IARC urged to take conflicts of interest seriously

The UN’s cancer agency has been questioned about its “bias towards industry” and “questionable evaluation practices.” In a follow up letter to a 1 March 2002 meeting with the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) Jerry M Rice in Washington DC, Jennifer Sass of the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) wrote she was “hopeful that our discussions will lead IARC towards compliance with the WHO/IARC Declaration of Interests (DOI) policy. Clearly, IARC’s current practice of collecting the DOI forms, but allowing all financially conflicted persons to remain as voting, fully participating members of the Working Group (WG) cannot be considered compliance. Further, to allow scientists who have a financial interest in the decision outcome to prepare the discussion documents, or, worse, to chair the discussion groups pertaining to the chemical is simply unacceptable.” The letter concludes “it is of great importance that IARC complies with the WHO/IARC disclosure of interest policy, and that public interest organizations such as NRDC and governmental agencies world-wide be able to have confidence that the Monographs represent the truly objective state-of-the-science, untainted by the influence of financially interested parties.”

Reform Needed at the International Agency for Research on Cancer: Letter to Jerry M Rice, chief of the identification and evaluation unit, IARC, from Jennifer Sass, NRDC, 13 March 2002. Also see: Cancer in the system: Corporate disease infects the international cancer agency, Hazards, number 80, October-December 2002.

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