The British are looking for conflicts of interest in food regulation

The research, published jointly with Tim Lang, Professor Emeritus at the University of London, and Eric Millstone, Professor Emeritus in the University of Sussex Research Group, suggests that neither advisors to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) or the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are free from conflicts of interest.

The paper reviews declarations of conflicts of interest in the FSA’s board and committees since the FSA’s inception, and makes four recommendations on how to reverse the practice.

According to the study, this conflict of interest has left the UK Food Administration vulnerable to “agency takeover”,

The theory is that regulators may be dominated by the interests they regulate rather than the public interest.

In addition, the research also highlights that the committee that advises on the safety and acceptability of genetically modified plants has seven members, of which only one member declares that there is no conflict of interest. Moreover, the other six panelists declared conflicts of interest with respect to 16 different industrial companies.

In response to these findings, the authors make four recommendations that they believe can restore confidence in the regulatory process, with particular reference to the various food safety crises of the 1980s and 1990s.

Evidence shows that UK food policy-making should no longer include anyone with a commercial conflict of interest.

Their study concludes that public funding for food safety research needs to increase enough to ensure experts working in the UK do not rely on commercial sponsorship. and that the government focus on conducting research that can effectively contribute to improving food safety and food-related public health in the UK.

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They concluded that MPs should scrutinize the UK government’s food policy-making process to ensure these three recommendations are implemented.

Tim Lang “Public trust can only be guaranteed if commerce is not clearly involved,” said the City University of London professor. “Scientists themselves must ask themselves the ethical questions of whether it is right to conduct commercial research if it undermines collective trust.”

Professor Millstone, policy expert in chemical food safety at the University of Sussex, said: “Our research looks at individuals who play an influential role in food policy-making in the UK, in particular at Defra and the FSA. Our research highlights that many of them have conflicts of interest that exist and can lead to Its impact undermines the credibility of both Defra, the FSA and UK food safety policy, which, if left unaddressed, could endanger public health.

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