Abstract

For many innovations, oversight fits nicely within existing governance mechanisms; nevertheless, others pose unique public health, environmental, and ethical challenges. Synthetic artemisinin, for example, has many precursors in laboratory-developed drugs that emulate natural forms of the same drug. The policy challenges posed by synthetic artemisinin do not differ significantly in kind from other laboratory-formulated drugs. Synthetic biofuels and gene drives, however, fit less clearly into existing governance structures. How many of the new categories of products require new forms of regulatory oversight, or at least extensive forms of testing, remains unclear. Any effort to improve the governance of synthetic biology should start with a rich understanding of the different possible science-policy interfaces that could help to inform governance. CBA falls into a subset of the overall range of possibilities, and which interface is appropriate may turn out to depend on context, on the demands of the decision at hand. In what follows, we lay out a typology of interfaces. After that, we turn to the question of how to draw upon the range of possible interfaces and effectively address the factual and moral complexities of emerging technologies. We propose a governance model built around structures that we call “governance coordinating committees.” GCCs are intended to be mechanisms for accommodating the complexities of innovations that have far-ranging societal impacts. The production of biofuels, for example, could contaminate water supplies and have a destructive environmental impact if not managed correctly. The introduction of a gene drive could have economic and environmental impacts that are not restricted to one nation. Forging appropriate means for determining and evaluating those societal impacts, to the best of a corporation's, industry's, or government's ability, is central to responsible research and innovation. Public policy must be shaped in a manner that accommodates as many concerns as possible and minimizes risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S70-S77
JournalHastings Center Report
Volume48
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Fingerprint

Synthetic Biology
cost-benefit analysis
Cost-Benefit Analysis
biology
Biofuels
governance
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Synthetic Genes
biofuel
Water Supply
Public Policy
innovation
drug
environmental impact
Industry
Hand
Public Health
Economics
Technology
science policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy

Cite this

Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis in the Governance of Synthetic Biology. / Wallach, Wendell; Saner, Marc; Marchant, Gary.

In: Hastings Center Report, Vol. 48, 01.01.2018, p. S70-S77.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{ef5c032ae6964f86815673becf44f53e,
title = "Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis in the Governance of Synthetic Biology",
abstract = "For many innovations, oversight fits nicely within existing governance mechanisms; nevertheless, others pose unique public health, environmental, and ethical challenges. Synthetic artemisinin, for example, has many precursors in laboratory-developed drugs that emulate natural forms of the same drug. The policy challenges posed by synthetic artemisinin do not differ significantly in kind from other laboratory-formulated drugs. Synthetic biofuels and gene drives, however, fit less clearly into existing governance structures. How many of the new categories of products require new forms of regulatory oversight, or at least extensive forms of testing, remains unclear. Any effort to improve the governance of synthetic biology should start with a rich understanding of the different possible science-policy interfaces that could help to inform governance. CBA falls into a subset of the overall range of possibilities, and which interface is appropriate may turn out to depend on context, on the demands of the decision at hand. In what follows, we lay out a typology of interfaces. After that, we turn to the question of how to draw upon the range of possible interfaces and effectively address the factual and moral complexities of emerging technologies. We propose a governance model built around structures that we call “governance coordinating committees.” GCCs are intended to be mechanisms for accommodating the complexities of innovations that have far-ranging societal impacts. The production of biofuels, for example, could contaminate water supplies and have a destructive environmental impact if not managed correctly. The introduction of a gene drive could have economic and environmental impacts that are not restricted to one nation. Forging appropriate means for determining and evaluating those societal impacts, to the best of a corporation's, industry's, or government's ability, is central to responsible research and innovation. Public policy must be shaped in a manner that accommodates as many concerns as possible and minimizes risks.",
author = "Wendell Wallach and Marc Saner and Gary Marchant",
year = "2018",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1002/hast.822",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "48",
pages = "S70--S77",
journal = "Hastings Center Report",
issn = "0093-0334",
publisher = "Hastings Center",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis in the Governance of Synthetic Biology

AU - Wallach, Wendell

AU - Saner, Marc

AU - Marchant, Gary

PY - 2018/1/1

Y1 - 2018/1/1

N2 - For many innovations, oversight fits nicely within existing governance mechanisms; nevertheless, others pose unique public health, environmental, and ethical challenges. Synthetic artemisinin, for example, has many precursors in laboratory-developed drugs that emulate natural forms of the same drug. The policy challenges posed by synthetic artemisinin do not differ significantly in kind from other laboratory-formulated drugs. Synthetic biofuels and gene drives, however, fit less clearly into existing governance structures. How many of the new categories of products require new forms of regulatory oversight, or at least extensive forms of testing, remains unclear. Any effort to improve the governance of synthetic biology should start with a rich understanding of the different possible science-policy interfaces that could help to inform governance. CBA falls into a subset of the overall range of possibilities, and which interface is appropriate may turn out to depend on context, on the demands of the decision at hand. In what follows, we lay out a typology of interfaces. After that, we turn to the question of how to draw upon the range of possible interfaces and effectively address the factual and moral complexities of emerging technologies. We propose a governance model built around structures that we call “governance coordinating committees.” GCCs are intended to be mechanisms for accommodating the complexities of innovations that have far-ranging societal impacts. The production of biofuels, for example, could contaminate water supplies and have a destructive environmental impact if not managed correctly. The introduction of a gene drive could have economic and environmental impacts that are not restricted to one nation. Forging appropriate means for determining and evaluating those societal impacts, to the best of a corporation's, industry's, or government's ability, is central to responsible research and innovation. Public policy must be shaped in a manner that accommodates as many concerns as possible and minimizes risks.

AB - For many innovations, oversight fits nicely within existing governance mechanisms; nevertheless, others pose unique public health, environmental, and ethical challenges. Synthetic artemisinin, for example, has many precursors in laboratory-developed drugs that emulate natural forms of the same drug. The policy challenges posed by synthetic artemisinin do not differ significantly in kind from other laboratory-formulated drugs. Synthetic biofuels and gene drives, however, fit less clearly into existing governance structures. How many of the new categories of products require new forms of regulatory oversight, or at least extensive forms of testing, remains unclear. Any effort to improve the governance of synthetic biology should start with a rich understanding of the different possible science-policy interfaces that could help to inform governance. CBA falls into a subset of the overall range of possibilities, and which interface is appropriate may turn out to depend on context, on the demands of the decision at hand. In what follows, we lay out a typology of interfaces. After that, we turn to the question of how to draw upon the range of possible interfaces and effectively address the factual and moral complexities of emerging technologies. We propose a governance model built around structures that we call “governance coordinating committees.” GCCs are intended to be mechanisms for accommodating the complexities of innovations that have far-ranging societal impacts. The production of biofuels, for example, could contaminate water supplies and have a destructive environmental impact if not managed correctly. The introduction of a gene drive could have economic and environmental impacts that are not restricted to one nation. Forging appropriate means for determining and evaluating those societal impacts, to the best of a corporation's, industry's, or government's ability, is central to responsible research and innovation. Public policy must be shaped in a manner that accommodates as many concerns as possible and minimizes risks.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85042146257&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85042146257&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1002/hast.822

DO - 10.1002/hast.822

M3 - Article

VL - 48

SP - S70-S77

JO - Hastings Center Report

T2 - Hastings Center Report

JF - Hastings Center Report

SN - 0093-0334

ER -