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By Roger Brownsword, W.R. Cornish, Margaret Llewelyn

This factor addresses conceptual, moral, political and sensible concerns confronting the legislation within the face of the genetic revolution.

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Law and human genetics: regulating a revolution

This factor addresses conceptual, moral, political and functional concerns confronting the legislations within the face of the genetic revolution.

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55 The requirement is thus that the risk assessment statement should comprise a reasoned appraisal based on the best available quantitative or qualitative measure of risk to the environment and human health. P. Ives, Public Perceptions of Biotechnology and Novel Foods: A Review of the Evidence and Implications for Risk Communication (Norwich: Centre for Environmental and Risk Management, UEA, 1995); J. Durant (ed), Biotechnology in Public: A Review of Recent Research (London: Science Museum, 1992).

But the charge is more complex: it is essentially that control is not being exercised over what it should be. That regulation is not finding the right answers, or indeed asking the right questions. 2 Indeed, one of the striking aspects both of the debate about genetic technology and of its regulation is the number of different conceptualisations of the 'problem* which genetic technology poses and thus of the solutions that should be found. It is seen variously to be an issue of risk (to health, the environment), a question of choice (of patients, consumers), a matter of property rights (to patents, an individual's DNA), of confidentiality (against employers, insurance companies, other family members), or a question of ethics.

To what extent, finally, is there an attempt to negotiate a regulatory decision between different participants and what form does that negotiation take? '' Regulation of this aspect of genetic technology is fragmented and there are a number of different regulatory fora in which issues concerning research into genetic engineering and the development and marketing of genetically engineered products are raised. The principal actors are scientists, both in universities and in 11 Genetically engineered maize, soya, cotton, tomatoes and potatoes are being grown in the US and Canada, and a tomato puree made from genetically modified tomatoes was first sold in the UK in 1996.

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