Thinking about expertise differently: GM risk assessment as an ecology of regulatory knowledge

InSIS Seminar Series: Ecologies of Expertise

Date: Tuesday 9 June

Time: 3pm-5pm

Location: Seminar Room, 64 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PN.

Speaker: David Demortain, Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Sciences Innovations Sociétés

Title: Thinking about expertise differently: GM risk assessment as an ecology of regulatory knowledge

The control over standards of regulatory evidence is one of the factors that determine who may be called an expert, despite the level of scrutiny and contestation that surrounds claims to expertise, specifically in public and controversial environments. The history of the regulatory testing of genetically modified organisms shows that that standards of proof are simultaneously shaped in various inter-related spaces (industrial, academic, regulatory, civic spaces among others), and are thus varied, if not multiple. Standards of proof get selected or deselected, rise or fall, depending on what happens in this complex environment, or what may be called an ecology of regulatory knowledge, that heavily determines who may prove products safe or unsafe, and thus claim to be an expert.

About the Seminar Series: Whom do we trust?

An 'expert', by standard definition, has particular skills or knowledge of their field. Today, a wide range of scientists, scholars, doctors, oracles, pundits and others are called upon to explain, judge, predict and guide decisions in diverse fields. What skills, knowledge, qualifications, or experience are included or excluded in expectations, assumptions and implementation of expertise? Seminars in this series will explore how experts, expert knowledge, and expertise come to be recognised as credible, legitimate, and authoritative, for example in relation to ‘lay knowledge’, or ignorance. Sites at which these ecologies may be explored include interfaces among experts themselves, as well as interactions with tools and models, and with decision makers and publics.