Rachel's Precaution Reporter #37
Wednesday, May 10, 2006

From: Puget Consumer Co-op (PCC) ..........................[This story printer-friendly]
May 1, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: "In a world where perfection -- the weed-free farm, the blemish-free apple, the giant strawberry -- has begun to look more scary than beautiful, precaution is coming into its own."]

by Carol Estes

May 2006 -- Imagine this: a chemical company plans to market a new pesticide. A committee is convened of local citizens, including farmers, consumers, healthcare practitioners, scientists, local businesses and government representatives, to analyze the alleged benefits and potential risks to the community.

After deliberation, the committee determines that in the absence of scientific data ensuring the safety of the pesticide -- a compound similar to one already banned -- the risks outweigh any potential benefits. The pesticide is not approved by authorities who recommend safer alternatives.

A far-fetched scenario? Perhaps not. The idea of precaution is not new. Ancient folk wisdom tells us "A stitch in time saves nine," "Better safe than sorry," and "Look before you leap."

No doubt invention and taking chances always have been more popular -- and far more exciting -- than being cautious. But in an era when technological prowess turns small mistakes into far-reaching problems, a precautionary approach has begun to attract admirers.

In the last three decades, the concept of taking action to avoid potential harm -- even in the face of scientific uncertainty -- has gained considerable cachet among public health practitioners, environmentalists, farmers, scientists and most of all, citizen- consumers.

This idea, known as the Precautionary Principle, has been codified around the world in ten or more protocols including the United Nations Environment Programme, the Nordic Council's Conference, the third North Sea Conference, the Bergen Declaration on Sustainable Development, the second World Climate Conference, the Bamako Convention, the Maastricht Treaty on the European Union and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development which the United States signed.

A Precautionary Principle Working Group was started in Seattle in 2004, and already, it has gotten precautionary principle language integrated into the city's Comprehensive Plan, the section on environment. Next month, the first U.S. Conference on Precaution will be held in Baltimore to build the movement nationwide.

(For more information, visit www.besafenet.com or call 703-237-2249, ext. 11). A public debriefing of the national conference will be held in Seattle on June 23 (see the May 2006 Your Community Web page and visit).

Why this blossoming popularity? Precaution makes all kinds of sense.

Forward planning

The modern legal concept of precaution grew out of the German word, "Vorsorge," which means "fore-caring." At the heart of the idea was the belief that a nation should try to avoid environmental damage by careful, forward planning, a process that would block potentially harmful activities. The Vorsorgeprinzip became, during the 1970s, a cornerstone of German environmental law, balanced with economic impact.

More than 20 years later, in January 1998, a group of activists, scholars, scientists and lawyers met in Racine, Wis., at Wingspread, home of the Johnson Foundation, to formulate a precautionary approach to everyday environmental and public health decision-making.

"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically."

This rather tame, cautious statement is nothing short of revolutionary. It completely upends our accepted system for dealing with potential toxins and environmentally harmful practices.

Our current system assumes that a substance or activity (such as spraying synthetic pesticides) is innocent until proven guilty. In other words, a company doing something that is potentially harmful to human health or the environment has the right to continue doing it until someone files a complaint or lawsuit and succeeds in proving the activity harmful.

This is a nasty problem. Because it's impossible to prove harm until there is harm, the system cannot kick in until it's too late -- after the harm is done. Furthermore, the victim and the public bear the burden of proof rather than the proponent of the activity -- the one who stands to profit from it.

The "burden of proof" is aptly named -- it's a heavy load. It means that the victims and/or the public must hire expensive attorneys to argue the matter, along with an assortment of scientists and experts to run tests and experiments -- a prohibitively costly process.

Precaution advocate and attorney Carolyn Raffensperger points out, furthermore, that to satisfy scientific standards of proof, evidence must show with 95 percent accuracy that a particular substance or activity -- and nothing else -- was the cause of harm. In a world with 82,000 manmade substances, proving a single cause with that kind of accuracy often is beyond the capabilities of current technology.

In the past, scientific uncertainty has meant that proponents of an activity were free to go ahead with it. But under the Precautionary Principle, we acknowledge that we'll never have perfect information, and as a result, we sometimes need to act before we have all the evidence we'd like.

