The Introduction of the Precautionary Principle in Danish Environmental Policy: The Case of Plant Growth Retardants

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Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the Precautionary Principle (PP) in action. Precaution is a fairly new concept in environmental policy. It emerged back in the 1960s but did not consolidate until the 1980s, as it formed part of the major changes taking place in environmental policies at that time. The PP is examined in three contexts. Firstly, we look at the meaning of the concept and how it is disseminated through the media and public discourses to the political arenas of Denmark. Then we examine how the idea is adopted to the political level. Thirdly, we look briefly at the first Danish translation of the principle into a practical context, which includes translations into concrete scientific practices. It is concluded that if the PP shall be more than a simple “idea” or a frequently used “term,rdquo; emphasis must be put on the transformation of the concept into concrete practices, like e.g., the alternative testing regimes that we show in the case of plant growth-retarding pesticides presented in this paper.

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