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Published October 25, 2017 | Submitted
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The Economic Implications of Regulation by Expertise: The Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Research


The debate over recombinant DNA research raises a number of important issues of public policy. Receiving most attention has been the direct question about the social value of the research, considering its potential benefits and risks. Equally important, but receiving somewhat less attention, are a series of more general issues that, while illustrated by the debate over recombinant DNA research, are likely to recur in other contexts with increasing frequency. First, to what extent can and should society constrain and direct scientific research? Second, in making decisions that require the use of highly technical information that is possessed by a very restricted group, to what extent can society make decisions that are technically informed without in the process delegating the authority to make nontechnical judgments and evaluations to an unrepresentative technical elite?

Additional Information

Part of the cost of preparing this manuscript was financed by a grant from the National Science Foundation Program of Research Applied to National Needs, grant #APR75-16566A01, and by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship. Published as Noll, Roger G., and Paul A. Thomas. "The Economic Implications of Regulation by Expertise: The Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Research." Research with Recombinant DNA: An Academy Forum, March 7-9, 1977. National Academies, 1977.

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