Precautionary principle and global food safety

A. Urruela Mora, A. Libano Beristain

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The precautionary principle was born in Germany at the end of the sixties under the name of Vorsorgeprinzip. During the seventies it became one of the essential principles which defined the environmental policy. The aforementioned principle, according to Olivier Godard, was initially based on a broad vision of prevention against the menaces for the environment, combining preventive action criteria, early detection of risks and activation of the environmental protection without needing to have scientific certainties. The principle was later extended to the rest of Europe, being incorporated to the international environmental legal texts. Furthermore the precautionary principle has been incorporated to the European Communitarian Law and has been included in the EC Treaty (Treaty establishing the European Community): the Treaty of Maastricht included it as one of the basic principles of the European policy at environmental level (art. 130-R-2 of the mentioned treaty) and the version according to the Treaty of Amsterdam expressly confirmed it in art. 174 (nowadays the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union includes it in art. 191). At Communitarian level one of its most important applications in the last decades has been associated with the embargo decisions taken by the European Commission in March 1996 related to meat and products derived from cattle coming from the United Kingdom as a result of the well known crisis of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopaty (BSE). This paper pretends to analyse the relevance of the precautionary principle with relation to the global food safety, on the basis of the legal regulations and case-law existing up to now at European Union level. © Wageningen Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, 2010.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Food Security: Ethical and Legal Challenges: EurSafe 2010 Bilbao, Spain 16-18 September 2010
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • EU legislation
  • Food security
  • Risk management


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