The Precautionary Principle also acknowledges that deciding how to act, or not act, in the face of incomplete scientific evidence is not a question that science or industry can answer. It's a judgment call, and for that reason, it belongs in the hands of the public. You and I, along with the neighbors, all have say in the decision.

Democratizing a process in which the public previously had little say is one of the most revolutionary changes of the Precautionary Principle. Instead of facing the simplistic, de-contextualized choices that industry currently offers (Which detergent would you prefer, the one with bleach or the one with the lemon scent?), we citizen- consumers would have a chance to consider complex priorities and tradeoffs.

Is cosmetically perfect fruit worth the environmental cost? Shall we devote a significant portion of our farm acreage to producing biofuels? At the expense of acres in food? If it means introducing genetically modified plants? Shall we require testing new industrial chemicals before they're introduced into the environment, even if it has a chilling effect on the introduction of new chemicals?

If citizen panels or juries are given the chance to decide questions like these, their verdicts undoubtedly would have a precautionary flavor. That's why the Precautionary Principle has plenty of enemies.

Opposition to precaution

Most of the opposition to precaution comes from economic interests and scientists. Julian Morris of London's Institute of Economic Affairs, for example, is quoted as saying that "if someone had evaluated the risk of fire right after it was invented [sic], they may well have decided to eat their food raw."

And Marlo Lewis Jr., a conservative public policy analyst speaking in defense of the Bush administration's refusal to support the Kyoto climate change protocol, expressed a similar objection: "Inflating 'Safety First!' from a mere rule of thumb into a categorical imperative -- an absolute overriding duty -- is a recipe for paralysis and stagnation... Do the potential risks of climate change outweigh those of climate change policy? Or do we have more to fear from Kyoto than from climate change itself?"

These are serious charges. Would the Precautionary Principle discourage innovation to the point of paralysis and stagnation? A precautionary approach demands that we consider these objections seriously.

Seattle toxicologist Steven Gilbert, author of "A Small Dose of Toxicology: The Health Effects of Common Chemicals," argues that we needn't worry much about a precautionary approach causing economic paralysis and stagnation because we already have proof that it works just fine. Gilbert points to the example of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its precautionary testing of pharmaceuticals.

"The FDA requires that a company submit data," Gilbert says, "paid for by the company, demonstrating the efficacy and safety of the proposed product prior to approval." That process may sometimes slow things up and does not always function smoothly, but it hasn't caused paralysis or stagnation since the thriving pharmaceutical industry has been by far the most profitable U.S. industry for more than two decades.

Furthermore, at the FDA, the precautionary approach works fairly well at what it was designed to do: protect people from harmful pharmaceuticals. "Thalidomide," Gilbert says, "is a classic example." This drug was marketed widely in Europe and Australia, he says, as a sedative and anti-nausea drug for woman before it was discovered that it caused serious birth defects if taken at a certain time during pregnancy.

"But the drug was not marketed in the U.S., thanks to the FDA's precautionary approach." It seems that a woman in the FDA questioned the drug's safety data and a great deal of harm was prevented.

Precaution in organics

Goldie Caughlan, nutrition education manager for PCC Natural Markets, argues that the organic foods industry provides an even better example of a successful marriage between precaution and economics.

"From the beginning, every aspect of the industry has been about precaution," Caughlan says. "Precaution is why people wanted organic in the first place. They were seeking to get away from the perceived dangers of industrial agriculture. They wanted things to be natural. The organic foods movement was a citizen definition of precaution in action."

Lately, Caughlan says, consumers are especially worried about genetically engineered foods. Soy, corn and canola -- what Caughlan calls "the big three" -- are the foods most likely to be genetically engineered. Currently, in these three cases, she says, if you are not eating organic food, you are eating genetically modified food. That's not OK with many consumers.

"I frequently hear concerns about genetically engineered foods," says Caughlan. "And we're still in the dark, since the FDA does not require labels to inform consumers if a food product includes genetically engineered ingredients."

As consumers adopt more healthful lifestyles, Caughlan says, they instinctively apply the precautionary approach. They look for fruits and vegetables grown without synthetic pesticides and that are not genetically modified. They want meats and dairy products from free- grazing animals not injected with antibiotics or growth hormones.

