The Precautionary Principle is referred to in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; the declaration includes the principle, "Nations shall use the precautionary approach to protect the environment. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, scientific uncertainty shall not be used to postpone cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation." This idea is being increasingly invoked as a rationale for environmental health policy, including its formal appearance in international treaties. The Precautionary Principle, along with terms such as "sustainable development," expresses a broad approach for which there is general support and agreement. However, as with sustainable development, it is a term that is often difficult to crisply define, and its implications to specific issues are not easily agreed upon.
Three elements appear to be central to the Precautionary Principle. First, there must be some
BERNARD D. GOLDSTEIN
Goldstein, B. D. (1999). "The Precautionary Principle and Scientific Research Are Not Antithetical." Environmental Health Perspectives 107:594–595.
O'Riordan, T., and Cameron, J., eds. (1994). Interpreting the Precautionary Principle. London: Earthscan Publications.