Study Uncovers How Coca-Cola Influences Science Research


By Megan Schmidt | 7 May 2019

DISCOVER — Coca-Cola has poured millions of dollars into scientific research at universities. But if the beverage giant doesn’t like what scientists find, the company has the power to make sure that their research never sees the light of day.

That’s according to an analysis published in the Journal of Public Health Policy that explains how Coca-Cola uses contract agreements to influence the public health research it financially supports.

The paper explains that Coca-Cola uses carefully-constructed contracts to ensure that the company gets early access to research findings, as well as the ability to terminate studies for any reason. Researchers say this gives the beverage company the ability to squash unfavorable research findings, such as studies that connect the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity.

The study’s authors are affiliated with the University of Cambridge, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Bocconi, and U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit organization that advocates for greater transparency in the food system. They based their report on Coca-Cola research contracts obtained through numerous Freedom of Information requests, which uncovered over 87,000 pages of documents. In the stack, the study’s authors found five Coca-Cola research agreements with four universities: Louisiana State University, University of South Carolina, University of Toronto and the University of Washington. […]

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