Monday 10th of August 2020

advocacy-led pseudo-scientific health studies to promote sugarcrap...

coated sugar

An institute whose experts have occupied key positions on EU and UN regulatory panels is, in reality, an industry lobby group that masquerades as a scientific health charity, according to a peer-reviewed study.

The Washington-based International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) describes its mission as “pursuing objectivity, clarity and reproducibility” to “benefit the public good”.

But researchers from the University of Cambridge, Bocconi University in Milan, and the US Right to Know campaign assessed over 17,000 pages of documents under US freedom of information laws to present evidence of influence-peddling.

The paper’s lead author, Dr Sarah Steele, a Cambridge university senior research associate, said: “Our findings add to the evidence that this nonprofit organisation has been used by its corporate backers for years to counter public health policies. ILSI should be regarded as an industry group – a private body – and regulated as such, not as a body acting for the greater good.”

In a 2015 email copied to ILSI’s then director, Suzanne Harris, and executives from firms such as Coca-Cola and Monsanto, ILSI’s founder Alex Malaspina, a former Coca-Cola vice-president, complained bitterly about new US dietary guidelines for reducing sugar intake.

“These guidelines are a real disaster!” he wrote. “They could eventually affect us significantly in many ways; Soft drink taxations, modified school luncheon programs, a strong educational effort to educate children and adults to significanty [sic] limit their sugar intake,, curtail advertising of sugary foods and beverages and eventually a great pressure from CDC [the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention] and other agencies to force industry to start deducing [sic] drastically the sugar we add to processed foods and beverages.”

Malaspina – whom Coca-Cola describes as a “longtime scientific and regulatory affairs leader” – said he expected many nations to follow the new guidelines, adding: “We have to consider how to become ready to mount a strong defence.”

According to ILSI’s declared mandatory principles, it “may not directly or indirectly propose public policy solutions or advocate the commercial interests of their member companies or other parties”.

Kristin DiNicolantonio, ILSI Global’s communication director, told the Guardian that “under no circumstance does ILSI protect industry from being affected by disadvantageous policy and laws”.

The study, published on Monday in the journal Globalization and Health, found that when ILSI’s regional offices failed to promote industry-friendly messaging, they were subjected to sanctions.

In another email from 2015, Malaspina wrote: “About the mess ILSI Mexico is in because they sponsored in September a sweeteners conference when the subject of soft drinks taxation was discussed. ILSI is now suspending ILSI Mexico, until they correct their ways. A real mess.”

Malaspina added that “I hope we have now reached bottom [sic] and eventually we will recover as [far as] Coke and ILSI are concerned.”

ILSI says its Mexican affiliate was suspended for “engaging in activities that can be construed to be policy advocacy”.

Around this time, ILSI was caught up in a separate controversy, when the Guardian revealed that ILSI Europe’s vice-president Prof Alan Boobis chaired a UN panel that found glyphosate was probably not carcinogenic to humans.

The final panel report included no conflict of interest statements, even though ILSI Europe had received donations of $500,000 (£344,234) fromMonsanto, which uses glyphosate in its RoundUp weedkiller, and $528,500 from its industry representative, Croplife International.

Corporate figures from companies including Monsanto, Kraft and Nestlé have sat on ILSI’s board, although DiNicolantonio said they did so “in an individual capacity”.

In 2012, the European parliament suspended funding to the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) for six months over a string of conflicts of interest allegations involving ILSI members on its own board. A separate parliamentary inquiry into the group in 2017 contributed to new EU transparency rules.

The food group Mars last year announced that it would break its ties with ILSI, whose work it described as “advocacy-led”.

But former and current ILSI officials continue to play key roles in the EU’s science advisory mechanism, which recently produced a report that recommends a slew of industry positions on pesticides. These would, for example, replace current rules outlawing any products that could harm human health with a US-style concept of “acceptable risk”.

A similar Efsa approach, the Threshold for Toxicological Concern published earlier this year, emerged from a working group in which the majority of experts had formal links to ILSI, according to the Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN-E). The new threshold would allow “safe levels of exposure” for many chemicals which have not been fully tested for toxicity.

