The Precautionary Principle: Scientific Uncertainty and Omitted Research in the Context of GMO Use and Release

  • Anne Ingeborg Myhr
  • Terje Traavik


Commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have sparked profound controversies concerning adequate approaches to risk regulation. Scientific uncertainty and ambiguity, omitted research areas, and lack of basic knowledge crucial to risk assessmentshave become apparent. The objective of this article is to discuss the policy and practical implementation of the Precautionary Principle. A major conclusion is that the void in scientific understanding concerning risks posed by secondary effects and the complexity ofcause-effect relations warrant further research. Initiatives to approach the acceptance or rejection of a number of risk-associated hypotheses is badly needed. Further, since scientific advice plays a key role in GMOregulations, scientists have a responsibility to address and communicate uncertainty to policy makers and the public. Hence, the acceptance of uncertainty is not only a scientific issue, but is related to public policy and involves an ethical dimension.

extended consent GMO Precautionary Principle omitted research scientific uncertainty secondary effects 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Ingeborg Myhr
    • 1
  • Terje Traavik
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and VirologyUniversity of Tromsø and Norwegian, Institute of Gene EcologyTromsøNorway E-mail

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