They certainly can’t and must not be.
Powerful new genetic engineering techniques have recently been developed that pose significant potential risks to health and environment, although – it is argued – they may offer huge potential benefits as well.
But who decides what is a risk and what is a benefit? To date it has been industry and industry driven researchers and regulators. Citizens simply do not get a look in.
There has been much discussion recently about the need to broaden the process of debate and discussion; although decision making seems to be another matter.
This article in the Guardian deals with arguably the most potent new development – “Gene Drives” and says the issue can’t be left to scientists and industry. That’s right but it doesn’t offer anything on how citizen oversight and control of these technologies can be achieved.