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The E.U.’s Precautionary Principle of Product Safety Pays Off

In an article on Grist this week, Jason D. Scorse, referred to Mark Schapiro’s work in the book Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power, when building an argument that the E.U.’s precautionary approach to product safety regulation is paying off with respect to health and environmental safety, and also economically. From the article:
Faced with this great uncertainty, different types of regulatory schemes have developed. The U.S. model puts more of the onus on those who think a chemical or process poses a risk to prove that it does, while in the E.U. the onus is more on the producers to prove that compounds of processes are safe; the E.U. model is based more on the “precautionary principle.” As Mark Schapiro’s excellent work has demonstrated, the E.U. model seems to be paying dividends not only with respect to health and environmental safety, but also economically; as the E.U.’s market share grows, companies around the world are ratcheting up their environmental standards in order to meet stricter E.U. guidelines. In turn, the E.U. now is much more influential in setting world standards than the U.S., which used to be the leader. This is a great development that environmentalists and economists should take not of: high environmental standards can be compatible with increased trade, productivity, and market share. The E.U. system still relies on a benefit-cost calculus at some level; those chemicals which offer the greatest benefit to industry and the least risk to society (but still greater than zero) are banned or limited much less than those chemicals whose benefits are less and whose risks much more apparent. But there is no doubt that the scale in the E.U. is weighted more heavily to public and environmental safety. In my view, this is how it should be; in our modern and wealthy age, with our great propensity for innovation, we should be quicker to limit potentially damaging products and processes and insist on the development of cleaner and safer alternatives.
Read the whole article here.


Ready, Set, Forage: Pick Pawpaws, Win a Book!

It’s pawpaw picking time! As we cruise into fall, the change in season often evokes images of apple picking and pie-eating. But apples aren’t the only fruit reaching their prime this time of year. Lesser known but equally delicious is the pawpaw. Described as a cross between a banana and a mango, this exotic-looking fruit […] Read More..

5 Common Invasive Species and How to Manage Them

Last week, we asked authors Tao Orion and Katrina Blair to share alternative approaches to managing five different plant species commonly held to be “invasive.” St. John’s Wort, Garlic Mustard, Thistle, Oxeye Daisy, and Kudzu are often dismissed as annoyances at best and the target of aggressive eradication with harmful chemicals at worst. Orion and […] Read More..

What in the World is a Pawpaw?

Have you heard of the pawpaw? A few generations ago, most would say “yes!” You could ask just about anyone and they could tell you what this fruit looked and tasted like, and more importantly, where to find it. But today, the pawpaw remains a mystery to some and entirely unknown to others. In Pawpaw: […] Read More..

Uncovering the Many Uses for Abundant Kudzu

As Invasive Species Week comes to a close, Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species, and Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds,  share alternative approaches to understanding and managing Kudzu. Take a look through our final profile and check out any you might have missed along the way: Oxeye […] Read More..

Oxeye Daisy: A Plant for the Pollinators

As Invasive Species Week continues, Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species, and Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, are sharing alternative approaches to managing and using plants considered to be “invasive.” Take a look through today’s profile on Oxeye Daisy and check out tips for working with Garlic […] Read More..