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Comment & Response
February 2014

Conflicts of Interest in Approvals of Food Additives—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, DC
JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(2):300-301. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.12686

In Reply Clemens and Schmidt imply that a conflict of interest is synonymous with a lack of scientific integrity. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report concluded that no matter how careful an individual is, conflicts may compromise a scientist’s objective analysis consciously or unconsciously, potentially resulting in a poor decision.1

Clemens and Schmidt also assert, without substantiation, that transparency and conflicts of interest standards may “compromise food safety through empaneling less-experienced reviewers.” If true that too few competent scientists are without serious conflicts, perhaps the close-knit network that makes many of the determinations about additives to food “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) has become stagnant and needs to grow.

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