage, those policies are significantly more expensive than standard business-interruption policies, and few restaurants carry them, industry representatives said. But restaurants and some U.S. lawmakers say the business-shutdown orders in states and cities should constitute business interruptions under their existing policies.
Insurers are pushing back hard with the help of some Republican senators and conservative groups, saying retroactive changes to coverage policies and threats of lawsuits from restaurants could undermine the nation’s insurance system.
Cheatsheet reports Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has joined fellow renowned chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Dominique Crenn to form BIG, (Business Interruption Group), a new national legal, political, and communications campaign launched in partnership with an industry-savvy insurance attorney.
The group has spoken by phone to President Trump for his assistance in communicating with insurance companies, who have, for the most part, denied restaurants assistance during the pandemic. Specifically, they are requesting the U.S. president to step in on their behalf. And it looks like Mr. Trump is sympathetic.
Puck said, “We were encouraged by our conversation with the president about the urgent need to help the restaurant industry. All of us paid business interruption insurance for years to protect the livelihood of our employees. If the restaurant industry collapses, it has a massive effect on the entire economy. . .”
Understanding the Legal Battle
Those with no business interruption policy have no claim.
Restaurants that do have business interruption policies ought to be covered unless the policy specifically excludes pandemics.
Policies cannot be changed after the fact by Congress or anyone else, except by universal agreement of all of those who the policy covers.
The disagreement is whether the shutdown is pandemic-related or government-related.
Lobbyists have taken sides.
I believe this should be up to a court of law with the decision depending on specific policy language.
It should not be up to Congress to interpret law, nor to make businesses whole for those companies with inadequate insurance, nor insurance companies who got burnt by offering pandemic insurance.
The Facts:Professor Didier Raoult has published his early results for Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for moderate to severe COVID-19 patients. 973 patients out of 1063, according to him, have shown “a good clinical outcome.”
Reflect On:Why is there always so much controversy and politicization of science and treatments? Why are these treatments controversial within the mainstream, but vaccines cannot even be questioned?
In a new study performed at IHU Méditerranée Infection, Marseille, France a cohort of 1061 COVID-19 patients were treated for 3 days with the Hydroxychloroquine-Azithromycin (HCQ-AZ) combination. A follow-up of at least 9 days was investigated and the study found that no cardiac toxicity was observed. According to the abstract which was recently released:
“A good clinical outcome and virological cure was obtained in 973 (out of 1061) patients within 10 days (91.7%)…A poor outcome was observed for 46 patients (4.3 %); 10 were transferred to intensive care units, 5 patients died (0.47%) (74-95 years old) and 31 required 10 days of hospitalization or more…The HCQ-AZ combination, when started immediately after diagnosis, is a safe and efficient treatment for COVID-19, with a mortality rate of 0.5%, in elderly patients. It avoids worsening and clears virus persistence and contagiosity in most cases.”
It’s not clear when the complete study will be made available. But there is another side to this story, Sciencemg points out that:
The popular faith in hydroxychloroquine stands in stark contrast to the weakness of the data. Several studies of its efficacy against COVID-19 have delivered an equivocal or negative verdict, and it can have significant side effects, including heart arrhythmias. Raoult’s positive studies have been widely criticized for their limitations and methodological issues. The first included only 42 patients, and Raoult chose who received the drug or a placebo, a no-no in clinical research; the International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy has distanced itself from the paper, published in the society’s International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. The second study, published as a preprint without peer review, didn’t have a control group at all.
They go on to mention that:
Raoult has dismissed the criticism and complained about the “dictatorship of the methodologists” who insist on randomization and control groups in clinical trials. In his hospital, every patient diagnosed with COVID-19 receives hydroxychloroquine combined with azithromycin, an antibiotic. Raoult claims this has resulted in a very low death rate, which he says he will document soon in a publication.
Raoult has also found some high-level support in the medical world. An online petition in support of hydroxychloroquine was started by cardiologist and former Minister of Health Philippe Douste-Blazy—France’s candidate to lead the World Health Organization in 2017—and Christian Perronne, head of infectious diseases at the renowned Raymond Poincaré University Hospital in Garches, near Paris. Ten other prominent figures from the medical community, including two members of the Academy of Medicine, have also co-signed the petition, which demands hydroxychloroquine be authorized in hospital settings.
