Enhancing the Credibility of Decisions Based on Scientific Conclusions: Transparency Is Imperative

  • Publication Date :
  • Publication Type : Journal Article
  • Author(s) : Schreider J, Barrow C, Birchfield N, Dearfield K, Devlin D, Henry S, Kramer M, Schappelle S, Solomon K, Weed DL, Embry MR
  • Journal Name : Toxicological Sciences

Toxicological Sciences. 2010;116(1):5-7

Abstract: Transparency and documentation of the decision process are at the core of a credible risk assessment and, in addition, are essential in the presentation of a weight of evidence (WoE)–based approach. Lack of confidence in the risk assessment process (as the basis for a risk management decision), beginning with evaluation of raw data and continuing through the risk decision process, is largely because of issues surrounding transparency. There is a critical need to implement greater transparency throughout the risk assessment process, and although doing so will not guarantee the correctness of the risk assessment or that all risk assessors come up with the same conclusions, it will provide essential information on how a particular conclusion or decision was made, thereby increasing confidence in the conclusions. Recognizing this issue, the International Life Sciences Institute Health and Environmental Sciences Institute convened a multisector committee tasked with discussing this issue and examining existing guidance and recommendations related to transparency in risk assessment. The committee concluded that transparency is inextricably linked to credibility: credibility of the data, credibility of the risk assessment process, and credibility of the resulting decision making. To increase this credibility, existing guidance concerning criteria elements of transparency related to the risk assessment process must be more widely disseminated and applied, and raw data for studies used in human health and environmental risk assessment must be more widely available. Finally, the decision-making process in risk management must be better documented and a guidance framework established for both the process itself and its communication to the public.

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