Implementing the Precautionary Principle
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Implementing the Precautionary Principle

Perspectives and Prospects

Edited by Elizabeth Fisher, Judith Jones and René von Schomberg

This challenging book takes a broad and thought-provoking look at the precautionary principle and its implementation, or potential implementation, in a number of fields. In particular, it explores the challenges faced by public decision-making processes when applying the precautionary principle, including its role in risk management and risk assessment. Frameworks for improved decision-making are considered, followed by a detailed analysis of prospective applications of the precautionary principle in a number of emerging fields including: nanotechnology, climate change, natural resource management and public health policy. The analysis is both coherent and interdisciplinary, employing perspectives from law, the social sciences and public policy with a view to improving both the legitimacy and effectiveness of public policy at national and international levels.
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Chapter 14: A Framework for the Precautionary Governance of Food Safety: Integrating Science and Participation in the Social Appraisal of Risk

Andy Stirling, Ortwin Renn and Patrick van Zwanenburg


Andy Stirling, Ortwin Renn and Patrick van Zwanenberg1 1. INTRODUCTION The precautionary principle has been adopted in a variety of forms at international, European Union and national levels (Fisher, 2002). It is applied across an increasing number of national jurisdictions, economic sectors and environmental areas (Trouwborst, 2002; de Sadeleer, 2002). It has moved from the regulation of industry, technology and health risk, to the wider governance of science, innovation and trade (O’Riordan and Cameron, 1994; Raffensperger and Tickner, 1999; Harding and Fisher, 1999; O’Riordan et al., 2001). As it has expanded in scope, so it has grown in profile and authority. In particular, at a European level, the precautionary principle is explicitly laid down as a guiding principle of EC environmental policy (Article 174 (2) of the EC Treaty) and recognized both by the European Court of Justice (for example, ECJ 1998) and the European Commission (Commission of the European Communities, 2000) to be a general principle of EC law. In the aftermath of a series of formative public health controversies, economic calamities and political conflicts (such as those involving BSE and GM crops), precaution is nowhere of greater salience or importance than in the field of food safety (van Zwanenberg and Millstone, 2005). Despite the intensity of the policy attention, however, there remain a number of serious ambiguities and queries concerning the nature and appropriate role of the precautionary principle in governance (Cross, 1996; Morris, 2000; Stone, 2001; Majone, 2002; Marchant and Mossman, 2004). These are...

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