Philippe Kourilsky, Geneviève Viney

The Precautionary Principle Publication date : January 1, 2000

During the past few years, public opinion in France and the rest of Europe has tended to react with apprehension at some of the rapid changes in science and technology. The controversy surrounding genetically modified crops, their cultivation and commerce, is a striking example since the issue reflects some basic concerns. Although the public expects the beneficial aspects of scientific progress to be sustained, it also wants to be honestly informed of whatever risks are involved, and it demands that adequate safety measures be taken in matters of public health and the environment.
Written as a report addressed to the French Prime Minister, Le Principe de Précaution is a thorough and calm reflection that addresses several major issues: What safety measures ought to be taken to protect the public in the areas of health, the environment, and research? What is the scope of such safety measures, given existing laws on a national, European and international scale? What repercussions could those measures have on scientific research and its applications? What is the scope of legal responsibility?

Philippe Kourilsky is a research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and a member of the French Academy. He directs a Genetics and Molecular Immunology section at the Institut Pasteur, and teaches at the Collège de France. He is the author of Artisans de l’hérédité and La Science en partagee, published by Editions Odile Jacob. Geneviève Viney teaches law and directs the Law and Obligations Centre at the University of Paris I.