Conflict of interest should not affect public interest
We are grateful to the PM for drawing attention to the need for avoiding conflict of interest while agreeing to serve on committees engaged in policy formulation. Conflict of interest is becoming a serious area of concern in science and technology, particularly in medicine, industry and agriculture. Every institution engaged in research for public good must ensure that conflict of interest does not distort priorities, publications and publicity. In industrialised countries, there are strict guidelines for ensuring that conflict of interest does not work against public interest. We should also make it widely known that undertaking assignments where conflict of interest can lead to conclusions based on commercial rather than scientific considerations is unethical. I hope that the PM will set up an inter-disciplinary committee of experts who are in the forefront of public good research, to develop national code of conduct in this area.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.