The Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry



Volume 23, Number 1, pp. 11-14




The precautionary principle

P.T. Saunders

Department of Mathematics, King's College, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK

It often happens that the scientific evidence for a serious threat is sound but not conclusive. The precautionary principle states that in such cases we do not have to wait for certainty before we can take measures to mitigate or avoid the threat. We are not obliged to act, but we are permitted to. It follows that we cannot use mere lack of certainty as an excuse for inaction. As an explicit statement, the principle is comparatively new but there have been many occasions in the past when it could have saved lives and avoided other major losses.

Keywords: environment, health, regulation


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