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The Precautionary Principle: Is it Safe

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Abstract The precautionary principle is generally acknowledged to be a powerful tool for protecting health but it was originally invoked by policy makers for dealing with environmental issues. In the 1990s, the principle was incorporated into many legislative and regulatory texts in international law. One can consider that the precautionary principle has turned into “precautionism” necessary to prove to the people, taking account of risk in decisions. There is now a risk that these abuses will deprive the principle of its meaning and value. When pushed to its limits, the precautionary principle can even be dangerous when applied to the healthcare field. This is why a critical analysis of the principle is necessary. Through the literature, it sometimes seems to deviate somehow from the essence of the precautionary principle as it is commonly used in relation to health. We believe that educational work is necessary to familiarize professionals, policy makers and public opinion of the precautionary principle and avoid confusion. We propose a critical analysis of the use and misuse of the precautionary principle.


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