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Public administration, science and risk assessment: A case study of the United Kingdom bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis

Beck, M., Asenova, D. and Dickson, G. (2005) Public administration, science and risk assessment: A case study of the United Kingdom bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis. Public Administration Review, 65 (4). pp. 396-408. ISSN 0033-3352

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Abstract

The bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak in the United Kingdom is regarded as one of the worst public policy crises the British government has experienced during the postwar era. In material terms, it has led to the slaughter of 3.3 million cattle and estimated economic losses of £3.7 billion. In administrative terms, the crisis brought about the dissolution of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. This article examines the istitutional context in which decisions about the scientific evidence on BSE were made. The authors argue that a centralized system in which government agencies control science for government is inherently vulnerable to alliances of experts and interest groups that undermine the credible assessment of public health and safety risks. Specific societal conditions may encourage risk-opportunistic behavior among policy makers that is conducive to delays and inaction until such time as the evidence of a health risk becomes overwhelming.

Item Type: Article
Academic Units: The University of York > The York Management School
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2009 11:55
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2009 11:55
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2005.00467.x
Status: Published
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1540-6210.2005.00467.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7441

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