Science, Precaution, Innovation: Towards the integrated governance of new technologies
Is the Precautionary Principle really an obstacle to innovation?
This conference provided a platform to discuss existing challenges to the evidence-based implementation of the PP from an interdisciplinary perspective. Objective was to explore how, rather than hindering innovation and economic welfare, implementing the PP would actively support sustainable innovation. A series of examples that illustrate the importance of the PP were presented and assessed.
Speakers took into account the scientific, legal and social challenges and their real-life implications for the effective implementation of the PP.
Discussions did also question whether it is correct to dismiss the PP as “anti-innovation", or whether it is more accurately seen as a stimulus to innovation and to involve the more socially deliberative “steering” of innovation. Viable paths to a reasonable confidence of no harm to public health, biodiversity and the environment were identified and explored by reference to currently available knowledge, while acknowledging that strict proof of safety is an illusory goal. Examples including pesticide use, genetically modified crops, electromagnetic fields, endocrine disrupting compounds and nanotechnology were presented by eminent speakers and explored by the participants.