"Even though the pesticides, antibiotics and genetically engineered plants are approved by governmental agencies, health-conscious consumers increasingly avoid those worrisome substances and practices. They buy organic -- as a precaution. Organic is seen as a safe harbor."

So, in a world where perfection -- the weed-free farm, the blemish- free apple, the giant strawberry -- has begun to look more scary than beautiful, precaution is coming into its own. Even though it's traditional -- even conservative -- the Precautionary Principle has a place at the organic supper table and is attracting new devotees to its common sense beauty.

Copyright 2001-2006 PCC Natural Markets


From: Public Health Reports ..............................[This story printer-friendly]
December 1, 2002


[Rachel's introduction: "The cornerstones of the precautionary principle -- transparency and inclusiveness of decision-making, action in the face of uncertainty, and accountability -- are fundamental, not only to the practice and science of public health, but also to the success and maintenance of democracy." -- Judith Kurland, Harvard School of Public Health]

[Judith Kurland is a member of the faculty of the Harvard School of Public Health. Address correspondence to: Judith Kurland, 1272 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 02446; e-mail judithkurland@earthlink.net.

The cornerstones of the precautionary principle -- transparency and inclusiveness of decision-making, action in the face of uncertainty, and accountability -- are fundamental, not only to the practice and science of public health, but also to the success and maintenance of democracy.

Both public health and democracy flourish when information is broadly disseminated and understood, when principles, benefits, and costs are publicly debated, when decision-making is shared by those affected by the policies, and when public interest is seen as more valuable than private gain. Both are diminished when information is withheld and data twisted, when the terms of the argument predict its outcome, when actions to protect and advance the health of the public are defeated by small private interest groups, and when government gives equal weight to corporate interests as to public well being. In the case of the public health debate, the danger is increased with the deification of a skewed view of science.

The precautionary principle, which says that action should be taken when there is evidence that not to do so would cause harm, is being used increasingly to shape policy in Europe and elsewhere. Decades -- sometimes centuries -- before the understanding of germs, bacteria, viruses, infection, and immunology, leaders in public health improved health by implementing policies that were later supported and explained by an advanced understanding of basic science.

The precautionary principle is based in science, in the two branches of science central to public health: epidemiology and bio-statistics. It is no coincidence that so many contributors to this special topic issue of Public Health Reports have cited the model and experience of John Snow. The branch of science that he established has laid the foundation for the greatest improvements in health in mankind's history. Now, instead of developing policy to improve health and protect the public based on these proven scientific methodologies, proponents of an activist public health are fighting a rear-guard action to protect the cornerstones of public health. Where opponents of an activist public health agenda, which includes the implementation of the precautionary principle, have succeeded is in having health science narrowly defined in terms of laboratory science, physiology, and biochemistry. This limited definition ignores the breakthroughs in occupational safety, environmental science, maternal and childcare, infection control, sanitation, and behavioral health that preceded the advanced developments in bacteriology, immunology, and genetics.

This is not to denigrate the more recent sciences or curative methods; it is to remind us that we have many tools, many means at our disposal. From Hippocrates to John Grisom to Henry Bowditch, leaders in public health and medicine admonished their followers and the public to look at environments and behavior, to construct healthier housing and schools, to have clean water and air, to think more about prevention than about cure. We should use all methods that discern patterns, cause and effect, and determinants of health. To ignore the evidence of epidemiology and bio-statistics is to compound error through inaction. And inaction in the face of preventable disease is unacceptable.

Why are we at this apparent impasse and what can we do about it? We must face several issues -- raised in these articles and elsewhere -- that appear to thwart the adoption of the precautionary principle for public health. One is the misunderstanding about what is and what is not science, and here public health must reclaim and reassert the importance and worth of its basic sciences. But the other impediments say as much about the beliefs of our society and the stage of our democracy as they do about public health, and those battles must be joined to others.

