Analysis of the case studies
To fully understand the complexities and the controversies around the application of the precautionary principle, the RECIPES project conducted nine case studies. The aim was to understand and explain the potential differences in the application depending on the topic and the context. A comparison across the different cases indicates that the application of the precautionary principle had positive effects on innovation and contributed to more responsible pathways.
Back in 2019, the RECIPES project finalised the selection of the case studies and developed a conceptual framework focusing on the role of the case studies within the project as well as a methodological framework for the individual case study analyses.
The RECIPES project is committed to take gender aspects into account when conducting its research. To this end, a note has been developed to inform case study authors on how to reflect gender considerations in the different research steps. The note is available HERE.
Case Studies documentation
Over the course of 2020, the case study authors have engaged in research and drafting. They prepared a report and a short video for all nine cases:
- Case study 1: CRISPR-based gene drives
- Case study 2: Genetically modified organisms
- Case study 3: Endocrine disruptors
- Case study 4: Neonicotinoid insecticides
- Case study 5: Nanotechnologies
- Case study 6: Glyphosate
- Case study 7: Financial risks in water infrastructure planning
- Case study 8: The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare
- Case study 9: Microplastics in food products and cosmetics
All case studies have been bundled in one report, which can be found HERE.
As a last step, the RECIPES project compared the different case studies and identified complexities and controversies surrounding the application of the precautionary principle in the different cases. The report, which combines the inter-case study analysis and the identification of cross-cutting issues is available HERE.
When comparing the nine case studies, the RECIPES project identified several lessons learnt in regard to the relevance of the precautionary principle, procedures for its application and effects of the precautionary principle. Lessons learnt include the following:
- Relevance: It is necessary to take a broader array of potential consequences into account when developing a new technology and to openly communicate the limitations of scientific knowledge as well as of technological solutions.
- Procedures: Although deliberative methods and procedures have proven valuable for public involvement, more guidance is needed on the scope of procedures and methods to acknowledge differences e.g. in the evidence base.
- Effects: While the case studies indicated that there is a need to stimulate pathways for innovation, more empirical research is required to test the claim that the precautionary principle hinders innovations in the European Union.
The RECIPES project also compared the results of the case study analysis with the results of the stocktake of the precautionary principle conducted in 2019. The results of the stocktake can be found HERE. The comparison of results can be found HERE.