Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Is the precautionary principle guiding law or a political notion?

Andrew Porterfield | |

  • In Norway, the government banned vitamin-fortified cornflakes, because the vitamins may have harmed “susceptible individuals.”
  • In 2004, the French government banned caffeinated energy drinks, because pregnant women might consume too much caffeine.
  • A number of European countries have enacted restrictions on genetically modified crops and food, because of alleged uncertainty of their safety and environmental harm.
All these regulatory actions have come about because of the application of the “Precautionary Principle,” which at first glance appears to be a clear guiding principle banning actions until risks are removed—but which gets much murkier the closer one examines it.

“It’s also is one of the most troublesome principles because…it can easily be misused to justify irrational, arbitrary, or protectionist government measures, and an ever expanding regulatory regime. This is so because it is obscure what this “principle” requires, and the EU Treaty does not define it,” wrote Belgian law professor Lucas Bergkamp recently.

However, a number of non-government organizations, including those that oppose genetically modified organisms, are staunchly and publicly in favor of the precautionary principle. Greenpeace recently stated this on its website:......To Read More.....

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