The Precautionary Principle
First do no harm. This age old concept is being revitalized as the Precautionary Principle. It summons action for evidence of harm to people and the environment even if full scientific evidence has not been determined. Modern chemicals, technologies, and human actions can create long-term damage that may not be recognized until permanent harm is established. This principle seeks to determine if harm can be averted instead of calculating an "acceptable risk". Irradiated meat loses vitamins and genetically engineered feed has caused animals to abort, yet these are still in the food chain since scientific proof of harm to humans has not been confirmed. Artificial sweeteners and food colorings have been pulled from food processing after learning of health problems they caused.
Food co-ops have been watchdogs examining new ingredients and technologies, asking "Are they safe?" before offering to our customers. Open Harvest's natural foods buying policy provides food without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Carolyn Raffensberger, co-author of Precautionary Tools for Reshaping Environmental Policy, spoke in Nebraska July 21st at the Grain Place in Marquette. For more information, go to www.sehn.org.