Definitions for "Precautionary Principle"
Under the Rio Declaration of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit), governments must take a "better safe than sorry" approach to potential environmental and health risks, in which the burden of proof for a product's long-term safety falls to its producer.
The precautionary principle states that when there is reasonable suspicion of harm or irreversible change, lack of scientific certainty or consensus must not be used to postpone preventative action.
Decisions about the best ways to manage or reduce risks that reflect a preference for avoiding unnecessary health risks instead of unnecessary economic expenditures when information about potential risks is incomplete.
The view that when science has not yet determined whether a new product or process is safe or unsafe, policy should prohibit or restrict its use until it is known to be safe. Applied to trade, this has been used as the basis for prohibiting imports of GMOs, for example.
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