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“The worth of a wildflower” Precautionary perspectives on the environmental risk of GMOs

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    How much is a wildflower worth? Inspired by “The worth of a songbird” by Funtowicz and Ravetz (1994) we use the value of a wildflower as symbol of the complexity of evaluating environmental qualities and risks. We critically discuss the application of cost-benefit analysis in evaluating environmental impacts of adoption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We argue that cost-benefit analysis should be supplemented with other methods, such as processes for assessing uncertainty, accommodation of scientific disagreements, and integration of stakeholders’ interests and perspectives. A more inclusive perspective is to develop precautionary approaches that recognize the multidimensional nature of environmental qualities and risks, such as irreplaceability, irreversibility, uncertainty and complexity. Precautionary approaches can contribute to develop a stronger environmental responsibility within the framework of rational self-interest.

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    File URL: http://www.ssb.no/a/publikasjoner/pdf/DP/dp476.pdf
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    Paper provided by Research Department of Statistics Norway in its series Discussion Papers with number 476.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:476
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    1. Nyborg, Karine, 2000. "Homo Economicus and Homo Politicus: interpretation and aggregation of environmental values," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 305-322, July.
    2. Batie, Sandra S. & Ervin, David E., 2001. "Transgenic crops and the environment: missing markets and public roles," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(04), pages 435-457, October.
    3. John O'Neill & Clive L. Spash, 2000. "Conceptions of Value in Environmental Decision-Making," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 9(4), pages 521-536, November.
    4. Christie, Mike & Hanley, Nick & Warren, John & Murphy, Kevin & Wright, Robert & Hyde, Tony, 2006. "Valuing the diversity of biodiversity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 304-317, June.
    5. Harhoff, Dietmar & Régibeau, Pierre & Rockett, Katharine, 2001. "Some simple economics of GM food," Munich Reprints in Economics 20396, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    6. Goodin, Robert E, 1994. "Selling Environmental Indulgences," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 573-96.
    7. Noussair, C. & Robin, S. & Ruffieux, B., 2001. "Do Consumers Not Care about Biotech Foods or Do They Just Not Read the Labels?," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1142, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
    8. Munda, G. & Nijkamp, P. & Rietveld, P., 1994. "Qualitative multicriteria evaluation for environmental management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 97-112, July.
    9. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-378702 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Nick Hanley & Clive Spash & Lorna Walker, 1995. "Problems in valuing the benefits of biodiversity protection," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(3), pages 249-272, April.
    11. Small, Bruce & Jollands, Nigel, 2006. "Technology and ecological economics: Promethean technology, Pandorian potential," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 343-358, March.
    12. Becker, Christian & Faber, Malte & Hertel, Kirsten & Manstetten, Reiner, 2005. "Malthus vs. Wordsworth: Perspectives on humankind, nature and economy. A contribution to the history and the foundations of ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 299-310, May.
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