Chapter 2 - Standards of Sustainability

Part 5 - The Precautionary Principle

In German, the word "forsorge" means "foresight," and this concept began a movement towards an alternative approach for addressing the potential for risk and harm called, "The Precautionary Principle." This Principle is a dominant feature in the regulatory arena of many governments, primarily in the European Union. The Precautionary Principle, also known as the Precautionary Approach, is defined as a policy and decision making tool for taking preventative measures to avoids risks to public health and the environment, even in the absence of scientific proof (WHO, 2004).

Several US bodies of law and regulation, such as the management of pesticides and drugs, take a precautionary approach, however many industrial chemicals in common use in everyday applications are not treated in this fashion. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for a revision in the US regulatory approach to managing the potential for risk and harm from hazardous chemicals to better protect children, pregnant women, and the general population.

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  • precaution
  • forsorge
  • risk
  • harm
  • hazard
  • clastogenic
  • mutagenic


  1. "The Precautionary Principle" (2005) World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), UNESCO, pp 7-15 and 35-42