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Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle has emerged as one of the main regulatory tools of European Union (EU) environmental and health policy, with important ramifications for member state policies. This perspective is sometimes contrasted with what has historically been the general position elsewhere (including the United States) that restrictions on the use of technology are justified only in the face of concrete scientific evidence of harmfulness. Rather, the precautionary principle, which has many specific definitions (see the next section), generally suggests a more proactive stance when there are grounds for thinking that a risk of harm might reasonably be anticipated. Because this kind of variation in perspective often lies hidden beneath the surface of international differences in environmental or health policy, science communicators interested in policy—especially ...

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