Article

Implications of the Precautionary Principle in research and policy-making

Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense C, Denmark.
American Journal of Industrial Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.59). 04/2004; 45(4):382-5. DOI: 10.1002/ajim.10361
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The Precautionary Principle (PP) has recently been formally introduced into national and international law. The key element is the justification for acting in the face of uncertainty. The PP is thereby a tool for avoiding possible future harm associated with suspected, but not conclusive, environmental risks. Under the PP, the burden of proof is shifted from demonstrating the presence of risk to demonstrating the absence of risk and it is the responsibility of the producer of a technology to demonstrate its safety rather than the responsibility of public authorities to show harm. Past experiences show the costly consequences of disregarding early warnings about environmental hazards. Today, the need for applying the PP is even greater. New research is needed to expand current insight into disease causation, to elucidate the full scope of potential adverse implications resulting from environmental pollutants, and to identify opportunities for prevention. Research approaches should be developed and strengthened to counteract innate ideological biases and to support our confidence in applying the PP for decision-making in the public policy arena.

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