It is good to keep an eye on the giant sugary soda company, as they currently own 16% of Keurig Green Mountain.
Coca Cola has pulled the cork on its Global Energy Balance Network. The GEBN was an effort bankrolled by Coke designed to influence academic research into obesity and blunt criticism of big-time sugary drinks.
Public health groups said the company was promoting “scientific nonsense” through research partnerships. And on Monday the GEBN removed all content from its website “due to resource limitations.”
Public health authorities complained that Coke, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, was adopting tactics once used by the tobacco industry, which for decades enlisted experts to raise doubts about the health hazards of smoking. Last month, the University of Colorado School of Medicine said it would return a $1 million grant that Coca-Cola had provided to help start the organization.
“I think ultimately the Global Energy Balance Network was a megaphone for Coca-Cola,” Yoni Freedhoff, an obesity expert at the University of Ottawa who first raised questions about the group’s funding, said. “And now that Coca-Cola is no longer providing the funds to support that megaphone, it’s shutting down. I think that speaks to the purpose of the establishment of this group.”
For months, the group denied that it was allowing Coke to influence its message or the work of its scientists.
Coca Cola is no stranger to this type of thing. In 2009 the company formed a controversial funding partnership with the American Society of Family Physicians “to develop consumer education content on beverages and sweeteners for FamilyDoctor.org.” Some ASFP members in California resigned in protest. And three years ago under pressure of a product boycott the Atlanta-based corporation stopped its longtime funding of ALEC, the “corporate bill mill.” In addition, Coke is one of six companies that together spent $12.6 million lobbying against state and federal legislation dealing with GMO labeling in the first half of 2015.
While GEBN has obviously fizzled out, Coca Cola’s CEO said, “Clearly, we have more work to do to reflect the values of this great company in all that we do.” I’d guess they’ll be back reflecting the company values after a pause to refresh.