First is the issue of transparency, the information available to the society as a whole, and the truth about the benefits of decisions to act or to not act. There are many dilemmas here; often, the source of facts and information are the very industries or interests who oppose action. We have seen this with the tobacco, lead paint, petroleum, pharmaceutical, and asbestos industries, whose control of information, doctoring of studies, support for biased research, and suppression of information have made it impossible for the public and independent analysts to share in unbiased information. From the auto manufacturers who, 40 years ago, knowingly and willfully produced cars that killed to those manufacturers who, two years ago, utilized defective tires that killed, the ability to withhold information is powerful. From drug manufacturers who contract the right to suppress research studies critical of their products to those who blatantly report false findings, the ability to publish untruths and half-truths in peer- reviewed journals is destructive of the public's capacity to make informed judgments. But that control of information is exacerbated when public bodies and the fourth estate abet the misinformation. The dismissal, banishment, or even punishment of critics and whistle- blowers within public agencies or government contractors makes it hard for the public to gain access to dissenting views. When private interests, such as the gun lobby, promote congressional bans on gathering and publishing information, or when administrators "gag" employees critical of pro-industry policies, it becomes virtually impossible for the average citizen or even institutions to gather that information themselves.

The lack of data and information is often an excuse for inaction in the face of real harm. If one of the hallmarks of our democracy is inclusiveness of decision-making, then the ability of a handful of powerful interests to deny the existence of critical information, or to hire apparently objective experts without revealing those relationships, is destructive to the interests of both public health and democracy. Inclusion also means the consideration and costs of a full range of alternatives, which must also mean a full range of the societal, long-term, and non-direct costs of inaction. In the face of overriding evidence, not only of global warming, but also of the health, environmental, and ecological costs of inaction, our society still does close to nothing while opponents of action divert us with both fantastic consequences of action, and self-serving and unique theories on the nature of the universe. When three petrochemical scientists, supported by the industry, are invited to appear before a congressional committee to argue that global warming is a myth, and the 300 leading, award-winning scientists urging our nation to take strong, aggressive action on the issue are ignored, the entire notion of transparency and inclusiveness is moot.

Action in the face of uncertainty -- a third element of the precautionary principle -- is both its most vulnerable and intellectually most important one. The other three may be morally more important, but to admit that we do not have, and may never have, all the evidence we would like is to engage in an intellectual quest that underpins public health. To the modern observer, insisting that doctors wash their hands between patients seems not just obvious, but also benign. But without the "evidence" that was to come much later, this request seemed to many baseless, and the opposition came from men of science who wanted hard proof of cause and effect, not just an accumulation of observation and relationships. Practice changed before bacteriology would "prove" the reason for doing so, but the better our laboratory and diagnostic science, the harder it seems to accept the fact that we should act in the face of uncertainty. For example, the relationship between air pollution and pulmonary disease seems so clear to anyone working with communities subject to inordinate pollution. But if we don't measure certain particulates, if we don't yet see the physiological change, then lack of transparency and lack of certainty can lead to inaction. However, if we take to heart the requirement of doing no harm, also quoted widely in these articles, we are moved to make the logical decision to act.

This brings us to the fourth cornerstone of the principle, accountability. It is here that our society has the most to overcome. Too much of our inaction in the past and the present is because we have implicitly decided that some risks are easier for our society to bear because they fall disproportionately on the poor, on workers, on people of color, on our soldiers, and on the people of other countries. Also, our inaction is because we have implicitly decided that the costs are too much to bear when they fall on corporations, the wealthy, and the politically powerful.

The articles in this issue, with case studies ranging from silica and lead to tobacco and anthrax, from Agent Orange to the blood supply, bear this out. For years, in the face of overwhelming evidence from neutral sources, harmful products and practices were allowed to continue while a great many people sickened and died. We need, as a nation, to examine what it is that allows this to happen again and again, but we also need to incorporate the elements of the precautionary principle, whether or not we make it a national policy.

The courts in our nation are an important part of policy-making, but to rely on them is to obviate our ability to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. To rely on them is to relinquish responsibility for including the public in the more meaningful way that is the basis for democracy. If we had true transparency and inclusiveness in decision-making, and true accountability and responsibility, we would have the public understand the basis for decision-making and participate in making decisions in the face of uncertainty. The series of surgeon generals' reports on tobacco and smoking over the last four decades is instructive. The evidence has been mounting for centuries on the harm done by tobacco, but certainly by the first Surgeon General's Report, it was overwhelming. Yet, other than increasingly serious warnings on cigarette packages, restrictions on advertising won through a lawsuit, and some restraint on sale to minors, not much changed in 40 years. It took leaks of information, an incorruptible whistle-blower, and indignant attorneys general from states whose health care budgets were ballooning, to force a major change in policy. As welcome as this was, it is a sorry and inefficient way to make policy. And we must admit the changes in the tobacco industry are not half of what could and should have been made if the health of the nation were the guiding principle in decision-making.

