Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 12:47:19 PM EST
[The Hoist: featuring an item or items from the day's Newsroom]
EU policymakers urged to use 'precautionary principle': theparliament.com
A Brussels conference has been told that warning signs of the potentially harmful effects of new technologies are sometimes "ignored or suppressed".
That is the message of a new report by the European environment agency (EEA) which details cases where "danger signals" have gone unheeded.
In some cases it says this has led to death, illness and "environmental destruction".
Speaking at the debate on Wednesday, EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade said, "The environment in which we live is complex and changing rapidly.
"We can no longer look at single causes of harm; instead we need to consider many different things in combination - pharmaceuticals, pollutants in the environment, food products and electromagnetic radiation from phones.
"The combined influence of many different contaminants may be behind a rise in cancers, fertility problems and other illnesses, so we need new ways to identify hazards to human and ecosystem health associated with new products and a more precautionary approach to decision making."
The conference sounds pretty bromide, but there's a trend at the moment towards official agencies accepting criticism of their supine approach to the corporate world on risks to health and the environment. EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has come out with some good, thorough work on (its own and others') scientific failings in assessing the risks of pesticides for bee populations (diary forthcoming). The work came out last May and was hardly noticed by the media. Or was hardly pushed by EFSA... Still plenty of reasons to keep prodding the agencies.