International Life Sciences Institute

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International Life Sciences Institute
Formation7 July 1978; 44 years ago (1978-07-07)
Headquarters740 15th Street, Suite 600

Washington, DC 20005

United States
Coordinates38°53′59.7″N 77°2′2.1″W / 38.899917°N 77.033917°W / 38.899917; -77.033917Coordinates: 38°53′59.7″N 77°2′2.1″W / 38.899917°N 77.033917°W / 38.899917; -77.033917

The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is a global nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization[1] headquartered in Washington, DC, United States that publishes peer-reviewed studies on nutrition and food safety. It was founded in 1978 by Alex Malaspina, a former Coca-Cola executive (who was affiliated with ILSI until 2001),[2][3] and it is partially financed by its 300+ members, which includes food and chemical corporations like BASF, McDonald’s, Syngenta and Pepsi.[4] In 2020, the organization's revenue was $10.1 million.[5]


Until 2018, ILSI operated as a member organization, whose members were exclusively food and beverage, agricultural, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies. In November 2018, ILSI restructured as a global federation of entities, consisting of non-profit organizations with public and private sector members.[6] Based on its 2020 annual report, 70.8% of its revenue comes from membership dues and committee assessments; 19.2% from grants and contributions; and the remaining from publications and conference registration.[7]

According to ILSI’s bylaws,[8] at least 51% of its Board of Trustees must come from the public sector (i.e. academic, government and non-governmental organization representatives). The remainder of the Board is elected from its member companies.[9]

According to ILSI, the organization receives in-kind support of time and expertise from volunteer academic, government, and non-governmental scientists.[10]


ILSI was formed in 1978 by Alex Malaspina, who was concurrently a senior vice president at Coca-Cola from 1969 until leaving both Coca-Cola and the institute in 2001.[11][2]

In 1986, ILSI employee Michael Gough published a book about Dioxin and Agent Orange entitled Dioxin, Agent Orange: The Facts. The Los Angeles Times said that The Facts had "minimal scientific merit" as the book is about "toxicology, teratology, carcinogenesis, epidemiology and medicine"—areas where Gough had no authority as his qualifications were in molecular biology. The Times said that The Facts would however be useful to "dioxin defense attorneys, his current employers at the Risk Science Institute of the International Life Sciences Institute in Washington (a chemical industry think tank), and also his future industrial clients."[12][13]

in 2009, partly in response to questions about the neutrality of its science, ILSI published an article “Funding Food Science and Nutrition Research: Financial Conflicts and Scientific Integrity” in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, proposing eight conflict-of-interest guidelines regarding industry funding "to protect the integrity and credibility of the scientific record, particularly with respect to health, nutrition and food-safety science".[14]

In 2015, ILSI Mexico's operations were suspended for a year by the Board Executive Committee when it was discovered ILSI Mexico had sponsored a local conference where soft drink taxation was discussed, which was viewed as a "public relations effort to influence policy for commercial purposes" by the institute.[15][16] ILSI Mexico was shut down in 2020.[3]

In 2018, Mars Inc ended their membership in ILSI,[17] and in 2021, Coca-Cola Co. also withdrew from membership.[18]

Later that year, ILSI North America rebranded as the “Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences” (IAFNS).[19]

ILSI Global was awarded Guidestar's Gold Seal of Transparency in 2021.[20] ILSI Europe is included in European Union's Transparency Register.[21] ILSI Mesoamerica is certified by the Costa Rican government as an organization of public interest.[22]


Tobacco industry[edit]

In 2001, an editorial in the British Medical Journal wrote that ILSI received money from tobacco industry from 1983 to 1998.[23] ILSI denies accusations that it has ever sought to undermine tobacco control efforts. In a Letter to the American Journal of Public Health, ILSI responded to these allegations by saying that there is “little question that the tobacco industry has engaged in a variety of tactics to thwart public health efforts… As a scientific organization, ILSI deplores these tactics and is strongly against any attempts to twist and manipulate science.”[24] As of 2019, ILSI entities are prohibited from accepting as members or accepting funds from tobacco companies.[3]

A 2019 New York Times article described ILSI as an organization 'which championed tobacco interests during the 1980s and 1990s.'[3]


Nutritionist Barry Popkin says that in China ILSI had “an extremely harmful influence, because they prevented raising awareness for a healthy diet.”[25][26]

Sugar industry[edit]

