Environmental science: The hidden costs of flexible fertility

Urgent public debate is needed over a European proposal to regulate environmental levels of the active ingredient in birth-control pills, say Richard Owen and Susan Jobling.

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    & Ethinyl oestradiol: bitter pill for the precautionary principle in: Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution, Innovation (European Environment Agency, in the press).

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    et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 8897–8901 (2007).

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    , & Environ. Health Perspect. 114(S1), 147–151 (2006).

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    European Commission. Communication from the Commission on the Precautionary Principle COM (2000)1 (2000).

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    Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution Report no. 21: Setting Environmental Standards (RCEP, 1998).

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Author information


  1. Richard Owen is chair in responsible innovation at the University of Exeter Business School, Exeter EX4 4PU, UK.

    • Richard Owen
  2. Susan Jobling is chair in environmental toxicology and head of the Institute for the Environment at Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH, UK.

    • Susan Jobling


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Richard Owen.


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