While Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, Kellogg’s, and the Dairy Council comprise some of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ “official” partners, there are other partnerships that must be talked about as well.
In this Civil Eats article, Dietitians For Professional Integrity Strategic Director Andy Bellatti examines the recent linkage between the Academy and Elanco, the global pharmaceutical company behind recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), an artificial growth hormone, and numerous subtherapeutic antibiotics.
- “Next month, Elanco, which is owned by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and recently bought Novartis’ animal health business for $5.4 billion, will sponsor a free webinar for dietitians titled “U.S. Farming 101.” The session, the company says, is meant to “provide a foundational understanding of farming, with relevant information for nutrition professionals to share with consumers. Elanco recently gave the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics a grant (the amount has not been disclosed). At around the same time, AND co-created a committee and personally invited a handful of dietitians who are involved in agriculture (many of whom are also farmers) to join. The goal, according to internal AND communications, is to “arm Academy members with resources to educate themselves and the public about issues relating to [sustainable farming, food insecurity globally, and nutritiously and safely feeding a growing world population.]”
- “To get a sense of how Elanco frames these issues, take a look at the report Elanco published earlier this year, effectively throwing its hat into the world hunger ring. The core message? “The fight for a food-secure tomorrow” requires 60 percent more animal-sourced foods–specifically meat, milk, and eggs.”
- “At the moment, we don’t have a lack of food. The United Nations’ World Food Program has explicitly states that “the world produces enough to feed the entire global population of 7 billion people.” Hunger, says the group, is caused by factors such as climate change, poverty, unstable markets, and war and displacement. Hunger, in essence, is a socioeconomic and sociopolitical problem that requires socioeconomic and sociopolitical solutions.”
- “While Elanco is billing its collaboration with AND as educational, it seems to me that Elanco is looking for an easy way to keep tabs on criticism or concerns about its practices and quickly engage in damage control, if needed. If nothing else, it would be an ethical move to make a place at that same table for another group or organization that approaches issues of agriculture and hunger differently.”
Dialogues on agriculture, hunger, and sustainability are certainly important to the nutrition profession. We are, however, concerned that the company spearheading this conversation is one whose livelihood depends on the myth that we need “more food” (and, coincidentally, more of the food they stand to gain profit from).