The soil and water for decades. For example, 18

The Precautionary Principle is a powerful tool for protecting societal health, including food health and the environment. In fact, the precautionary principle was originally introduced for dealing with environmental issues (Gignon et al. 2013). The Precautionary Principle enhances the collection of risk information for high production volume chemicals and risk-based analyses. It does not eliminate the need for science-based risk assessments and public participation is often encouraged in both the review process and the decision-making process. The Precautionary Principle encourages transparency of the risk assessment of chemicals both for public health and environment (Hayes et al. 2010). It’s most common definition, as described in the Bergen Declaration of the UN: “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation” (Renn 2007). One example of differing approaches in two different cultures is how the United States and European Union handle herbicides, specifically Atrazine. Atrazine pesticide use is widely used in the United States with EPA/FDA approval and banned in the EU (Jablonowski, Schäffer & Burauel 2011) In 2004, the use of atrazine was banned in the EU because it was found that drinking water concentrations exceeded allowed limits and presented a “unpreventable water contamination” situation. Atrazine and its metabolites can be found in soil and water for decades. For example, 18 years after the material was banned in Germany, it is still being found in groundwater samples and in soil as well (Jablonowski, Schäffer & Burauel 2011). Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor active in the ppb (parts per billion) range in fish, amphibians, reptiles, and human cell lines; and there is evidence that it interferes with reproduction and development, and may cause cancer (Sass & Colangelo 2006) The US FDA/EPA reviewed Atrazine through regulatory procedures, government documents, and reports by the manufacturer of atrazine (Syngenta) to decide upon its status.  It was found that to influence the U.S. atrazine assessment, flawed scientific data was submitted as evidence of no harm, and Syngenta held repeated private meetings with EPA/FDA to negotiate the government’s regulatory approach. Many of the details of these negotiations are withheld from the public, despite government regulations and federal laws that require such decisions to be made in the open as well as the component of the Precautionary Principle which states the public to be informed and included (Sass & Colangelo 2006). Related to this was the economic impact exploration which found that an Atrazine ban for consumers would hold an upward increase of 8% on corn prices which converts to a 1.4% increase in the retail price of beef (Ackerman, Whited & Knight 2014). It would not be much of a stretch to claim that the United States hold’s dollar in a higher regard than the precautionary principle. I personally favor the European Union approach, and would argue they should have been more aggressive earlier. When dealing with societal health and the environment, we cannot afford to gamble on these potentially dangerous materials especially the consequences can be so far reaching and life altering.  The EU approach favors its citizen’s health over corporate profits, something quite aligned with the Precautionary Principle.

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