A recent Pan American Journal of Public Health (the flagship scientific and technical periodical publication of the Pan American Health Organization) opinion piece masterfully delves into conflict of interest issues that arise when the food industry participates in health organizations’ scientific events.
- “Scientific events in the health sector are often supported by various sectors of industry that use them as opportunities to reach thousands of professionals and students. This practice can result in ethical and political conflicts because private interests may motivate or interfere with evaluation and dissemination of information, thus undermining the integrity of scientific discussion.”
- While some initiatives have been proposed and/or used by scientific entities to address the ethics of industry participation in these types of events, they have had limited success. A scientific program will hardly be objective and impartial when proposed and organized by entities composed of members with extensive conflicts of interest.”
- “An example of industry influence on the content of events was the cancellation of a debate on childhood obesity during the 16th World Congress of Food Science and Technology after the president of the meeting argued that the issue “would cause inconvenience to potential sponsors.”
- “Partnerships with entities in the health sector provide legitimacy to practices and products of food and beverage industries. With these partnerships, it is possible to buy credibility, create bonds between brands and positive emotions attributed to the partner organization, and gain loyalty from health professionals who act as opinion leaders.”