McAllister, Lesley K.
February 2005
Ecology Law Quarterly;2005, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p149
Academic Journal
The precautionary principle is included in many international environmental laws, but there is little consensus regarding its meaning and how it should be incorporated into governmental decisionmaking. With a focus on a landmark lawsuit in Brazil that prevented the federal government from approving the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in commercial agriculture, this article analyzes how national courts should apply the precautionary principle. The article argues that the precautionary principle is best understood to mean that decisionmakers should identify and consider risks with caution when faced with scientific uncertainty about potentially serious environmental harms and that courts should apply the precautionary principle as a procedural requirement when they review governmental decisions. The article contributes to a growing literature about compliance with international environmental norms and the role of national courts in the international legal system.


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