Skip to content

Wingspread Statement: Precautionary Principle — 1998

Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle

The release and use of toxic substances the exploitation of resources, and the physical alterations of the environment have substantial unintended consequences affection human health and the environment. Some of these concerns are high rates of learning deficiencies, asthma, cancer, birth defects and species extinction, along with global climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and worldwide contamination with toxic substances and nuclear materials.

We believe existing environmental regulations and other decisions, particularly those based on risk assessment, have failed to protect adequately human health and the environment, the larger system of which humans are but a part.

We believe there is compelling evidence that damage to humans and the worldwide environment is of such magnitude and seriousness that new principles for conduction human activities are necessary.

While we realize that human activities may involve hazards, people must proceed more carefully than has been the case in recent history. Corporations, government entities, organizations, communities, scientists, and other individuals must adopt a precautionary approach to all human endeavors.

Therefore, it is necessary to implement the Precautionary Principles: when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed, and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including not action

Endorsed by the SDRC Board of Directors on May 30, 1998.

[The Precautionary Principle was proposed at a meeting in January 1998 at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin. The meeting consisted of an international array of scientists, government officials, lawyers, labor, and environmental activists from five industrial nations.]
%d bloggers like this: