University geneticist warns of pseudoscience in industries

A University scientist has joined leading scientists from across Europe in raising an alarm over the ‘pseudoscience’ concerning regulation of compounds used in agriculture, healthcare and industry.

Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison, from the Department of Genetics, was among scientists meeting Dr Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner of Health and Food Safety earlier this month.

Professor Heslop-Harrison said: “In the discussion, the concern was raised that public perceptions about scientific assessments are currently distorted by people, often from NGOs and well-funded pressure groups. The European Parliament and European Commission have access to robust scientific advice, but this is not always being used in legislation because of these strongly expressed opinions.

“The reality is that there is no robust, consistent scientific evidence to support these dogmatic stances, and indeed most of the robust evidence points in the opposite direction for some of the chemicals and techniques now being considered as subject to extra regulation.”

In scientists in the delegation argued that the presentation of the issues to the public and to the Commission by some groups has been deliberately selective and has proposed courses of action that are not supported by a scientific evidence base.

The group emphasised that management of chemicals and techniques should be based on robust scientific evidence, as is common to all legal procedures (not least including criminal law). This regulation ensures safe use of compounds in a range of applications. In the use of such scientific evidence, this will ensure protection of human health and the environment, while maintaining the sustainability and competitiveness of the European economy.