The Precautionary Principle in the 20th Century: Late Lessons from Early Warnings

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The precautionary principle is widely seen as fundamental to successful policies for sustainability. It has been cited in international courts and trade disputes between the USA and the EU, and invoked in a growing range of political debates. Understanding what it can and cannot achieve is therefore crucial. This volume looks back over the last century to examine the role the principle played or could have played, in a range of major and avoidable public disasters. From detailed investigation of how each disaster unfolded, what the impacts were and what measures were adopted, the authors draw lessons and establish criteria that could help to minimise the health and environmental risks of future technological, economic and policy innovations. This is an informative resource for all those from lawyers and policy-makers, to researchers and students needing to understand or apply the principle.