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Now showing items 1 - 16 of 21

  • Science advice for global challenges:Learning from trade-offs in the IPCC

    Pearce, Warren   Mahony, Martin   Raman, Sujatha  

    In the context of ongoing debates about the place of knowledge and expertise in the governance of global challenges, this article seeks to promote cross-sectoral learning about the politics and pitfalls of global science advice. It begins with the intertwined histories of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the global climate policy regime, before examining the politics of different 'framing? of the climate problem and the challenges of building and communicating scientific consensus. We then identify three important trade-offs which the IPCC has had to negotiate: global versus local; scientific disinterestedness versus policy-relevance; and consensus versus plurality. These lessons are especially timely as global institutions begin to convene knowledge to address urgent sustainable development challenges posed by anti-microbial resistance (AMR). While the IPCC experience does not provide a wholly transportable model for science advice, we show why similar trade-offs need to be addressed at an early stage by architects of advisory systems for AMR as well as other global challenges.
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  • Metamorphosing waste as a resource:Scaling waste management by ecomodernist means

    Levidow, Les   Raman, Sujatha  

    Informed by the European Union's waste hierarchy, UK policy has normatively shifted the ontological status of waste from matter out of place to a resource for which uses must be found in order to achieve environmental goals of decarbonisation and waste reduction. Technologies linking waste-management with renewable energy have been supported within an ecomodernist framework of market incentives for stimulating private-sector investment in new waste treatment technologies. Under pressure of EU targets, the UK's policy measures have had several aims: to reduce landfill disposal, increase resource recycling or reuse, expand waste-based renewable energy and thus reduce GHG emissions. As techno-market-fixes, new facilities were meant to convert waste for more beneficial uses, bring it up the hierarchy and localise its management. Consequent tensions can be illuminated by linking concepts of technology scaling and socio-material metamorphosis with critical perspectives on ecomodemism. Although the ecomodernist framework stimulated some waste-management improvements, other outcomes contradict the policy objectives of localising and converting waste for more beneficial uses. These contrary outcomes are illustrated by two technologies, anaerobic digestion (AD) and mechanical and biological treatment (MBT), each with multiple possible spatial scalings and techno-configurations. Financial instruments have most incentivised the easiest socio-material metamorphosis for lucrative returns, especially to produce energy (electricity or gas) for grid systems, suiting large operators. For more environmentally beneficial uses of waste, there have been difficulties in overcoming its recalcitrance for producing commercially viable outputs, e.g. digestate replacing chemical fertilisers, compost improving soil and 'dirty' plastics replacing virgin plastics. Techno-configurations and material flows have been scaled towards global goods, distant from the feedstock source. Through the ecomodernist framework, the state's responsibility for such outcomes has been blurred with the private sector and shifted to anonymous markets.
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  • Biofuels and the role of space in sustainable innovation journeys

    Raman, Sujatha   Mohr, Alison  

    This paper aims to identify the lessons that should be learnt from how biofuels have been envisioned from the aftermath of the oil shocks of the 1970s to the present, and how these visions compare with biofuel production networks emerging in the 2000s. Working at the interface of sustainable innovation journey research and geographical theories on the spatial unevenness of sustainability transition projects, we show how the biofuels controversy is linked to characteristics of globalised industrial agricultural systems. The legitimacy problems of biofuels cannot be addressed by sustainability indicators or new technologies alone since they arise from the spatial ordering of biofuel production. In the 1970-80s, promoters of bioenergy anticipated current concerns about food security implications but envisioned bioenergy production to be territorially embedded at national or local scales where these issues would be managed. Where the territorial and scalar vision was breached, it was to imagine poorer countries exporting higher-value biofuel to the North rather than the raw material as in the controversial global biomass commodity chains of today. However, controversy now extends to the global impacts of national biofuel systems on food security and greenhouse gas emissions, and to their local impacts becoming more widely known. South/South and North/North trade conflicts are also emerging as are questions over biodegradable wastes and agricultural residues as global commodities. As assumptions of a food-versus-fuel conflict have come to be challenged, legitimacy questions over global agri-business and trade are spotlighted even further. In this context, visions of biofuel development that address these broader issues might be promising. These include large-scale biomass-for-fuel models in Europe that would transform global trade rules to allow small farmers in the global South to compete, and small-scale biofuel systems developed to address local energy needs in the South. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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  • Regenerative medicine in India:trends and challenges in innovation and regulation

