Regulating genetic engineering: the limits and politics of knowledge

Journal Article
Published In: Issues in Science and Technology
  • Published 13/07/15

Charges against critics of genetic engineering (GE) often take four general forms. But all of them, we argue, are unsupported by facts.

First, scientific and policy debates are not, as claimed, polarized in black and white, divided simply into two contending camps. Second, there is no genuine consensus within the scientific community about the safety and acceptability of innovations produced using GE. Third, allegations of costly overregulation presuppose that there is reliable and complete foreknowledge of benefits as well as any and all possible risks, but such scientific hubris should never be treated as an adequate substitute for systematic investigations. Fourth, common representations of GE as an incremental, innocuous innovation that poses no special risks and requires no special regulation is inconsistent with the biotechnology corporations’ insistence that GE is a radical innovation that deserves special protection and incentives.

Published in ‘Issues in Science and Technology’, Summer 2015 issue (forthcoming)