Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation

The European Environment Agency has come up with the part 2 of their path breaking report “Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation”. ( 800 pages)  with a summary report of 48 pages . The part 1 of this report was released in 2001 to global acclaim. This report and case studies is peer reviewed . According to the EEA (
The 2013 Late lessons from early warnings report is the second of its type produced by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in collaboration with a broad range of external authors and peer reviewers. The case studies across both volumes of Late lessons from early warnings cover a diverse range of chemical and technological innovations, and highlight a number of systemic problems. The ‘Late Lessons Project’ illustrates how damaging and costly the misuse or neglect of the precautionary principle can be, using case studies and a synthesis of the lessons to be learned and applied to maximising innovations whilst minimising harms.
All versions of the report are available here: summary, full report,e-book, kindle form :
The GM chapter is chapter 19 ( pages 490- 517 only 20 pages all of us must read it) which compares GM technology the top down approach and agro-ecological approaches as bottom up. It goes thru case studies of whether Ht crops are suitable for global south, gives figures of GM area, the problems with confusing ‘lack of evidence of harm” with “ëvidence of lack of harm”, strangle hold of corporations, the lack of public sector and wiping out indigenous seeds , skill and so on after debating the agro-ecological approaches   and concludes that
“The early warning, or perhaps late lesson, to be heeded here is that if one follows the top-down, usually technologically oriented, approaches to innovation,the desired outcomes for addressing food insecurity will not be achieved. Top-down approaches will most likely fail to deliver on the
large promises of food security and alleviation of poverty, mainly because these approaches contribute to a feedback cycle that concentrates resources, knowledge, and influence as witnessed in the seed and agrichemicals sector (Adi, 2006; De Schutter, 2009; Fernandez-Cornejo, 2006; Howard, 2009).Through this power, top‑down providers can artificially homogenise both the conception of the problem to be solved and the solutions — such as GM crop plants — they propose. All too often questioning the rationality of the approach gets lost in the background of the unquestioning discussion over the use of the approach (Pavone, 2011 and see discussion in Boxes 19.1 an 19.2). Perhaps greater reflection and social deliberation into why and for whom agricultural innovations should be produced is needed if we are truly going to follow more sustainable pathways in the production of food and fibre. In the path ahead, societies In the path ahead, societies will have to make more conscientious choices of how to define and shape innovation to produce solutions that are appropriate for meeting global challenges related to agriculture. Bottom-up approaches are proving capable of getting sustainable, participatory and locally adapted solutions into the hands of those that need them most (Altieri, 2011a; Emerging issues | Hungry for innovation: pathways from GM crops to agroecology 510 Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation De Schutter, 2011), but are incapable of flourishing where invention is limited to what can be easily described by prevailing IP instruments. Change the directions, distribution and diversity of innovation, and you change the world.”


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