Jour Fixe with Nico Jaspers, 23 January 2012

News from Jan 20, 2012


We kindly invite you to the Jour Fixe presentation by Nico Jaspers, who is going to present onFrom Precaution to Anticipation: A New European Risk Governance Paradigm?. David Levi-Faur will be discussant.

The Jour Fixe begins at 4.15 pm (16.15 Uhr) and takes place at Ihnestr. 26, Room 202.



Uncertainty about the risks of new technologies presents a dilemma for regulators: if they restrict the commercialization of new applications but suspected risks do not materialize, they might unduly slow down innovation. If, on the other hand, regulators do not restrict the commercialization of new applications but risks do materialize, they have failed to ensure public and environmental safety. Uncertainty about technology risks also increases the likelihood of asymmetric regulatory responses across countries and the politicization of risk governance. In the case of agricultural biotechnology, this has led to a major trade conflict between the European Union and the United States. This article argues that in order to avoid having to choose between potential false positives and false negatives while also reducing the scope for international conflict, the EU has in the case of nanotechnologies followed a new, anticipatory risk governance strategy. This strategy involved very early planning and capacity building, proactive stakeholder involvement and a step‐by‐step, experimental approach to risk regulation. Through anticipating future developments, the EU was able to control of the regulatory debate and to direct it towards the reduction of uncertainty rather than towards a perhaps premature reduction of risk. This strategy has so far succeeded in limiting pressure towards an overly precautious or an overly lenient approach while also facilitating international cooperation and dialogue. It presents a promising new approach to risk governance under uncertainty.