    Tiwari, Shashank S.   Raman, Sujatha   Martin, Paul  

    The government of India has heavily promoted research and development in regenerative medicine together with domestic innovation and business development initiatives. Together, these promise a revolution in healthcare and public empowerment in India. Several national and transnational linkages have emerged to develop innovative capacity, most prominently in stem cell and cord blood banking, as well as in gene therapy, tissue engineering, biomaterials and 3D printing. However, challenges remain of achieving regulatory oversight, viable outputs and equitable impacts. Governance of private cord blood banking, nanomaterials and 3D bioprinting requires more attention. A robust social contract is also needed in healthcare more generally, so that participation in research and innovation in regenerative medicine is backed up by treatments widely accessible to all.
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  • Responsible innovation: from concept to practice

    Raman, Sujatha  

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  • A Social Licence for Science: Capturing the Public or Co-Constructing Research?

    Raman, Sujatha   Mohr, Alison  

    The "social licence to operate" has been invoked in science policy discussions including the 2007 Universal Ethical Code for scientists issued by the UK Government Office for Science. Drawing from sociological research on social licence and STS interventions in science policy, the authors explore the relevance of expectations of a social licence for scientific research and scientific contributions to public decision-making, and what might be involved in seeking to create one. The process of seeking a social licence is not the same as trying to create public or community acceptance for a project whose boundaries and aims have already been fully defined prior to engagement. Such attempts to "capture" the public might be successful from time to time but their legitimacy is open to question especially where their engagement with alternative research futures is "thin". Contrasting a national dialogue on stem cells with the early history of research into bioenergy, we argue that social licence activities need to be open to a "thicker" engagement with the social. Co-constructing a licence suggests a reciprocal relationship between the social and the scientific with obligations for public and private institutions that shape and are shaped by science, rather than just science alone.
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  • Life, Science, and Biopower

    Raman, Sujatha   Tutton, Richard  

    This article critically engages with the influential theory of "molecularized biopower'' and "politics of life'' developed by Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose. Molecularization is assumed to signal the end of population-centred biopolitics and the disciplining of subjects as described by Foucault, and the rise of newforms of biosociality and biological citizenship. Drawing on empirical work in Science and Technology Studies (STS), we argue that this account is limited by a focus on novelty and assumptions about the transformative power of the genetic life sciences. We suggest that biopower consists of a more complex cluster of relationships between the molecular and the population. The biological existence of different human beings is politicized through different complementary and competing discourses around medical therapies, choices at the beginning and end of life, public health, environment, migration and border controls, implying a multiple rather than a singular politics of life.
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  • Integrating social and value dimensions into sustainability assessment of lignocellulosic biofuels

    Raman, Sujatha   Mohr, Alison   Helliwell, Richard   Ribeiro, Barbara   Shortall, Orla   Smith, Robert   Millar, Kate  

    Highlights • We develop a responsible innovation approach to assessing lignocellulosic biofuel systems. • We clarify social and value dimensions required for integrated sustainability assessment. • Insights on farming and agricultural system perspectives are important for sustainability assessment. • We identify techno-economic, socio-economic and cultural-economic perspectives on lignocellulosic biofuel development. • Regionally-tailored bioenergy configurations may provide alternatives to large-scale biorefinery models. Abstract The paper clarifies the social and value dimensions for integrated sustainability assessments of lignocellulosic biofuels. We develop a responsible innovation approach, looking at technology impacts and implementation challenges, assumptions and value conflicts influencing how impacts are identified and assessed, and different visions for future development. We identify three distinct value-based visions. From a techno-economic perspective, lignocellulosic biofuels can contribute to energy security with improved GHG implications and fewer sustainability problems than fossil fuels and first-generation biofuels, especially when biomass is domestically sourced. From socio-economic and cultural-economic perspectives, there are concerns about the capacity to support UK-sourced feedstocks in a global agri-economy, difficulties monitoring large-scale supply chains and their potential for distributing impacts unfairly, and tensions between domestic sourcing and established legacies of farming. To respond to these concerns, we identify the potential for moving away from a one-size-fits-all biofuel/biorefinery model to regionally-tailored bioenergy configurations that might lower large-scale uses of land for meat, reduce monocultures and fossil-energy needs of farming and diversify business models. These configurations could explore ways of reconciling some conflicts between food, fuel and feed (by mixing feed crops with lignocellulosic material for fuel, combining livestock grazing with energy crops, or using crops such as miscanthus to manage land that is no longer arable); different bioenergy applications (with on-farm use of feedstocks for heat and power and for commercial biofuel production); and climate change objectives and pressures on farming. Findings are based on stakeholder interviews, literature synthesis and discussions with an expert advisory group.
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  • Responsive novelty: taking innovation seriously in societal research agendas for synthetic biology

    Raman, Sujatha  

    The question of what counts as novel and in what context needs to be systematically investigated in societal research around synthetic biology (SB). This would improve understanding of alternative ways of innovating in response to collective challenges including options for addressing socio-economic inequality as well as and together with technical novelty. Responsiveness to different forms and contexts of novelty might also allow SB to be novel in ways not otherwise considered because of a presumption that it will be developed within established socio-economic systems and models.
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  • Delegitimizing Science: Risk or Opportunity?

