(NaturalNews) The United Nations Summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is being held in September in New York — and 140 international non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and public health organizations are using the meeting to confront the UN. Their concern? They want the UN to come clean about the organization’s current approach to working with the food and beverage industries. Representatives of the group, who have published their concerns in the Online First version of The Lancet, stated it is time for the UN to understand many products and marketing strategies promoting such things as soft drinks, cigarettes, alcohol and junk foods contribute substantially to the development of NCDs that kill 36 million people every year.
“There are clear conflicts for the corporations that contribute to and profit from the sales of alcoholic beverages; foods with high fat, salt, and sugar contents; and tobacco products — all of which are important causes of NCDs,” explained some of the NGO leaders in The Lancet correspondence.
For example, they pointed out in a media statement that tobacco and alcohol use and poor diet from empty calorie junk foods contribute significantly to NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancer. Bottom line: these food and beverage products may be responsible for 60 percent of all deaths worldwide.
To highlight their concerns, and to coincide with the meeting of the UN to discuss non-communicable disease, representatives of the 140 plus public health organizations, who are speaking out against UN ties to junk food and beverage companies, have highlighted their concerns by signing a Conflict of Interest Declaration. The document demands the UN make a clear distinction between business backed not-for-profit NGOs that are set up by, represented by or closely linked to business interests (BINGOs) and public-interest non-governmental agencies (PINGOs ). They also are calling for a UN code of conduct for interacting with food and beverage industries and for identifying and managing conflicts of interests.
The authors of the Conflict of Interest Declaration stated there is reason to be concerned food and beverage companies in the private sector are wielding too much power on public-policy making related to the prevention and control of NCDs. And, if the clear conflicts of interest are not addressed, they state: “..policies and recommendations will invariably be weakened to suit the interests of the powerful corporations…As a consequence, the public’s health, workforce productivity, and the economy will be undermined by prioritizing the interests of the food and beverage industries, as well as the pharmaceutical, technology, and treatment companies, over the public good.”
“Failure to address these concerns will undermine the development of competent policy, the effectiveness and efficiency of programs, and the confidence the global community and the public at large have in the UN’s and WHO’s ability to govern and advance public health, which will severely impair their capacity to help member states address NCDs,” the authors warned.