Governing uncertain and unknown effects of genetically modified crops
This paper analyzes the capabilities of three different governance regimes for adequately handling uncertain and unknown effects of genetically modified (GM) crops. Adequate handling requires the development of sound procedures for identification of uncertainty and ignorance (U&I), reduction of U&I, decisions on how to treat irreducible U&I and monitoring of unexpected effects. The nature of U&I implies, however, that these procedures will be highly incomplete. Governance mechanisms that facilitate cooperative adaptation and communicative rationality are therefore needed. The three governance regimes (GRs) compared are: GM-crops are produced by private firms and these firms are made liable for harm (GR1); GM-crops are produced by private firms and the government decides whether the crops should be marketed (GR2); and GM-crops are produced and the government decides whether the crops should be marketed (GR3). The effect of bringing the civil society into the decision-making process is also analyzed. GR3 will be stronger in cooperative adaptation and communicative rationality than GR2. Public research organizations have fewer conflicts of interest with the government than private firms, and academic norms are important. Difficulties in proving harm and identifying the responsible firm will make GR1 weak in cooperative adaptation and communicative rationality.
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