Upstream engagement and the governance of science: The shadow of the genetically modified crops experience in Europe
Synthetic biology represents a fusion of the pragmatic and the idealistic, which is motivated by the drive for a better understanding of biological processes, and the desire to deliver the social and commercial benefits that the science seems to promise (Tait, 2009). Most scientists working in universities and commercial companies are guided by a mixture of these motivations. However, in the background, a shadow looms over many of the life sciences, pointing to a complex and possibly difficult future—the question of public acceptance of the science and technology. Echoing this tension, many European governments, including the European Union (EU) itself, are caught between a desire to promote innovation, and the political need to accommodate a wide range of public‐interest groups with precautionary concerns about environmental and health issues.