It is my personal opinion that countries debating whether to include socioeconomics in their decision making, or those who have taken the decision and are looking forward for an implementation pathway, need to take into consideration the following set of elements:
Need to maintain biosafety (risk) assessment a science and evidence based process
In as much as has been implemented in generally accepted practice, the process of conducting a biosafety (risk) assessment needs to follow elements of best practice, maintain scientific standards of excellence, and should be conducted by experienced assessors or under the supervision of such valuable human resource.
Inclusion of socioeconomics can have costs, benefits and risks -not clear whether there will be positive (net) benefit to society, thus need to weigh decision in the specific national context
Socioeconomic assessments can contribute new -and in some cases improved- knowledge. This may help separate those technologies that may be valuable from those who are not valuable to society. Yet, there are costs associated with the inclusion of socioeconomics in decision making. Costs include costs of implementation, potential of introducing uncertainty into the process and the possibility of developing an unworkable process. Inclusion of socioeconomics may increase the time of compliance a
If a country has taken the decision to include socioeconomics in decision making, then it’s a matter of devising implementation
Countries who have taken such decision need support in terms of designing a system that will be as much as possible transparent, feasible, cost and time efficient, fair and protective.
Socioeconomic assessments and analysis need to adhere to standards of excellence, elements of best practice and reliance on well-qualified experts for implementation
Regardless if the process will require de novo studies or whether it will rely on an qualitative assessments of socioeconomic issues, the assessment and analysis need to adhere to elements of best practice for implementation. This is the only way to ensure that multiple methodological issues -including own assessor biases- are properly addressed and to improve the accuracy and precision of the socioeconomic assessment.
Prudent to explore the value of a sequential process where risk assessment is completed and then if and only if anything is identified as an issue, proceed with the socioeconomic assessment
Exploring whether this option -as devised in the case of Brazil and perhaps Mexico- is prudent and valuable for implementation. This approach ensures that no resources are unnecessarily spent on a socioeconomic assessment, by conducting the biosafety(risk) assessment first and thus filtering those technologies that may not be deemed safe or in some cases ineffective. In addition this approach may help generate additional information and knowledge that may be used (prudently) in the implementation of the socioeconomic assessment and/or in conducting a socioeconomic evaluation study.