The Philippines Supreme Court recently made a worldwide landmark decision, from a jurisprudential point of view, invoking for the first time ever the precautionary principle as a decisive basis for acting against GM crops.
The Precautionary Principle
This section contains a collection of primary and supplementary reading around the Precautionary Principle: a non-naive way to avoid paranoia and paralysis when discussing ecological policy. The Precautionary Principle is also on Facebook and Twitter.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, standard economic models assumed that people would act in a rational and predictable manner. These models are flawed, of course, for if modern psychology has taught us anything it is that we are massively complex beings who are ultimately in important respects not predictable, often not rational, and certainly often rational in ways that are judged irrational by ‘experts’. We are moreover (and this is less widely understood) not predictable not only in practice but also in principle: i.e. this is not a limitation that can be overcome.
Advocates of GM lean heavily on the claim that GM is ‘science’. But this is itself a highly dubious assumption. GM is essentially a technology. It is more like engineering than science. And of course this is actually tacitly acknowledged in the very concept / framing of ‘genetic engineering’.
We need to be less fixated on the evidence, where the human world is concerned, and more determined to take up a precautionary stance.
We present a non-naive version of the Precautionary (PP) that allows us to avoid paranoia and paralysis by confining precaution to specific domains and problems.