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COGEM: Value and pitfalls of stakeholder consultations

In 2013 the Dutch Commission on Genetic Modification (COGEM) published a topic report on alarming studies on the safety of GMOs. COGEM pointed out that while repetition of ‘alarming studies’ is sometimes the only way to reject or confirm the results, stakeholder participation during investigation may increase its social robustness.

In a letter sent to the Secretary of State of Infrastucture and Environment on January 11, 2017 COGEM adds some reflections on the value and possible pitfalls of stakeholder participation based on experiences in and results of the GRACE project.

The COGEM letter states that the involvement of stakeholders in this project has been meticulous and transparent and has finally contributed to the validity of the results also from a broader social perspective. However, COGEM also noticed that some stakeholders were too fixated on their own arguments and vision, that reflection and interaction became difficult. According to COGEM this situation significantly hampered the achievement of broadly supported conclusions. On the basis of this experience COGEM also proposed some guidelines for improving such processes.


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A brief reflection on the ‘RRIness’ of GRACE



Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a relatively recent concept responding to questions on the directions research and innovation should take in light of and considering societal challenges such as sustainability, security, well-being, etc. while anticipating possible risks. Overall the concept aims at aligning innovation with social demands and values.

GRACE implemented stakeholder engagement and transparency mechanisms which seem to be more in-line with the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) concept compared to other EU research projects in the domain of science.

 

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