Industry Sponsorship and Health-Related Food Research: Institutional Integrity, Ethical Challenges, and Policy Implications
Scope and Aims of the Symposium
(1) This symposium is part of a collaborative research project jointly funded by the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State, through its Bioethics Initiative, and by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard through its Lab on Institutional Corruption.
(2) This symposium builds on an earlier workshop entitled “Industry-Sponsored Research on Food and Health: Ethical Challenges and Policy Implications” held at Penn State in March 2008, and on research conducted during 2010–12 as part of this research collaboration.
(3) The symposium will focus on health-related food and nutrition research related to functional foods, that is, foods marketed for purported health benefits above and beyond basic nutrition.
(4) The symposium will:
(a) explore the challenges to the integrity of health-related food research on functional foods sponsored by industry, including the distortion of research agendas, the risk of bias, impacts on the interpretation of nutrition studies, and related concerns;
(b) explore the ethical implications of this research and of industry funding for the academy (both academic institutions and the researchers they employ), editors and peer reviewers of nutrition journals (and other scientific publications), and professional associations;
(c) explore the potential policy implications of these issues, and lay the foundations for the analysis of some principled policy responses including:
- the regulation of health claims (broadly construed) on food labeling and in food advertising;
- the provision of public funding streams to remedy distortions in health-related food research on functional foods; and
- the creation of templates and decision tools to help academic administrators address individual and institutional conflicts of interest.
(d) identify next steps in the research collaboration including:
- the conduct or solicitation of further research;
- the development of pilot projects to address one or more issues of concern;
- the engagement of policymakers;
- the value, function and content of future workshops.
For a report of the symposium, please click here.