This article discusses how legal regulation is or may be constructed in areas where there is possible hazard for human health and the environment, and where this hazard is caused by the application of spedalised knowledge and technologies. It is implied that the assessment of such hazards may be uncertain and complex. The regulatory problems arising from this are discussed within both a legal and a socio-legal framework. It is presumed that the configuration of law in such areas will depend on several interactingfactors. The article focusses on three types of explanatory factors: the various conflictual meaning dimensions of the fields to be regulated, the simultaneous existence of different communicative systems/functions, and the existence of several parallel institutional levels of governance and regulation (national, European [EC/EU] and international [WTO]). The more sperificfield to be discussed is the legal regulation of the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms. It is shown that the regulation on the different levels varies, and that it has been difficult to establish the precautionaiy principle on the European and international levels. More procedural or deliberative types of regulation are proposed.
© 2001 by Lucius & Lucius, Stuttgart