The Precautionary Principal



Precautionary principal Introduction


The precautionary principle traces its origins to the early 1970s in the German principle ‘Vorsorge’, or foresight, based on the belief that the society should seek to avoid environmental damage by careful forward planning. The ‘Vorsorgeprinzip’ was developed into a fundamental principle of German environmental law and invoked to justify the implementation of robust policies to tackle acid rain, global warming, and North Sea pollution. The precautionary principle then flourished in international statements of policy. On a national level, several countries have used the precautionary principle to guide their environmental and public health policy. In the United States e.g., the precautionary principle is not expressly mentioned in laws or policies. However, some laws have a precautionary nature, and the principle underpins much of the early environmental legislation in this country (The National Environmental Policy Act, The Clean Water Act, and The Endangered Species Act). It also is applied to social justice interests for equity visions, and in health and welfare applications

The precautionary principle is based on the adage that ‘it is better to be safe than sorry’. However, there is no universally accepted definition of the principle.


The precautionary principle is relevant to many issues, especially those of environment and public health, global warming or sharp climate change, extinction of species, the uncertain risks of nuclear power or geoengineering, the introduction of new and potentially harmful products into the environment that threaten biodiversity (e.g., genetically modified organisms), threats to public health due to new diseases or techniques (e.g., AIDS transmitted through blood transfusion), persistent or acute pollution (asbestos, endocrine disruptors, etc.), food safety (e.g., Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), and other new bio-safety issues (e.g., artificial life and new molecules).


The Precautionary Principal is an underlying principle that has been almost universally adopted by policy makers at several levels. It often forms a basis for the concept of sustainability. It has been used in social justice and environmental problems, and especially in health and welfare decisions. It amounts to a new moral imperative. Interestingly it is fundamentally anti-science, although it claims science as its rational basis. However, science is not necessarily considered for the decision. It does not base public policy decisions on science for their justification, application or for validation. The basis is fear.

Futurists, politicians, environmentalists, and green policy makers have adapted this order of business and ethic all over the globe, in UN programs, and have applied it to all potential innovations, developments, technologies and risk assessments. With the COVID19 process it is the bottom line. The epidemiologists and media and medical recommendations for public policy, are secondary in consideration. Any risk is unacceptable.

In essence it means that even if the science is not there to prove the problem, or danger, we will act anyway to limit the “probable”.

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