Instead, as one of this issue's authors so clearly states, our guiding principles are very different: industry has the right to produce what it will; products are assumed safe until proven otherwise under a system that makes it almost impossible to prove; private profit is more of a right than the right of society as a whole to have healthy conditions; and public health is a narrow interest while private industry represents a broader public good.

These are dangerous principles -- dangerous to our health and dangerous to our society. It is not a sin, nor is it surprising, that private industry puts profits before health; it should not shock us that they go to extraordinary lengths to protect their ability to manufacture and sell, unfettered by any interference by government. We have been shocked when they have lied, cheated, and broken the law; we have been surprised when they have shown a total disregard for life or health, but we would be naive to think that their interests lie with society's as a whole. The recent outrage at corporate greed has not been because they put profits before people; it has been because they did not obey even the rules of corporate finance and reporting. To correct the latter will not address the former. It is the role of public health and of government to seek and protect the greater good. That is at the heart of the precautionary principle, and at the center of our democracy.

Copyright 2002 Association of Schools of Public Health


From: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (pg. B24) ...............[This story printer-friendly]
Feb. 24, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: The biotech industry is playing a reckless game of Russian roulette -- but they've got the gun pointed at the public's heads, not their own. If ever there was a technology needing a precautionary approach, "biopharming" is it.]

By Trudy Bialic

Ask the people around you if they want experimental drugs and industrial chemicals in their food or beer -- without their knowledge or consent. Chances are they'll say no. Then tell them experiments that could make that happen are occurring right here in Washington state.

As you read this, a professor at Washington State University and a private Canadian company, SemBioSys, have applied for permits to turn two common food crops -- barley and safflower -- into virtual factories for synthetic drugs or chemicals.

On its Web site, SemBioSys declares its plan to inject safflower with human genes to produce experimental insulin and a drug for heart attacks and strokes. WSU confirms that it plans to grow barley, injected with human genes, to produce artificial proteins with pharmaceutical properties. Where these fields will be is secret; nearby farmers and residents won't be notified.

Proponents say that injecting human genes into plants (or animals) will provide cheaper drugs -- someday. But this so-called "biopharming" has met with considerable opposition.

In California and Missouri, farmers protested and effectively stopped outdoor cultivation of "pharma rice," concerned that the drug-plants would contaminate their food-grade crops and make them unmarketable. Food companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Kraft Foods, as well as the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Products Association, concur. The risks are more than hypothetical. Several cases of cross- contamination from GE crops have cost farmers and the food industry more than a billion dollars in recalls and lost export markets.

The National Academy of Sciences, a nongovernmental body of scientists and professionals, has warned in two reports that it's virtually impossible to keep biopharms out of the food supply if food crops are used to grow them. Insects, birds, animals, wind, storms, trucks, trains and human error see to that.

Pharma crops are supposed to be rigorously regulated. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not review biopharmaceutical crops before planting, even though many of them have toxic or anti- nutritional effects on human health or the environment.

A recent audit by the US Department of Agriculture's Inspector General found the USDA failed to inspect field trial sites as promised and didn't even know where some experiments were planted. The Inspector General also found that USDA didn't follow up to find out what happened to the biopharm harvests. Two tons of a drug-laden crop was stored for more than a year at two sites without USDA's knowledge or inspection.

What's the risk of cross-contamination from these experiments? State legislators at least should order a thorough risk assessment and allow public comment.

Washington's Barley Commission is aware that WSU is biopharming barley and is strongly opposed. Administrator Mary Sullivan says, "Once those genetically altered genes are out there, there'll be GMOs in the beer."

No one's opposed to less expensive and effective drugs, but biopharming in food crops in open fields is a bad financial risk. Several leading biopharm companies have gone bankrupt. When Large Scale Biology went bankrupt -- it was the first to conduct a field trial in 1991 -- even biotech movers and shakers contemplated the demise of the biopharming concept.

Agriculture and the food industry are the largest employers and the greatest source of revenue in Washington state -- more than Microsoft and Boeing combined. WSU and SemBioSys should not be mixing drugs and food. They should cancel these risky experiments immediately.

