International Life Sciences Institute
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The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is a global nonprofit [501c3] science organization is headquartered in Washington, DC, United States. It was founded in 1978 by Alex Malaspina, a former Coca-Cola executive, and it is financed by companies such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, McDonald’s and Pepsi. ILSI receives in-kind support of time and expertise from volunteer academic, government, and non-governmental scientists.
It is a member organization whose members are primarily food and beverage, agricultural, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies. According to its 2018 annual report, 74.5% of its 2017 revenue came from member support; 16.3% from grants and contributions; and the balance from publications, conference registration, and other sources.
ILSI is a global organization with 16 branches that operate at the global, regional, or country-specific level. These include ILSI Argentina; ILSI Brazil; ILSI Europe; ILSI Focal Point in China; ILSI India; ILSI Japan; ILSI Korea; ILSI Mesoamerica; ILSI Middle East; ILSI Mexico; ILSI North America; ILSI North Andean; ILSI South Africa; ILSI South Andean; ILSI Southeast Asia Region; and ILSI Taiwan.
It also includes the ILSI Research Foundation, which, unlike the branches, does not have members.
According to ILSI’s bylaws, 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 agri/food member companies such as Danone, Nestle and DuPont [board of trustees, ILSI 2018 Annual Report]. 
Mission and Science
According to its website, ILSI’s mission is to “provide sciences that improves human health and well-being and safeguards the environment.” It further identifies “Four Thematic Areas” of specific interest which are: food and water safety; nutrition and health; risk science and toxicology; and sustainable agriculture and nutrition security. ILSI conducts original research, publishes research, and organizes scientific conferences to achieve its mission.
A 2001 editorial in the British Medical Journal claimed ILSI received money from tobacco industry from 1983 to 1998. 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.”  In support of this response, ILSI’s Statement on Tobacco Products and Companies that Produce and Sell Them states that ILSI entities are prohibited from accepting as members or accepting funds from any company that has any involvement in the production, marketing, sale or distribution of tobacco products.
For example, in the 1989 ILSI Monograph Assessment of Inhalation Hazards, three of 33 chapters address tobacco. Two of those papers show unequivocally that second hand smoke has adverse effects on respiratory infection and lung function, especially in children and that epidemiological data show a “statistically significant increase in lung cancer risk of about 40%” for nonsmokers married to smokers. The third article did not address risk per se, but rather compares the strengths and weakness of study designs for assessing risk.
ILSI is aware its funding raises questions about the neutrality of its science. The North American branch of ILSI (ILSI North America) initiated a Conflict of Interest project which resulted in simultaneous publication of the article “Funding Food Science and Nutrition Research: Financial Conflicts and Scientific Integrity” in full or excerpted in six peer-reviewed journals. The article outlines eight ground rules to ensure the integrity of industry-supported science.
It has been a strategy of Coca-Cola to found and to fund a scientific institution that gives ostensibly independent advice. Nutritionist Barry Popkin says that in China ILSI had “an extremely harmful influence, because they prevented raising awareness for a healthy diet.”
Notes and references
- IRS 501c3 Definition Archived 2011-07-19 at WebCite
- International Life Sciences Institute, 1985 IRS ILSI Tax Code Determination
- "Coca-Cola Honors 10 Young Scientists From Around the World". The Coca-Cola Company. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
- Wie Coca-Cola Chinas Gesundheitspolitik manipuliert Der Standard, 13 January 2019.
- "Mandatory Policies of the International Life Sciences Institute" (PDF).
- International Life Sciences Institute, 2009 Member List
- International Life Sciences Institute, ILSI ByLaws
- International Life Sciences Institute, Official ILSI Website
- 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.
- Stanley, James (June 2002). "ILSI AND THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY". American Journal of Public Health. 92 (6): 891–892. ISSN 0090-0036. PMC 1447472. PMID 12036766.
- "ILSI Statement on Tobacco Products and Companies that Produce and Sell Them | ILSI". ILSI Global. 2019-01-08. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
- U Mohr, Editor. Assessment of Inhalation Hazards: Integration and Extrapolation Using Diverse Data. Springer-Verlag, Germany, 1989.
- International Life Sciences Institute, Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Adverse Effects on Respiratory Infections, Respiratory Symptoms, and Lung Function
- International Life Sciences Institute, Environmental Tobacco and Smoke and Cancer
- International Life Sciences Institute, Risk Assessment for Imhomogeneous Subgroups
- International Life Sciences Institute, Funding food science and nutrition research: financial conflicts and scientific integrity
- Susan Greenhalgh: Making China safe for Coke: how Coca-Cola shaped obesity science and policy in China bmj, 9 January 2019.