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Codes of conduct are for building trust, not stifling debate

By preventing government scientists from cherry-picking or grandstanding, civil service rules safeguard the influence of research with government and public alike, says John Newton.

Many people want to use the latest scientific knowledge to help stay healthy, be a good parent or protect the environment. This is perhaps not as easy as it should be—sometimes because the science itself is inconclusive—but too often because of apparently conflicting interpretations in the media.

Mixed messages can undermine efforts to promote an evidence-based approach to health. Confusion in the public mind over the balance of evidence, for example on what constitutes a heathy diet or on the risks of electronic cigarettes, is disabling for public health programmes.

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