1 Public Health Department, Amiens University Hospital, place Victor Pauchet, F-80054 Amiens cedex 1, France
Medical School — Jules Verne University of Picardy, Amiens, France
University Paris 13, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Laboratory of Health Pedagogy, Bobigny, France
Forensic Medicine and Medical Law Unit, Amiens University Hospital, Amiens, France
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.
United Nations General Assembly.1992. “Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.” Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, June 3-14, 1992. A/CONF.151/26 (Vol. I). New York: UN. Retrieved 15 January 2013 http://www.un.org/documents/ga/conf151/aconf15126-1annex1.htm.
I.B. Pless, “Expanding the precautionary principle”, Injury Prevention9(1) (2003) 1-2.
D. Resnik, “Is the precautionary principle unscientific?”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences34 (2003) 329-44.
D. Resnik, “Is the precautionary principle unscientific?”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 34 (2003) 329-44.)| false