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Environmental Writer Exposes Hypocritical Regulators
Michael D. Shaw -- Expert in Health Care and Environmental Affairs Michael D. Shaw -- Expert in Health Care and Environmental Affairs
Reston , VA
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

They Should Walk The Walk With The Precautionary Principle

Michael Shaw, contributing columnist for Health News Digest, says that it's high time for overzealous regulators to actually use the Precautionary Principle, rather than to merely invoke its name—with great hypocrisy.  The Principle states:

"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically."

Fear entrepreneur extraordinaire Devra Davis puts it this way:

"We do not wait for buildings to fall down or bridges to collapse before reinforcing and inspecting them for safety; we do not wait for boats to sink before requiring that they carry life jackets. We have enough knowledge about pollution to make informed choices."

Shaw notes that this sounds great in theory, but in practice it breaks down.  Traditionally, this Principle has been used to ban various chemicals, on the face of dubious studies, even if a substantial body of knowledge exists that would exonerate the chemical.  Moreover, the so-called "unintended consequences" of such bans are almost never considered, let alone studied.

A current case in point is the German action to lower the allowable ambient levels of ethylene oxide—an essential sterilant—to concentrations that are not only unmeasurable, but come close to naturally occurring endogenous levels of the compound.  Shaw contends that no real science was even used in this latest regulatory action.

Shaw notes that before such action is taken, the Precautionary Principle would indicate consideration of what might happen should an essential sterilant be effectively banned.  That this it not being considered demonstrates the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the modern environmental movement.

After all, Shaw concludes, the Precautionary Principle is supposed to be law in the European Union.

Michael D. Shaw
Executive VP/Director of Marketing
Interscan Corporation
Reston, VA
Second Url: Shaw's blog