domingo, agosto 26, 2007

"Can Too Much Safety be Hazardous?" - parte 1

Prometi a um leitor do "post" TG, deste mesmo blog, pormenorizar o tema do "Principio da Precaucionaridade" que mencionei, e cá estou eu, a tentar clarificar as afirmações, que subscrevi.
Devo prevenir, previamente, que estou a falar para os meus caros e raros leitores, na qualidade de uma perfeita diletante mas que - perante toda e qualquer situação controversa - procura formar a opinião, com base em consulta de diferentes fontes de informação - de preferência, muito contraditórias entre si, sob condição de serem ou, pelo menos, parecerem ser lógicas e bem fundamentadas - até assumir um posicionamento, estritamente, individual sobre o assunto. Concluído esse penoso processo - que, por vezes, me leva anos e anos a construir - ai, ai sou tão lenta... - não abdico de defender o que penso, em qualquer instância, a qualquer custo, nem que seja perante condenações extremes da Santa Inquisição, ou
esteja mesmo já a assar numa fogueira...
O título
desta abordagem temática, que ocupará mais do que um post, foi emprestado de um artigo «Can Too Much Safety be Hazardous? A Critical Look at the 'Precautionary Principle'».

Vou apenas tentar esclarecer os meus caros e raros leitores, sobre o que penso deste principio, falando-lhes um pouco sobre o que é, porquê, e porque me parece importante a sua consideração, sempre que somos obrigados a decidir sob condições de incerteza.

Anos chave do Principio da Precaucionaridade (adaptado de "
A Brief History of the Precautionary Principle")

1. - 1984 - "precautionary approach" para redução da poluição no Mar do Norte.;
2. - 1987 - Ozone Layer Protocol - "precautionary measures" para controlo, a nível global, de emissões que pressupostamente afectavam a camada de ozono estratosférico.;
3. -1990 - Declaração de Bergen sobre o Desenvolvimento Sustentável e a Conferência Mundial sobre o Clima, cujas conclusões incluem a seguinte frase: "Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation;"
4. - 1992 - Cimeira da Terra (Rio de Janeiro) Principle 15 in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development;
5. - 1994 - Maastricht Treaty of 1994, (Art. 130r.2) principio do poluidor pagador.
6.-1995 - Porque o Precautionary Principle was "gaining increasing support as part of the international law of the environment" serviu de fundamento às deliberações do Tribunal Internacional de Justiça, sobre os testes nucleares de França.
De lá para cá este conceito de precaucionaridade ganhou importância e vem constituindo-se como imprescindível em todo e qualquer processo de tomada de decisão, sob condições de incerteza.
Edward Groth III, da Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. publicou. em 2000, um interessantíssimo artigo sobre a aplicabilidade prática do Principio da Precaucionaridade na Segurança Alimentar: Science, Precaution and Food Safety: How Can We Do Better? do qual, extraí: "...Sometimes, research can confirm a hazard - i.e., demonstrate that the decision was sound. But it is also important to have realistic expectations for what research can achieve. In many cases, precautionary action is needed because there are questions science can't answer-not just because we don't have all the data we need, but because science currently has no valid methods for getting the needed data. In other cases, we may have the tools we need to measure harm, but precautionary action will prevent our knowing how much harm would have occurred if we had not acted. In still other cases, it is feasible to collect data, but society would be much better off simply replacing a risk-generating activity with a safer way to meet the same technical or economic need.
Before deciding that research must be pursued to get more precise estimates of risks of using an inherently risky food substance, governments should be permitted to do a comparative cost/risk analysis.
If there are lower-risk and lower-cost alternatives, research to refine risk assessments for a substance rejected on precautionary grounds is a bad investment.
For either reason-the inability of science to eliminate uncertainties, or the economic irrationality of research to make a risky choice more acceptable when there are obviously better alternatives-it can be bad policy to require research as a condition of precautionary decisions.
.....
In pratice, food safety decisions fall along a wide continum. At one end are easiest, most straightfowar decisions, where we have all scientific data we need and there is alittle controversy about the soundness of decisions. At the other end are the most difficult food safety questions."

These are issues on which the science is so incomplete and subject to legitimate debate among experts that government decisions, no matter how much effort went into them, can be challenged as unsupported by the evidence, while observers with no interest in the outcome cannot tell who is right. Between these two extremes lie many different types of decisions, each with their own degrees and types of uncertainties."


Para o recurso ao principio da Precaucionaridade, é conveniente perante a situação-problema organizarmos, previamente, forma de respondermos às seguintes perguntas, organizadas numa checklist:

Precautionary Checklist
1. What do we care about.
2. What are we trying to accomplish?
a. Who shares this goal?
b. Do the goals reflect what we care about?
3. What choices do we have?
a. What is feasible and likely to move us toward the goal?
b. How do choices compare and rank?
c. How do we find even better solutions?
d. How do we adopt better solutions?
4. What is the bigger picture?
a. What are the “upstream” problems? What are the downstream repercussions? What is the broader context?
b. What are the earlier solutions? The most elegant? Is there a systemic solution that could create multiple benefits? Where can we intervene in the system to set in motion the best solutions?
5. Do we know enough to act? Do we know so little we must act with caution?
a. How would we know if harm was occurring or about to occur?
b. What do we know about harmful effects?
c. Where does our knowledge come from?
d. How can we predict from what we know already?
e. Do we know enough to act?
f. Do we know so little that we must act with caution?
g. Are we getting all the information we need from those who have it? Is testing thorough? Is monitoring adequate? How will we learn?
6. Who is responsible?
a. Are those responsible accountable?
b. Is government acting responsibly as public trustee?
c. Who has the burden of proof- those who harm or those who are harmed?
d. How can we distribute power, costs, benefits, and responsibilities more justly?
__________________

Referências do tema/post:

- THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE IN ACTION A HANDBOOK. First Edition. Science and Environmental Health Network. Joel Tickner - Lowell Center for Sustainable Production Carolyn Raffensperger - Science and Environmental Health Network and Nancy Myers.
- Applying the Precautionary Approach to Living Modified Organisms
December 11-15, 2001. Montpellier, France.. Katherine Barrett. A Workshop Presented by SEHN at the Intergovernmental Committee For the Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety.
- Precautionary Principle. Brussels, 02.02.2000
. COM(2000) 1 .
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION. - International Food Information Council (1999), Myths and Facts About Food Biotechnology. Food Insight, September-October 1999, pages 2-3.
- Consensus Document on Safety Information on Transgenic Plants Expressing Bacillus thuringiensis - Derived Insect Control Protein. OECD Environment, Health and Safety Publications Series on Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology. Julho, 2007.

- Science, Precaution and Food Safety: How Can We Do Better?” A Discussion Paper for the US Codex Delegation. Edward Groth III, Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.Yonkers, New York. February, 2000.

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