PAN-E alleges that eight of the 12 EU pesticides risk assessments that it studied had their regulatory use “designed and/or promoted” by the industry.

Over the course of 2015, a World Health Organization (WHO) move to distance itself from ILSI due to links between one of its members and the tobacco industryprovoked a degree of internal anxiety in ILSI, according to the new study.

One email exchange between the University of Washington’s Prof Adam Drewnowski and Malaspina led to suggestions of a direct approach to the WHO director, Margaret Chan.

Drewnowski wrote that Chan had “said that she was ready to be ‘at the table – but not in bed – with industry’ (her own phrase). Since then, her position has hardened considerably. We should remind her of her own phrase and get her to the table.”

Malaspina later sent an email to senior ILSI and Coca-Cola officials, saying: “We must find a way of someone such as a famous scientist arrange to pay her [Chan] a visit. Jim Hill or someone of similar stature or a US government scientist.”


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"we consume way too much added sugar"...

In the American diet, the top sources are soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, and most processed foods. But added sugar is also present in items that you may not think of as sweetened, like soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup.

The result: we consume way too much added sugar. Adult men take in an average of 24 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the National Cancer Institute. That's equal to 384 calories.

"Excess sugar's impact on obesity and diabetes is well documented, but one area that may surprise many men is how their taste for sugar can have a serious impact on their heart health," says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Impact on your heart

In a study published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. Hu and his colleagues found an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease. Over the course of the 15-year study, people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar.

"Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease," says Dr. Hu.

How sugar actually affects heart health is not completely understood, but it appears to have several indirect connections. For instance, high amounts of sugar overload the liver. "Your liver metabolizes sugar the same way as alcohol, and converts dietary carbohydrates to fat," says Dr. Hu. Over time, this can lead to a greater accumulation of fat, which may turn into fatty liver disease, a contributor to diabetes, which raises your risk for heart disease.

Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological pathways to heart disease. Excess consumption of sugar, especially in sugary beverages, also contributes to weight gain by tricking your body into turning off its appetite-control system because liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories from solid foods. This is why it is easier for people to add more calories to their regular diet when consuming sugary beverages.

"The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke," says Dr. Hu.

How much is okay?

If 24 teaspoons of added sugar per day is too much, then what is the right amount? It's hard to say, since sugar is not a required nutrient in your diet. The Institute of Medicine, which sets Recommended Dietary Allowances, or RDAs, has not issued a formal number for sugar.

However, the American Heart Association suggests that men consume no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams) of added sugar per day. That is close to the amount in a 12-ounce can of soda.

Subtracting added sugar

Reading food labels is one of the best ways to monitor your intake of added sugar. Look for the following names for added sugar and try to either avoid, or cut back on the amount or frequency of the foods where they are found:

  • brown sugar

  • corn sweetener

  • corn syrup

  • fruit juice concentrates

  • high-fructose corn syrup

  • honey

  • invert sugar

  • malt sugar

  • molasses

  • syrup sugar molecules ending in "ose" (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).

Total sugar, which includes added sugar, is often listed in grams. Note the number of grams of sugar per serving as well as the total number of servings. "It might only say 5 grams of sugar per serving, but if the normal amount is three or four servings, you can easily consume 20 grams of sugar and thus a lot of added sugar," says Dr. Hu.

Also, keep track of sugar you add to your food or beverages. About half of added sugar comes from beverages, including coffee and tea. A study in the May 2017 Public Healthfound that about two-thirds of coffee drinkers and one-third of tea drinkers put sugar or sugary flavorings in their drinks. The researchers also noted that more than 60% of the calories in their beverages came from added sugar.

Yet, Dr. Hu warms against being overzealous in your attempts to cut back on added sugar, as this can backfire. "You may find yourself reaching for other foods to satisfy your sweet cravings, like refined starches, such as white bread and white rice, which can increase glucose levels, and comfort foods high in saturated fat and sodium, which also cause problems with heart health," he says.


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"Eat less, shit more" is Mama Gus motto...

sugars and cancer...


