chapter  1
18 Pages

The Challenge of Policy-making for the New Life Sciences

ByCatherine Lyall, Theo Papaioannou, James Smith

This chapter discusses the policy problems associated with biosecurity and shows how a small part of the policy problem has been addressed within the UK. It outlines the changes in biosecurity policy and its increasing interaction with science policy and highlights the limits of governance as a theoretical concept. As with globalization theory's assertions of the demise of state power and its diffusion above and below, biosecurity is a small and atypical area that can be dismissed as an irrelevance. The threat assessment that was used to inform the risk assessment was centralized and received little input from the scientific community or public at large in the UK. The chapter suggests that the governance approach and Beck's dichotomy between old and new forms of risk management ends up functioning as audit when combined with a refusal to inquire into technology and technical risks, because they both end up taking risks at face value.