Discussion Paper on the Precautionary Principle

03.12.1999

Discussion Paper on the Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle is an element of international environmental law . EuropaBio, the European Association of BioIndustries, is aware that the European Commission is currently working on a communication on this principle, in the context of risk management. To further the current discussions, EuropaBio would like to identify a number of fundamental points listed hereunder.

 

Definition

EuropaBio believes it is imperative that there be a common understanding and a consistent interpretation of the term “Precautionary Principle”. An unclear definition could lead to demands for “zero risk” which is unachievable and would also have serious consequences on innovation.
Also, it is key that the precautionary principle does not give rise to the development of specific legislation but rather is included as a principle in the implementation of risk management in relevant legislation. 

Triggers for the application of the precautionary principle

The application of the precautionary principle should only be triggered by a threat of serious or irreversible damage to human health or the environment in the cases when relevant scientific data is not sufficiently clear or is ambiguous. The identification and evaluation of this threat should be based on sound scientific risk assessment and logical reasoning and should be compatible with current scientific knowledge. Application of the precautionary principle should be triggered only by peer reviewed data, reports and studies and not by speculative stories and articles.

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