A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
See PANUPS updates service, for complete information.
March 22nd, 2007
Bhopal hunger strike wins Indian government concessions: After "fourteen days of fasting, 2000 faxes into the Indian state government, 500 phone calls from around the world, solidarity fasts in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington, and major upheaval and organizing in Bhopal, the Indian government yesterday conceded to the demands of the Bhopal survivors for clean water, economic rehabilitation, increased medical care and pay for doctors and other core demands of the Bhopal campaign," writes Gary Cohen of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. To Students for Bhopal, PAN North America Action Center members, and all other people around the world who sent faxes and made phone calls to officials, Pragya, an activist in Bhopal declared: "Thanks to all who sent their prayers and faxes and other good vibes. Bhopal remains not only ground zero of the chemical industry's global wounding, but also ground zero for the fight for people's basic human rights to live in a poison-free environment, to drink water that is free of toxic chemicals, and receive basic medical care for their injuries. See victory report at Bhopal.net
Suppressed research reveals link between GMO's and cancer: A secret Monsanto study of genetically modified (GM) potatoes and rats conducted eight years ago in Russia reveals a scientific link to cancer. Activists from Welsh GM Free Cymru and Greenpeace Wales released the study, conducted by Dr Arpad Pusztai in 1998 at the Institute of Nutrition of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. According to the The Independent (UK), despite vindication of Dr. Pusztai in a Russian court battle with Monsanto, "The institute refused to release the report. Greenpeace and Russian activist groups again took the institute to court, and won a ruling that the report must be released. Irina Ermakova, a consultant for Greenpeace, said she had conducted her own animal feeding experiments with GM materials. 'The GM potatoes were the most dangerous of the feeds used in the trials ... and on the basis of this evidence they cannot be used in the nourishment of people.'" Monsanto's GM "NewLeaf" potatoes, a Bt-engineered variety fed to the rats, caused organ and tissue damage, particularly to their stomachs and intestines. Half of the rats in the study died. Activists from GM Free Cymru are calling for a ban on GM potato trials currently being conducted in the UK. "Ironically," the Welsh group reports, "the NewLeaf GM potato was a failure, and it proved to give poor yields and to be susceptible to disease in European environments. While Monsanto was enthusiastically promoting its GM potatoes in Eastern Europe, it was having second thoughts in the United States and Western Europe, and pulled out of GM potato development in 2002."
DDT "wrong direction" for malaria control in Africa: Dr. Vincent Muwanika, a professor at Uganda University, says that the World Health Organization decision to promote indoor spraying of DDT in Africa puts people and the environment at risk. The Monitor (Kampala) reports, "...according to Dr. Muwanika, the fact that most of the houses in rural Uganda and urban slums are built out of poor and weak materials such as mud, wattle, grass, timber and iron scraps should force the proponents of the WHO decision to think twice. Such structures are very temporary and can hardly stand throughout the period that DDT continues to be active after spraying. It's about time the international community focused on combating malaria, but this [DDT] approach takes us exactly the wrong direction." Scientific studies have shown DDT persists in the soil for years, and links between DDT and miscarriages, failure to breastfeed, developmental delays in children, and cancer have been documented. Read more about harm to people's health from DDT in Africa and around the world.
European Union considers pesticide regulation: After passing the historic REACH (registration, authorization, and evaluation of chemicals) legislation last year, the EU is now focusing on pesticide regulation. New Europe reported, "Sofia Parente of the United Kingdom, representing the Pesticide Action Network [UK], was very upbeat about the European Commission putting forward a legislative package on pesticides, although her organization noted the absence of elements such as firm reduction targets or a clearer pinpointing of the health risks related to pesticides. Her proposals included integrated pest management, the imposition of a tax on such substances to generate funding for national action plans, and the outlawing of practices such as aerial spraying." A representative from the Danish Ministry for the Environment, Lene Gravesen, said "It is possible to cut the use of pesticides by 30 to 40 percent without any substantial economic impact for the sector through the application of best practices," according to the experience of making pesticide policy changes in Denmark.
Congress hears scientists' concerns about EPA's FY 08 budget: Last week, the House Committee on Science and Technology conducted the Environmental Protection Agency Fiscal Year 2008 Research and Development budget hearing. Legislators heard testimony from scientists concerned about proposed elimination of key EPA programs. Natural Resource Defense Council senior scientist Jennifer Sass testified, "EPA is finding itself spiraling into an increasingly weaker scientific state. It has been dealt a decreasing budget for providing scientific infrastructure and resources, despite an increasing need for robust data to support human health and environmental protective policies and regulations.it is increasingly reliant on data supplied by the very industries that it regulates and by paid contractors who often have clients or members from the regulated industries.the data are suspect, and in some cases, the data are selectively biased. To make matters worse, EPA is increasingly unable to provide adequate oversight of industry data submissions or contractor-generated scientific products due to lack of staff and resources."
Activists protest Red Cross/Clorox label approval by EPA: Shortly after announcing its new policy of allowing "cause marketing" on chemical products, the EPA has allowed approval of the Red Cross symbol on products made by Clorox containing hazardous chemicals, through a $1 million cause related marketing deal. Beyond Pesticides has launched a campaign asking state pesticide regulators to prohibit sales of products with the Red Cross labels. "While EPA should ensure severe caution when using pesticides, a label displaying the Red Cross symbol sends a misleading message that will undoubtedly result in greater product misuse because of a failure to heed important product warnings," said Beyond Pesticides executive director Jay Feldman.