Sunday, November 30, 2014

America versus the European Union: The Precautionary Principle

The European Union has already institutionalized a litmus test that cuts to the core of the differences that separate the new European view of shared risks and vulnerabilities from the older American view of unlimited personal opportunities and individual prowess.
It’s called “the precautionary principle,” and it has become the centerpiece of EU regulatory policy governing science and technology in a globalizing world. Most European political elites, and the public at large, favor it. Far fewer American politicians and citizens would likely countenance it...
The key term ... is “uncertainty.”
When there is sufficient evidence to suggest a potential deleterious impact but not enough evidence to know for sure, the precautionary principle kicks in, allowing regulatory authorities to err on the side of safety by either suspending the activity altogether, employing alternative scenarios,  monitoring the activity to assess causal impacts, or creating experimental protocols to better understand its effects...
The precautionary principle is designed to allow government authorities to respond pre-emptively, as well as after damage is inflicted, with a lower threshold of scientific certainty than has normally been the rule of thumb in the past. “Scientific certainty” has been tempered by the notion of “reasonable grounds for concern.”


The European Dream by Jeremy Rifkin, Penguin 2005

1 comment :

  1. O/T but since you were touting Elizabeth Warren a while ago I thought this might interest you.


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