Precautionary Principle

Precautionary Principle Epic Fail


Credit: Disney

A new report, "Impact of the Precautionary Principle on Feeding Current and Future Generations," by the Center for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), looks at how the precautionary principle has been applied to various modern farming and food production practices and finds that its safety harms have outweighed any benefits. The report points out the the pernicious principle is fatally ambiguous, applied arbitrarily, and thoroughly biased against new technologies. The CAST expert panel specifically deconstructs unscientific evaluations based on the precautionary principle of the safety and benefits of modern agricultural chemicals, genetically modified crops, and food irradiation.

The report concludes…

…for the millions of people who are lacking adequate nutrition today, and the many millions more who will suffer as a result of the growing food demand-supply gap projected over the next few decades, the PP [precautionary principle] does more harm than good. New technologies of many different types that can produce safer, more abundant foods, and wider distribution of those technologies, are crucial to decreasing the number of hungry and under-nourished people in the world now and in the future. The evidence summarized in this Issue Paper has demonstrated that the PP holds back technology, innovation, incomes, environmental improvements, and health benefits, while increasing trade disruptions, risks, and human suffering. The PP has been tried but has failed as a risk management strategy. It is time to move beyond it.

Well past time. For more background on the unscientific stupidity of the precautionary principle, see my article, "Precautionary Tale."