In a November 20, 2013 article the environmental health blog Health and Environment gives guidance for the evaluation of scientific reviews on contested topics. Health and Environment points out that reviews should clearly state their objective, apply a consistent method, include all relevant evidence, assess evidence’s quality, accurately report findings and comprehensively state interests of the reviewers in order to ensure quality. In its article, Health and Environment considers that the two European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) opinions on bisphenol A (BPA) did not adhere to these criteria. The blog comments that the opinions lacked pre-published protocols which prevent bias provoking ad-hoc decision making. Further, it criticizes the lack of transparency regarding conflicts of interest of the EFSA Opinion Working Group and Panel members.

In addition, Health and Environment considers that the search and selection process for scientific evidence was weak, and evaluation of selected evidence lacked a consistent method. The blog is of the opinion, that while the EFSA Opinions on BPA are not necessarily wrong, they provided insufficient assurance of the contrary. Health and Environment calls for a general improvement of methods used in scientific review, especially if they are the foundation for policy decision making.

Read more

Health and Environment (November 20, 2013). “Who can you believe when it comes to chemical safety?