In a context where the World Health Organization is questioning the level of evidence of the scientific data supporting the implementation of a tax on sugary drinks, the results of this observational study based on a large prospective cohort suggest that a higher consumption of sugary drinks is associated with the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer. Of note, 100% fruit juices were also associated with the risk of overall cancer in this study. If these results are replicated in further large-scale prospective studies and supported by mechanistic experimental data, and given the large consumption of sugary drinks in Western countries, these beverages would represent a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention, beyond their well established impact on cardiometabolic health. These data support the relevance of existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption, including 100% fruit juice,1287 as well as policy actions, such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks, which might potentially contribute to the reduction of cancer incidence.8889

What is already known on this topic
  • The consumption of sugary drinks has increased worldwide during the last decades

  • Sugary drinks are convincingly associated with the risk of obesity, which is a strong risk factor for many cancers 

What this study adds
  • The consumption of sugary drinks (including 100% fruit juice) was associated with an increased risk of overall cancer and breast cancer 

  • In specific subanalyses, the consumption of 100% fruit juices were also associated with an increased risk of overall cancers 

  • The consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was not associated with a risk of cancer, but statistical power was probably limited owing to a relatively low consumption in this sample


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a snack tax on your rotten sweet tooth...

A snack tax of 20% on biscuits, cakes and sweets would have “a huge impact” on obesity levels in the UK and be more effective than the current levy on colas and other sugary drinks, say experts.

But the idea may struggle to get past the current government. Boris Johnson took a stand against “sin stealth taxes” in July, ordering a review and opposing plans to extend the sugary drinks tax to milkshakes, which he said “seems to me to clobber those who can least afford it”.

Researchers writing in the British Medical Journal say the UK’s love of sweet snacks means it should consider taxing food as well as drinks, which would lead to a drop in sales especially among families where obesity is a problem and incomes are low.


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eat your coal lumps and GM carrots...

A Shadowy Industry Group Shapes Food Policy Around the World

The International Life Sciences Institute, funded by the likes of DuPont, PepsiCo and General Mills, has infiltrated government health agencies around the world.


Read more at the New York Times


International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is a multi-faceted Washington DC-based global network of think-tanks, scientific societies and institutes. It is a "Two-level" organisation which provides both legitimate scientific associations with members from government, universities and legitimate laboratories on the surface, but with a subterranean layer of corporate PR and science-corruption executives which provides their funders with global lobbying services.

The ILSI was originally funded by a few large food, chemical and drug companies, but later it also widened its scope to include petroleum and mining. Some of the founding companies, however refused to be directly involved with tobacco, so the cigarette companies were admitted via the "backdoor" -- either represented by their food subsidiaries, or only engaged in limited operations with some ILSI sub-divisions. 

Scientists tend not to be involved in the political side of their professions, and often leave this role to a few administration-inclined and status-seeking individuals. Public Relations organisations understand this reluctance very well, and exploit it. Their absence of oversight allows the legitimate associations to be used as a front for political and lobbying activities. The ILSI grew very quickly into a powerful force, and began to also lobby for agriculture and genetic modification; pesticides and pharmaceuticals; confectionery; and eventually, even for such dubious consumables as cigarettes.

World Health Organisation

On its website the ILSI states that it is global in scope and that it works "to further the understanding of scientific issues relating to nutrition, food safety, toxicology, risk assessment, and the environment by bringing together scientists from academia, government, and industry." 

In particular it says that the four "key issues" that it addresses are "overweight/obesity", "food biotechnology", "functional foods" and "risk assessment", and that "these initiatives are in addition to ongoing efforts to provide new knowledge on: the role of nutrition in human health; the alleviation of worldwide micronutrient deficiency; the safety of food ingredients and additives; and evaluation of water purification methodologies and standards."[1]

These claims are all reasonable and certainly legitimate ... provided you only examine the scientific society surface components of the ILSI. The problems lie beneath ... also in the way the size, scope and funding of this ILSI and its network of subsidiaries and related units allow the back-room controllers to exert their political influence.

Their puff-piece says that the ILSI was founded in 1978 as a nonprofit, worldwide foundation that "seeks to improve the well-being of the general public through the advancement of science. Its goal is to further the understanding of scientific issues relating to nutrition, food safety, toxicology, risk assessment, and the environment by bringing together scientists from academia, government, and industry."

