A response to criticism levelled at ERAB regarding independence

 

Posted on the 26 May 2016

ERAB: The European Foundation for Alcohol Research (ERAB) was set up in 2003 as an independent Charity under Belgian Law - a Foundation of Public Utility.  It is funded by the European brewing sector which, by providing financial support to an independent charity that funds research examining how the whole spectrum of alcohol consumption affects behaviour and health, has demonstrated a high level of social responsibility in its market place. This shows that it is taking the issues of alcohol related harm seriously and pro-actively. Examination of the grants funded clearly demonstrates that there is no bias towards research showing positive effects http://www.erab.org/documents/research_grants/Research_funded_03_-_15.pdf .
 
The purpose of the Foundation, as set out in the "By-Laws", is to promote scientific knowledge of, and education in, the medical, bio-medical, and socio-behavioural effects of alcoholic beverages in general, and beer in particular. (Annex 1 includes an extract from the by-laws.) The Foundation also promotes research on the prevention and the treatment of alcohol related problems, ‘misuse’ and the harm caused thereby.
 
To comply with the by-laws it is essential that all subject areas listed are studied and efforts are being made to stimulate good applications in areas which have, to date, been underrepresented in the funding, for example beer related research. However, both the scientific Advisory Board (of which Professor Sulkunen was a member) and the Board of Directors, have robustly rejected any suggestion from the sponsors that a set percentage of funds be dedicated to any area of research.
 
The Advisory Board advises the Board of Directors on the grant applications which should be funded. The Board of Directors includes some representatives from the brewing sector, but has a majority of public members (trustees). It has no influence over which grants are funded and this guarantees the independence of the research promoted by the Advisory Board.

Therefore, claims of undue pressure from the brewing sector are unfounded.

Emeritus Professor Frans Kok, Chairman of the Board of Directors