One of our group’s goals is sponsorship reform within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This not only refers to current partnerships (i.e.: PepsiCo’s annual $5,000 grant to the Academy Foundation as well as global animal pharmaceutical giant Elanco’s $500,000 grant “to increase member awareness about agriculture and advances in agricultural technology to support sustainable food systems”) but also to the general industry-friendly sentiment that is present in the Academy.
Case in point, consider what the Foundation’s nominating committee prioritizes when identifying candidates for its own board:
“Prioritize candidates who have:
1. Access to major gift donors
2. Connections to industry and other funding sources
3. Positions of influence related to Academy Foundation priorities
4. Diverse range of volunteer expertise
5. Past experience on Academy Foundation or other charitable organizations’ Boards
6. Prior fundraising and development experience.”
The Academy Foundation — AND’s philanthropic arm; its current chair is also the President of the National Dairy Council — appears to view industry ties as a boon, rather than a potential liability or a possible source of controversy. Mind you, the nominating committee also states that candidates should not bring “conflicting interests” to the table.
This is particularly surprising given the massive attention that conflicts of interest have received in global nutrition and public health journals over the last few years, as well as the ever-growing scientific literature on conflicts of interest and bias (which, even if subtle and subconscious, still occurs).