There’s nothing illegal about a company funding research that may eventually result in findings that support that company’s interests. There’s also nothing illegal about looking out your window, glancing both ways and then slowly lowering the blinds. But some activities are just inherently shadier than others.
In a piece published earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal, Coca-Cola’s CEO Muhtar Kent admitted that funding studies like a recent one that essentially said people could drink all the Coke they wanted if they would just get off their lazy asses and exercise more, ended up backfiring a bit more than his company anticipated. “I am disappointed that some actions we have taken to fund scientific research and health and well-being programs have served only to create more confusion and mistrust,” wrote Kent. “I know our company can do a better job engaging both the public health and scientific communities—and we will.”
Of course, such proclamations leave Coca-Cola in a bit of a precarious situation, as more people push the agenda that sugar is better left for dessert instead of casual beverage drinking. But the biggest issue isn’t that Coca-Cola funded the studies, it's that it took a New York Times article to have this information come to the public’s attention.