PolSci175_The_Precautionary_Principle

PolSci175_The_Precautionary_Principle -...

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The Precautionary Principle 07:07 “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely  applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of  serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as  a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental  degradation” Components of Precaution 1. Take precautionary action before scientific certainty of cause and effect o science requires overwhelming proof before accepting hypotheses o Precaution requires a lower standard of proof o If potential for harm is sig 2. Shift burden of proof to proponents o proponents of an activity should prove that their activity will not cause  undue harm to human health or ecosystems o many policy debates are framed by the question, “Do you have scientific  proof that an activity is harmful?” Without proof, the activity is allowed Precautionary principle says the question is wrong Science and Statistical Evidence To confirm a hypothesis, we require overwhelming evidence Two types of errors o Concluding a false hypothesis is true o Concluding a true hypothesis is false Scientists prefer to make the 2 nd  error o We lean towards rejecting new scientific claims
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Precaution and Hypothesis Testing Precautionary principle says always make the hypothesis: o The technology is safe With pharmaceuticals, the FDA normally does this o Drugs must be shown to be safe and effective In other policy areas, we usually reverse the precautionary hypothesis” o The technology is hazardous Technology is accepted unless there is overwhelming proof that it is risky Examples: o Cell phones o Genetically modified foods Precaution and Cell Phones Cell phone invented 1973 o Commercial introduction in 1980s o >80% of world’s population now has coverage
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PolSci175_The_Precautionary_Principle -...

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