Environmental Research Foundation, August 29, 2005


[Rachel's introduction: Welcome to the first issue of Rachel's Precaution Reporter, intended to keep readers informed about the precautionary principle as it spreads world-wide and throughout the U.S.]

Welcome to the first issue of Rachel's Precaution Reporter (RPR), which is intended to keep you informed about the precautionary principle.

We will be publishing RPR as often as we can gather useful articles -- we expect it will appear about once a week. Each issue will contain two to five articles. (Incidentally, RPR will not replace Rachel's Environment & Health News, our best-known publication.)

As you know, the precautionary principle is a modern way of making decisions, to minimize harm. It is being discusssed and adopted around the world and within the U.S.

In Europe the precautionary principle has been championed by governments. However in the U.S., the precautionary principle developed from a different source. In the 1990s, after 20 years of grass-roots fights over toxic exposures justified by numerical risk assessments, the precautionary approach emerged from the grass-roots movement for environmental justice and the grass-roots toxics movement. Breast cancer activists have played an especially important role in advancing precaution in the U.S.

We think the precautionary principle is one of the most important social inventions of the 20th century because this simple idea can be applied to many problems besides toxic chemicals.

Perhaps because it is such a powerful, transformative idea, major opposition to the precautionary principle has now emerged.

RPR will offer you news and views about precaution, including published material from the opponents of precaution. We think it's essential to know what the opposition is saying.

If you come across good articles that illustrate the precautionary principle -- or reasons why we NEED the precautionary principle -- please Email them to us at: rpr@rachel.org.

We publish two editions of RPR: The TOC edition is merely a Table of Contents, with a brief description beneath each headline to help you decide whether a particular story interests you. The headlines are linked to the original source, somewhere out on the web.

The full HTML edition carries the same Table of Contents and brief descriptions, but it also includes the text of each article (making for a bulkier Email message). Although some web links in the TOC edition will grow stale rather quickly, the text of the stories in the full HTML edition will not disappear.

Both editions are Emailed to subscribers free of charge.

Please let us know what you think -- and be sure to send us any material you think precaution activists or advocates would find useful.

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--Peter Montague and Tim Montague, editors