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Clearer, Please

The Keystone Center, a think tank focused on science and public policy, says there needs to be better conflict of interest disclosures from individuals serving on US federal advisory panels, reports ScienceInsider. In a report on applying science in regulatory decision making, the center says that "the regulatory process is better when there is more consistent and greater transparency in selecting panels, and when there is consistent, transparent, and systematic review and evaluation of the scientific literature," and further that "transparency not only can eliminate suspicion and innuendo, but also forces participants in the regulatory process to be more explicit and clear in their own thinking."

Such transparency, the center adds, is particularly necessary in an age of greater accusations that panel overlook certain studies or have financial ties to industry.

The report offers recommendations to avoid such conflicts, including the adoption of uniform disclosure rules and the establishment of best practices for reviewing the scientific literature, ScienceInsider adds. "Many reviews are [already] done well," says Richard Becker, who helped put together the report and who is a toxicologist with the American Chemistry Council that helped fund the study. "But more transparency would enhance credibility."

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