On Feb. 6 we covered the latest “twist” in the Tim Noakes saga: South Africa’s Medical Research Council has disavowed its ties to expert witness Ali Dhansay’s testimony, closed his research unit, and promised to investigate his ties to the junk food industry. And the MRC’s decision seems to have come in response to the original findings published right here on the Russells’ blog last month, which linked Dhansay and other Noakes opponents to the Coca-Cola proxy, the International Life Sciences Institute.
In response to that story, ILSI alleged in South Africa’s Sunday Times that it “does not have activities related to infant nutrition …”
That’s not true. And we can now thoroughly disprove ILSI’s claim, thanks to a Russells’ blog reader with expertise in infant nutrition.
The ILSI Early Nutrition and Long-Term Health Task Force presented in Cape Town, South Africa, in November 2015. The presentation topic was “Postnatal growth in preterm infants and later health outcomes: a systematic review.”
This ILSI infant nutrition task force features representatives of “all of the world formula/toddler milk producers,” according to the aforementioned infant nutrition expert. That is, it includes DSM, Nestlé, Abbott Nutrition and Danone (Coca-Cola of course is involved as well).
To be most charitable, the ILSI representative quoted in the Sunday Times could conceivably have meant that the South African branch of ILSI does not engage in activities related to infant nutrition (That may be a leap, though, since ILSI’s South African branch is not specified in the article. Rather, ILSI itself appears in references to “the institute”). Nonetheless, to even insist that ILSI South Africa has nothing to do with infant nutrition is quite misleading given that ILSI sums up its policy on its worldwide branches as “One ILSI.” The branches are expected to coordinate and cooperate amongst themselves. After all, they serve the same masters.
In addition, DSM Nutritional Products is a member of ILSI’s South African branch, and has an executive on the branch’s board. DSM sells infant nutrition products. Also belonging to ILSI SA is Nestlé, which sells infant nutrition products in South Africa.
So ILSI launched a task force dedicated to infant nutrition, and this ILSI task force recently presented its findings in South Africa. Moreover, major purveyors of infant nutrition belong to ILSI SA, and their representatives sit on ILSI SA’s board. Clearly ILSI’s interests are closely intertwined with how parents choose to feed their children. And that’s especially true since infant nutrition companies are expanding into high-sugar toddler formulas to target slightly older children. These industrial formulas are the polar opposite of the diet Professor Noakes recommended in the tweet that got him reported to his professional body.
Perhaps the ILSI representative was simply unaware of these facts when he flatly denied ILSI’s involvement in infant nutrition. Perhaps.