    Raman, Sujatha  

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  • Introduction: Institutional perspectives on science-policy boundaries

    Raman, Sujatha  

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  • Randomised trials in context: practical problems and social aspects of evidence-based medicine and policy.

    Pearce, Warren   Raman, Sujatha   Turner, Andrew  

    Randomised trials can provide excellent evidence of treatment benefit in medicine. Over the last 50 years, they have been cemented in the regulatory requirements for the approval of new treatments. Randomised trials make up a large and seemingly high-quality proportion of the medical evidence-base. However, it has also been acknowledged that a distorted evidence-base places a severe limitation on the practice of evidence-based medicine (EBM). We describe four important ways in which the evidence from randomised trials is limited or partial: the problem of applying results, the problem of bias in the conduct of randomised trials, the problem of conducting the wrong trials and the problem of conducting the right trials the wrong way. These problems are not intrinsic to the method of randomised trials or the EBM philosophy of evidence; nevertheless, they are genuine problems that undermine the evidence that randomised trials provide for decision-making and therefore undermine EBM in practice. Finally, we discuss the social dimensions of these problems and how they highlight the indispensable role of judgement when generating and using evidence for medicine. This is the paradox of randomised trial evidence: the trials open up expert judgment to scrutiny, but this scrutiny in turn requires further expertise.=20
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  • Professing change: Of seductive endings and homely beginnings

    Raman, Sujatha  

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  • Lessons from first generation biofuels and implications for the sustainability appraisal of second generation biofuels

    Mohr, Alison   Raman, Sujatha  

    Aims: The emergence of second generation (2G) biofuels is widely seen as a sustainable response to the increasing controversy surrounding the first generation (1G). Yet, sustainability credentials of 2G biofuels are also being questioned. Drawing on work in Science and Technology Studies, we argue that controversies help focus attention on key, often value-related questions that need to be posed to address broader societal concerns. This paper examines lessons drawn from the 1G controversy to assess implications for the sustainability appraisal of 2G biofuels. Scope: We present an overview of key 1G sustainability challenges, assess their relevance for 2G, and highlight the challenges for policy in managing the transition. We address limitations of existing sustainability assessments by exploring where challenges might emerge across the whole system of bioenergy and the wider context of the social system in which bioenergy research and policy are done. Conclusions: Key lessons arising from 1G are potentially relevant to the sustainability appraisal of 2G biofuels depending on the particular circumstances or conditions under which 2G is introduced. We conclude that sustainability challenges commonly categorised as either economic, environmental or social are, in reality, more complexly interconnected (so that an artificial separation of these categories is problematic). (c) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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  • Proctor's Value‐Free Science?

    Raman, Sujatha  

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  • Framing the agricultural use of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance in UK national newspapers and the farming press

    Morris, Carol   Helliwell, Richard   Raman, Sujatha  

    Despite links to animal disease governance, food and biosecurity, rural studies has neglected consideration of how actors make sense of the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and the implications for animal and human health. As antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has become a high-profile problem, the contribution of animal antibiotics is frequently mentioned in scientific and policy documents but how different agricultural actors interpret its significance is less clear. This paper offers the first social scientific investigation of contestation and consensus surrounding the use of antibiotics in agriculture and their implications for AMR as mediated through mainstream news-media and farming print media in the UK. Frame analysis of four national newspapers and one farming paper reveals three distinct frames. A 'system failure' frame is the most frequently occurring and positions intensive livestock production systems as a key contributor to AMR-related crises in human health. A 'maintaining the status quo' frame argues that there is no evidence linking antibiotics in farming to AMR in humans and stresses the necessity of (some) antibiotic use for animal health. A third frame - which is only present in the farming media - highlights a need for voluntary, industry-led action on animal antibiotic use in terms of farmer self-interest. Common to all frames is that the relationship between agricultural use of antibiotics and problems posed by AMR is mostly discussed in terms of the implications for human health as opposed to both human and animal health. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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