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Syngenta AG (SYT) Principal Scientist Calls for Transparency and Verification to Minimize Research Bias


8/1/2012 10:56:17 AM

GREENSBORO, N.C., July 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Syngenta Principal Scientist, Timothy Pastoor, Ph.D., DABT, joined industry experts and academics in a Toxicology Forum roundtable, "How Bias Evolves and Impacts Science." Pastoor stressed the need for transparency and verification as part of the solution to research bias during the organization's 38th Annual Summer Meeting held July 8 through 12 in Aspen, Colo.

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"As members of the scientific research community, we all have an obligation to verify data through replication of research, share our data openly, and proactively discuss our findings with the public and the media in order to minimize bias and misinformation," said Pastoor. "We cannot ignore the fact that prejudice can slant science. That's why it is so critical that we identify ways to face the ongoing challenge of bias in research."

The investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity into the work of researcher Mona Thiruchelvam, Ph.D., was one example panel members discussed.

The Office of Research Integrity recently found that Thiruchelvam committed research misconduct by fabricating data that suggested a connection between pesticides and Parkinson's disease. Before the fraud was uncovered, millions of dollars were spent on studies trying to replicate the falsified data. Because her research had been peer reviewed, it was generally accepted as valid and widely cited in subsequent research papers. While her original papers have been retracted, nothing that can be done to withdraw the more than 70 studies and ongoing research they influenced.

"Bias may be completely unintentional, but everyone has it to one degree or another," continued Pastoor. "It is the responsibility of ethical scientists to acknowledge those biases so that research data can be viewed more accurately and science is not slanted."

In addition to Pastoor, the five-person panel included two university professors of toxicology, an editor-at-large for a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, and an expert in external technology, toxicology and environmental research with The Dow Chemical Company. Panelists also discussed the need for scientists to do a better job of helping media, who may not have a scientific background, better understand research findings so results of their work are reported accurately.

The panel generally agreed that following Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) is a strong foundation to reduce bias, but the requirements may be so onerous that smaller academic institutions cannot be expected to follow them to the letter. The panel suggested all research should be conducted in the spirit of the GLP standards met by research teams working with major corporations, such as Syngenta.

Organizations that can't meet the strict standards of GLP, such as many academic institutions, can reduce bias, demonstrate transparency and achieve verification by publishing supplemental research data online.

As a principal scientist, Pastoor often serves as a scientific expert and lecturer on toxicology and risk assessment. He has also served as the company's head of Human Safety, managing a team of toxicologists and risk-assessment experts who use safety, health and environmental studies to establish product safety.

Pastoor has more than 30 years of international experience in fundamental toxicity testing, mode-of-action research and human-health risk assessment. He is a Toxicology Forum board member, a member of the Society of Toxicology Communications Committee and past president of the Society's Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section, and a member of the board of the International Life Sciences Institute/Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (ILSI/HESI).

Pastoor earned his doctorate in toxicology from the University of Michigan and is certified by the American Board of Toxicology (DABT).

About The Toxicology Forum
The Toxicology Forum is an international, nonprofit organization that is devoted to conducting open dialogues among various segments of society concerned with problems in toxicology. The Toxicology Forum aims to provide a scrupulously balanced approach to the topics and issues presented at The Forum, with alternative positions presented for each issue. For more information, please visit toxforum.org.

About Syngenta
Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 26,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers, we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life. For more information about us, please go to www.syngenta.com.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This document contains forward-looking statements, which can be identified by terminology such as 'expect', 'would', 'will', 'potential', 'plans', 'prospects', 'estimated', 'aiming', 'on track' and similar expressions. Such statements may be subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from these statements. We refer you to Syngenta's publicly available filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for information about these and other risks and uncertainties. Syngenta assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect actual results, changed assumptions or other factors. This document does not constitute, or form part of, any offer or invitation to sell or issue, or any solicitation of any offer, to purchase or subscribe for any ordinary shares in Syngenta AG, or Syngenta ADSs, nor shall it form the basis of, or be relied on in connection with, any contract thereof

The Syngenta logo is a registered trademark of a Syngenta Group Company.

SOURCE Syngenta


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