Powerless Science?: Science and Politics in a Toxic World

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Soraya Boudia, Nathalie Jas
Berghahn Books, Jan 1, 2014 - Political Science - 290 pages

In spite of decades of research on toxicants, along with the growing role of scientific expertise in public policy and the unprecedented rise in the number of national and international institutions dealing with environmental health issues, problems surrounding contaminants and their effects on health have never appeared so important, sometimes to the point of appearing insurmountable. This calls for a reconsideration of the roles of scientific knowledge and expertise in the definition and management of toxic issues, which this book seeks to do. It looks at complex historical, social, and political dynamics, made up of public controversies, environmental and health crises, economic interests, and political responses, and demonstrates how and to what extent scientific knowledge about toxicants has been caught between scientific, economic, and political imperatives.


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The Greatness and Misery of Science in a Toxic World
Part I Knowledge Expertise and the Transformations in Regulatory Systems
Chapter 1 Precaution and the History of Endocrine Disruptors
A History of the Ames Test
Ways of Regulating Chemical Risks and Public Expertise in the United States
Environmental Risk Assessment in a Historical Perspective
Alternative Uses of Knowledge
The Class Ecology Debate in 1970s Italy
Popular Epidemiology Science and the Law in the United States and Italy
Epidemiology and Class Actions in Taiwan
Part III Putting Knowledge Ignorance and Regulation into Perspective
Science Reveals Legal Shortcomings in Public Health Protections
Chapter 10 Untangling Ignorance in Environmental Risk Assessment
Narratives from the ScienceTranscience Interface
Toward a Model for Chemical Control for the TwentyFirst Century

Chapter 6 What Kind of Knowledge is Needed about ToxicantRelated Health Issues? Some Lessons Drawn from the Seveso Dioxin Case

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About the author (2014)

Nathalie Jas is a Senior Researcher at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). A historian and a STS scholar, her scholarly work analyses the intensification of agriculture and its social, environmental, and health effects. She has co-edited a special issue of History and Technology, “Risk and risk Society in Historical Perspective” (2007), and Toxicants, Health and Regulations Since 1945 (Pickering & Chatto, 2013), both with Soraya Boudia.

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