CEI, ICCS Host 9/27 Hill Briefing on the Precautionary Principle

CEI, ICCS Host 9/27 Hill Briefing on the Precautionary Principle

September 26, 2000

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A Capitol Hill Briefing

Sponsored by

International Consumers for Civil Society


The Competitive Enterprise Institute

Wednesday, September 27, 2000

11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.

311 Cannon House Office Building, Capitol Hill

Complimentary Lunch Served


The Briefing:

The precautionary principle is increasingly being presented as a prudent approach that governments should embrace to deal with risks, especially environmental and health risks arising from new technology or new products, such as those produced through biotechnology. However, the precautionary principle biases the process of “decision-making under uncertainty” against the new. It lends itself to arbitrary decision-making, does not compare risks, and addresses only the risk of innovation, not the risk of stagnation, particularly for those in developing countries.

This briefing will take a close look at the precautionary principle, its historical roots and current effects on policies toward new technologies and trade.  Of particular interest is the potential impact on people in developing  countries, if rich countries should decide to adopt the precautionary principle as a public policy tool. The presentations will focus on the application of the precautionary principle to agricultural biotechnology -- the focal point for much of the current debate in the international arena.


Program and Speakers

Moderator -- Frances B. Smith, founder, International Consumers for Civil Society and Executive Director, Consumer Alert, Washington, DC


Keynote Presentation -- U.S. Representative Nick Smith (R-MI), member of the House Agriculture, Budget, and Science Committees, and Chairman, Science Subcommittee on Basic Research.  Congressman Smith in April 2000 released a report on the benefits, safety, and oversight of agricultural biotechnology.


“The History and Meaning of the Precautionary Principle” -- Julian Morris, Director, Environment and Technology Programme, Institute of Economic Affairs, London, England, and editor, Rethinking Risk and the Precautionary Principle, which will be published in September 2000 by Butterworth-Heinemann.


“Moving Beyond the Precautionary Principle -- The Case for Balancing Risk” -- Fred L. Smith, Jr., President, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC


“Implications of the Precautionary Principle for Developing Countries” -- Barun Mitra, Managing Trustee, The Liberty Institute, New Delhi, India


Question and Answer Session


International Consumers for Civil Society


International Consumers for Civil Society is an international umbrella group of market-oriented organizations located throughout the world. Current membership includes 21 non-profit groups in 10 countries.


ICCS emphasizes the benefits of market economies for consumers world-wide. It evaluates policies to restrict economic growth or technological advances by assessing their effects on consumers, particularly those in developing countries.