The most reasonable, fundamental principle of ecological awareness is called the "Precautionary Principle," borrwed from medicine: Do no harm. It is one thing to depart from this principle out of ignorance or scofflaw greed; it is another thing to elevate the negation of the Precautionary Principle to the level of federal law.
Badlands Journal editorial board
The Precautionary Principle illustrated as a decision matrix[neutrality is disputed]The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.
This principle allows policy makers to make discretionary decisions in situations where there is the possibility of harm from taking a particular course or making a certain decision when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.
In some legal systems, as in the law of the European Union, the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory requirement.
Ecofarm Genetic Engineering News List
US House biotech proposal would bypass courts-critic
Reuters, June 5 2012
* Provision would muzzle judges, says biotech critic
* Court cases on GMO crops can run for years
* USDA proposes deregulation of GMO sugar beets
WASHINGTON - A provision in a U.S. House bill would allow farmers to grow
genetically modified crops while court battles are under way to decide if the
plants are safe, said a biotech skeptic on Tuesday, calling the idea an
unprecedented muzzle on federal judges.
The one-paragraph provision, buried in a funding bill for the Agriculture
Department, obliges USDA to approve cultivation of a biotech crop while USDA
completes "any required analyses or consultations" to decide if the crop is safe
"We can't find a single legislative precedent to this," said Andrew Kimbrell, of
the Center for Food Safety, which frequently sues the government over its
approval of biotech crops.
Kimbrell said the provision would prevent judges from issuing injunctions
against cultivation while courts decide if a crop poses a risk.
A House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman said the panel does not identify
sponsors of legislative riders at this stage of consideration. A subcommittee
vote on the bill was expected on Wednesday. The Biotechnology Industry
Organization, a trade group, said it did not seek the language.
USDA approval of biotech crops has faced legal challenges in a handful of
high-profile cases, some involving crops developed by Monsanto Co. A biotech
alfalfa variety from Monsanto went through five years of regulatory and legal
contests, including a Supreme Court decision.
In 2009, a federal judge revoked USDA's 2005 approval of genetically modified
sugar beets by Monsanto but USDA allowed planting of the crop in 2011 under
On June 1, USDA proposed deregulation of the Monsanto Roundup Ready sugar beets.
Deregulation would approve the beets for planting. The proposal was part of two
assessments required by a federal court on whether the beets pose a risk to the
environment. USDA said it will accept comments on the assessments for at least
30 days before making a final decision.