Visionary Science, Ethics, Law and Action in the Public Interest


SEHN - StatementsEvery now and then someone puts an idea into such powerful words that it shifts our ways of thinking. Sometimes groups get together and hammer out statements that are meant to change the way people think about the world or a particular issue. Many such statements are quickly forgotten. But some have unusual durability and influence.

Here is the Science and Environmental Health Network’s collection of definitive statements on our range of issues. We – as individuals or as an organization – have had a hand in most of them. They express the ideas and values that guide our work and that we believe are widely shared. Use them and quote them freely.

Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, 1998

Vancouver Statement: Globalization and Industrialization of Agriculture, 1998

Missoula Statement: Conservation Decisions in the Face of Uncertainty, 2000

Blue Mountain Statement on Essential Values, 2000

Icicle Creek Statement on the Precautionary Principle and Ecosystems, 2001

Ecological Medicine Statement: A Call for Inquiry and Action, 2002 

The Bemidji Statement On Seventh Generation Guardianship, July 6, 2006

The Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle
January 1998

The release and use of toxic substances, the exploitation of resources, and physical alterations of the environment have had substantial unintended consequences affecting human health and the environment. Some of these concerns are high rates of learning deficiencies, asthma, cancer, birth defects and species extinctions; along with global climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and worldwide contamination with toxic substances and nuclear materials.

We believe existing environmental regulations and other decisions, particularly those based on risk assessment, have failed to protect adequately human health and the environment – the larger system of which humans are but a part.

We believe there is compelling evidence that damage to humans and the worldwide environment is of such magnitude and seriousness that new principles for conducting human activities are necessary.

While we realize that human activities may involve hazards, people must proceed more carefully than has been the case in recent history. Corporations, government entities, organizations, communities, scientists and other individuals must adopt a precautionary approach to all human endeavors.

Therefore, it is necessary to implement the Precautionary Principle: When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.



Dr. Nicholas Ashford M.I.T.
Katherine Barrett Univ. of British Columbia
Anita Bernstein Chicago-Kent College of Law
Dr. Robert Costanza Univ. of Maryland
Pat Costner Greenpeace
Dr. Carl Cranor Univ. of California, Riverside
Dr. Peter deFur Virginia Commonwealth Univ.
Gordon Durnil Attorney
Dr. Kenneth Geiser Toxics Use Reduction Inst., Univ. of Mass., Lowell
Dr. Andrew Jordan Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, Univ. Of East Anglia
Andrew King United Steelworkers of America, Canadian Office
Dr. Frederick Kirschenmann Farmer
Stephen Lester Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Sue Maret Union Inst.
Dr. Michael M’Gonigle Univ. of Victoria, British Columbia
Dr. Peter Montague Environmental Research Foundation
Dr. John Peterson Myers W. Alton Jones Foundation
Dr. Mary O’Brien Environmental Consultant
Dr. David Ozonoff Boston Univ.
Carolyn Raffensperger Science and Environmental Health Network
Dr. Philip Regal Univ. of Minnesota
Hon. Pamela Resor Massachusetts House of Representatives
Florence Robinson Louisiana Environmental Network
Dr. Ted Schettler Physicians for Social Responsibility
Ted Smith Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
Dr. Klaus-Richard Sperling Alfred-Wegener- Institut, Hamburg
Dr. Sandra Steingraber Author
Diane Takvorian Environmental Health Coalition
Joel Tickner Univ. of Mass., Lowell
Dr. Konrad von Moltke Dartmouth College
Dr. Bo Wahlstrom KEMI (National Chemical Inspectorate), Sweden
Jackie Warledo Indigenous Environmental Network