Framing and responding to scientific uncertainties: Biofuels and synthetic biology at the Convention on Biological Diversity

Deborah Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) preamble notes that, where there is a threat of significant biodiversity reduction or loss, a lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize this threat. This “precautionary approach,” as it is generally referred to within the CBD, is frequently invoked in the treaty’s outputs, but its meaning in the context of the CBD is still under debate. This article uses the CBD’s engagement with biofuels and synthetic biology from 2010–2014 to trace how framings of scientific uncertainty are shaping the meaning and role of precaution. Thus, without engaging with the legal or political implications, the CBD is producing a version of precaution that responds to a narrow range of scientific uncertainties and acts as a placeholder in lieu of political agreement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-260
Number of pages16
JournalJurimetrics - The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology
Volume56
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

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