REINTERPRETING THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE

Edited by Tim O’Riordan, James Cameron & Andrew Jordon


The precautionary principle is a culturally framed concept that takes its cue from changing social conceptions about the appropriate roles of science, economics, ethics, politics and law in anticipatory environmental protection and management. Originally it was introduced as part of a strategy for taking care in the face of uncertainty over the possible environmental consequences of human action. Since the 1980s, there has been a mismatch between levels of possible danger, and inadequacy of accuracy in forecasts, that has heightened consumer concern over the need to be more proactive and participatory in environmental affairs. Hence, the precautionary principle has become much more politicised in the context of environmental and consumer protest, in changing outlooks on science, and in the social responsibility of corporations. With the huge controversy in trade negotiations over what substances can be incorporated or removed from traded products, notably food, and in the light of the continuing debate over genetically modified crops, mobile phones and brain damage, as well as putative scares over microtoxins and latent carcinogens, the precautionary principle is back in the limelight.

The book is laid out in a particular way (see contents opposite). One strand of discussion looks at how the precautionary principle is evolving in various countries representative of important influences in the international debate over the incorporation of the principle into science and public affairs. A second strand analyses the movement of the precautionary principle within the evolution of the public interpretation of science and regulation, especially such conditions of uncertainty. The third strand focuses on the manner in which the principle is evolving in international law and especially international trade, which has become the ground for its most recent reincarnation.

ISBN 10: 1 874698 23 6

ISBN 13: 978 1 874698 23 4

•  Hardback • 284pp • 2001 • £75.00