Info Service on Health Issues (May15/07)
22 May 2015
Third World Network
friends and colleagues,
are pleased to share with you another report on the threat of undue
influence of corporations on the World Health Organization, this time
from the food and beverage industry.
the ongoing World Health Assembly, WHO member states are considering
the Secretariat's draft Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors
(FENSA). A major point of contention is whether to make a clear distinction
between public interest NGOs and business interest groups, with the
result of limiting the role of industry and its associations in influencing
public health policy making at the WHO.
report below from The Times of India reveals the intensive lobby by
the food and beverage industry to get support from developed country
food, beverage giants influence WHO rules
Nagarajan,TNN | May 22, 2015, 04.05 AM IST
leaked mail from the International Food and Beverages Alliance (IFBA)
has revealed the hectic lobbying by this alliance of the world's largest
food and beverage companies to influence the framing of rules on the
World Health Organization's (WHO) engagement with the private sector.
Ever since the WHO started focusing on the global epidemic of diet-related
ailments like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, food and beverage
companies have been trying to be part of the standard setting and
policy-making activities of the WHO.
The mail which referred to the WHO secretariat's ongoing work on its
Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA), also revealed
how the IFBA, which includes Coca Cola, Pepsico, Nestle, McDonald's
and Unilever, is being backed by the developed world-- several countries
of Western Europe, Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand and the
US-- who appear to have pledged to not accept any framework which
excludes the food and beverage industry.
Over 45 civil society organizations from across the world signed a
public statement calling upon delegates at the ongoing World Health
Assembly (WHA) to defend the integrity, independence and democratic
accountability of the WHO. The statement said that the mail illustrated
the lengths that the corporations would go to ensure that they get
access to policy-making in the WHO and the degree to which member
states could be 'persuaded' to support them.
Civil society organizations have been objecting to WHO clubbing private
for-profit companies and business associations and alliances of such
companies, along with big philanthropies, academic institutions and
non-profit public interest groups under the head of non-state actors.
The leaked mail referred to alliance representatives having several
"outreach meetings" on FENSA with the missions of the US,
UK, Canada and Latvia (which currently holds the European Union presidency)
in Geneva. The WHO secretariat has been working on FENSA in the context
of its reform process.
In the mail, Rocco Renaldi, Secretary General of IFBA thanked the
Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), the largest industry
association in Canada representing the food and consumer products
industry and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a US based
trade association of the food industry for helping to drive home what
would be an acceptable outcome for the alliance in the tussle to the
frame rules for WHO's engagement with the private sector.
The mail proudly announced that following a meeting of the WEOG group
(Western Europe, Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand and the US),
there was "full alignment among these countries on a position
that is essentially equivalent to ours". It added that while
the WEOG would actively work for the framework to be adopted it "will
not accept any document that excludes the food and beverage industry
from the framework".
The mail went on to state: "The US' forecast is that it will
be possible to make sufficient progress for a new draft Framework
to be developed in the run up to WHA and to be finalized via drafting
groups during the WHA. But this is only one forecast and much will
depend on the Chair's (Argentina) ability and willingness to reach
According to the mail, "helpful outreach" was also conducted
by IFBA members, associates and partner organizations in a number
of capitals which included several emerging economies and developing
countries in Africa and the Asia Pacific. In Brazil's proposal on
the draft framework it had taken a clear stance against international
business associations and philanthropic foundations being granted
'official relations' status with the WHO and had instead suggested
that they be given only observer status. From the IFBA email, it appears
that there is targeted effort by the alliance to make Brazil change
While many of the countries were identified by IFBA as being "in
favour of our positions" some were found amenable to highlighting
how incongruent it would be to "exclude private sector organizations
from official relations with WHO".