Applying gene flow science to environmental policy needs: a boundary work perspective


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Abstract

One application of gene flow science is the policy arena. In this article, we describe two examples in which the topic of gene flow has entered into the U.S. national environmental policymaking process: regulation of genetically engineered crops and clarification of the jurisdictional scope of the Clean Water Act. We summarize both current scientific understanding and the legal context within which gene flow science has relevance. We also discuss the process by which scientific knowledge has been synthesized and communicated to decision-makers in these two contexts utilizing the concept of ‘boundary work’. Boundary organizations, the work they engage in to bridge the worlds of science, policy, and practice, and the boundary objects they produce to translate scientific knowledge existed in both examples. However, the specific activities and attributes of the objects produced varied based on the needs of the decision-makers. We close with suggestions for how scientists can contribute to or engage in boundary work with policymakers.

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