Center for Science in the Public Interest

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Center for Science in the Public Interest

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was founded in 1971 by Michael Jacobson, who remains its executive director. It is a consumer advocacy organization principally concerned with nutrition and food safety, and its membership consists of scientists, nutrition educators, journalists, and lawyers.

CSPI has campaigned on a variety of health and nutrition issues, particularly nutritional problems on a national level. It is the purpose of the group to address "deceptive marketing practices, dangerous food additives or contaminants, conflicts of interests in the academic community, and flawed science propagated by industries concerned solely with profits." It monitors current research on nutrition and food safety, as well as the federal agencies responsible for these areas. CSPI maintains an office for legal affairs and special projects. It has initiated legal actions to restrict food contaminants and to ban food additives that are either unsafe or poorly tested. The special projects the group has sponsored include: Americans for Safe Food, the Nutrition Project, and the Alcohol Policies Project. The center publishes educational materials on food and nutrition, and it works to influence policy decisions affecting health and the national diet.

CSPI has made a significant impact on food marketing in the past 10 years, and they have successfully contested food labeling practices in many sectors of the industry. They were instrumental in forcing fast-food companies to disclose ingredients, and they have recently pressed the Food and Drug Administration to improve regulations for companies which make and distribute fruit juice. Many brands do not reveal the actual percentages of the different juices used to make them, and certain combinations of juices are often misleadingly labeled as cherry juice or kiwi juice, for instance, when they may be little more than a mixture of apple and grape juice. The organization has also taken action against deceptive food advertising, particularly advertising for children's products. It has recently demanded further testing of a sweetener called sucralose, in the wake of studies that have suggested that it could cause shrinkage of the thymus, a gland affecting cellular immune responses.

CSPI is funded mainly by foundation grants and subscriptions to its Nutrition Action Newsletter. The newsletter is published ten months out of the year and is intended to increase public understanding of food safety and nutrition issues. It frequently examines the consequences of legislation and regulation at the state and federal level; it has explored the controversy over organic and chemical farming methods, and it has studied how agribusiness has changed the way Americans eat. CSPI also distributes posters, videos, and computer software, and it offers a directory of mail-order sources for organically-grown food. Its brochures and reports include: Guess What's Coming to Dinner: Contaminants in Our Food and Organic Agriculture: What the States Are Doing. It has a staff of 45, a membership of 800,000, and an annual budget of $10,000,000.

[Douglas Smith ]



Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. USA 20009 (202) 332-9110, Fax: (202) 265-4954, Email: [email protected], <>

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Center for Science in the Public Interest

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Center for Science in the Public Interest