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Over-precautionary tales

The precautionary principle represents the cowardice of a pampered society

By Tracey Browne   September 2002

Book: The Precautionary Principle 1896-2000 Author: Edited by David Gee and others Price: Earthscan

The precautionary principle is much in vogue. It is widely regarded as the common-sense approach if we want to avoid disasters like BSE. It is the ark of the covenant of those NGOs who are suspicious of the products of biotechnology, and part of the “culture of suspicion” which Onora O’Neill discussed in her recent Reith lectures. Indeed, the principle is being institutionalised. Yet, for all its popularity, it is more frequently invoked than examined.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) recently published a volume of 14…

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