VANCOUVER—Freedom of information records obtained by Animal Justice reveal that between 2014 and 2017, the University of British Columbia (UBC) received almost $2 million from at least eight separate dairy industry sources. The majority of the funds came from Dairy Farmers of Canada, an industry lobby group with a mandate to promote dairy products.
UBC operates a Dairy Education and Research Centre, which supports the development of the dairy industry “in B.C. and beyond.”
Funding bias is the well-documented phenomenon by which industry-funded research tends to support the interests of the funder. When industries fund research, the topics being researched and the language in which the results are reported are more likely to favour industry. This, in turn, enhances the industry’s credibility and further entrenches its interests.
A review by Animal Justice shows that in recent years, UBC has produced research actively seeking out health benefits of dairy; researching consumer attitudes, which helps the dairy industry better understand how to market to consumers; and identifying which messaging will cause consumers to believe animal welfare is positive on dairy farms, despite UBC’s own research also revealing that dairy farm tours decrease consumer confidence in dairy animal welfare.
“As a UBC alumnus myself, I’m disappointed that this respected academic institution has allowed itself to be so deeply captured by industry interests, undermining its credibility and helping to prop up a dying industry,” said lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “Research institutions should be insulated from the economic interests of industries. In this case, the public has an interest in better understanding the health, environmental, and public health consequences of dairy consumption, which will not happen if the research is being funded by the dairy industry itself.”
Up to 90 percent of some ethnicities cannot digest lactose after infancy. Mammalian milk is not a traditional part of the cultural diet for most non-Europeans.
Health Canada is on track to remove the dairy category from the national food guide, recognizing that cow’s milk and associated dairy foods are not a necessary part of a human diet.
For more information, contact:
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
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