Biotechnology and the precautionary principle: Right question, wrong answer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The precautionary principle focuses attention on the central issue in environmental policy - how can we prevent harm to human health and the environment before it occurs, while recognising the inherent uncertainty in predicting risks? Despite focusing on the right question, the precautionary principle fails to provide a workable answer. The precautionary principle is overly ambiguous, and any attempt to further refine the precautionary principle would require resolving issues that would deprive the principle of much of its support. Because of its irreducible ambiguity, the precautionary principle is prone to be applied in an arbitrary manner, As such, it cannot provide a legally sustainable decision making standard.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-45
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Environmental law
  • Environmental policy
  • Precautionary principle
  • Risk analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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