Dietitians for Professional Integrity co-founder Denise Garbinski, MBA, RD, e-mailed this letter to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Membership Team, explaining why she is not renewing her Academy membership this year:
After 7 years as an active member of the Academy and a number of Dietetic Practice Groups, I am taking the difficult but steadfast decision not to renew my AND membership this year as a protest against the current model of corporate sponsorship held by the Academy.
I am against the Academy’s entrenched financial relationship with the likes of big and fast food corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and McDonald’s for event and meeting sponsorships, journal advertising, and RD CEU opportunities.
It’s very apparent what these corporations get from buying their way into the Academy. But in return, it is also clear to RDs, the science/public health communities, and the public-at-large that these types of sponsorships pose a very serious conflict of interest that greatly harms my RD credential and reputation as a nutrition expert.
As a member of the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (HEN) DPG, I have worked within the corporate sponsorship task force to try to influence change from the inside. I have also seen how slow and tedious that work has been and the need for HEN DPG leadership to politically ‘tread lightly’ to try to influence AND to even acknowledge there is a real problem with the current sponsorship model. I still believe it is important to work from the inside and support my DPG colleagues.
However, the urgency of this issue today demands public pressure from the outside, and I am proud to be a founding member of the rapidly growing Dietitians for Professional Integrity group. As the first RD to post my statement of concern, I called for a national boycott of membership renewal until the Academy agrees to adopt a new sponsorship paradigm of financial transparency as well as ethical, socially responsible, and relevant corporate sponsorships of which all Registered Dietitians can feel proud.
I worked very hard and sacrificed much to return to school mid-career to become a Registered Dietitian and have the utmost respect for our profession. I look to the day when I can proudly rejoin the Academy and feel good that our profession’s representative organization operates within a new paradigm of sponsorship transparency and integrity. In the interim, I am hereby doing my part by letting you know I will most certainly NOT be renewing my Academy membership this year.
Denise Julia Garbinski, MBA, RD”