risks of public–private partnership in food and nutrition research, with a focus on integrity and public trust. The chapter concludes with a summary of the very brief discussion that took place during the workshop about the importance of including citizen and other public groups in the dialogue.


Many of today’s public health challenges would be well served by public–private partnership approaches, with all stakeholders engaged. Moreover, the complexity of some of today’s public health challenges, such as obesity, demands collaboration (Figure 2-1). As McGinnis said, “If there was ever a problem for which there is no easy, simple solution, it is the problem of obesity, and it requires, therefore, the committed, determined, and collaborative activity of every one of the stakeholders involved.” Finegood observed that people often respond to obesity and other complex problems by retreating, believing that the problem is beyond hope, assigning blame, and searching for simple solutions (Bar-Yam, 2004). “Clearly we need to go beyond that,” she said. Robert Post, deputy director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), remarked that the only way to shift eating patterns is through harnessing the power and leveraging the resources of all “influencers.”

Who are those influencers? In Richard Black’s opinion, both the private and the public sectors play vital roles in modifying the food supply for public health purposes. As Black, vice president of global nutrition and chief nutrition officer at Kraft Foods, put it, the private sector needs to be part of the conversation because it makes the majority of food consumed in North America. Industry also generates important information about what, how, and why people eat and has the knowledge and expertise to modify the food supply in ways that address public health needs. Without active involvement of the food industry, Black asked, “how can we hope to modify the food supply?” The public sector needs to be involved because of its knowledge of public health and its insights into issues of which the food industry may be unaware. Black asked, “How can the food industry seek to modify the food supply if we don’t even know what the problem might be?”

Catherine Woteki, under secretary for USDA’s REE mission area, asserted that partnerships are necessary when the scope and scale of an endeavor are more than a single entity can or will support. She pointed to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH)–managed


1 This section is based primarily on remarks from the panel on the importance of partnering and the benefits and risks of partnerships moderated by David Castle. Panel members included Richard Black, William Dietz, Jonathon Marks, Robert Post, and Catherine Woteki.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement