The development of GMOs, nanotechnology and neonicotinoid insecticides presents opportunities for humans and the environment, but it can also carry risks to human, animal or plant health.

Decisions on their promotion or regulation are often to be taken in situations of uncertainty about these risks. But how do we make sound decisions in situations of scientific uncertainty? How do we decide on new or emerging technologies?

In such situations, the precautionary principle guides decision-makers faced with unacceptable risks, scientific uncertainty, and public concerns. As a general principle of EU law, it allows decision-makers to act despite scientific uncertainty.

As the principle is also criticised for hindering technologic innovation, some stakeholders have developed an innovation principle, stressing the importance of taking into account also potential impacts on innovation


The RECIPES project aims to reconcile innovation and precaution by developing tools and guidelines to ensure the precautionary principle is applied while still encouraging innovation. The RECIPES project will work closely with different stakeholders through interviews, workshop, and webinars.

Below is an overview of the project's timeline, modules and results, with links to the respective web articles.


Step I

Taking stock of the precautionary principle since 2000

In this initial phase, the RECIPES project takes stock of the implementation of the precautionary principle since 2000. It also explores the recent and on-going controversies to understand competing interests and concerns of different stakeholders and citizens.

  • Review of literature on the effect of PP and of initiatives at multiple levels since 2000
  • The public discourse of the precautionary principle: media analysis and citizen meetings
  • Policy Brief I
  • Synthesis

Step II

Multiple Case Study analysis

Taking into account the results of the stocktake, the RECIPES project analyses in nine case studies the application of the precautionary principle in different areas. This work results in a comparative multi-case study analysis and feeds into the scenario development.

Step III

Needs assessment

Based on the analysis of the case studies, the RECIPES project develops scenarios for future implementation of the precautionary principle /innovation principle in different technology areas. During scenario workshops, the RECIPES project discusses the need for tools and guidelines for implementing the precautionary principle.

  • Co-creation process
  • Policy Brief II

Step I

Tools and guidelines

In the last phase, the RECIPES project develops tools and guidelines for implementing the precautionary principle and balancing it with the innovation principle. It develops general and sector-specific recommendations for the application of the precautionary principle.

  • Tools, guidelines, and recommendations
  • Sector-specific guidelines
  • Policy dialogues and Policy Brief III