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Ombudsman backs transparency in science advice

The European Commission should do more to ensure that advice from its scientific committees is perceived as independent and objective, the European ombudsman has said.

According to ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, the Commission must ensure that any doubts as regards the independence and objectivity of such advice are dispelled. The comments were made in a decision on the Commission’s handling of possible conflicts of interest in a working group on dental amalgam, under the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR).

Whilst the ombudsman found no maladministration in the case, she urged the Commission to put in place “very robust procedures” to ensure that experts declare all their interests. O’Reilly said: “Even the perception that such scientific advice may not be independent and objective can be very damaging.”

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