This New York Times article titled “Scientists’ Ties to Food Industry Raise Questions in Europe,” cites data from advocacy group Corporate Europe Observatory which states that nearly 60 percent of scientists used as consultants by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) — the European equivalent to the Food & Drug Administration — have direct or indirect ties to industries regulated by the agency.
1) “Kristen Sejrsen, chairman of the scientific advisory panel on additives and products used in animal feed, also serves on the board of a research foundation set up by the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, “which represents the farming and food industries of Denmark,” according to his disclosure report filed with the food agency. The research foundation is financed “partly from public funds and funds collected from dairy farmers as a production levy,” according to the report.”
2) “Alex Bach, a researcher on the safety agency’s animal feed panel, had 24 different ties to industry, the most of any panel member tracked in the report. He left in June, shortly after the Corporate Europe Observatory discussed his industry ties with the food safety agency.”
3) “Ilaria Capua, a virologist who was recently elected to the Italian Parliament, runs a unit of a lab whose research is financed by pharmaceutical companies. She is also a member of the food safety agency’s animal health and welfare advisory panel.”
Martin Pigeon, a researcher at the Corporate Europe Observatory makes the important point that there are plenty of scientists without industry ties (one of the many arguments health organizations rely on is that it is “difficult” to come across researchers without such ties, which while not evidence of a conflict of interest in and of themselves, certainly give that appearance).
This issue is particularly important to us seeing as how many presenters at the Academy’s annual conference (all of whom, coincidentally, have nothing but positive things to say about the food industry) have ties to industry. Additionally, some Academy spokespeople commonly quoted in the media consult for Big Food (an important factoid not always disclosed in the articles in which they are quoted).