“What If?” Desiccating Narratives to Assess a Never Fulfilled Risk: The Case of Agroterrorist Threats
The research is threefold. First, it is based on an international comparison between France, Italy and Great Britain based on interviews with the main actors (scientific, governmental etc.) involved in biosecurity issues at the national level. This initial focus on national action systems grounds more specifically the social study of the constitution of knowledge systems for biosecurity: main regulations at work and organizational framework (administration, agency, public-private), administrative and professional bodies for diagnosis and epidemio-surveillance capabilities, knowledge centres and research capacities etc. The second part of the study uses scientometric methods in order to explore how scientific communities dealing with biosecurity are structured. A complex network analysis of the scientific literature on the subject reveals how concepts associated with biosecurity agroterrorism, bioterrorism, but also the authors and institutions involved in the production of those concepts, analysis and recommendations, contribute to structure this field of research. Finally, we studied one of the European programs (FP7) mentioned above. We carried out interviews tracing back its history and that of the involvement of its members. Moreover, our participation to several meetings allowed us to observe how plant pathologists transformed literary scenarios of attack into Bayesian models of risk analysis resting on already existing expertise on plant pathogens. Our study aims at showing how uncertainty can constitute an opportunity for some professions, but also how its apprehension modifies surveillance networks, scientific production and, finally, how coping with uncertainty requires the use of narratives that have to be desiccated and transformed into risk assessment models to become operational.