RECIPES | REconciling sCience, Innovation and Precaution through the Engagement of Stakeholders

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 25 January 2019
Last modified on 03 May 2022



From 01/01/2019 to 31/12/2021

RECIPES in a nutshell

The precautionary principle is supposed to prevent environmental and health risks from arising in the first place. It encourages early and forward-looking action to minimise risks, for example in the use of nanotechnologies or pesticides. Critics of the precautionary principle argue, however, that it promotes excessive caution and hinders technological innovation. The project "REconciling sCience, Innovation and Precaution through the Engagement of Stakeholders" (RECIPES) aims to analyse how the precautionary principle is applied in the European Union and improve its future application with recourse to participatory methods. The precautionary principle has been recognised as a general principle in EU law and in various EU regulations and directives.


The development of GMOs, nanotechnology and neonicotinoid insecticides presents opportunities for humans and the environment, but it can also carry risks to human, animal or plant health.

Decisions on their promotion or regulation are often to be taken in situations of uncertainty about these risks. But how do we take sound decisions in situations of scientific uncertainty? How do we decide on new or emerging technologies?

In such situations, the precautionary principle guides decision-makers faced with unacceptable risks, scientific uncertainty and public concerns. As a general principle of EU law, it allows decision-makers to act despite scientific uncertainty.

As the principle is also criticised for hindering technologic innovation, some stakeholders have developed an innovation principle, stressing the importance of taking into account also potential impacts on innovation


The RECIPES project aims to reconcile innovation and precaution by developing tools and guidelines to ensure the precautionary principle is applied while still encouraging innovation. The RECIPES project will work closely with different stakeholders through interviews, workshop and webinars.

To this end, RECIPES will:

  1. Take stock of the application of the precautionary principle at the international, European and national level and describe the emergence of an "innovation principle"
  2. Examine the application of the precautionary principle in eight specific cases
  3. Develop scenarios for the future of the precautionary principle taking into account innovation
  4. Introduce mechanisms for public involvement in scientific and technological decision-making
  5. Create tools and guidelines to the precautionary principle to help policymakers and other stakeholders to govern risks and take into account innovation. 







CASE STUDIES - To fully understand the complexities and the controversies around the application of the precautionary principle, RECIPES conducted 9 case studies.

  • Case study 1: CRISPR-based gene drives
  • Case study 2: Genetically modified organisms
  • Case study 3: Endocrine disruptors
  • Case study 4: Neonicotinoid insecticides
  • Case study 5: Nanotechnologies
  • Case study 6: Glyphosate
  • Case study 7: Financial risks in water infrastructure planning
  • Case study 8: The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare
  • Case study 9: Microplastics in food products and cosmetics 

- a report, a factsheet and a short video for each of the nine cases is available -

Precaution for Responsible Innovation | Guidance on the application of the precautionary principle in the EU

The guidance advises on how to deal responsibly with uncertain risks in the development and implementation of technology in the EU. Target groups of this guidance are primarily EU policy makers, EU agencies, and EU policy support organisations and bodies that are concerned with risk regulation or the governance of science, technology and innovation.

The guidance for future application of the precautionary principle covers the three meta-themes identified in the needs assessment:

  • Participation 
  • Organisation and production of expertise
  • Application Extent of application

In addition to the guidance, the RECIPES team has prepared a policy brief as executive summary. 

The RECIPES consortium is composed of 11 partners, representing all geographical regions of Europe and brings together academic expertise from three leading academic groups in the field of the precautionary principle (Maastricht University, University of Bergen, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), three major European players in Technology Assessment (Rathenau Institute, the Danish Board of Technology, the Austrian Academy of Sciences) and five leading non-profit research institutes (Dialogik, Ecologic Institute, IASS, ARC-FUND, K&I).

  • Maastricht University (UM), The Netherlands
  • Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, University of Bergen, Norway
  • DIALOGIK, Germany
  • Ecologic Institute, Germany
  • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
  • Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam, Germany
  • Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
  • Knowledge and Innovation srls, Italy
  • Rathenau Instituut, The Netherlands
  • The Applied Research and Communications Fund, Bulgaria
  • The Danish Board of Technology Foundation, Denmark

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