Is the Food Industry Funding Deceptive Science?


We have heard a lot in recent years about the questionable or sometimes downright unethical corporate business practices of “Big Pharma” and “Big Tobacco“–now, even “Big Soda.” But what about “Big Food?” Well, according to recent reports, some experts are convinced the corporate food and agribusiness industry is also in need of some watchdogging.

According to ABC news, premier scientific researchers, such as David Allison of the University of Alabama, are increasingly being funded by the big names in corporate food, and  their financial ties to such companies as Coca Cola, Kraft, McDonald’s, Mars and Nabisco (just to name a few) may be threatening their objectivity:

“Critics say Allison is part of a concerted effort by big food to co-opt scientists not only by funding their research but by offering them lucrative speaking and consulting deals, in an effort to confuse U.S. families about the health effects of popular food products. Such tactics, critics say, are similar to those once used by Big Tobacco.”

In a recent commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers warn that “the food and beverage industry has created or funded front groups reminiscent of the tobacco institute that give the appearance of grassroots support.”

One such group the JAMA writers cite is the Center for Consumer Freedom, an organization which in truth was founded by a $600, 000 gift from big tobacco and is funded by powerful agribusinesses (as well as America’s most prominent tobacco and alcohol barons). The center is known for maliciously opposing public health and advocacy groups such as PETA, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, Center for Science in the Public Interest, The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

From the CCF website:

“A growing cabal of activists has meddled in Americans’ lives in recent years. They include self-anointed ‘food police,’ health campaigners, trial lawyers, personal-finance do-gooders, animal-rights misanthropes, and meddling bureaucrats. Their common denominator? They all claim to know ‘what’s best for you.’ In reality, they’re eroding our basic freedoms — the freedom to buy what we want, eat what we want, drink what we want, and raise our children as we see fit.”

The question of unbiased science in the food industry and its impact on our health has also been explored in such recent blogs-gone-books as Michele Simon’s Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back and Marion Nestle’s Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health.

Care2 Related Stories:

Big Soda’s Corporate Responsibility… and Yours

States Cracking Down on Big Pharma Gifts to Docs

Big Tobacco Says Anti-Smoking Ads Violate First Amendment Rights

PHOTO CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons


Robert Vincelette

Getting along with the commercial food industry is akin to making a deal with Errol Bradley not to arrest him for the pedophilia he committed against toddlers, but to award him a Nobel Prize for promising to use a condom every time he rapes a toddler.

Lika S.
Lika S.5 years ago

I think all "Big (______) Industry" gets mad when consumers in general start getting smart and make informed decisions. I just think it's crazy that alcohol would go against MADD, why, because they're trying to save minors from fatal or debilitating drunk driving accidents? How evil of MADD...

Thing is, we get lectured about being responsible, and the big industry wants to get mad because we are.

colleen p.
colleen p.5 years ago

you mean doughnuts are not essential part of a diet? :D

Mulitti Mosisa
Mulitti Mosisa5 years ago

the food industries are not suppling us something clean. they mix oil with a kind of oily stuff which they squizzed it out of some green leaves. that kills few people and many got sick last time in my negbourhood. they mix wheat floor with bulding material which looks like an ash.
that can cause a boig healt problem for one person.
sometimes i think they run a health clinic as well. they charge us to buy them food, and later we'll visit their clinic. that's what i suspect them this morning.

Mulitti Mosisa
Mulitti Mosisa5 years ago

when food oil prices begins to hike , other oil factory owner was squzzing oil like thing from some green leaves in a near by place and he was selling it mixing with oil. people were buying it and using it. there was a funeral in that area, and all the negbourhood and friends were eating dinner in the big tent. the food was cooked with the poisened oil and few people died and many of them was suffering a very sevier sickness.
some factories are collecting the oil jericans which are imported from turkey and they feel them with a their mixtures andd sell it with the same price. who ever had used that mixed oil was admitted to a hospita, checking for...different kind of sickness which the oil causes them. many people were not able to, what are they up to?
food factories should focus on delivering something healthy to the community around them,

the food factries are very corrupted ones, may be they're the worst of all.

Mulitti Mosisa
Mulitti Mosisa5 years ago

the food industries are loking 99.9% for profit only. in my town a man who was selling a wheat floor was mixing it with a large amount of that white material which they sell it in the building material shop.

Dietrich S.
Dietrich S.5 years ago

I'm sure that parts of the food industry - just like other branches of industry - abuse science for purposes of mere profiteering and the deception of people.
But former scientists who are payed by profiteers to lie to the people are no longer scientists; they are fraudsters. And what they are doing is no longer science; it's just fraud.
By the way, probably the most brutal kind of that fraud is performed by the oil and automobile industry and former scientists who sold themselves to this industry: the denying of human influence on the climate.

dawn w.
Dawn W.5 years ago

Answer to the title question: Yes. Known that for a while now.

William Y.
William Y.5 years ago

It doesn't surprise me one bit.

K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.