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#120 -- Precaution For Nuclear Power, 12-Dec-2007

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #120

"Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007.........Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.
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Featured stories in this issue...

120% More Child Leukaemia Near German Nukes
"Given these massive findings at every German nuclear power station
location, a radiation-linked cause is highly likely in every case.
Anyone who now still talks of coincidence is making himself
ridiculous," writes Dr. Angelika Claussen. "The precautionary
principle enshrined in European environment law now demands that the
German nuclear power stations be switched off immediately."
Ethics Is Real Issue Behind Milk-labeling Controversy
Much of modern science is now dedicated to the work of undoing the
problems caused by previous advances. By all means, it makes perfect
sense to employ the "precautionary principle" when research on any
aspect of food production is not conclusive -- in doing so, the
countries of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all 25 members
of the European Union have already banned the use of rBST/rBHG
[Monsanto's growth-enhancing hormone injected into many cows in the
U.S.] in the production of milk.
Legal Appeals Exhausted, So Only Avenue Left Leads To Victoria
People of the Tsawwassen first nation in Canada opposed a proposal
to place huge electric powerlines above their homes. They based their
appeal on the precautionary principle because several studies have
linked childhood leukemia to living near powerlines. Last week
Canada's Supreme Court rejected that precautionary appeal.
Canadian Environmental Protection Act Requires Precaution
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999 endorses the
precautionary principle directly.
The Politics of Chicken Littleism
The whole of contemporary American defense policy is
precautionary. We plan for the worst; believing that on weapons
proliferation, terrorism and military rivals, we are better safe than
sorry. Following President Bush's preemption doctrine, the mere
possibility of danger justifies preventive war and annual defense
spending of over $600 billion -- more than at any point in the Cold
War even if you account for inflation.
Precaution for Obesity in Australia
The guiding principle of public health has always been primary
prevention. Now public health practitioners are beginning to see that
the precautionary principle is another form of primary prevention.

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From: Indymedia (Germany), Dec. 9, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

120% MORE CHILD LEUKAEMIA NEAR GERMAN NUKES

By Diet Simon

A German study has found children under five are at 60% greater risk
of getting cancer and 120% greater risk of getting leukaemia if they
live within five kilometres of a nuclear power station. The case-
control study covers the 16 locations of German nuclear power stations
over a period of 24 years.

It was initiated by the German section of International Physicians for
the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and carried out by the Office
for Radiation Protection (BfS), which reports to the German
environment ministry.

The study shows that the closer children live to a nuke, the more they
are at risk of contracting leukaemia.

Researchers from the University of Mainz found that 37 children living
within a radius of five kilometres from reactors developed leukaemia,
whereas only 17 new cases were to be anticipated on the basis of the
statistical average for the study period from 1980 to 2003.

Consequently, the analysis concludes that 20 additional leukaemia
cases are related to the fact that the children live so close to the
nuclear power plants.

"Our study confirms that in Germany a relationship is observable
between the proximity of the home to the nearest nuclear power plant
at the time of diagnosis and the risk of contracting cancer
(respectively leukaemia) before the child's fifth birthday," the
researchers write.

One member of the expert commission that oversaw the study even
considers the conclusions to be understated. According to him, the
data indicate an increased risk of cancer for children in a radius of
50 kilometres.

It needed lobbying since 2001 by the local IPPNW section and more than
10,000 protest letters from the public authorities and ministries to
get the BfS to commission the study.

The campaign was triggered by a study initiated by the IPPNW and
carried by Dr. Alfred Korblein (Environment Institute Munich), which
found significantly higher child cancer incidence near Bavarian
nuclear power stations.

The BfS commissioned its study of the Mainzer Kinderkrebsregister
(Mainz Child Cancer Register) in 2003.

"Now that the connection between increased cancer and leukaemia rates
and proximity of the residence to the nuclear power station has been
established, the causes of this must be further clarified
immediately," IPPNW says in a media release.

"The population affected at nuclear power station locations must be
examined by suitable screening methods fast and comprehensively."

"Given these massive findings at every German nuclear power station
location, a radiation-linked cause is highly likely in every case.
Anyone who now still talks of coincidence is making himself
ridiculous," writes Dr. med. Angelika Claussen, chair of the German
IPPNW.

"The precautionary principle enshrined in European environment law now
demands that the German nuclear power stations be switched off
immediately."

