The case provides a comprehensive discussion on The Precautionary Principle, which is a major subject of debate among environmentalists as well as industrialists making products that could potentially harm the environment. The Precautionary Principle encourages measures to prevent environmental degradation even without sufficient evidence against business organizations for damaging the environment and health of humans as well as that of animals.
Two viewpoints primarily exist with regards to The Precautionary Principle, as discussed in the case. That is, whether regulators and decision makers should wait for strong evidence against organizations for unhealthy production and maintenance practices, or they should keep them in strict check due to the risk and uncertainty associated with environmental degradation.
The case points out that in the last two decades there has been a strong support for The Precautionary Principle; more so after the United Nations’ Rio Declaration in 1992. The Precautionary Principle puts the onus of giving evidence on those who may allegedly hinder environmental development due to their business practices. The onus in this regard has shifted away from those who attack or initiate an objection against business practices. Therefore, it is business organizations and industries who have to defend their practices today.
- The Precautionary Principle is a guiding principle and a source of check and balance for companies to establish their practices based on ethics and morality.
- Even after years of recognition, The Precautionary Principle remains ambiguous due to a lack of formal definition and concept of The Precautionary Principle. Hence, this leads to a lack of focus amongst the idea’s proponents (Grant & Quiggin, 2013).
- The proponents of The Precautionary Principle can partner with donor agencies to strongly pursue cases against companies and vehemently oppose any motives of business organizations with regards to environmental degradation.
- Business organizations are many times powerful entities and have political connections to hamper the good reputation and purpose of the proponents of The Precautionary Principle.
Two main solutions exist with regards to applying The Precautionary Principle:
Stated Conclusion of the case
- Relax the ideals and do not treat each industry with ambiguity. In other words, do not actively track the performance of business organizations and penalize them until it is proven against them that they are involved in environmental degradation.
- The second solution encourages vehemently pursuing regulation and stricter checks and balances in the case of business organizations. Such an approach may be referred to as foresightedness, and is the core of The Precautionary Principle, whose proponents believe in a proactive approach (Ricci & Zhang, 2011).
The case concludes with the applicability and implementation of The Precautionary Principle today. Primarily, The Precautionary Principle is more applicable and discussed in the case with regards to cattle farming and the use of growth hormones, the chemicals industry, and the pharmaceutical industry. Hence, this points out that the principle under discussion will apply more actively in industries involved with scientific research which may ultimately produce equipment and chemicals which would be detrimental to the society and the environment at large. The discussion about those industries highlights the important role and significance of The Precautionary Principle.
As per the alternate solutions presented above, it is recommended that the option of foresightedness is what we should select as it is the core of The Precautionary Principle. It is with this proactive approach that companies and their operations would be encouraged to ‘play safe’, do not produce harmful products, do not carelessly dispose off toxic waste, and avoid use of harmful chemicals in various products such as beauty care products (Jarosinska & Gee, 2007). The focus of attention is business organizations as The Precautionary Principle would take them to action even when there is slight risk or ambiguity involved in their operations.
Grant, S., & Quiggin, J. (2013). Bounded Awareness, Heuristics And The Precautionary Principle. Journal Of Economic Behavior & Organization , 93
Jarosinska, D., & Gee, D. (2007). Children's Environmental Health And The Precautionary Principle. International Journal Of Hygiene And Environmental Health , 210
Ricci, P., & Zhang, J. (2011). Benefits And Limitations Of The Precautionary Principle. Encyclopedia Of Environmental Health