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Precaution and the Precautionary Principle: two Australian case studies

  • Annette Weier
  • Paul Loke

    (Productivity Commission)

Registered author(s):

    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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    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
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Level 28, 35 Collins St, Melbourne Victoria 3000
    Phone: 61 3 9653 2100
    Fax: 61 3 9653 2199
    Web page: http://www.pc.gov.au/
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    1. 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.
    2. repec:reg:rpubli:201 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Adamson, David & Cook, David, 2007. "Re-examining economic options for import risk assessments," Risk and Sustainable Management Group Working Papers 149869, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    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. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Binder, Monika, 2002. "The Role of Risk and Cost-Benefit Analysis in Determining Quarantine Measures," Staff Research Papers 31911, Productivity Commission.
    11. Peterson, Deborah C., 2006. "Precaution: principles and practice in Australian environmental and natural resource management," Conference/Workshop Proceedings 31906, Productivity Commission.
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