Imperfect Knowledge

Findings based on scientific data are often limited by incomplete or missing information. It is not uncommon for biosafety committees to raise questions for which experimental data are lacking. Their deliberations must accommodate this inherent limitation of risk assessment. Otherwise, a circular argument results: if all questions must be answered before approving a field test, and if the answers can be found only by conducting field tests, then no approvals can be granted. Part of the solution to this difficulty is to actively seek all available information (beyond that provided in the application), weigh the history of use and collective experience of experts, and use this to recommend appropriate management controls (see section four, "Risk Management") as a condition for approval.

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