Transgenic Research

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 691–698

Can science justify regulatory decisions about the cultivation of transgenic crops?


DOI: 10.1007/s11248-012-9613-3

Cite this article as:
Raybould, A. Transgenic Res (2012) 21: 691. doi:10.1007/s11248-012-9613-3


Results of scientific studies are sometimes claimed to provide scientific justification for regulatory decisions about the cultivation of certain transgenic crops. A decision may be scientifically justified if objective analysis shows that the decision is more likely than alternatives to lead to the achievement of specific policy objectives. If policy objectives are not defined operationally, as is often the case, scientific justification for decisions is not possible. The search for scientific justification for decisions leads to concentration on reducing scientific uncertainty about the behaviour of transgenic crops instead of reducing uncertainty about the objectives of policies that regulate their use. Focusing on reducing scientific uncertainty at the expense of clarifying policy objectives may have detrimental effects on scientists, science and society.


Risk assessment–policy gapScientismUncertaintyDecision-making

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Syngenta, Jealott’s Hill International Research CentreBracknellUK