Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

European scientists call for greater integrity, openness, clarity and public engagement

From the 18 February Eureka News Alert

European-based speakers representing the fields of nuclear energy, genetically modified organisms, and harm reduction science in tobacco made the plea on 18 February at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Vancouver, Canada. The panelists, each with pertinent experience of real-life scientific support to policy-making, offered first-hand advice on best practices and pitfalls when architecting science policy on both sides of the Atlantic. The 18 February symposium, titled “Exploding Myths on Reactor Security, Harm Reduction, and Genetically Modified Organisms,” featured a call for greater integrity, openness, clarity and public engagement on difficult to communicate issues of global significance. A key message was that science and policy do have a crucial relationship. But scientists should not think that they are policy-makers. Equally, science must remain independent. ‘Bad science’ and spin must be challenged more. Science coming out of industry must be trusted more. The symposium was moderated by the Irish Chief Scientific Advisor and Champion of EuroScience Open Forum 2012, Professor Patrick Cunningham….

Irish Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Patrick Cunningham, in summing up, said that: “In policy decisions, important factors beyond the reach of science are often involved: fear, hype, ignorance, profit, resentment, economic and political advantage. And science does not always have clear answers. However, science and scientists have a special claim to be heard, provided they are committed to:


  • Integrity: to uphold the inherent honesty of scientific enquiry and debate
  • Openness: to keep the lab door open, and making clear any special interests
  • Clarity: to speak in terms the public can understand
  • Engagement: to demonstrate that we take our duty to society seriously.”


He added: “At the same time, policymakers should encourage scientists to speak out even when their research or assessment may be unpopular. Scientists should learn to stand up, shout up and when necessary, shut up. The voice of the rational middle ground should be louder.”

February 20, 2012 - Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , ,

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