Scientific Research and Engagement Policy | Mars, Incorporated
Scientific Research and Engagement Policy

OUR POLICY ON SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND ENGAGEMENT

As a family-owned, global pet care, confectionery and food business, we pride ourselves on offering quality products and services to hundreds of millions of people and pets around the world. Beyond our products and services we believe we also have a responsibility to help address some of the critical challenges shared by society, like food security, sustainable agriculture and global health.

Our scientific research is often the starting point for how we can tackle these grand societal challenges. We work in partnership with leading scientists internationally to achieve this goal, in areas as diverse as plant science, pet health and materials science.

Our policy on scientific research and engagement covers all of the types of research activities we engage in. It details the standards that govern our scientific research and engagement, which are based on the highest standards of scientific conduct, quality, credibility and integrity. For more details, see our policy on scientific research and engagement here.


EXPLORING THE POTENTIAL OF COCOA FLAVANOLS FOR HEALTH

Mars has more than 20 years’ experience studying flavanols — natural compounds found in unprocessed cacao beans, apples, pears and tea. A significant amount of research now shows that these compounds can promote healthy blood vessel function.

In May 2015, we launched the largest research trial to date investigating flavanols’ cardiovascular health benefits. The Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study, or COSMOS, is investigating the effects of cocoa flavanols on cardiovascular health in 18,000 men and women in the United States over a five-year period.

The collaborative study between Mars, Harvard Medical School, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Brigham Women’s Hospital will investigate whether taking daily cocoa flavanols supplements, or a common multivitamin, can reduce the risk for developing serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

THE STORY OF
COCOA FLAVANOLS

ADVANCING RESEARCH INTO
PET HEALTH & NUTRITION

The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition has been advancing research into the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. The centre leads Mars Petcare’s science, focusing on the nutrition and wellbeing of dogs, cats, horses, birds and fish, as well as the societal benefits of owning pets.

In 2017, WALTHAM published a first of its kind study to investigate if pets can ease social interactions and help connect communities. This collaborative study with the University of Western Australia surveyed over 2,500 pet and non-pet owners across three US cities - San Diego, Portland and Nashville - and in Perth, Australia. Of the people surveyed, pet owners were consistently more likely to report social benefits such as helpfulness, friendliness and trust between neighbors. This research adds strength to claims that pet ownership is a valuable and positive feature in community and neighborhood life.

The study adds to growing evidence that pet ownership brings health and social benefits. Furthermore, this study has underpinned the development of partnerships to create more ‘pet-friendly’ cities and towns in the UK, the US and Australia. The US-based Better Cities for Pets program is working to encourage more pet friendly businesses and public spaces, as well as more welcoming shelters for homeless pets across US cities.


UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF ORPHAN CROPS IN AFRICA

Using the power of genetics, Mars and its partners are sequencing the genomes of 101 staple African food crops to improve their nutritional content, yield and ability to stand up to climate change. These 101 crops include the baobab tree, papaya and Bambara ground nut. They are hugely important to Africa, but they are orphans – they have previously been overlooked by international scientific researchers.

All information from the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC) will be freely available in the public domain to help smallholder farmers who really need it. Mars and partners including Google, Unicef and the World Agroforestry Centre are also training hundreds of Africa’s best plant breeders at the Consortium’s Plant Breeding Academy to use this genetic data to breed new varieties of crops. For the 600 million smallholder farmers in rural Africa who depend on these crops for income and nutrition, this project ultimately means a more secure future. So far, 55 breeders have graduated from the consortium’s Academy and AOCC researchers have fully sequenced the genomes of ten of their 101 targets.


SAYING "GAME OVER"
TO DEADLY FOOD TOXID

On World Food Day 2017, we helped launch a global initiative to eradicate aflatoxin – a naturally occurring poison in food known to cause liver cancer. So far, attempts to wipe out aflatoxin haven’t been successful, so Mars and partners are trying something new - a computer game called Foldit.

The Foldit platform is a revolutionary crowd-sourcing science puzzle game that allows anyone in the world to figure out how amino acids are folded together to create proteins, the workhorses of our bodies. Developed by the University of Washington in 2008, the platform has enabled a number of serious breakthroughs in scientific research, including a huge leap forward in finding an AIDs vaccine.

Now, Foldit has turned its sights on Aflatoxins. Since the launch in October 2017, gamers from around the world have generated over 400,000 designs, which are currently being tested at the University of California, Davis. We should know within a matter of months, whether one of these computer generated designs has the potential to degrade aflatoxin.


IMPROVING RICE
SUSTAINABILITY

Mars has committed to sustainably sourcing 100% of its rice by the year 2020. As part of this work, we’ve invested in research at leading universities, such as the University of California, Davis and the University of Arkansas, to better understand the impacts of a farming method called “Alternate Wetting and Drying” on water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and farmer income. So, far our research has shown that this method can reduce water use by 30% and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 90%, all without reducing crop yields.

We have already introduced this method and other water efficiency programs with our farmers in the United States. Following the success of the program in the US, we are now piloting the program in water stressed regions in Pakistan. In India we are going one step further and piloting drip irrigation programs.