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The role of science in regulatory decision-making: lessons from ecological risk assessments of genetically engineered crops

October 8 2012


Seminar Room 1.06, Old Surgeons' Hall, High School Yards, University of Edinburgh, EH1 1LZ

All welcome, no need to register

Organised by: Innogen at the University of Edinburgh


Results of scientific studies are sometimes claimed to provide scientific justification for regulatory decisions. A decision may be scientifically justified if objective analysis shows that it is more likely than other options to lead to the achievement of specific policy objectives. However, if policy objectives are not defined operationally, as is often the case, scientific justification for decisions is not possible. Using genetically engineered crops as an example, this seminar will show how attempts to justify decisions scientifically may lead to a focus on reducing scientific uncertainty instead of reducing uncertainty about the objectives of policies that regulate their use. Concentrating on reducing scientific uncertainty at the expense of clarifying policy objectives may have detrimental effects on scientists, science and society.


Alan Raybould is a Science and Technology Fellow at Syngenta where he works in the Product Safety department.  He has extensive experience of conducting regulatory risk assessments for transgenic maize and cotton producing insecticidal proteins. In his work for Syngenta, and for industry organizations such as CropLife International, he has participated in efforts to develop effective environmental risk assessment methods for transgenic crops through seminars and workshops in many countries, and through publications in the scientific literature.,26287,en.t4.html