Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Panel Conflicts

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's biotechnology panel is facing scrutiny over its members, the New York Times reports.

Critics argue that multiple members of the panel have conflicts of interest, the Times says. It notes that the academies have acknowledged that two members — Dow AgroSciences' Steven Evans and Iowa State University's Jeffrey Wolt — violate the panel's conflict-of-interest policy. A spokesperson tells the Times that scientists with conflicts occasionally serve on committees if the academies think they have specialty knowledge others do not.

In addition, critics point out that a staffer who helped put together the panel was seeking another job at the time and that that person's recommendations for the panel included board members at that his new organization, the Times says. The employee, Douglas Friedman, says he was only one part of the process of appointing new members and didn't think there was reason to tell the academies about his job search. The spokesperson says, though, that an employee in that situation should not have been involved in the panel search.

Such perceived conflicts could undermine the academies' recommendations, Harvey Fineberg, a former Institute of Medicine president, tells the Times. "There's often a lot riding on what the academies say, and so their ability to act with objectivity and independence defines any value they have," he adds.