This has become a highly controversial topic that’s been politicized, as with most other medications and drugs. Profit and corporate interests are at stake, and therefore mass perceptions of it are controlled using various tactics and media. Sometimes it can be hard to decipher truth.
These findings also correlate with others that have been gaining attention as well.
For example, Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a board-certified family practitioner in New York, said in a video interview that a cocktail of Hydroxychloroquine, Zinc Sulfate and Azithromycin are showing phenomenon results with 900 coronavirus patients treated. (source)
In that video he stated that he believes it’s very important to “get this information out to the American people and to the world.”
Dr. Anthony Cardillo, an ER specialist and the CEO of Mend Urgent Care, has been prescribing the zinc and hydroxychloroquine combination on patients experiencing severe symptoms associated with COVID-19. In an interview with KABC-TV, Cardillo stated:
“Every patient I’ve prescribed it to has been very, very ill and within 8 to 12 hours, they were basically symptom-free, […] So, clinically I am seeing a resolution.”
“We have to be cautious and mindful that we don’t prescribe it for patients who have COVID who are well,” he said. “It should be reserved for people who are really sick, in the hospital or at home very sick, who need that medication. Otherwise we’re going to blow through our supply for patients that take it regularly for other disease processes.”
According to Cardillo, it’s the combination of zinc and hydroxychloroquine that does the job. “[Hydrocychloroquine] opens the zinc channel” allowing the zinc to enter the cell, which then “blocks the replication of cellular machinery.”
President Donald Trump has also been quite outspoken about this treatment in some of his recent press conferences. We’ve seen many mainstream media publications, however, downplay the potential of this treatment which may be confusing people.
Cardillo added that the drug should only be prescribed to patients who are on the more severe side when it comes to symptoms. This will help keep the limited supply of the drug ready for those who truly need it.
In New Jersey, Physicians have called for more autonomy in treatment of COVID-19
“An additional group of doctors has contacted a New Jersey State Senator calling on the State to lift restrictions on the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for the therapeutic treatment and prophylactic early treatment of COVID-19. The doctors are echoing Senator Pennacchio’s appeal for New Jersey to accumulate a stockpile of the medication….Pennacchio also wants the State to immediately compile a priority list for the HCQ distribution, ensuring enough medication for those currently prescribed for maladies including Lupus and RA, distribution to patients who have developed COVID-19, and for citizens as a preventive treatment. ‘I am optimistic these measures would decrease the severity and duration of the disease,’ said Pennacchio. ‘The goal must be breaking the pandemic so people can be allowed to return to their normal lives.’ ‘Allow doctors to be doctors. Remove the State’s unnecessary shackles, and let them save lives,’ Pennacchio urged.” (source)
In France, a large study indicates combination of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin to be effective in treating COVID-19
“In 80 in-patients receiving a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, the team found a clinical improvement in all but one 86 year-old patient who died, and one 74-year old patient still in intensive care unit. The team also found that, by administering hydroxychloroquine combined with azithromycin, they were able to observe an improvement in all cases, except in one patient who arrived with an advanced form…The team went on to say: ‘Thus, in addition to its direct therapeutic role, this association can play a role in controlling the disease epidemic by limiting the duration of virus shedding, which can last for several weeks in the absence of specific treatment.’” (source)
All of this, of course, continues to raise the question: why is there such a strong push for a vaccine, and perhaps a mandated one, when there are other options available now? Why is the world listening to Bill Gates and his calls for further lockdown until the vaccine is ready? Is there something else going on here? Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed that things won’t go back to ‘normal’ until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed.” You can read more about that here.
High-dose intravenous VC has also been successfully used in the treatment of 50 moderate to severe COVID-19 patients in China. The doses used varied between 2 g and 10 g per day, given over a period of 8–10 h. Additional VC bolus may be required among patients in critical conditions. The oxygenation index was improving in real time and all the patients eventually cured and were discharged. In fact, high-dose VC has been clinically used for several decades and a recent NIH expert panel document states clearly that this regimen (1.5 g/kg body weight) is safe and without major adverse events.
