New roles for experts and publics

European and North American regulatory agencies have a statutory obligation to involve the public in risk decision-making and in recent years many have ‘opened up’ these traditionally scientific domains to public input through on-line consultations. However, these statutory obligations are not met in practice and opportunities for public involvement are not exploited to their full potential. We argue this failure is due to a considerable lack of clarity in the literature and in practice about which publics should be involved in risk assessment and at what point they should participate. To remedy this situation, we draw on theoretical, empirical and prescriptive literatures to disentangle risk assessment. First, we find that effective and legitimate public involvement is dependent upon the degree to which value-judgements are acknowledged in the different components of risk assessment. Second, we explore variations in the prescription literatures of the United States National Research Council and the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Third, we examine the way in which risk assessment is disentangled in practice through the case study of the European Food Safety Authority. Finally, we draw on these findings to reassemble public involvement in risk assessment, making clear who should be involved, where and, importantly, why.

in Science and the politics of openness
Here be monsters

This book contributes to the study of science and politics by shedding light on sometimes dark, hidden or ignored aspects of openness as a core policy agenda. While opening up of science to public scrutiny and public deliberation is good in principle, various dilemmas and problems are entailed by this move, which also should be made public and be discussed more openly. Developed as a solution to perceived crises in science/society relations, openness and transparency initiatives might hide ‘monsters’ that need to be made visible and need to be examined. Chapters in this book deal with four themes: transparency in the context of science in the public sphere; responsibility in the context of in contemporary research practice and governance, both globally and locally; experts in the context of policy-making, risk assessment and the regulation of science; and faith in the context of tensions and misunderstandings between science and religion. Each section of the book contains an opening essay by experts on a particular theme (Mark Brown, Benjamin Worthy, Barbara Prainsack/Sabina Leonelli, Chris Toumey). The book closes with an epilogue by Stephen Turner and an essay by John Holmwood. At present, openness in science is more important than ever. This book should be of interest to academics and members of the public who want to know more about the challenges and opportunities of 'making science public' - the theme of a Leverhulme Trust funded research programme on which this book is based.

Open Access (free)
in Science and the politics of openness