However, its private agenda has often been designed to thwart attempts to regulate or reduce public exposure to many dangerous or environmentally-damaging substances. The orgnisation's fundemental interests are focussed on the financial benefits of its major backers – the larger food companies and their trade associations. 

This imbalance led, eventually, to the World Health Organization banning the organisation from direct involvement in WHO (and related agencies) activities.[2]

Some Genuine Research

The ILSI certainly has sponsored genuine research. And it has run real educational workshops around the world, and held many genuine scientific conferences. It has done this, both under its own name, and also under the auspices of the seemingly-independent subdivisions and external organisations:

  • The Toxicology Forum which it runs (or perhaps 'guides') in parallel (using the same staff and venues … yet without any obvious connections).[3]
  • The Society of Toxicology which also seems to have extremely close ties to the Toxicology Forum (they share a fax number)
  • The International Association of Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Societies (IAEMGS)
  • The American College of Toxicology (ACT) (A genuine training operation).
  • Health & Environmental Science Institute (organisation only of corporation executives)
  • Center for Excellence in Toxicology {needs research} 

At various times all of the above have shared the same address, fax numbers, etc. in Reston VA.[1]

Toxicology Forum

The Toxicology Forum is three years older than the ILSI (established in 1975) and wider in that it draws its membership from petroleum industries as well as from the ILSI's traditional sources in food, chemical, and drug companies.[4] It's President until recently has been Philippe Shubik (aka Phillip/Phillippe Schubik)[5] [6][7] of the Eppley Institute at the University of Nebraska, and its Administrative Vice President is ILSI President/Coca-Cola VP Alex Malaspina.

ILSI divisionsILSI-Nutrition Foundation (ILSI-NF)
  • The ILSI-Nutrition Foundation was created in 1985 by a merger between the ILSI and the Nutrition Foundation Inc. to form the ILSI-NF
ILSI Risk Science Institute (RSI)
  • The ILSI-RSI. The Nutrition Foundation's risk committee was split off from the ILSI-NF and reborn as the Risk Science Institute, which was originally known as the ILSI Risk Science Institute
ILSI Research Foundation (LSRO)
  • The ILSI also has a subdivision known as the Research Foundation, which is probably the same as the Life Sciences Research Organisation (LSRO) today.

(not known - needs research)


Today the ILSI specialises in lobbying national and international agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Its membership consists of 400 of 'the world’s leading manufacturers of food and food ingredients, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other consumer products', and the list it publishes includes the names of Burger King, Cargill, Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Heinz, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, Masterfoods (Mars), Monsanto, Nabisco, Nestlé, NutraSweet, Pepsi-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Red Bull and Tate & Lyle. [8]

There are also strong links between the ILSI, alcoholic beverage associations, and confectionery-industry lobby groups such as the US Sugar Association, the UK Sugar Bureau, and the World Sugar Research Organisation (WSRO).[9]

The WSRO and the ILSI both make claims that sugar is good for you, and in 2004 they were charged with paying off the Expert Consultation on Carbohydrates in Human Nutrition, effectively botching the WHO's research on sugar and its health effects. The BBC's Panorama program also says they affected the removal of the WHO's director of the International Obesity Task Force, Derek Yach (who, famously, also ran the Tobacco Free Initiative program at WHO and was an architect of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control).[10]

The US Sugar Association (whose members include Coca-Cola, Pepsi and General Foods) has recently lobbied Congress to withdraw $406 million of WHO funding because of its promotion of low-sugar intake to counter obesity.[11] However the ILSI is even-handed; see how it caved in to G.D.Searleover Nutrasweet trials, and how it rejected two grant proposals in 1985 when a researcher raised questions about the sweetener’s effects on children.[12] The researcher later commented that; "There’s an internal conflict of interest, when a company, which has profit at the bottom line, is charged with finding out the true safety of its product."

The ILSI also lobbies to promote the acceptance of genetic modification of foodstuffs, which is not particularly surprising since both Monsanto and Syngenta are on ILSI's governing board of trustees, and play a substantial role on many committees.


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