Keywords: biotechnology, precautionary principle, public policy, risk assessment, risk management, science advice
Biotechnology and the precautionary principle
This paper examines the relationships between science and the precautionary principle and their policy and institutional implications for biotechnology. It acknowledges the divergent approaches adopted by different regions of the world in managing the risks associated with biotechnology. The paper notes that the divergent views about the application of the precautionary principle to risk assessment and management are partly a reflection of how different regions of the world perceive the benefits and risks associated with modern biotechnology. It is this broader context, including economic considerations, in which the role of science in risk assessment and management needs to be framed. Explaining the differences will benefit from further clarification of the key concepts and definitions. But resolving them will most likely be a result of political acts that are beyond the realm of scientific analysis.