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The Conflict of Interest Hall of Fame

The fact that the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is part owner of several ultra-processed food companies, like Nestle and PepsiCo, should go down in the conflict of interest Hall Of Fame!

But there’s WORSE: same week. It turns out Whole Foods is now selling pharmaceuticals! I cannot think of a greater conflict of interest or worse betrayal of principles. And this is stemming from a man who is so shit-rich, it’s obscene (Jeff Bezos, no less, worth over $160 billion). I sympathize, of course, he must have such a struggle making ends meet that it’s only natural to sell a bit on the side!

DO NOT WRITE TO ME, I’M BEING IRONIC

Overall, the story is one of exquisite greed and evil. Today’s Tech billionaires care not a jot for humanity, except (possibly) Elon Musk.

But back to the main story, which is that a large U.S. nutrition group and its foundation have what has been described as a “symbiotic” relationship with the food and pharmaceutical industries. I’d say it was corrupt and criminal, not symbiotic.

A body calling itself the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) affects to hold the professional standard for professional nutritionists and dieticians, yet its leaders have invested funds in giant food and agribusiness companies, who consistently put profits ahead of human health, and several academy members hold posts and draw remuneration within these junk-before-nutrition corporations.

You CANNOT represent nutrition and health concerns while engaged in selling manufactured junk. It’s such a travesty that Gary Ruskin, executive director of the watchdog organization U.S. Right to Know, and a co-author of the paper revealing this scam, went all in and said: “”The fact that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics was a part owner of ultra-processed food companies should go down in the conflict of interest Hall of Fame.”

Gary Ruskin of USRTK

Angela Carriedo, PhD, of the World Public Health Nutrition Association, and her colleagues obtained telling documents via a freedom of information request, revealing that key leaders in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) hold important positions in multinational food and agribusiness companies.

The AND has also invested funds in several food and pharmaceutical companies, including Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, PepsiCo, Nestle, and J.M. Smucker’s Company.

Moreover the AND had accepted substantial corporate donations, in return for “favors”. In total, the authors said they collected more than 80,000 files that revealed evidence of the academy’s key leadership dealing with several food, pharmaceutical, and agribusiness corporations.

As for conflicts of interest among its leadership, the report cites how a director of AND, Milton Stokes, worked for Monsanto. That company contributed $175,000 to the AND Foundation, and established a communications advisory group with AND members.

Predictably, the AND brazenly fought back, as if the very idea of wrongdoing was mischief created by the World Public Health Nutrition Association. In a statement, the AND responded to what it described as “misleading and false allegations” in the report, calling it a “calculated attack” against nutrition and dietetics professionals. The AND claimed the published report contains numerous factual and methodology errors, omissions, and information taken out of context.”

All the usual Who-me? Hogwash. Trust me, the louder the righteous indignation noises, the more guilty the party concerned!

“Academy members are advocates for shaping policies and practices to advance positive food choices that improve the health and nutrition of the public,” the statement went on. “Through their assumptions, omissions, and distortions, the authors of the report have done a serious disservice to the Academy, our members and the entire nutrition and dietetics profession.”

But of course the corrupt AND pretends it has done nothing to hurt the reputation of its members.

Among the many harms stemming from this group’s dishonest leadership is the twisting and inverting of the diabetes story. As Gary Ruskin remarked, “The big picture here is that obesity and type two diabetes, of course, are diseases that individual people suffer, but… they’re also diseases of corporate influence. The ultra-processed food industry uses its influence to hook people on its products and it is able to corrupt health groups like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to legitimize and perpetuate its hold on our nation’s stomachs, and that’s why this is important.”

In all, investigators found that the academy (AND) had accepted more than $15 million from corporations in those industries between 2011 and 2017. Several companies were found to have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the academy and its foundation, including:

    • National Dairy Council (gave $1,496,912)
    • Conagra Inc. ($1,414,058)
    • Abbott Nutrition ($1,246,389)
    • PepsiCo Inc. ($486,335)
    • Coca-Cola Co. ($477,577)
    • Hershey Co. ($368,032)
    • General Mills Inc. ($309,733)
    • Kellogg USA ($273,272)

Ruskin said these contributions were part of a “quid pro quo” that included “rights and benefits” for the corporate sponsors. Ruskin and co-authors found several incidents where the academy acted to influence other organizations and to sway the public by providing scammy supporting evidence for those industry sponsors.

One example was a 2017 task force on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that produced a report with critical views that would have been considered “a direct criticism of the products of some sponsors” for the academy. Among the documents revealed by the freedom of information request there was clear evidence of deliberate delays in publication, attempted by three academy members.

In another example, documents revealed the academy’s leadership discussing the nature of their involvement in the U.S. agriculture secretary’s new Sodium Awareness initiative in 2017, which was designed to help reduce sodium in school meals. One academy leader wrote in response to this effort, “although this is a tremendous HONOR, we do seem to be talking out of both sides of our mouth in regards to sodium.”

All in all, the picture is one of talking out of the mouth and also the back passage, rather than both sides of the mouth.

Am I just preaching and taking the moral high ground? Would we all be able to resist the temptation of VAST amounts of money? Would we do the right thing just because… well, it’s the right way to think and act? I’d like to believe in myself; that I could. And that all my good friends and acquaintances would also put humanity before greed, lies and profits.

To your good health,


Prof. Keith Scott-Mumby
The Official Alternative Doctor

Primary Source

Carriedo A, et al “The corporate capture of the nutrition profession in the USA: the case of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics” Public Health Nutrition 2022;1-15. DOI:10.1017/S1368980022001835.

Secondary

https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/features/101396

Disclosures

Gary Ruskin is executive director of US Right to Know, a non-profit investigative public health organization. It is only right the USRTK make their donations a matter of public transparency!

Here’s what I learned: Since its founding in 2014, USRTK has received the following contributions from major donors (gifts of $5,000 or more): Organic Consumers Association: $1,032,500; Dr. Bronner’s Family Foundation: $575,000; Laura and John Arnold Foundation: $397,600; Centre for Effective Altruism: $200,000; Ryan Salame: $160,000; US Small Business Administration: $119,970; Westreich Foundation: $110,000; Ceres Trust: $70,000; Schmidt Family Foundation: $53,800; Bluebell Foundation: $50,000; CrossFit Foundation: $50,000; Thousand Currents: $42,500; San Diego Foundation: $25,000; Community Foundation of Western North Carolina: $35,000; Vital Spark Foundation: $20,000; Panta Rhea Foundation: $20,000; California Office of the Small Business Advocate: $15,000; Pollinator Stewardship Council: $14,000; Swift Foundation: $10,000; ImpactAssets ReGen Fund: $10,000; Lilah Hilliard Fisher Foundation: $5,000; Aurora Foundation: $5,000; Janet Buck: $5,000.

The post The Conflict of Interest Hall of Fame appeared first on Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby.

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