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The Future Of The Precautionary Principle

1163 words - 5 pages

New technology is developed at a continuously increasing pace every day. For some people the world is changing almost too quickly to grasp. In today’s world, where something new is created every day, it is easy to fear new technology and its potential harms. The same question always applies: Is the potential risk worth the reward? This thought process is intended to determine if the benefit to society outweighs the cost of a given product. I agree that safety should be taken with new advancements in technology and science of all kinds, but problems arise when this precaution is taken to an extreme level that in turn halts the progress that defines human nature. The precautionary ...view middle of the document...

Looking after people’s welfare should be first priority, but for a free market to survive, there have to be safeguards against this sort of legislation. Anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars could be spent by a company on a promising new development, only for it all to be stopped because someone who is uneducated on the topic believes it to be harmful.
Humans are inventive in nature. We rose to the top of the animal kingdom with our ability to develop new tools and change the world around us. It is easy to look backwards and point out our errors, but when looking forward the future is a blank slate. Too move forward, we must try new things and make mistakes. The truth is we can never be 100% certain of the long term effects of any new chemicals or products. The precautionary principle claims to be able to solve this dilemma, but in reality it just creates a stalemate in the industry. Risk analysis is a very commonly used method to minimize the potential dangers of new products, and has been doing the job well for years.
It is important to maintain a level of safety with all products and activities, but risk analysis performs this job. One can never be certain that a product can be deemed “harmless,” but the best that can be done is to analyze potential risks and minimize them. If no danger has been proven to originate from the product, it is illogical to prevent the benefits of the product from reaching society. It is all too easy to speculate on what could happen, but unless there is scientific data indicating potential dangers, why halt progress?
The Principle has good intentions, but is too powerful of a statement. It places an unreasonable amount of power into the hands of the uneducated. The very essence of the principle is based on scientifically unproven effects on the environment or public health. This is a good concept, but often the accusatory party has no idea what they are looking for. A decision on the future of an industry is put into the hands of the fearful rather than those with scientific facts or data. An especially large burden is placed on an industry that they may not have the resources to battle. It is hard to sway the minds of a group on a topic, when they themselves don’t understand what they are looking for.
Fear of new things such as harmful chemicals and underdeveloped technology is completely understandable however. Through the United...

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