University of Chicago Press
University of Chicago Press

The Practices of Objectivity in Regulatory Science

Sheila Jasanoff
Charles Camic
Neil Gross
Michèle Lamont
Global Observatory Director Sheila Jasanoff describes how objectivity is crafted and contested in global policy making through displays of public reason. As part of this argument, Jasanoff explains how the type of objectivity favored in American law and policy made its way into global policymaking through proceedings of the World Trade Organization (WTO). These proceedings consisted of a legal action brought by the United States—along with two American partners, Canada and Argentina—against a de facto European moratorium on the importation of genetically modified agricultural products. Jasanoff, along with a few collaborators, attempted to intervene in the dispute via an amicus brief that called on the WTO to take greater account of social science knowledge on risk assessment. The acceptance of the brief but neglect to consider its argument, followed by a ruling in favor of the United States and its allies, enacted a restrictive version of what constitutes good scientific risk assessment.