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Posted by Tracey Brown on 09 July 2013
This is an article published by the Guardian on 9th July and is part of a series of articles discussing the precautionary principle. You can read the full piece here.
We don't need to appoint a layer of people to say 'ooh, you never know!'
The precautionary principle is a blunt instrument, a 90s throwback out of place in an era of "smart solutions" and big data.
A world of over seven billion people faces some pretty complex questions about the trade-offs involved in producing food, using resources, reducing disease and achieving the societies and environments in which we want to live. There's a collision between short-term and long-term outcomes, narrow interests and broader ones, and between problems and opportunities … the consequences of which may be unforeseeable. Fear of the unforeseeable gives the precautionary principle influence, but was there ever such a mismatch between a challenge and a solution?