Brussels spells out import ban rules

2 February 2000

Brussels spells out import ban rules

By Philip Clarke

BRUSSELS has set the terms under which it can keep foreign produce out
of the EU, according to what it calls the “precautionary principle”.

A report endorsed by commissioners on Wednesday, (2 February), says it may
be used “where potentially dangerous effects of a process or product
have been identified” and where “the scientific evidence is
insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain”.

The precautionary principle has been used to justify the bans on US
hormone-treated beef and genetically modified crops.

But the
commission insists it is not a disguised form of protectionism – just
a “basis for action when science is unable to give a clear answer”.

Measures based on the precautionary principle should be
“proportionate”, it adds.

“A total ban may not be a proportional
response to a potential risk in all cases. But in some cases it is the
sole possible response.”

The guidelines also require the authorities to consider the potential
benefits of a new product or technology before the precautionary
principle is invoked and to review all new scientific data as it

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