"The IPPNW demands that the environment ministry now greatly reduce
the obviously too lax upper limits for radioactive emissions from
nuclear power stations. From now on the burden of proof of cause of
illness should no longer have to be borne by parents, but conversely
by the operators of the nuclear installations."

The BfS media release about its study in German: http://www.bf
s.de/en/bfs/presse/aktuell_press/Studie_Kernkraftwerke.html
More
IPPNW background and chronology in German at www.ippnw-ulm.de More
on the topic: www.alfred-koerblein.de www.bfs.de

Contact: Reinhold Thiel, #49 0176-511 64 195 or #49 7346-8407, Dr.
med. Angelika Claussen, IPPNW Chair #49 521-15 22 13, Henrik Paulitz,
IPPNW expert on nuclear energy issues #49 621-3972-668.

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From: Truth About Trade & Technology, Dec. 4, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

ETHICS IS REAL ISSUE BEHIND MILK-LABELING CONTROVERSY

On its face, the recent decision by the state Department of
Agriculture to crack down on what it considers to be false or
misleading claims on dairy product labels might seem to be in
everyone's best interest.

Consumers are protected from misinformation; farmers are protected
from dairy co-ops wishing to dictate how they should farm; and, of
course, the Monsanto Corp. is protected from taking a huge loss on one
of its most controversial products.

As is often the case in situations such as this, however, what's
really being protected is the status quo in an industry that is sorely
in need of progressive change and an infusion of visionary thinking.
The essential question to ask is, "What's really in everyone's best
interest over the long term?"

In our opinion, it is not an example of visionary insight to assert
that anyone involved in the dairy industry will benefit in the long
run by withholding information from members of the public, making it
more difficult for them to discern how their food is being produced.
Effective food labeling will work to reveal, not conceal, the
essential facts of interest to consumers.

But it's important to understand that the entire labeling controversy
is only a sideshow to the real issues involved here, which have more
to do with ethics and the industry-perceived need for the use of
performance-enhancing drugs in livestock production.

The use of artificial growth hormones (rBST or rBGH) is certainly not
the only example of such drugs being used on farms today. In fact, the
majority of antibiotics sold in America are used in livestock
production as growth-promoting agents, not as treatment for disease in
humans or animals as many uninformed, potentially confused consumers
might assume.

What's so wrong if an individual farmer or group of them working
together wishes to advertise, even on a label, the choice made not to
use such drugs at all, or at least not unless clinically indicated?
While we are so busy debating when and how it is proper to put an
absence claim on food labels, when do we get to consider the value of
being completely forthcoming with consumers and letting them make
informed choices?

It is our belief that the agricultural community in Pennsylvania --
and in America -- might be missing the visionary opportunity of a
lifetime to make complete disclosure its primary operating principle.
Why are we even debating the proper labeling of performance-enhancing
drugs used in food production, when the world would beat a path to our
door if we banned them altogether?

The history of science and technology is full of examples where
particular accomplishments have helped to improve life on earth as we
know it.

But much of modern science is now dedicated to the work of undoing the
problems caused by previous advances. By all means, it makes perfect
sense to employ the "precautionary principle" when research on any
aspect of food production is not conclusive -- in doing so, the
countries of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all 25 members
of the European Union have already banned the use of rBST/rBHG in the
production of milk.

Why would we in this country stake the future of our farms on anything
less than production of the highest quality food products possible? We
have an opportunity to recognize not only the responsibility, but the
power we have in the agricultural community to make more careful
choices for the future, and to fully involve our paying customers as
partners in that process, as well.

The food labeling decisions being made on our behalf, whether as
farmers or consumers, are poorly conceived and shortsighted and will
serve only to continue the seemingly unending cycle of dim hopes and
dashed dreams that have characterized family farms in America for the
last half century.

In contrast to this bleak picture, consumers worldwide are waking up
to the promise of more informed choices and an agriculture that works
with nature instead of against it. Let's give them what they want and
deserve, and ensure the future viability of our farms in the process.

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From: The Province (Vancouver, B.C., Canada), Dec. 11, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

LEGAL APPEALS EXHAUSTED, SO ONLY AVENUE LEFT LEADS TO VICTORIA

By Brian Lewis, The Province

For a group of frustrated residents fighting to protect their
Tsawwassen neighbourhood, this is likely the final call to the B.C.
government for a display of common sense.

