Industry financed research increases demands on transparency

A recent article highlights the issues of industry-funded research and the possible bias of results that is introduced because of the sponsorship. Transparency is vital in these situations and failing on that criterion might cast doubt on the whole research project.

The webpage Investigative Reporting Workshop co-published a story with Politics Daily that reports on the issue of biased funding in research conducted to investigate if Parkinson was caused by pesticide. A major contributor to the research project was an industry actor and even though claims that there was no foul play this casts a shadow of doubt on the whole research project. The views expressed in the article is that transparency is crucial in these issues and money should always be separated from a specific project in order for researchers to maintain their objectivity. (Source: Investigative Reporting Workshop)

This is an issue that is also apparent within the flame retardant industry. You will find different studies on the toxicity on bromine; the toxicity seems to correlate with the core business of the company. Looking outside of the industry the debate circles around how to limit use not whether the substance is toxic. The same goes for other common flame-retardant additives such as antimony and chlorine.

We believe that certain substances have such far-reaching consequences that they should be banned when there is a scientifically based suspicion that these will impact the health of humans, especially if they have apparent persistent characteristics. The argument that opposing views warrants for continued use is difficult for me to swallow. Science hardly ever gives clear, unambiguous results. The outcome could just as well have been determined in the problem definition. Therefore it is increasingly important with a transparent and pragmatic view of how research is conducted and funded. Targeted funding by actors that have financial interest vested in the outcome of a study should not be allowed.


/Amit Paul

MD Paxymer AB