The paper addresses the question of adaptation of existing regulatory frameworks in the face of innovation in biotechnologies, and specifically the roles played in this by various expert knowledge practices. We identify two overlapping ideal types of adaptation: first, the stretching and maintenance of a pre-existing legal framework, and second, a breaking of existing classifications and establishment of a novel regime. We approach this issue by focusing on varieties of regulatory knowledge which, contributing to and parting of political legitimacy, in principle enable the making of legally binding decisions about risks and benefits of technologies. We base the discussion around two case studies, one of animal biotechnology ethical regulation, the other of ‘advanced therapy’ medicinal product regulation, both in the context of European Union frameworks. Specifically, we explore the knowledge configurations constituting expert committees and other institutional formations of expert regulatory knowledge in their political context. We show that where sectoral and moral boundaries are challenged, different modes of regulatory knowledge beyond scientific forms – legal, procedural, moral, economic and industrial – can shape regulatory innovations either by maintenance of regimes through commensuration and stretching, or through differentiation and separation creating new frameworks. We conclude that establishing an essential techno-scientific difference between pre-existing and novel technologies does not in itself require new regulatory structures, and that the regulatory strategy that is followed will be determined by a combination of different forms of knowledge.

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Erasmus School of Law

Faulkner, A. (Alex), & Poort, L. (2017). Stretching and Challenging the Boundaries of Law: Varieties of Knowledge in Biotechnologies Regulation. Minerva, 1–20. doi:10.1007/s11024-017-9326-0