The importance of anecdotal evidence: scientific uncertainties and the law, 2007

Submitted by: The Science and Technology Committee 

The National Council of Women, aware that many chemical substances that are entering our bodies, through the consumption of food and drink, inhalation and our skins, have had: (a) no previous testing on humans, (b) no basic risk or risk-benefit analysis, and (c) no monitoring of their effects following approval and entry to the market, and, knowing that (i) scientific theory is not always borne out in practice, (ii) tests on laboratory animals and humans do not always give the same result, (iii) the effect of mixtures of these substances is neither fully tested nor understood, (iv) many complaints about adverse reactions appear to be ignored, (v) the incidence of stillbirths and disabling child illnesses, including cancer and autism syndrome, is increasing but the cause of this is unknown, (vi) the increase of people suffering from allergies between 2001 and 2005 is reported to be over 3 million, (vii) decisions as to the safety of a substance may be influenced by commercial and/or political interests, urges HMG to acknowledge the importance of anecdotal evidence in decision-making and put in place a system to seek, listen to, record, challenge and, if proven, act upon anecdotal evidence.

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