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The True Cost of Precautionary Chemicals Regulation

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This article explores the possible social costs of introducing an overly precautionary regulatory regime for chemicals. It begins by examining research by the UK Medical Research Council Institute for Environment and Health (MRC-IEH), which suggests that the resource implications of the proposals contained in the European Commission White Paper “Strategy for a Future Chemicals Policy”( 1) are unrealistic and even unrealizable. The article then focuses on contemporary debates pertaining to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and goes on to question whether a “right to know” is always necessarily a good thing, or whether in certain instances it can lead to a society that feels more sorry than safe.( 2) Finally, problems relating to the representation and inclusion of public values in decision-making processes are raised prior to concluding with a call for an ambitious orientation toward social change rather than a self-limiting obsession with safety.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2003


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