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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #24

"Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World"

Wednesday, February 8, 2006
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Table of Contents Edition

The Vatican Endorses Precaution Under Conditions of Uncertainty
  "The authorities called to make decisions concerning health and
  environmental risks sometimes find themselves facing a situation in
  which available scientific data are contradictory or quantitatively
  scarce. It may then be appropriate to base evaluations on the
  precautionary principle." --Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
WTO Undercuts Europe's Precautionary Approach to Biotech Food
  "The case is a test for the EU's 'better-safe-than-sorry' food
  policy, known as the precautionary principle, which has kept hormone-
  treated beef from the U.S. and Canada out of the EU even though the
  WTO ruled in 1998 that the bloc hadn't scientifically proven a
  cancer risk to consumers from the treatments."
Health Study of a Welsh Coal Strip Mine Urges Precautionary Action
  "On balance, there is sufficient uncertainty regarding the negative
  health impacts to apply the 'precautionary principle approach' --
  which would not allow mining to proceed in such close proximity to
  residential areas."
Teflon Chemical Found in Infants
  Risk assessors study one chemical at a time to determine the health
  effects. But new studies show almost all children are now born with
  Teflon chemicals in their blood. What is the effect of a particular
  chemical PLUS Teflon? No one knows. But risk assessors give an
  answer anyway, by pretending that the Teflon isn't there. This is the
  opposite of a precautionary approach. Is it ethical?
Newly Discovered Natural Toxicant Is Widespread
  The rocket fuel, perchlorate, has been measured in water and in
  vegetables all across the country. Now it turns out that perchlorate
  isn't just an industrial chemical -- it also occurs widely in nature.
  So risk assessors now need to ask themselves, what are the health
  effects of Teflon PLUS perchlorate PLUS any other single chemical?
  The honest answer: no one knows. But risk assessors will give an
  answer anyway, by pretending perchlorate isn't there even when they
  know it is. This is the opposite of a precautionary approach. Is it


  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.

  Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
  Tim Montague   -   tim@rachel.org

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