The battle by the Tsawwassen Residents Against Higher Voltage Lines --
to stop the B.C. Transmission Corp. from building two 230-kilovolt
transmission lines supported by 40-metre steel towers on a four-
kilometre right-of-way over their 150 homes, schools and parks -- is
drawing to a close.

A decision late last week by the Supreme Court of Canada to deny the
residents leave to appeal an earlier B.C. Court of Appeal decision,
which favoured the BCTC, was a serious blow to the residents, who have
now spent almost $400,000 -- raised by nickels and dimes from personal
pockets, donations, garage sales, etc. -- on fighting the provincial
Crown corporation in court.

The Supreme Court gave no reason for its decision, which the resident
group had based on the "precautionary principle."

This is a guideline, used in many countries, which says that when
there's no absolute scientific proof, one way or the other, that
something may be harmful to human health, one should either avoid the
risk or take adequate safeguards.

The residents wanted the senior court to order the B.C. Utilities
Commission to use that principle in applying a decision to the BCTC
application to upgrade its existing lower-voltage lines through
Tsawwassen. The primary concern is that the high-voltage power lines,
which in many cases will run right over residential backyards, will
expose homeowners and their families to electromagnetic fields over
the long term.

For years there have been concerns that electromagnetic fields may
cause serious health problems, including increased incidents of
leukemia, especially among children. However, even though absolute
proof has not been established one way or the other on the impacts of
human exposure, countries such as the U.K. now exercise cautionary
limits when placing high-voltage power lines in populated areas.

But that isn't happening in B.C.

To date, Victoria has stood solidly behind the B.C. Utilities
Commission's 2006 decision to allow the BCTC to build the overhead
line through Tsawwassen, even though the commission did not consider
all other options and based its call only on lower costs. Since then,
research by the resident group has found that horizontal direct
drilling, which is a common technique in the oilpatch, can be used to
lay power lines underground, encased in protective pipelines.

Even Delta South Liberal MLA Val Roddick and the Delta municipal
council back this technology as an obvious solution for Tsawwassen.

And while the horizontal drilling industry itself says the extra costs
are likely less than $10 million, the BCTC counters it'll be an extra
$40 million to make the switch, but I'm told this is a figure that's
purely political, not practical.

I'm also told the option for switching to horizontal direct-drilling
in Tsawwassen now sits on B.C. Energy Minister Richard Neufeld's desk.

Mr. Minister, you have an excellent opportunity to prove that the
"green" policies in your government represent a better environment and
not merely a drive to save dollars, no matter what the consequences to
taxpayers.

Copyright The Vancouver Province 2007

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From: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #120, Dec. 12, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT REQUIRES PRECAUTION

By Peter Montague

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999 endorses the
precautionary principle directly. In the preamble it says,

"Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to implementing the
precautionary principle that, where there are threats of serious or
irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be
used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent
environmental degradation;"

The Act begins with this declaration:

"Declaration

"It is hereby declared that the protection of the environment is
essential to the well-being of Canadians and that the primary purpose
of this Act is to contribute to sustainable development through
pollution prevention."

It goes on to spell out the duties of the government of Canada, as
follows:

"Duties of the Government of Canada

"2. (1) In the administration of this Act, the Government of Canada
shall, having regard to the Constitution and laws of Canada and
subject to subsection (1.1),

"(a) exercise its powers in a manner that protects the environment and
human health, applies the precautionary principle that, where there
are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific
certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective
measures to prevent environmental degradation, and promotes and
reinforces enforceable pollution prevention approaches;

(a.1) take preventive and remedial measures to protect, enhance and
restore the environment;

(b) take the necessity of protecting the environment into account in
making social and economic decisions;

(c) implement an ecosystem approach that considers the unique and
fundamental characteristics of ecosystems;

(d) endeavour to act in cooperation with governments to protect the
environment;

(e) encourage the participation of the people of Canada in the making
of decisions that affect the environment;

(f) facilitate the protection of the environment by the people of
Canada;

(g) establish nationally consistent standards of environmental
quality;

(h) provide information to the people of Canada on the state of the
Canadian environment;

(i) apply knowledge, including traditional aboriginal knowledge,
science and technology, to identify and resolve environmental
problems;

(j) protect the environment, including its biological diversity, and
human health, from the risk of any adverse effects of the use and
release of toxic substances, pollutants and wastes;

