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Precautionary Principle: Who Decides?

April 7, 2014
 
 

Source: National Institute for Animal Agriculture

Most regulatory systems—including that of the United States — utilize a precautionary approach to regulation. And, while most people would agree that precaution is a good idea, two key questions arise: Is the precautionary approach working? Can overzealous precaution actually halt innovation?

Several speakers zeroing in on the Precautionary Principle at the National Institute for

Animal Agriculture’s 2014 Annual Conference, "The Precautionary Principle: How Animal

Agriculture will Thrive," in Omaha, Neb., April 1-2, unanimously agreed that an

overabundance of precaution can impede innovation and stifle progress. Another speaker stressed to the 225-plus conference attendees that sustainability—and not the Precautionary Principle—should drive decisions.

NIAA’s Opening General Session speaker Mark Walton, PhD, Chief Marketing Officer for

Recombinetics said the Precautionary Principle, which is based on a "better to be safe

than sorry" approach to regulation, is not a "bad idea." But, when the Precautionary

Principle becomes twisted and diverts progress due to prejudices, he contends that it is

not accomplishing what it was designed to do.

Walton identified several challenges associated with policy being set when the

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