If they want to produce plant-based drugs, they should follow the lead of Dow AgroScience, which just announced approval of a vaccine for chickens produced by tobacco cell cultures in a contained steel tank. Cell cultures are a proven way to generate pharmaceuticals under controlled laboratory conditions -- without the risk of untested drugs in our food.

Trudy Bialic is editor of Sound Consumer, a publication of PCC Natural Markets -- the largest, consumer-owned natural foods retailer in the United States.


From: Bankok (Thailand) Post ..............................[This story printer-friendly]
May 9, 2006


Sweeping reforms to speed up cases

[Rachel's introduction: "Mr Apichart said courts may put the burden of proof on defendants [in environmental lawsuits] rather than the plaintiffs, as in normal law suits. If this practice is adopted, it would be the first time Thai courts agree to follow the so-called precautionary principle long advocated by environmentalists, who argue it is too much of a burden for damaged parties to prove wrongdoing by powerful offenders."]

By Bhanravee Tansubhapol

The Supreme Court is poised to make sweeping procedural changes to speed up handling of environmental cases. This includes placing the burden of proof on defendants, broadening the court ruling to cover all damaged parties and cutting court fees for poor plaintiffs, a high court official said yesterday.

"We would like environmental cases to be special cases because they affect the life, health and well-being of the public. If the court deliberation is slow or has to wait for any side-effects to emerge it may be too late for the environment or people's lives," said Apichart Sukhagganond, president of the environmental division of the Supreme Court.

Mr Apichart said each case affecting the environment should take no more than three years to resolve instead of more than five years now in most cases.

More than 1,000 environmental cases currently await Supreme Court judgments. Most are handled by the 10 Appeals Courts around the country but only four of them have an environmental division attached.

The green light has now been given to the Criminal Court in each province to set up an environmental division to help speed up environmental cases.

"Environmental cases should be concluded as quickly as possible," he said. To expedite the process, the court is considering moving environmental cases only through the Criminal Court and the Supreme Court, skipping the Appeals Court.

The court fee for poor plaintiffs could be lowered or waived to enable poor people to file legal action against industrial offenders, said Mr Apichart.

Normally, plaintiffs must post as much as 200,000 baht to cover court fees if they demand large compensation. This means legal action is out of reach of many who claim to suffer consequences from environmental damage.

Mr Apichart said courts may put the burden of proof on defendants rather than the plaintiffs, as in normal law suits.

If this practice is adopted, it would be the first time Thai courts agree to follow the so-called precautionary principle long advocated by environmentalists, who argue it is too much of a burden for damaged parties to prove wrongdoing by powerful offenders.

Another change that will have a major impact on offenders is the broadening of the court ruling on a single case to cover all damaged parties.

"This will help minimise the number of cases coming to court and all damaged parties will get the same level of compensation, as in bankruptcy cases," said Mr Apichart. Only the plaintiffs now benefit from court rulings in their favour, he said.

The case of damage to Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Lei caused by the making of the Hollywood film The Beach would be a good case study for all criminal court judges, most of whom have little experience in environmental cases.

In that case, local administrations and environmentalists in Krabi filed suits against senior environmental officials, 20th Century Fox Studios, which produced the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and the studio's Thai agent for altering the bay's environment to fit the movie's script.

The Supreme Court is expected to deliver a final verdict this year.

Mr Apichart said environmental law should be a compulsory subject for all university law students.

"We still lack a lot of environmental judges. One reason we set up the environmental division is to let all judges see the importance of this subject and let them learn from it," said Mr Apichart.

Copyright Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2006


Rachel's Precaution Reporter offers news, views and practical examples of the Precautionary Principle, or Foresight Principle, in action. The Precautionary Principle is a modern way of making decisions, to minimize harm. Rachel's Precaution Reporter tries to answer such questions as, Why do we need the precautionary principle? Who is using precaution? Who is opposing precaution?

We often include attacks on the precautionary principle because we believe it is essential for advocates of precaution to know what their adversaries are saying, just as abolitionists in 1830 needed to know the arguments used by slaveholders.

Rachel's Precaution Reporter is published as often as necessary to provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

As you come across stories that illustrate the precautionary principle -- or the need for the precautionary principle -- please Email them to us at rpr@rachel.org.

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Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org


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