Concentrating on the expression itself it is clear that the word "principle? implies a peculiar importance given to the "precaution?. It is to say that the principle of precaution is a principle of law, even if it is not clear how and where this scope has been given: some would say in Treaties, some in secondary legislation, and some adopted by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Our analysis of the precautionary principle under the community legal order will focus on three points. Firstly a definition of the principle must be given, in a to appreciate the scope and the substance of the principle.
[...] The Court pointed out that the SEAC discoveries changed the context of uncertainty. A link between BSE and nCJD was no longer a mere `theoretical hypothesis', it had become a `possibility' opening the door to a new analysis of the risk towards human health. In its ruling the ECJ quoted as well that "where there is uncertainty as to the existence or extent of risks to human health, the institutions may take protective measures without having to wait until the reality and seriousness of those risks become fully apparent". [...]
[...] This text is the first true reference to the precautionary principle in French law. The Minister of European affairs, now French Commissioner in charge of the institutions, instigated the latter law, so-called loi Barnier. That is in fact the only reason why France introduced the principle in its law, while the French legislator was known as paying very little attention to the environmental issues. On another dimension, the introduction of the Precautionary Principle in the Kingdom of Belgium was held under two implicit judgements of the Belgian constitutional court. [...]
[...] It is believed that the disease was spread there through live cattle and feed imported from the mainland. The next country to record a case of BSE was Switzerland in 1990 and BSE was recorded in France in February 1991. Again, it has been suggested that the disease may have spread to these countries because of feed imported from Britain. Transmission possibilities Between the first launches of studies around BSE and the formal discovery of a potential link between BSE and nCJD officialized by the UK in 1996, most of the studies concluded to a coincidental pathologic resemblance: in 1989, the Working party on BSE concluded that "from the present evidence it is likely that cattle will prove to be a `dead end host' for the disease agent and it is most unlikely that BSE will have implications for human health. [...]
[...] Douma states that "some five years after the introduction of the precautionary principle, a principle exactly aimed at measures in the face of uncertainty, the ECJ failed even to mention the principle in a paragraph on that provision. If one rules out the possibility of the Court using pre-Maastricht versions of the EC Treaty, this case indicates that the judges of the ECJ by May 1998 were still not fully awareof the meaning of the precautionary principle". To him the situation only improved later on with following case law such as the GMO case. [...]
[...] The legislation most relevant to genetically modified foods, which is the area causing the most controversy, can roughly be broken down into two different categories, although these should not be regarded as being strict classifications and they are not mutually exclusive: on one hand, legislation pertaining to the deliberate release into the environment and the placing on the market of GMOs; and on the other, legislation pertaining to novel food and food ingredients. This part of our analysis shall assess the scope of these pieces of legislation under the `old' legislation. [...]
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