In January 2020, an ILSI-sponsored survey report by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) on consumption of added sugar among Indians, drew criticism from the Alliance Against Conflict of Interest (AACI).[27][28] They described ILSI as a lobbying arm of food industry, notorious for pursuing policy influence globally, with particular respect to sugary foods and beverages.[29] As such, ILSI was accused of influencing WHO's and Government's decisions in their favour.[30][31][26][32] The AACI “wonder[s] what strategic direction ICMR-NIN, the premier research agency of India, is giving to the people of India when this survey’s findings projected in the media may potentially perpetuate more sugar consumption while pretending to be concerned about non-communicable diseases”.[29]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ International Life Sciences Institute, 1985 IRS ILSI Tax Code Determination Archived 2011-03-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b Greenhalgh, Susan; Zhang, Li (15 February 2020). Can Science and Technology Save China?. Cornell University Press. ISBN 9781501747052. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d Jacobs, Andrew (16 September 2019). "A Shadowy Industry Group Shapes Food Policy Around the World". New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Science institute that advised EU and UN 'actually industry lobby group'". the Guardian. 2019-06-03. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  5. ^ "ILSI 2020 Annual Report" (PDF). International Life Sciences Institute. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  6. ^ "ILSI Governance Change Initiative". International Life Sciences Institute. Retrieved 22 March 2022.
  7. ^ "ILSI 2020 Annual Report" (PDF). ILSI. November 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ International Life Sciences Institute, ILSI ByLaws
  9. ^ "2018 ILSI Annual Report_Final".
  10. ^ "Mandatory Policies of the International Life Sciences Institute" (PDF).
  11. ^ "ILSI Response to The New York Times". International Life Sciences Institute. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  12. ^ "Dioxin, Agent Orange: The Facts by Michael Gough". Los Angeles Times. 1986-08-24. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
  13. ^ Gough, Michael (1986). Dioxin, Agent Orange: The Facts. Springer US. ISBN 978-0-306-42247-8. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
  14. ^ Rowe, Sylvia; Alexander, Nick; Clydesdale, Fergus M.; Applebaum, Rhona S.; Atkinson, Stephanie; Black, Richard M.; Dwyer, Johanna T.; Hentges, Eric; Higley, Nancy A.; Lefevre, Michael; Lupton, Joanne R.; Miller, Sanford A.; Tancredi, Doris L.; Weaver, Connie M.; Woteki, Catherine E.; Wedral, Elaine (2009-06-01). "Funding Food Science and Nutrition Research: Financial Conflicts and Scientific Integrity". The Journal of Nutrition. 139 (6): 1051–1053. doi:10.3945/jn.109.105668. PMID 19403704.
  15. ^ "Influential Science Nonprofit ILSI Exposed as a Food Industry Lobby Group". EcoWatch. 2019-06-07. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  16. ^ "ILSI Response to Globalization and Health". International Life Sciences Institute. International Life Sciences Institute. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  17. ^ Prentice, Chris (5 February 2018). "M&M's maker publishes science policy in bid to boost transparency". Reuters. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  18. ^ Pulley, Brett (13 January 2021). "Coca-Cola severs longtime ties with pro-sugar industry group". Seattle Times. Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  19. ^ Mialon, Mélissa; Ho, Matthew; Carriedo, Angela; Ruskin, Gary; Crosbie, Eric (2021). "Beyond nutrition and physical activity: food industry shaping of the very principles of scientific integrity". Globalization and Health. 17 (1): 37. doi:10.1186/s12992-021-00689-1. PMC 8056799. PMID 33879204.
  20. ^ "International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) - GuideStar Profile". Retrieved 2022-03-18.
  21. ^ "Transparency Register". Retrieved 22 March 2022.
  22. ^ "La Gaceta Costa Rica" (PDF). National Printing of Costa Rica. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  23. ^ MacDonald, R (2001). "WHO says tobacco industry "used" institute to undermine its policies". British Medical Journal. 322 (7286): 576. doi:10.1136/bmj.322.7286.576. PMC 1119783. PMID 11238148.
  24. ^ Stanley, James (June 2002). "Ilsi and the Tobacco Industry". American Journal of Public Health. 92 (6): 891–892. doi:10.2105/ajph.92.6.891-a. ISSN 0090-0036. PMC 1447472. PMID 12036766.
  25. ^ Wie Coca-Cola Chinas Gesundheitspolitik manipuliert Der Standard, 13 January 2019.
  26. ^ a b Susan Greenhalgh: Making China safe for Coke: how Coca-Cola shaped obesity science and policy in China The BMJ, 9 January 2019.
  27. ^ Perappadan, Bindu Shajan (2020-01-05). "Added sugar intake is highest in Mumbai, Ahmedabad: ICMR study". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  28. ^[bare URL PDF]
  29. ^ a b Alliance Against Conflict of Interest (2020-01-14). "Sponsorship of the survey on sugar consumption by ILSI-Concerns" (PDF).
  30. ^ "Look at who the Niti Aayog is consulting". Times of India Blog. 2017-10-26. Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  31. ^ "Is Coca-Cola Influencing India's Public Health Policies?". The Wire. Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  32. ^ Boseley, Sarah (2019-01-10). "Coca-Cola influences China's obesity policy, BMJ report says". The Guardian. Retrieved 2022-03-19.

External links[edit]