The letter draws on evidence collected as part of the UK's largest ever social science research initiative -- the Global Environmental Change Programme (GECP) of the independent Economic and Science Research Council (ESRC).
"The WTO's current approach to risk issues means that new technologies are effectively assumed safe until proven otherwise. This places excessive faith in our limited knowledge about the safety of new technologies" said Alister Scott, Assistant Director of the GECP and coordinator of the letter. "The opposite is needed: better testing of new products and more thorough monitoring of their effects on the environment and people's health once in use."
"Experiences in the UK suggest that the current approach may lead to what can be described as 'soft disasters' -- large-scale health and environmental problems 'soft disasters' and to avoid undermining public confidence in its decisions".
The researchers will be available for comment and analysis during the Seattle conference. For more details or to arrange interviews with any of the researchers, please contact: Alister Scott, Assistant Director, ESRC Global Environmental Change Programme: Tel: (day) 01273 678986/678935 Fax: 604483 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or (home) 01323 811398