WHO to Rely Less on U.S. Research
By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jan 27, 6:55 PM ET
A U.S.-based research foundation is being barred by the World Health
Organization from helping set global standards for protecting food and water
supplies because of its funding sources.
However, the nonprofit International Life Sciences Institute, which is funded by
hundreds of chemical, food and drug companies, will remain as one of nearly 200
"non-governmental organizations" that WHO views as working partners.
The Washington-based institute can no longer take part in WHO activities setting
microbiological or chemical standards for food and water, the U.N. health
agency's executive board decided Friday in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Working Group, United
Steelworkers of America and 15 other health, environmental and union groups
asked WHO in December to sever ties with the institute.
"The WHO and other public health agencies risk their scientific credibility and
may be compromising public health by partnering with ILSI," NRDC senior
scientist Jennifer Sass wrote WHO on behalf of the advocacy groups and unions.
Sass said the institute "has a demonstrated history of putting the interests of
its exclusively corporate membership ahead of science and health concerns, and
that ILSI's special status with the WHO provides a back door to influence WHO
The groups and unions noted that WHO guidelines require it to limit its dealings
to those "free from concerns which are primarily of a commercial or
Suzanne Harris, the institute's executive director, said Friday that ILSI
doesn't participate in setting the standard for managing risks in protecting
food and water supplies. She said ILSI conducts top research and that, since
winning recognition from WHO about 15 years ago, it has collaborated on several
studies, most recently to promote healthier lifestyles in Chile, Mexico and
"We are not a back door for industry," Harris, a biochemist and former
Agriculture deputy assistant secretary in the Reagan administration, said in an
interview. "We try to do everything transparently. Nothing we do is hidden. It
all gets published."
Sixty percent of the institute's funding comes from its member companies, Harris
said. Another 20 percent comes from grants from private foundations and
government agencies, she said, while the other 20 percent is drawn from sales of
publications and meeting fees. She said the foundation doesn't do "proprietary
research" that would benefit a single company.
"Our goal is improving public health, and we believe that that in itself
benefits our membership. We're not trying to sell anything," Harris said.
The institute's member companies include Bayer AG, Coca-Cola, Dow Agrosciences/Dow
Chemical, DuPont, ExxonMobil, General Mills, Hershey Foods, Kellogg, Kraft,
McDonald's, Merck & Co., Monsanto, Nestle, Novartis, PepsiCo, Pfizer and Proctor
On the Net:
For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawassee River Watch web site www.trwnews.net for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga. . The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The source organization's web site link is listed to the right of the article, visit often for other news in our area. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.