The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4259.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 5:10 PM

Abstract #70504

How the tobacco and food industries and their allies tried to exert undue influence over FAO/WHO food and nutrition policies

Norbert Hirschhorn, MD, Independent Consultant, 1044 Chapel Street #502, New Haven, CT 06510, 203 777-8688,

Following on the WHO July 2000 report, “Tobacco Company Strategies to Undermine Tobacco Control Activities at the World Health Organization,” evidence was presented that undue influence on FAO/WHO food policies was also exerted by the tobacco industry, its food subsidiaries and allies. The evidence came mainly from internal tobacco industry documents. The tobacco industry had ample reason to try influence and undermine international food policies: The major transnational firms own food manufacturing companies; many of the FAO/WHO food policies bear directly on tobacco manufacture such as pesticide use and residues, biotechnology, additives, labeling; a generalized attack on standards that seem to limit commerce, be they for food or tobacco, also helped protect the tobacco industry. This report shows how the tobacco industry and its food company allies tried to exert undue influence by: “positioning” experts on various FAO/WHO committees; using the entry afforded by formal NGO relationships of industry-dominated organizations with FAO and WHO; using the food companies as funding conduits to research and policy groups sympathetic to the industry; sponsoring libertarian “think tanks” and writers that promote anti-regulation ideology to the public. Undue influence was exerted on specific FAO/WHO food policies dealing with dietary guidelines, pesticide-use, additives, trans fatty acids, GMO, and sugar. Both FAO and WHO have since moved to demand transparency and accountability from their expert consultants.

The work reported here was supported by the World Health Organization.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Food Safety, Tobacco Industry

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Social Determinants of Health - Sound Science for Sale? Industry Influence over Research, Risk Assessment and Regulation of Tobacco, Food and Toxic Chemicals

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA