Business makes a significant contribution to scientific knowledge on the effects on properties of their products. Companies allocate a large share of their resources to research and development and work as partners with public laboratories that are encouraged to seek out private funding to complement public monies.
And yet this expertise is rarely recognised as legitimate and called upon to contribute to collective knowledge of environmental and health issues. This can be naturally explained by the presumption of a conflict of interest inherent to experts funded by private resources, in addition to commercial confidentiality issues.
What could be the terms of a new legitimacy for private-sector expertise? Would it be possible to restore credibility of the reports and studies carried out by scientists working in companies if their work conforms to strict ethical and methodological rules?
The attached “Charter on Private-Sector Expertise” is an attempt to move in this direction. It establishes a series of principles and rules that some private-sector experts and/or some sponsors of expertise will willingly agree to follow in the course of their work. The resulting expertise will then be granted more credibility, enabling them to better fulfil the needs of the entities that use such studies.
This Charter on Private-Sector Expertise is a voluntary approach and can be used to structure corporate expertise to be disclosed : in the context of participation in a multiple expertise process, or in response to an opinion issued by other scientific institutions, or within the framework of any other scientific dialogue.