International Life Sciences Institute

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International Life Sciences Institute
Logo of International Life Sciences Institute
Formation7 July 1978; 43 years ago (1978-07-07)
Headquarters740 15th Street, Suite 600

Washington, DC 20005

United States
Coordinates38°53′59″N 77°02′02″W / 38.899746°N 77.033907°W / 38.899746; -77.033907Coordinates: 38°53′59″N 77°02′02″W / 38.899746°N 77.033907°W / 38.899746; -77.033907

The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is a global nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization[1] headquartered in Washington, DC, United States. It was founded in 1978 by Alex Malaspina, a former Coca-Cola executive,[2][3] and it is financed by food and chemical industries such as BASF, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, McDonald’s, Monsanto, Syngenta and Pepsi.[4] As of 2019, the organization's annual budget was $17 million.[3]


It is a member organization whose members are primarily food and beverage, agricultural, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies.[5] According to its 2018 annual report,[6] 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,[7] 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].[6]

According to ILSI, the organization receives in-kind support of time and expertise from volunteer academic, government, and non-governmental scientists.[8]


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 has no authority as his qualifications are 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."[9][10]

in 2009, partly in response to questions about the neutrality of its science, the North American branch of ILSI initiated a Conflict of Interest project which resulted in the article “Funding Food Science and Nutrition Research: Financial Conflicts and Scientific Integrity”.[11]

In 2015, the Board Executive Committee suspended ILSI Mexico for 1 year after the Mexico branch 'engaged in activities that could be construed to be policy advocacy, and/or public relations efforts to influence policy for commercial purposes.'[12]

In 2018, Mars Inc ended their membership in, and support for, ILSI with a company VP stating 'we do not want to be involved in advocacy-led studies.'[13]

In Jan 2021 Coca-Cola Co. ended its membership in ISLI.[14]

In February 2021, ILSI North America rebranded as the “Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences” (IAFNS).[15]

Tobacco controversy[edit]

In 2001, an editorial in the British Medical Journal wrote that ILSI received money from tobacco industry from 1983 to 1998.[16] 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.”[17] As of 2019, ILSI entities are prohibited from accepting as members or accepting funds from tobacco companies.[18]

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

Nutrition controversy[edit]

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.”[4][19]

Sugar controversy[edit]

In January 2020, a well publicized, ILSI sponsored, survey report[20][21] by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) on consumption of added sugar among Indians, draws criticism from Alliance Against Conflict of Interest. In a letter they wrote describes ILSI as a lobbying arm of food industry notoriously famous for pursuing policy influence in India and elsewhere, in particular, with respect to sugary foods and beverages. The letter then cited many instances where ILSI is accused of influencing WHO's and Government's decisions in their favour.[22]

“We wonder 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,” the letter by the alliance said.[22]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ International Life Sciences Institute, 1985 IRS ILSI Tax Code Determination Archived 2011-03-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Coca-Cola Honors 10 Young Scientists From Around the World". The Coca-Cola Company. Archived from the original on February 13, 2015. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  3. ^ a b c Jacobs, Andrew (16 September 2019). "A Shadowy Industry Group Shapes Food Policy Around the World". New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b Wie Coca-Cola Chinas Gesundheitspolitik manipuliert Der Standard, 13 January 2019.
  5. ^ International Life Sciences Institute, 2009 Member List Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ International Life Sciences Institute, ILSI ByLaws
  8. ^ "Mandatory Policies of the International Life Sciences Institute" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Dioxin, Agent Orange: The Facts by Michael Gough". Los Angeles Times. 1986-08-24. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
  10. ^ Gough, Michael (1986). Dioxin, Agent Orange: The Facts. Springer US. ISBN 978-0-306-42247-8. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "ILSI Response to Globalization and Health". International Life Sciences Institute. International Life Sciences Institute. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  13. ^ Prentice, Chris (5 February 2018). "M&M's maker publishes science policy in bid to boost transparency". Reuters. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  14. ^ Pulley, Brett (13 January 2021). "Coca-Cola severs longtime ties with pro-sugar industry group". Seattle Times. Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  15. ^ "Beyond nutrition and physical activity: food industry shaping of the very principles of scientific integrity". doi:10.1186/s12992-021-00689-1. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "ILSI Statement on Tobacco Products and Companies that Produce and Sell Them | ILSI". ILSI Global. 2019-01-08. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  19. ^ Susan Greenhalgh: Making China safe for Coke: how Coca-Cola shaped obesity science and policy in China The BMJ, 9 January 2019.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b

External links[edit]