Commentary: Knowledge is power, and power needs knowledge

  • Pekka Sulkunen University of Helsinki
Keywords: conflict of interest, alchol, beer, brewers, Europe


Sulkunen, P. (2016). Commentary: Knowledge is power, and power needs knowledge. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, 5(1), 11-12. doi:

In the years 2011–2015 I served on the expert committee of the foundation called ERAB, now a public charity, funded by the Brewers of Europe. Our task was to review grant applications to deliver half a million euros per year to research on alcohol consumption. There was no detectable indication that the proposals were biased to please the brewers, and certainly the decisions were not. However, things changed in 2015, when the Secretary General of the Brewers of Europe requested on behalf of the funders that 40% of the grant money should go to research aiming at “a better understanding of the effects of moderate beer consumption on the behaviour and health of individuals and society.” This was unacceptable to all experts on the committee, and the Chair of the Board of ERAB resigned in protest. After a battle between the Brewers and the expert committee, the formulation laid down was “more research on beer.” I could not accept this either, arguing that any external criteria beyond the quality of the proposals undermined the scientific integrity of the selecting experts.

Author Biography

Pekka Sulkunen, University of Helsinki
Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
How to Cite
Sulkunen, P. (2016). Commentary: Knowledge is power, and power needs knowledge. International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, 5(1), 11-12.