by Emily Allen
19 October 2012
The Pan American office has accepted
$50,000 from Coca-Cola,
$150,000 from Nestle and $150,000 from
It has also been relying on the food and beverage industry
for advice on how to fight obesity
The World Health Organization has taken
thousands of pounds from food companies such as Coca-Cola and
Nestle. A regional WHO office has also taken donations from Ben &
Jerry’s ice cream and Unilever, according to a study.
The Pan American office - known as
Controversial: The Pan American Health Organization
has been relying on
the food and beverage industry for advice
on how to fight
obesity as well as accepting big donations from the fast food
The WHO is the public health arm of
the United Nations and fights
chronic ailments such as diabetes and heart disease, caused
primarily by unhealthy diets.
The Pan American Health Organization has also been relying on
the food and beverage industry for advice on how to fight obesity.
Accepting industry funding goes against WHO's worldwide policies.
The Pan American office - known as PAHO, based in Washington - has
so far accepted,
$50,000 from Coca-Cola, the
world's largest beverage company
$150,000 from Nestle, the
world's largest food company
$150,000 from Unilever, whose
brands include Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Popsicles
The cash donations were described by
Irene Klinger, a senior adviser for partnerships in PAHO, as 'a new
way of doing business.'
However, she insisted WHO is careful to
maintain control of its policy decisions.
On board: Coca-Cola has placed a top official on the steering board
for a WHO group that
helps determine how WHO fights obesity in Mexico
WHO is increasingly relying on
'partnerships' with the industry, instead of maintaining neutrality
like it always has done, to fill holes in its budget.
However, it still refuses to partner
with the tobacco industry.
Since 2010 WHO has cut its own funding for chronic disease programs
by 20 per cent. These diseases cause 63 per cent of premature deaths
worldwide, but the WHO department in charge of fighting them
receives just six percent of the UN's budget.
Boyd Swinburn, an Australian professor and longtime member of
WHO's nutrition advisory committees, said:
'WHO is getting hijacked. They're
cash-strapped, and they're bringing the private sector in.
That's very dangerous.'
However, Jorge Casimiro,
Coca-Cola's director of international government relations and
public affairs, said:
'It's about the convergence of the
interests. What we're trying to say is we're ready to take
action. We're companies who want to do this. We're ready to go.'
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has also placed a
top official on the steering board for WHO's Pan American Forum for
Action on Non-Communicable Diseases, a group that helps determine
how WHO fights obesity in Mexico.
WHO's Geneva headquarters and five other regional offices have been
stopped from accepting money from the food and soda industries,
Spokesman Gregory Härtl said:
'If such conflicts of interest were
perceived to exist, or actually existed, this would jeopardize
WHO's ability to set globally recognized and respected standards
It has also emerged that at least two of
specially appointed nutrition advisers working on behalf of WHO had
direct financial ties to the food industry.
Murray Skeaff, a New Zealand professor, received research
money from Unilever, the conglomerate with $60 billion sales last
Esté Vorster, a South African professor, advised a sugar
association and took travel and 'after hours' money to judge a
contest for Nestle. Vorster said she does not participate in
discussing the sugar guideline.