It may or may not surprise you to learn that the people who are responsible for the safety and dietary guidelines around the production and sale of your food, are also taking money from big pharmaceutical companies.
In a new study, researchers say it is “particularly worrisome” that those in charge of advising the country on what they should eat – takes money from the pharmaceutical industry that makes profits from people’s illness.
Of the 20 members of the government-run U.S Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee, who establish guidelines for Americans – all have at least one conflict of interest.
Many of the committee members have ties to multiple conflicts of interests – not only do they have ties to Big pharmaceutical companies, but Big Food and Big Agriculture too.
The Defender reported: “The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee (DGAC) sets the guidelines used by U.S. policymakers, healthcare providers, nutrition educators and federal nutrition program operators, including those responsible for school lunch programs, on what foods and beverages ‘meet nutrient needs, promote health and prevent disease.'”
The committee members had to file conflicts of interest disclosures and the study found that all 20 of the DGAC members had relationships with a total of 129 industry insiders.
The DGA is responsible for governing nutrition programs around the world, amounting to around $100 billion every year.
The committee also advises state and local governments, healthcare professionals, hospitals and community groups on how people eat.
“Trustworthy dietary guidelines result from a transparent, objective, and science-based, process,” the study explains.
“Our analysis has shown that the significant and widespread COI on the committee prevents the DGA from achieving the recommended standard for transparency without mechanisms in place to make this information publicly available.”
“Our findings here are particularly worrisome, as industry influence and COI can result in diverting the scientific process underpinning the U.S. national dietary guidelines, to one that is responsive to profit-driven interests rather than the public health.”
The study was published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the U.K-based nonprofit organization The Nutrition Society, who works towards advancing the scientific study of nutrition.
The DGAC was established in 1977 and operates under the jurisdiction of the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
In 1980, the committee’s first report was published and since then, the report is revised and re-released every five years.
The latest update was in July 2020 and it contains updates which urges new mothers to stop feeding their babies breast milk and feed them formula instead.
Unsurprisingly, of the six DGAC Pregnancy and Lactation Subcommittee members, four of them have ties to breastmilk substitute manufacturers, including Mead Johnson, Wyeth and Abbott.
“There is evidence that those companies producing breast milk substitutes regularly use science and try to influence policy in order to protect and promote the sales of their products, and their relationships with DGAC members may have had a direct impact on the work of those members,” the study reveals.