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Re: The contribution of the private sector and civil society to improve nutrition

International Life Science Institute (ILSI) , United States of America
FSN Forum

The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is pleased to respond to this online forum.  As a nonprofit, research foundation, ILSI has a 35 year history of contributing to improving nutrition around the world.  Through our 16 branches and Research Foundation, we have an impressive history of building science related to improving nutritional status through micronutrient fortification, developing science-based dietary guidance designed to reduce noncommunicable diseases, and sharing nutrition knowledge through publications, e.g., Nutrition Reviews, Present Knowledge in Nutrition and the ILSI Europe monograph series.  These monographs translate science for non-specialists and are used extensively to inform audiences worldwide about food and nutrition.

Policy issues:  ILSI advocates for the use of science in developing nutrition policies.  We commissioned a paper discussing this topic for the ICN 2.  The manuscript, entitled “Building Effective Nutrition Policy Demands a Strong Scientific Base,” is downloadable from the ICN 2 website and gives examples of research activities carried out by civil society organizations that provide the science base upon which sound policy is built.  We encourage those interested in the outcome of the ICN 2 to read the manuscript.

Programme Issues:  One of the major challenges facing nutrition programs is showing efficacy.  Collecting data that accurately reflect what people eat is expensive and difficult.  Without such data, showing that a specific nutrition intervention works is difficult, if not impossible.  ILSI has been working with FAO, WHO and ASEAN to develop a harmonized approach to measuring dietary exposure.  This work is focused on harmonizing the lexicon for food categories and individual foods – a basic tool in determining what people are eating.  Harmonization of the names allows intake data collected in different countries to be evaluated and compare more accurately.  FAO and WHO have been pleased with the outcome of this work, funded in large measure by ILSI.

PASSCLAIM delivers criteria to assess the scientific support for claims on food products and is another example of the private sector working with civil society to improve nutrition.  It addressed concerns about misleading and unsubstantiated claims and, when implemented with European Commission regulation 1924 2006, consumers benefited form a harmonized approach to the validity and scientific support for claims on foods leading to improved nutrition.   

Partnerships:  Given the financial realities of today, public-private partnerships are a key mechanism for creating new science and understanding in which all involved combine human and financial resources.  ILSI is built on a public-private partnership principle and the organization believes this principle is fundamental to developing useful science resulting in improved nutrition and health.  Public-private partnerships require nurturing and understanding the issues that must be addressed in order to create strong public-private partnerships.  ILSI North America recently submitted a manuscript describing 12 principles for enduring and effective public-private partnerships for publication.