Industry trade group US Right To Know and allies claims ILSI collaborates with industry

U.S. Right To Know, an industry trade group created by Organic Consumers Association to harass and intimidate academic scientists using Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, has a new paper co-written by academics supporting organic corporations noting that data mining 17,000 pages of emails can suggest International Life Science Institute (ILSI) is doing wotk for hire for other corporations such as Nestle, General Mills, Mars Inc, Monsanto, and Coca-Cola.

ILSI states on its website that none of its bodies "conduct lobbying activities or make policy recommendations" but US Right To Know and collaborators say they are instead getting writers to produce work that will create policy changes. These include exchanges with an epidemiology professor at the University of Washington, as well as the US Centre for Disease Control's then director of heart disease and stroke prevention, all strategising how best to approach the World Health Organisation's then Director-General Dr Margaret Chan, to shift her position on sugar-sweetened products. Chan, and her advisors, insisted that sugar was somehow different than other calories, and used epideliogical correlation and high-dose animals studies to bolster her belief.

"It has been previously suggested that the International Life Sciences Institute is little more than a pseudo-scientific front group for some of the biggest multinational food and drink corporations globally," said humanities scholar and lead author Sarah Steele, PhD, who usually writes about human trafficking as a part-time affiliate in Cambridge's Department of Politics and International Studies. "Our findings add to the evidence that this non-profit organisation has been used by its corporate backers for years to counter public health policies. We contend that the International Life Sciences Institute should be regarded as an industry group - a private body - and regulated as such, not as a body acting for the greater good."

Gary Ruskin, President of US Right To Know, from the Deniers for Hire public interest site.

In one email, a former president at ILSI described new US guidelines bolstering child and adult education on limiting sugar intake as a "real disaster!". He wrote: "We have to consider how to become ready to mount a strong defence". Suzanne Harris, then executive director of ILSI, was among the email's recipients, which counts as proof of something when you are writing a conspiracy paper. To add to it, they note that James Hill, then director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado and one ot the country's leading experts in weight management, suggested ILSI should get greater funding as part of "dealing aggressively with this issue". He wrote that, if companies keep their heads down, "our opponents will win and we will all lose". The FOIA emails also suggest to conspiracy theorists that ILSI constructed campaigns favorable to artificial sweeteners. Others suggest to the authors that ILSI were "the architects to plan and execute the studies showing saccharine is not a carcinogen", resulting in the reversal of impending government bans.

No studies have ever shown saccharine is a carcinogen, instead claims to that effect were revealed to be created by a corporation run by Donald Rumsfeld, so it is ironic that US Right To Know, which is opposed to capitalism in specific and science in general, found a reason to endorse a corporation, because it was manufacturing evidence favorable to its shareholders the way Big Tobacco once did.

"The emails suggest that both ILSI and IFIC act to counter unfavourable policies and positions, while promoting industry-favourable science under a disguised front, including to the media," wrote Steele in their press release.

They also suggest ILSI considered sanctioning its own regional subsidiaries when they fail to promote the science side. Correspondence reveals discussion of suspending ILSI's Mexico branch from the parent organisation after soft drink taxation was debated at a conference it sponsored. Mexico has one of the highest adult obesity rates in the world and did pass a sugar tax on soda, after which soda sales still went up.

Email conversations between ILSA and the CDC's Barbara Bowman discuss the need to get the WHO to "start working with ILSI again" and to take into account "lifestyle changes" as well as sugary foods when combatting obesity. In other words, calorie intake matters, which has been found true in every study of obesity ever done. Washington Professor Adam Drewnowski writes of Dr Chan that "we ought to start with some issue where ILSI and WHO are in agreement" to help "get her to the table".

Almost 100 percent of U.S. Right To Know funding comes from industry, their form 990s reveal, yet like ILSI it a non-profit exempt from IRS taxation.