Discussion Papers no. 476

Precautionary perspectives on the environmental risk of GMOs

"The worth of a wildflower"

How much is a wildflower worth? Inspired by "The worth of a songbird" by Funtowicz and Ravetz (1994) we use the value of a wildflower as symbol of the complexity of evaluating environmental qualities and risks. We critically discuss the application of cost-benefit analysis in evaluating environmental impacts of adoption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We argue that cost-benefit analysis should be supplemented with other methods, such as processes for assessing uncertainty, accommodation of scientific disagreements, and integration of stakeholders' interests and perspectives. A more inclusive perspective is to develop precautionary approaches that recognize the multidimensional nature of environmental qualities and risks, such as irreplaceability, irreversibility, uncertainty and complexity. Precautionary approaches can contribute to develop a stronger environmental responsibility within the framework of rational self-interest.

Om publikasjonen


"The worth of a wildflower". Precautionary perspectives on the environmental risk of GMOs


Iulie Aslaksen, Anne Ingeborg Myhr

Serie og -nummer

Discussion Papers no. 476


Statistics Norway


Discussion Papers

Antall sider




Om Discussion Papers

Discussion papers comprise research papers intended for international journals and books. A preprint of a Discussion Paper may be longer and more elaborate than a standard journal article as it may include intermediate calculations, background material etc.