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 idea, known as the "Precautionary Principle," is seen by environmentalists and public health experts as the key to protecting ecological and human health.
In January 1998, the Science and Environmmental Health Network convened an international group of scientists, researchers, environmentalists, academics, and labor representatives to discuss ways of incorporating the precautionary approach into environmental and public health decision-making. Known as the Wingspread Conference on Implementing the Precautionary Principle, the workshop focused on understanding the contexts under which the principle developed, its basis, and how it could be implemented. Protecting Public Health and the Environment is an outgrowth of that conference. The book:
describes the history, specific content, and scientific and philosophical foundations of the principle of precautionary action
explains the functions of the principle in activities as diverse as agriculture and manufacturing
explains how to know when precautionary action is needed and who decides what action will (or will not) be taken
attempts to show how the burden of proof of environmental harm can be shifted to proponents of a potentially hazardous activity
provides specific structures and mechanisms for implementing the precautionary principl.
Throughout, contributors focus on the difficult questions of implementation and fundamental change required to support a more precautionary approach to environmental and public health hazards. Among the contributors are David Ozonoff, Nicholas Ashford, Ted Schettler, Robert Costanza, Ken Geiser, and Anderw Jordan.
Public health professionals and academics, policymakers, environmental lawyers, sustainable agriculture proponents, economists, and environmental activists will find the book an enlightening and thought-provoking guide to a new way of thinking about ecosystem and public health protection.
Preface: Establishing A General Duty of Precaution In Environmental Protection Policies in the United States
Introduction: To Foresee and To Forestall
PART I. An Overview of the Precautionary Principle
Chapter 1. The Precautionary Principle in Contemporary Environmental Policy and Politics
Chapter 2. The Precautionary Principle in Practice: A Mandate for Anticipatory Preventative Action
Chapter 3. The Precautionary Approach to Chemicals Management: A Swedish Perspective
PART II. Law and Theory
Chapter 4. Asymmetric Information, the Precautionary Principle, and Burdens of Proof
Chapter 5. The Precautionary Principle as a Screening Device
Chapter 6. Precautionary Science
Chapter 7. The Political Economy of Precaution
Chapter 8. Precaution and Respect
PART III. Integrating Precaution into Policy
Chapter 9. A Map toward Precautionary Decision Making
Chapter 10. Applying the Precautionary Principle in Practice: Natural Heritage Conservation in Scotland
Chapter 11. A Conceptual Framework for the Use of the Precautionary Principle in Law
Chapter 12. Alternatives Assessment: Part of Operationalizing and Institutionalizing the Precautionary Principle
Chapter 13. Environmental Bonds: Implementing the Precautionary Principle in Environmental Policy
Chapter 14. The Precautionary Principle and Corporate Disclosure
Chapter 15. Practicing the Principle
Chapter 16. How Much Information Do We Need Before Exercising Precaution?
PART IV. The Precautionary Principle in Action
Chapter 17. Can We Say ''Yes'' to Agriculture Using the Precautionary Principle: A Farmer's Perspective
Chapter 18. Precautionary Action Not Taken: Corporate Structure and the Case Study of Tetraethyl Lead In The U.S.A.
Chapter 19. Manganese in Gasoline: A Case Study of the Need for Precautionary Action
Chapter 20. Cleaner Production and the Precautionary Principle
Chapter 21. The Precautionary Principle: Application to Policies Regarding Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals
Appendix A: Lessons from Wingspread
Appendix B: Uses of the Precautionary Principle in International Treaties and Agreements in U.S. Legislation
Afterword: Why the Precautionary Principle? A Meditation on Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and the Breasts of Mothers
About the Contributors