Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Conflicts of Interest Coalition - protecting health right now in New York

Baby Milk Action recently formed the Conflict of Interest (COI) Coalition, bringing together - so far - over 140 international networks and civil society organisations calling for the United Nations to avoid conflicts of interest as it sets policies on obesity, diabetes and other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

The Coalition represents thousands of non-profit public health advocacy groups around the world.

It is necessary because food corporations such as Nestlé and alcohol companies companies are lobbying to set the rules on tackling the rise in NCDs for which they are partly responsible. Pharmaceutical companies that can also profit from policy decisions are also involved in lobbying. All want to be seen as 'partners' in tackling the problems.

The COI Coalition is calling for there to be a Code of Conduct on relationships so that policies are made in the public interest. While corporate interests can be consulted, they should not be involved in setting the policies or these will inevitably be weakened to protect corporate interests, instead of protecting health.

The corporations are out in force this week at the UN General Assembly where these issues are being discussed. Baby Milk Action's Policy Director, Patti Rundall, is also there, with colleagues in the COI Coalition.

You can follow developments on the new COI Coalition blog at:

and Patti's own Policy blog at:


Alpha Parent said...

This is good news.

I wonder, do you have any information on the involvement of formula companies in the development of breastfeeding laws in the UK? Were they consulted? What role did they play? The laws seem so weak.

Mike Brady said...

Dear Alpha Parent,

Consulting the formula companies on the draft legislation proposed in 2006 took place - and was the right thing to do. It is correct the policy makers listen to their views - but they should then make policy based on what is best for infant health. What happened was the opposite - corporate interests were put first in what turned out to be a very sordid affair.

Even when the Government followed the industry's demands instead of the united health community and its own advisors, the thanks it received was the industry took it to court to delay some of the provisions coming in to force.

Various blog posts here relate the history as it happened. Some examples:

Alpha Parent said...

Thank you very much for this information.