How biological background assumptions influence scientific risk evaluation of stacked genetically modified plants: an analysis of research hypotheses and argumentations

Life Sciences, Society and Policy 13 (1):1-20 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Scientific risk evaluations are constructed by specific evidence, value judgements and biological background assumptions. The latter are the framework-setting suppositions we apply in order to understand some new phenomenon. That background assumptions co-determine choice of methodology, data interpretation, and choice of relevant evidence is an uncontroversial claim in modern basic science. Furthermore, it is commonly accepted that, unless explicated, disagreements in background assumptions can lead to misunderstanding as well as miscommunication. Here, we extend the discussion on background assumptions from basic science to the debate over genetically modified (GM) plants risk assessment. In this realm, while the different political, social and economic values are often mentioned, the identity and role of background assumptions at play are rarely examined. We use an example from the debate over risk assessment of stacked genetically modified plants (GM stacks), obtained by applying conventional breeding techniques to GM plants. There are two main regulatory practices of GM stacks: (i) regulate as conventional hybrids and (ii) regulate as new GM plants. We analyzed eight papers representative of these positions and found that, in all cases, additional premises are needed to reach the stated conclusions. We suggest that these premises play the role of biological background assumptions and argue that the most effective way toward a unified framework for risk analysis and regulation of GM stacks is by explicating and examining the biological background assumptions of each position. Once explicated, it is possible to either evaluate which background assumptions best reflect contemporary biological knowledge, or to apply Douglas' 'inductive risk' argument.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 89,330

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Extending and expanding the Darwinian synthesis: the role of complex systems dynamics.Bruce H. Weber - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (1):75-81.
Functional language and biological discovery.David B. Resnik - 1995 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 26 (1):119 - 134.
Toward understanding aspects of the precautionary principle.Carl F. Cranor - 2004 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (3):259 – 279.
Realism, biologism and 'the background'.Matthew Ratcliffe - 2004 - Philosophical Explorations 7 (2):149 – 166.
Natural selection and self-organization.Bruce H. Weber & David J. Depew - 1996 - Biology and Philosophy 11 (1):33-65.
Shared Background and Repair in German Conversation.Tilo Weber - 1998 - Dissertation, University of Colorado at Boulder
Classificatory Theory in Biology.Sabina Leonelli - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (4):338-345.

Analytics

Added to PP
2017-08-14

Downloads
34 (#400,651)

6 months
1 (#1,002,272)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

Add more citations