Science and Governance in Europe: lessons from the case of agricultural biotechnology

Levidow, L. and Marris, C. (2001). Science and Governance in Europe: lessons from the case of agricultural biotechnology. Science and Public Policy, 28(5) pp. 345–360.

URL: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/beech/spp/20...

Abstract

Amid a wider debate over the European Union’s democratic deficit, ‘science and governance’ has attracted particular attention. Science and technology have become a special problem because they are routinely cited as an objective basis for policy. Through dominant models of science and technology, policy frameworks serve to promote and conceal socio-political agendas, while pre-empting debate on alternative futures. Technological–market imperatives are invoked to mandate a single path towards economic survival. Expert advice is implicitly equated with ‘science’, in turn invoked as if scientific knowledge were a value-neutral basis for regulatory decisions. This has led to a legitimacy crisis. As governments search for a remedy, rhetorics of openness have been tagged onto the dominant models, rather than superseding them. Consequently, underlying tensions emerge within proposed reforms, as illustrated by the case of agricultural biotechnology. If the aim is to relegitimise decision-making, it will be necessary to change the institutions responsible for promoting innovation and regulating risks, in particular their preconceptions of science, technology and public concerns.

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