Again, all of this information should really raise some red flags and questions about what’s going on within governments, and their connection to pharmaceutical companies. They’re the largest lobbying entity in Washington D.C. They have more lobbyists in Washington D.C. than there are congressman and senators combined. They give twice to Congress what the next largest lobbying entity is, which is oil and gas… Imagine the power they exercise over both republicans and democrats. You can read more about that here.
Why do we continue to turn to and rely on federal health regulatory agencies and companies that don’t make health a priority, and put profits ahead of health?
Seen any walnuts in your medicine cabinet lately? According to the Food and Drug Administration, that is precisely where you should find them. Because Diamond Foods made truthful claims about the health benefits of consuming walnuts that the FDA didn’t approve, it sent the company a letter declaring, “Your walnut products are drugs” — and “new drugs” at that — and, therefore, “they may not legally be marketed … in the United States without an approved new drug application.” The agency even threatened Diamond with “seizure” if it failed to comply.
Diamond’s transgression was to make “financial investments to educate the public and supply them with walnuts,” as William Faloon of Life Extension magazine put it. On its website and packaging, the company stated that the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts have been shown to have certain health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. These claims, Faloon notes, are well supported by scientific research: “Life Extension has published 57 articles that describe the health benefits of walnuts”; and “The US National Library of Medicine database contains no fewer than 35 peer-reviewed published papers supporting a claim that ingesting walnuts improves vascular health and may reduce heart attack risk.”
This evidence was apparently not good enough for the FDA, which told Diamond that its walnuts were “misbranded” because the “product bears health claims that are not authorized by the FDA.”
The FDA’s letter continues: “We have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.” Furthermore, the products are also “misbranded” because they “are offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes.” Who knew you had to have directions to eat walnuts?
“The FDA’s language,” Faloon writes, “resembles that of an out-of-control police state where tyranny [reigns] over rationality.” He adds:
This kind of bureaucratic tyranny sends a strong signal to the food industry not to innovate in a way that informs the public about foods that protect against disease. While consumers increasingly reach for healthier dietary choices, the federal government wants to deny food companies the ability to convey findings from scientific studies about their products.
Walnuts aren’t the only food whose health benefits the FDA has tried to suppress. Producers of pomegranate juice and green tea, among others, have felt the bureaucrats’ wrath whenever they have suggested that their products are good for people.
Meanwhile, Faloon points out, foods that have little to no redeeming value are advertised endlessly, often with dubious health claims attached. For example, Frito-Lay is permitted to make all kinds of claims about its fat-laden, fried products, including that Lay’s potato chips are “heart healthy.” Faloon concludes that “the FDA obviously does not want the public to discover that they can reduce their risk of age-related disease by consuming healthy foods. They prefer consumers only learn about mass-marketed garbage foods that shorten life span by increasing degenerative disease risk.”
Faloon thinks he knows why this is the case. First, by stifling competition from makers of more healthful alternatives, junk food manufacturers, who he says “heavily lobb[y]” the federal government for favorable treatment, will rake in ever greater profits. Second, by making it less likely that Americans will consume healthful foods, big pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers stand to gain by selling more “expensive cardiac drugs, stents, and coronary bypass procedures” to those made ill by their diets.
But people are starting to fight back against the FDA’s tactics. “The makers of pomegranate juice, for example, have sued the FTC for censoring their First Amendment right to communicate scientific information to the public,” Faloon reports. Congress is also getting into the act with a bill, the Free Speech About Science Act (H.R. 1364), that, Faloon writes, “protects basic free speech rights, ends censorship of science, and enables the natural health products community to share peer-reviewed scientific findings with the public.”
Of course, if the Constitution were being followed as intended, none of this would be necessary. The FDA would not exist; but if it did, as a creation of Congress it would have no power to censor any speech whatsoever. If companies are making false claims about their products, the market will quickly punish them for it, and genuine fraud can be handled through the courts. In the absence of a government agency supposedly guaranteeing the safety of their food and drugs and the truthfulness of producers’ claims, consumers would become more discerning, as indeed they already are becoming despite the FDA’s attempts to prevent the dissemination of scientific research. Besides, as Faloon observed, “If anyone still thinks that federal agencies like the FDA protect the public, this proclamation that healthy foods are illegal drugs exposes the government’s sordid charade.”
