Biomedical and Clinical Research Involving Human Participants
Success at Mars is making our products and conducting research in ways that improve our society and planet. Across our network of laboratories, research facilities and in our collaborative partnerships, Mars scientists conduct fundamental and applied research in a wide range of fields. Sometimes we involve people in our research as participants to investigate the effects of foods and other products, and in behavioral interactions with companion animals. We conduct biomedical, clinical, and behavioral research, as well as dietary intervention involving human participants primarily for the following reasons:
- To gain fundamental insights into human nutrition and wellbeing
- To investigate whether certain nutrients and food constituents can promote health and wellbeing
- To better understand the effects of eating certain foods on the health of the general population
- To demonstrate to relevant food safety agencies the quality and safety of our products
- To provide evidence in support of product benefit claims (i.e., to demonstrate that our products do what we communicate on the packaging)
- To better understand the benefits, risks and mechanisms underlying health and wellbeing effects on both humans and animals based on their interactions
Standards governing our scientific research involving human participants
We fully respect those individuals who choose to participate in our research, and it is our duty to adhere to the highest scientific and ethical standards and protect the rights, privacy, welfare and wellbeing of human participants. We therefore conduct, participate in or support research in biomedical or clinical research trials involving human participants only when the following conditions are met:
- Every effort is made to ensure that all participants or their legally authorized representative fully comprehend the risks and potential benefits of participating in research, with no undue influence or pressure on participants’ decisions.
- Prior informed consent from the participant or their legally authorized representative must be obtained. Children’s assent must also be obtained when they are able to give it.
- Research projects must, at a minimum, fully comply with all applicable laws and regulations that govern the rights, privacy, welfare and wellbeing of human participants in the countries/regions where the research is conducted.
- These national laws and regulations are reviewed against internationally recognized standards and regulations (e.g., HHS (45 CFR 46); FDA (21 CFR 50); Declaration of Helsinki). The purpose of the research is reviewed, and whichever standard or regulation is considered most relevant to the research and provides the most appropriate protection for the participants is applied.
- All research projects involving human participants must be reviewed and approved by a fully accredited external research ethics committee (e.g., Institutional Review Board), which is responsible for reviewing research protocols, consent documents and other related materials, to ensure the rights and welfare of human participants are protected.
- All data, samples and information obtained during a research project are collected, stored and analyzed in ways that safeguard the privacy of human participants.
- All Mars Associates that plan and execute research projects involving human participants must be appropriately trained to ensure the protection of the participants. This training must reflect the standards, laws and regulations of the country in which the research is being performed and include the online training course on Protecting Human Research Participants.
All Mars Associates conducting research involving human participants are responsible for ensuring that the standards in this policy are upheld. The governance of this policy and all research conducted or supported by Mars on human or animal participants falls under the Mars Research Review Board (MRRB). The MRRB consists of Mars leadership in science and technology, research and development, legal counsel, ethics and welfare, and scientific affairs, as well as external Board members with a range of expertise in human and animal research, ethics and welfare. The MRRB ensures that our research, and the research of our partners, complies with this policy and that we maintain the highest ethical standards when conducting studies involving humans.