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How Experts Are Chosen to Inform Public Policy: Can the Process Be Improved?


Health Policy. 2013;112(3):172-178

Abstract: The ever-increasing complexity of the food supply has magnified the importance of ongoing research into nutrition and food safety issues that have significant impact on public health. At the same time, ethical questions have been raised regarding conflict of interest, making it more challenging to form the expert panels that advise government agencies and public health officials in formulating nutrition and food safety policy. Primarily due to the growing complexity of the interactions among government, industry, and academic research institutions, increasingly stringent conflict-of-interest policies may have the effect of barring the most experienced and knowledgeable nutrition and food scientists from contributing their expertise on the panels informing public policy. This paper explores the issue in some depth, proposing a set of principles for determining considerations for service on expert advisory committees. Although the issues around scientific policy counsel and the selection of advisory panels clearly have global applicability, the context for their development had a US and Canadian focus in this work. The authors also call for a broader discussion in all sectors of the research community as to whether and how the process of empaneling food science and nutrition experts might be improved.

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