Research Bias at Odds with Scientific Integrity

10:09 AM, 12 March 2015

In recent times ANZA has observed a growing tendency to attack the integrity of research funded by industry to be a means of public health advocates trying to to control the message. A recent example was the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in expressing its zealous disapproval of “the sugar industry and related companies responsible for many of the products blamed for the obesity crisis” by attacking the scientific integrity of academic nutrition researchers. The BMJ featured no less than four articles — all by the same journalist — that depict “a web of influence” and claim that an “evil” industry is “biasing the science”.

Diana Garnham, Chief Executive of the UK Science Council, recently published a blunt response to criticism in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) of industry funded research:

“The BMJ is quite wrong to suggest that research funded through industry collaborations and professional bodies can’t be trusted. Research institutions already have in place processes to achieve transparency and robust independent review in addition to the individual code of ethics followed by the professional scientists who are either commissioning or undertaking the research.

The taxpayer cannot afford to fund all the research that is needed to improve and expand our evidence base. It is absolutely right that industries should be partners in finding the solutions we need so we should be encouraging them to contribute more to the overall research activity in their fields of interest – not less.

ANZA consistently argues for evidence based policy in public health issues. Starting with a preconceived conclusion — and blasting away at any evidence or scientist that gets in the way — is no way to advance public health. It undermines scientific integrity. We welcome your experience of poor research being used to influence policy to lindsay@anza.co.nz.

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