Law, Technology and Public Contestations in Europe
Biotechnology Regulation series
Chapter 1: Introduction
This book examines how adequately European Union (EU) law treats serious contestations about the development and use of the radically new technology of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This examination takes place against a backdrop of particularly strong misgivings about the regulatory decisions on GMOs, as well as intense disagreement about their necessity and desirability, which have paralysed their use in agriculture and food in the EU. In conventional frames of regulation of new technologies, decisions about the research, development and deploy- ment of radical technologies like GMOs were to be left entirely to the scientific experts. Within this conventional frame, scientific experts are considered as best placed to understand, anticipate and decide on regulatory issues related to technologies like these. This book starts with an assumption that an approach that thinks of scientific experts as the starting point in such regulation is inadequate, for reasons that are elaborated later in this chapter. The widespread scepticism about under- lying policy-making and results among the citizenry poses a serious strain to classical modes of representation, and necessitates a serious engagement with those outside the regulatory table. One of the prominent ways in which this engagement with public contestations and representational issues has transpired is through policy commitments to make EU regulation more amenable to public participation. This book examines how adequately EU law has treated public participation as a means to represent and mediate public contestations about the use and regulation of GMOs.