The politics of expert advice: lessons from the early history of the BSE saga

Millstone, E and Van Zwanenberg, P (2001) The politics of expert advice: lessons from the early history of the BSE saga. Science and Public Policy, 28 (2). pp. 99-112. ISSN 03023427

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Abstract

This paper analyses the dynamics of the interactions between scientific and non-scientific considerations in providing scientific advice to policy, focusing on the first scientific committee to advise on BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) policy-making in the UK and the political and social roles it was expected to play, and in practice played, in policy-making. The paper argues that the Committee was both deliberately and inadvertently utilised to provide spurious scientific legitimation for policy decisions which government officials believed ministers, other government departments, the meat industry and the general public might not otherwise accept. It demonstrates how those social roles rendered the spectrum of policy choices available on BSE opaque, allowed officials to undermine the democratic accountability of ministers, and contributed to making a very serious problem considerably worse. Some practical lessons are outlined for the organisation of scientific expertise in political affairs.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Erik Millstone
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 21:00
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2012 13:15
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/29062
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