Gm Crops Case Study

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4. Discussion: Is the precautionary principle a desirable approach? There are criticisms about the precautionary principle being applied to GM crops. First of all it is claimed that the precautionary principle leads to the impossible demand of establishing an absolute absence of harm with a level of evidence that avoids any uncertainty. It is argued that the principle in this way prevents any innovation from being introduced to the market and by denying new beneficial products a significant harm, which established products could potentially cause, would be chosen above a theoretical small risk that the new products carry. Moreover, establishing absolute safety with no uncertainty would increase costs unnecessarily. Those claims were primarily…show more content…
However, as a matter of fact the precautionary principle was not applied at that time and was not used in the decision. Also is the situation of GM crops different. In the case of the discontinuation of municipal water chlorination the authorities had to assess the risk of action and inaction concerning both the same objects of legal protection, which is the health and life of the population. In the case of introduction of GM crops in the EU there are two different objects of legal protection which are on the one hand health and life of the citizens, but on the other hand mostly financial interests of companies to grow crops as efficiently as possible. However, it does not seem justifiable to put risk on health and life merely for financial interests. The same counts for the argument of critics that establishing safety with no uncertainty would increase costs unnecessarily. Possibly Van den Daele, who is one of the main critics of the precautionary principle applied on GMOs, misunderstood the goals the precautionary principle tries to achieve. He questions the value of the precautionary principle by asking rhetorically if it achieved better health and a better safer…show more content…
Alternatives However, an alternative to the precautionary principle could be risk assessment. Risk assessment is the quantitative or qualitative estimation of a risk related to a well-defined situation and an identified hazard. Risk assessment requires calculations of the dimension of the potential harm and the prospect that this harm will occur. A risk is accepted if the cost or difficulty of implementing an effective countermeasure for the related vulnerability exceeds the expectation of harm. Therefore, risk assessment can be a tool to make decisions about technologies and products like GM crops. However, risk assessment has been often used to delay precautionary action: decision-makers rather try to "manage" risks than preventing them. This is due to the fact that risk assessment requires a high amount of information and thus a rather high certainty in order to be applied. Another point of consideration is the fact that risk is difficult to calculate. Both, the magnitude of a potential harm and the probability of its manifestation are difficult to measure. A hazard with a large possible harm and a low likelihood of occurrence, is often regarded as similar to one with a low potential harm and a high probability of occurrence. Although in theory both might be comparable in priority, in practice it can be far more difficult to manage a large harm if it occurs. Moreover, in relation to GM crops the potential risks are severe and the potential harmful results, like
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