Authors:Armin Spoek (Alpen-Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt-Wien Graz / IFZ Inter-University Research Centre)
Sandra Karner (Alpen-Adria Universitaet )
Greet Smets (PERSEUS)
Joachim Schiemann (Julius Kühn Institute)
Paper short abstract:
The paper outlines an open science and public engagement approach implemented in a GMO risk research project conducting animal and laboratory studies. It will also report on possible gains, limitations, and challenges of practicing open science in a highly controversial and polarised area.
Paper long abstract:
Against the backdrop of a longstanding controversy about animal feeding trials with genetically modified (GM) food/feed, the EC funded project GRACE tested designs for animal feeding and other types of laboratory studies, developed guidance for and advice to the European Commission on the conduct and value of these studies for GMO risk assessment. The project implemented an open science approach and involved stakeholders in two key steps of the research process, the (i) planning and (ii) interpretation of results and conclusion drawing.
Research plans in the first step and raw data along with interpretations, conclusions and recommendations in the second step were subjected to an 'extended peer review' by stakeholders. Stakeholders interacted with project scientists in workshops and via a procedure for written comments and responses. All interactions were thoroughly documented and published for further scrutiny on the project's website (http://www.grace-fp7.eu/). Results and conclusions were reported in open-access scientific papers. An open access database hosting raw data and a journal forum were established to allow stakeholder scrutiny and dialogue to continue beyond the end of the project.
Experiences gathered suggest that open science can facilitate public engagement on controversial topics as well. It also revealed limitations and challenges some of which seem to be of general nature, while others seem to be more specific for contested (regulatory) science. The paper will explain the context and the open science approach taken, and elaborate on the gains, limitations and challenges of open science in the controversial field of GMO risk research.
Open science in practice