Risk, ethics and public sensitivities

Thinking Like a Social Scientist lunchtime lecture series

Date: Thursday 28 January 2010

Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House

Speaker: Professor George Gaskell

In this lunchtime series of lectures, a selection of LSE’s academics from across the spectrum of the social sciences explain the latest thinking on how social scientists work to address the critical problems of the day. They survey the leading ideas and contributions made by their discipline, explain the types of problems that are addressed and the tools that are used, and explore the kinds of solutions proposed.

Following international agreements food safety is judged solely on the criterion of scientific risks – toxicity, allergenicity and in exceptional circumstances genotoxicity. The example of cloned animals for food products is used to highlight both the limitations of risk based regulation and its potential for creating public outrage. While safe food is an undeniable good, science based regulation cannot entertain or act upon ethical issues and/or public sensitivities. This pits science against everyday life, bringing both science and regulation into question in the public domain. Do we need a new paradigm for the regulation of sensitive technologies?

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