“In the last 5 years, the 200 most politically active companies in the U.S. spent $5.8 billion influencing our government with lobbying and campaign contributions. Those same companies got $4.4 trillion in taxpayer support — earning a return of 750 times their investment.” ~Greenhouse
In 2010 the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that has forever changed the political landscape of the United States. The decision opened the floodgates for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities. The result of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has been a deluge of cash lavished on super PACs, which are just one very small step away from the candidates they support. The ruling has also established legal protections for corporations, where political spending falls into the realm of “dark money” and never needs to be publicly disclosed. As discouraging as this can be for those who value truth and transparency, the entire situation is about to get a major overhaul by way of an app that exposes corrupt politicians.
Welcome to the oligarchy of the United States
When a small group of people have control over an entire country, organization or institution, we call it an oligarchy. Here in the United States, we’ve crossed the line into this territory years ago and have seemingly turned our backs on the republic that was established when the country was founded. And yet, up until 2010, this creeping movement towards oligarchy wasn’t as obvious as it is today. It’s almost as if those in power have pulled out all the stops and are unconcerned about public opinion because, after all, the momentum is so strong, who are we to stop it?
“This place is just so inundated with corruption – it’s steeped in corruption like a teabag”, said Florida Representative Alan Grayson of Washington DC. “There was a Roman emperor – Caligula – who appointed his horse to the senate. At this point, the system has gotten so bad that if the Koch brothers appointed their horse to the Senate, it wouldn’t even make a difference. That’s where we are.” [source]
The ruling behind Citizens United brought the game to a whole new level, where corporations, corruption and money go hand in hand with members of Congress. A perfect example is the recent vote by the Senate to pass the DARK Act, against strong public outcry — legislation that is in the best interest of the biotech industry, but not the people of this country.
We have to face the fact that our politicians are merely puppets, bending to the highest corporate bidder. We also have a choice, either sit back and reap the consequences of such a government or take action to reform our political contribution laws. When choosing the latter, a powerful new tool has come into play that makes it almost effortless to gather information about which industries are financially supporting a politician.
Always follow the money
With so much corporate money saturating U.S. politics, it can seem an impossible task to try and keep track of which lobbyists are funded by whom. But now, thanks to 18-year-old Nick Rubin, we can clearly see which politicians have sold out. “As you can imagine, reading about how your member of Congress voted in a recent health bill becomes all the more enlightening if you know how much money the health industry showered him in at the last election,” points out Tim Mak of Vice.
Rubin created Greenhouse, a browser plug-in that aims “to shine light on a social and industrial disease of today: the undue influence of money in our Congress.” The app runs under the motto “Some are red. Some are blue. All are Green.” He chose the name Greenhouse due to the color of money in the U.S. and because there are two houses of Congress. It also indicates transparency — a greenhouse is clear and created to help things flourish.
The free plug-in runs on Chrome, Firefox and Safari and, once installed, highlights the name of any member of Congress on any website. When you hover over those names, a small box appears which lists total contribution information and industry breakdown from the current election cycle for that particular politician. Click on the popup to get more detailed information from OpenSecrets. For Safari only, Greenhouse also installs a dollar sign button in the toolbar. Press the button to type a name or scroll down to find any member of Congress. Hovering over the name will open a popup with contribution information.
Rubin has been interested in politics since the seventh grade while learning about corporate personhood. As he got older, he recognized there was a real need to have the sources of income for members of Congress in a simple and easily accessible format. More recently, he’s been teaching himself to code and felt something like Greenhouse would be a perfect solution, essentially putting the data at peoples fingertips with minimal effort. It doesn’t get much easier.
“I just want it to educate people because that’s really the first step toward a solution. That’s exactly why I designed Greenhouse with simplicity in mind, so that everyone—even kids—are able to understand it. In terms of whether Greenhouse will solve this issue—well, education is the first step. I really do believe that increased transparency will help fix the problem. Easy access to data empowers voters to make better decisions. Once people are informed, they will reject elected officials who are motived by money instead of principles.” [source]
Once you know where your member of Congress stands on the corruption scale, you can either support him or her in the next election, or not. We also need to get money out of politics once and for all. Have a look at this article by Bill Moyers that offers a range of organizations and action points to help end the fraud.