Putting precaution to debate – about the precautionary principle and participatory technology assessment

Technology assessment (TA) as aninstitution was introduced nearly thirty yearsago as an instrument to render possible themaking of responsible decisions concerning newtechnological options. Another recentdevelopment however has been the introductionof participatory technology assessment (pTA),mainly connected to the growing insight thatthe evaluation of technological options withrespect to their risks and benefits, is not –only – a scientific question. This paper willfocus on the questions, to what degree theideas of technology assessment and thePrecautionary Principle are connected and how.Without naming it explicitly, the PrecautionaryPrinciple is put to debate in the``TA-arrangement on the cultivation oftransgenic herbicide resistant crops,''organized by the Science Centre, Berlin. Fromthe perspective of ethical clarification, someunique features concerning theconceptualization of the discoursive procedureand reconstruction of the argumentation processin order to come to results have to beanalyzed. Finally the performance and resultsof the pTA-arrangement are reflected in thelight of the Precautionary Principle andconclusions are drawn.
Keywords discourse  participatory technology assessment  precautionary principle  risk assessment  transgenic plants
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1013853425094
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