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Precautionary principle

According to the fact that “precaution means caution in action”, we can define the precautionary principle as the application of “a rule of political decisions in the absence of scientific certainties established on phenomenons underlying a risk and its consequences [1]”. In other words, the precautionary principle implies that provisions are taken when enough doubts remain about the fact that a product or an action can create serious irretrievable damages for the health and the environment. Therefore it targets “the hypothetical risks, still scientifically unconfirmed, but for which the possibility might be identified based on empirical and scientifical knowledge. [2]”.
Nevertheless, the enforcement of such a principle depends on the appreciation of the notion of risk in a given collective or society. As far as it might concern the fields in which the economic and financial stakes are important, the effective enforcement of the principle by politics is under huge pressure. From then on, “it exists two interpretations : one, radical (generally advocated by NGOs) requires unvarnished abstention when in doubt. In the “weak” version, it is reduced to a process of justification for the decision to take: deliberation, public debate, a comparison of costs and expected advantages of the protection measures under consideration, etc. [3]”.

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