Regulating technological risk: the case of genetically modified crops in India

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Presentation by Ian Scoones, STEPS Centre co-director, at a conference on the challenges of risk management for India, Bangalore, 15-16 February 2011. The conference was organised by the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore's Centre for Public Policy in association with the STEPS Centre.

http://www.risk-management-india.com/

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Regulating technological risk: the case of genetically modified crops in India

  1. 1. Regulating technological risk: the case of genetically-modified crops in India Ian Scoones STEPS Centre, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK
  2. 2. From Bt cotton to Bt brinjalThree phases1. Regulatory approval: science and protest (1995-2002)2. Regulatory impasse (2002-2009): informal, then formal release3. Regulatory precaution (2009- ): public consultations, political intervention and a moratorium
  3. 3. Technical risk: experts rule?• A regulatory framework - RCGM and GEAC• Imports, and technical discussions• Protest and direct action• 2002 decision: release• Attempts by the centre to regulate, but resistance from states and farmers
  4. 4. A regulatory impasse• Experts, inquiries, new regulatory structures proposed• Business pressure to reduce regulatory ‘red tape’ – pharma vs agriculture• Disputes within scientific establishment and regulatory body (GEAC) Increase in registered• Concerns about Bt resistance (CICR, Nagpur report)• Bt cotton varieties and massive expansion of cropped area.
  5. 5. The Bt brinjal episode• Significant public mobilisation: a symbolic food crop• Technical vs political response• A recognition of uncertainty/ignorance and the need for dialogue about contrasting framings to build broader public trust as part of regulation• Towards a co-evolutionary approach to the regulation of risk (and uncertainty)
  6. 6. Key developments….• A recognition of uncertainty/ ignorance and the need for a precautionary approach• The importance of dialogue about contrasting framings to build broader public trust as part of regulation• Towards a co-evolutionary approach to the regulation of technological risk – in the context of scientific uncertainty and public contention
  7. 7. Risk and regulation: a simple framework knowledge about outcomes unproblematic problematic unproblematicknowledgeaboutlikelihoods problematic
  8. 8. ‘Closing down’ around a narrowrisk framing knowledge about outcomes unproblematic problematic unproblematic RISK Biosafety – environmental & health risks are predictableknowledgeaboutlikelihoods problematic
  9. 9. ‘Closing down’ knowledge about outcomes unproblematic problematic unproblematic RISK Biosafety – environmental & health risks are predictableknowledgeaboutlikelihoods Unfamiliar toxic effects, complex synergies, unknown pest emergence/resistance ecology problematic UNCERTAINTY
  10. 10. ‘Closing down’ knowledge about outcomes unproblematic problematic unproblematic RISK AMBIGUITY Biosafety – environmental Different interests and priorities &health risks divergent notions of harm are predictable trust, fairness, ethicsknowledgeaboutlikelihoods Unfamiliar toxic effects, complex synergies, unknown pest emergence/resistance ecology problematic UNCERTAINTY
  11. 11. ‘Closing down’ knowledge about outcomes unproblematic problematic unproblematic RISK AMBIGUITY Biosafety – environmental different interests / priorities &health risks divergent notions of harm are predictable trust, fairness, ethicsknowledgeaboutlikelihoods Unfamiliar toxic effects, Unknowns, surprise, novelty complex synergies, unknown of envtal and health impacts pest emergence/resistance ecology problematic UNCERTAINTY IGNORANCE
  12. 12. Three phases knowledge about outcomes unproblematic problematic unproblematic Technical approval 1995- 2002knowledge Dialogue,about debate,likelihoods and precaution 2009 - Regulatory impasse 2002-09 problematic
  13. 13. ‘Closing down’powerful pressures to justify a narrow risk framing knowledge about outcomes unproblematic problematic unproblematic RISK expert decisions AMBIGUITY aggregative analysis political closureknowledge public deliberationabout risk based regulation ` political debatelikelihoods reductive modeling agenda-setting legal frameworks horizon scanning insurance multiple expertises harm definitions indicators / metrics regulatory remits Liability law problematic UNCERTAINTY IGNORANCE
  14. 14. ‘Opening up’ regulation knowledge about outcomes unproblematic problematic unproblematic RISK AMBIGUITY Narrow , expert-led participatory deliberation biosafety-focused, scenario workshops technical risk stakeholder dialogues regulation interactive options modellingknowledge social, political and technicalabout dimensionslikelihoods precaution uncertainty heuristics continuous monitoring sensitivity testing adaptive management tracking institutional learning high reliability management problematic UNCERTAINTY IGNORANCE
  15. 15. Reimagining regulation• Accept uncertainty and ignorance, avoid closing down towards narrow versions of risk regulation• Debating ambiguities – different perspectives, opinions and evidence – should be encouraged• Multiple expertises are important. Science on tap, not on top.• Regulation is both technical and political – requires a mature, transparent co-evolutionary approach. Not the dominance of one or the other.

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