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Precaution and the Precautionary Principle: two Australian case studies


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  • Annette Weier
  • Paul Loke

    (Productivity Commission)

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    The Productivity Commission Staff Working Paper, ‘Precaution and the Precautionary Principle: two Australian case studies’ (by Annette Weier and Paul Loke), was released in September 2007. The Precautionary Principle was conceived as a response to the inherent difficulties faced by decision makers confronted with uncertain potential outcomes. Its purpose is to remove uncertainty as an obstacle to addressing potential environmental and health hazards. However, much confusion surrounds the Principle and its role in decision making under uncertainty. This paper examines two Australian case studies where precaution has been an important element in decision making — fisheries management and licensing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It considers three key issues: the basis for precautionary decision making; how precaution has been applied in practice; and whether (and how) the Precautionary Principle contributed to precautionary decision making. The views expressed in this paper are those of the staff involved and do not necessarily reflect those of the Productivity Commission. This paper develops further some themes initially canvassed in the Presidential Address to the 2006 Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society conference presented by Deborah Peterson, and subsequently published in the ‘Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics’.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Productivity Commission, Government of Australia in its series Staff Working Papers with number 0705.

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    Length: 100 pages.
    Date of creation: Sep 2007
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published by the Productivity Commission, Australia.
    Handle: RePEc:ris:prodsw:0705

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    Keywords: precautionary principle; fisheries management; genetically modified organisms; GMOs;

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Anderson, Kym & James, Sarah, 1998. "On the Need for More Economic Assessment of Quarantine/SPS Policies," CEPR Discussion Papers 1934, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Peterson, Deborah C., 2006. "Precaution: principles and practice in Australian environmental and natural resource management," Conference/Workshop Proceedings 31906, Productivity Commission.
    3. Binder, Monika, 2002. "The Role of Risk and Cost-Benefit Analysis in Determining Quarantine Measures," Staff Research Papers 31911, Productivity Commission.
    4. Adamson, David & Cook, David C., 2007. "Re-examining the economic options for import risk assessments," 2007 Conference (51st), February 13-16, 2007, Queenstown, New Zealand 10365, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    5. David Adamson & David Cook, 2007. "Re-examining economic options for import risk assessments," Murray-Darling Program Working Papers WP3M07, Risk and Sustainable Management Group, University of Queensland.
    6. Linacre, Nicholas & Falck-Zepeda, José & Komen, John & MacLaren, Donald, 2006. "Risk assessment and management of genetically modified organisms under Australia's Gene Technology Act:," EPTD discussion papers 157, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Peterson, Deborah C., 2006. "Precaution: principles and practice in Australian environmental and natural resource management," 2006 Conference (50th), February 8-10, 2006, Sydney, Australia 137764, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    8. repec:reg:rpubli:201 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Peterson, Deborah C., 2006. "Precaution: principles and practice in Australian environmental and natural resource management," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 50(4), December.
    10. Sunstein Cass R., 2005. "The Precautionary Principle as a Basis for Decision Making," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-10, April.
    11. Gollier, Christian & Treich, Nicolas, 2003. " Decision-Making under Scientific Uncertainty: The Economics of the Precautionary Principle," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 77-103, August.
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