The precautionary principle puts forward the ‘commonsense’ notion that decision-makers should be cautious when assessing potential health or environmental harms in the absence of the full scientific facts. It is now a well-established tenet of environmental law. The debate has turned to its legal implementation, especially its application ‘in practice’.
The Precautionary Principle in Practice – Environmental decision-making and scientific uncertainty focuses on these issues. It considers how decision-makers can assess threats to health or the environment when the available scientific evidence is sparse and discusses the types of ‘uncertainties’ that bring the precautionary principle into play.
Peel uses detailed case studies which examine the implementation of the precautionary principle in actual decision-making scenarios: fisheries management; risk assessment for genetically modified organisms; and environmental impact assessment for development applications.
She demonstrates an approach that takes account of variable uncertainty issues and can be adapted to different circumstances to ensure a comprehensive assessment of the potential threats to health or the environment.
Jackie Peel has a background in both science and law. She took a BSC/LLB with 1st class honours at the University of Queensland and holds an LLM from New York University where she studied in 1999-2000 as a Fulbright Scholar. She is now is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Melbourne.