Commission adopts Communication on Precautionary Principle

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 May 2000



(2000), "Commission adopts Communication on Precautionary Principle", British Food Journal, Vol. 102 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Commission adopts Communication on Precautionary Principle

Commission adopts Communication on Precautionary Principle

The European Commission has adopted a Communication on the use of the precautionary principle. The objective of the Communication is to inform all interested parties how the Commission intends to apply the principle and to establish guidelines for its application. The aim is also to provide input to the ongoing debate on this issue both at EU and at international level. The Communication underlines that the precautionary principle forms part of a structured approach to the analysis of risk, as well as being relevant to risk management. It covers cases where scientific evidence is insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain and preliminary scientific evaluation indicates that there are reasonable grounds for concern that the potentially dangerous effects on the environment, human, animal or plant health may be inconsistent with the high level of protection chosen by the EU. Today's Communication complements the recently adopted White Paper on Food Safety and the recent agreement reached in Montreal on the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety.

The Communication also qualifies the measures that may be taken under the precautionary principle. Where action is deemed necessary, measures should be proportionate to the chosen level of protection, non-discriminatory in their application and consistent with similar measures already taken. They should also be based on an examination of the potential benefits and costs of action or lack of action and subject to review in the light of new scientific data and should thus be maintained as long as the scientific data remain incomplete, imprecise or inconclusive and as long as the risk is considered too high to be imposed on society. Finally, they may assign responsibility or the burden of proof - for producing the scientific evidence necessary for a comprehensive risk assessment. These guidelines guard against unwarranted recourse to the precautionary principle as a disguised form of protectionism.

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