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WHO Denies Any Ties with Food and Beverage Industries

WHO Denies Any Ties with Food and Beverage Industries


On November 19, 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) denounced claims by recent media articles stating WHO receives funding from the food and beverage industry.  The articles suggested that WHO receives funding from such industries that goes to research for non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, and even diabetes. 

WHO has called these allegations flat out wrong and minconstrued. 

WHO states that it is ordered to go through a strict process when receiving funding in order to thwart influence from certain industries.  WHO admits that it sometimes relies on funds from the private sector to improve research and overall health, but it takes all measures to make sure certain industries have no influence. 

According to WHO, the organization cannot seek or accept private sector funds “from enterprises that have a direct commercial interest in the outcome of the project toward which they would be contributing.”  Additionally, all experts within a WHO advisory group that forms health standards or guidelines must provide their interests in the work of the advisory committee.  If their interests can significantly affect the outcomes of the standards or guidelines, WHO states “the expert is either excluded from the meeting or given a restricted role.” 

Therefore, WHO does not accept funding from manufacturers of food and/or beverages that do not contribute to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. 

One of WHO’s Regional Offices, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), contains two legal entities (WHO Regional Office for the Americas  and the health agency for the Organization of the American States) that allow for funding from food and beverage manufacturers in some cases.  Media sources have criticized the PAHO for receiving funding, but the funding still needs to come from manufacturers that want to address non-communicable diseases and have no commercial interest in the results of the research. 

WHO has made research into non-communicable diseases a priority.  Non-communicable diseases result in 36 million deaths around the world every year, accounting for 63% of all deaths.  14 million of victims are under the age of 70, and thus, the deaths are labeled as premature and preventable in most cases. 

During the UN General Assembly of 2011, WHO suggested that the international community take actions against non-communicable diseases.  Some of these actions in the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health called for the private sector to adopt measures to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases. 

Source: World Health Organization