EU Science Hub

STS Contro-Corrente Seminars: Brian Wynne

May 18 2017
May 18 2017

How can we connect Responsible Research and Innovation with honest regulation in Europe?
Reflections on Scientific Knowledge as Political Economy

Speaker: Prof. Brian Wynne, Lancaster Univ., UK

Abstract: Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), has become a pillar of European Research Development and Innovation (RDI), as is immediately apparent from its presence for example in Horizon 2020, its guidance and Call For Projects texts. Despite its conceptual birth within and close to the European Commission's Directorate-General for RTD, and a substantial effort to give it practical force in Research and Development and innovation cultures, after several years' promotion and broadly sympathetic debate, its principles remain legitimate abstractions rather than practical descriptions of EU and member-state RDI, indeed even more so when we consider global RDI in all its variety. Was the original idea just too naively idealist and unrealistic?

It is difficult to hear anyone claiming or proposing to do irresponsible research and innovation; yet it is also clear that research and innovation remain a long way from the honourable – and maybe essential - goals this programme has laid out. In this paper I will introduce some examples from both global and EU research science to show how political-economic commercial forces bear down on and shape scientific research, including a domain which has been neglected in RRI analysis and discussion, namely (what is claimed to be) scientific regulation of the products of scientific research. Some of this analysis will focus on The European Food Safety Authority, and its role in the EU regulation of Genetic Modified Organisms and chemical pesticides.

Biosketch: Brian Wynne is Emeritus Professor of Science Studies at Lancaster University, and professor II at The University of The Life Sciences, Norway. Brian is a member of two Research Centres which he originally founded, the Centre for Science Studies, CSS, and the Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, CSEC. In addition from 2002-2012, he was also co-PI and Associate Director of the UK ESRC Centre on Genomics and Society, Cesagen. He has also won and led many EU FP projects, including the Epinet FP7 project, coordinated by Roger Strand,  University of Bergen, and Candid, a current Horizon 2020 project also led from Bergen, by Dr Kjetil Rommetveit. With a 1st class degree and PhD in Materials Science, from Cambridge University, Brian gained an MPhil later in Sociology of Science, from Edinburgh University, and has since studied the sociology of scientific knowledge mainly in public arenas such as scientific risk assessment and its often-under-recognised contingencies, and public responses to science used as attempted normative public authority, as in scientific advice in regulatory decisions on new technologies.
Brian was Chair of the EU Expert Group on Science and Governance in 2005-2006, producing the 2007 EU Report (EUR 22750), Taking European Knowledge Society Seriously. He was also a founding member of the Management Board and Scientific Advisory Committee of the European Environment Agency from 1994-2000, on behalf of the European Parliament, and was vice-Chair of the UK Food Standards Agency’s Steering Group for the 2010 Public Dialogue on GM Crops and Foods and their role in sustainable global food security. He has published the book Barcoding Nature: Shifting Cultures of Taxonomy in an Age of Biodiversity Loss with Claire Waterton and Rebecca Ellis (Routledge, 2013), and Rationality and Ritual: Participation and Exclusion in Nuclear Decision Making (Earthscan, 2011). In 2010 he won the J.D. Bernal Prize of the global Society for Social Studies of Science, “for distinguished service to the field”. He has published widely on risk science and uncertainties, public responses to science and its cultures, science and public policy, and the precautionary principle and sustainable innovation.
Brian is a Board member of the Scottish NGO, Nourish Scotland, and of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility, ENSSER.

Place: @Ispra, Bld. 36, Anf. 1
Date: 18th MAY 14.30 -16.00

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