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Managing the Pandemic: A Costly Mistake we are Making

Managing the Pandemic: A Costly Mistake we are Making

This comment by Olga Milanese is related to the situation in Italy, where it is common to talk about the pandemic in terms of the “Maximum Precaution Principle.” This term is not much used elsewhere, but similar concepts are expressed in different forms in other countries, for example stating that no level other than zero is acceptable in regards to the pandemic (see, e.g. this exchange). Unfortunately, the consequence is that other problems are neglected. Here, Olga Milanese writes some interesting considerations from her viewpoint of a lawyer about the “principle of precaution.” These considerations apply not only to the pandemic, but to many facets of the situation as it is nowadays. Facing multiple existential threats, from climate change to resource depletion, the human tendency, now as in past history, is to select one as “the” threat, and convey all the efforts on it, without realizing that some of the perceived “solutions” may do more harm than good.


The PRINCIPLE OF MAXIMUM PRECAUTION is not what it seems! 
 
First of all, there is no principle of “maximum” precaution, but of precaution … and that’s it! The difference is fundamental. This principle contemplates the need to adopt protection and prevention measures even when it is not absolutely certain that a particular phenomenon is harmful, but there is a SCIENTIFICALLY RELIABLE doubt that it could be. 
 
This means that the legislator and the public administrations, in the exercise of their discretionary powers, must act cautiously when there is a potential risk. In these cases, we speak of “technical discretion”, since the choices are made as a result of an evaluation based on the knowledge and the means provided by the various sciences…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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