In an invited commentary published August 7, 2013 in the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine, Marion Nestle, professor at New York University, calls study on conflicts of interest by Neltner et al. “a great public service” (previously reported on by the FPF). The study uncovered the influence of manufacturers over Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) food additive determinations. Nestle indicates that the undue influence of corporate sponsors on the safety determination process is also a considerable problem in medical research, education and practice. According to Nestle, a focus is placed on financial connections because other conflicts of interest are less easily monitored. She points to a report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) also criticizing the U.S. FDA’s limited oversight over GRAS decisions. The report addresses the unregulated and rapid introduction of nanomaterials with unknown safety risk profiles into food and food packaging. As with other substances, the U.S. FDA’s limited oversight over GRAS decisions makes the monitoring of the use of nanoparticles impossible. The financial conflicts of interest uncovered by Neltner and colleagues raise important questions regarding the public health implications of about a thousand additives in the food supply that the U.S. FDA is unaware of. Further, the study points to potential conflicts of interest in other regulatory matters.
FPF article “GRAS: Financial conflicts of interest ubiquitous”
Nestle, M. (2013) “Conflicts of interest in the Regulation of Food Safety: A threat to scientific integrity.” JAMA Internal Medicine (published online August 7, 2013).