(j.1) protect the environment, including its biological diversity, and
human health, by ensuring the safe and effective use of biotechnology;

(k) endeavour to act expeditiously and diligently to assess whether
existing substances or those new to Canada are toxic or capable of
becoming toxic and assess the risk that such substances pose to the
environment and human life and health;

(l) endeavour to act with regard to the intent of intergovernmental
agreements and arrangements entered into for the purpose of achieving
the highest level of environmental quality throughout Canada;

[snip]

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From: Washington Post, Dec. 5, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

THE POLITICS OF CHICKEN LITTLEISM

By Benjamin Friedman, The Cato Institute

Right-wing politicians criticize the environmental movement for its
reliance on the precautionary principle -- the belief that any
possible environmental risk to health and safety should be met with
decisive preventive action, no matter how small the risk or how costly
the response. But for the past several years, hawkish right-wingers
have been operating under their own version of the precautionary
principle -- in this case, that any threat to national security should
be met with preventive action, regardless of cost or the remoteness of
the risk.

This was the logic behind our preventive war in Iraq -- there was a
possibility that the Hussein regime was working on weapons of mass
destruction, that their efforts would yield success, and that Hussein
would then either use the weapons himself or give them to terrorist
groups. Indeed, the whole of contemporary American defense policy is
precautionary. We plan for the worst; believing that on weapons
proliferation, terrorism and military rivals, we are better safe than
sorry.

It is prudent to prepare for dangers. But it is also prudent to
consider the costs of excessive prudence. This holds true for both the
environment and national security.

University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein notes that the
precautionary principle fails to acknowledge that decisions about one
risk cannot be made in a vacuum. Because resources are always limited,
efforts to reduce one risk take resources away from activities meant
to combat other risks, whether through government programs or private
investment. And because of unintended consequences, actions that
address one danger often create new ones.

Consider asbestos. When people first learned that asbestos could cause
respiratory diseases including lung cancer if inhaled or ingested, the
precautionary principle justified a rush to remove the material from
buildings. It later became clear that the removal process creates
greater risk of exposure and the cost of removal is enormous. Because
undisturbed asbestos in building materials poses no health risk (and
greatly reduces fire risk), society is better off leaving asbestos be.

The illogic of the precautionary principle does not mean that states
should not regulate dangers. But decisions about risk should be
evaluated by cost-benefit analysis. That means considering the cost
that preventive action would avert, the likelihood that preventive
action will work, and the action's cost. (Fairness dictates that we
should also consider the distribution of costs and benefits -- do the
costs unfairly fall on one group and the benefits on another.)
Uncertainty clouds this math. But rational decision making attempts to
weigh all relevant risks rather than focusing myopically on one.

Since the Soviet Union's collapse left the United States with no
military peer, the defense establishment has justified itself with
precautionary reasoning. Strategy documents like the Quadrennial
Defense Review claim that the Soviet threat has been replaced by
terrorists, civil wars, rogue states and a hostile China. Following
President Bush's preemption doctrine, the documents argue that the
mere possibility of danger justifies preventive war and annual defense
spending of over $600 billion -- more than at any point in the Cold
War even if you account for inflation. The strategy documents avoid
weighing the risks that their policies confront against the risks that
they create.

Specific policies share this fault. Only precautionary reasoning
justifies spending heavily to protect every U.S. town from terrorism.
Terrorists could strike New Hampshire. But the possibility is so
remote and the utility of the spending is so unclear that the Granite
State's counter-terrorism funds would be better spent elsewhere.

Another example is national policy on prospective employees for U.S.
intelligence agencies. Security agents go to extremes to make sure a
job applicant does not serve a foreign power -- slowing clearances to
a crawl. As a result, intelligence agencies cannot hire the people
they most need -- people who often hail from, or have relatives living
in, foreign hot spots.

In these areas, hawks claim that doves are reckless. Cutting homeland
security funding to New Hampshire leaves Hanover less prepared. A CIA
applicant might be spy. But hawks accept more risk from the dangers
their policies create. The difference between hawks and doves turns on
how they rate competing risks, not a penchant for risk or safety.

Why do we conjure up so many possible monsters to destroy, and then
overspend to confront them? One answer is that our defense policies
are made by politicians and organizations that benefit from
precautionary policies. In American politics today, there are no
powerful doves. In elections, Democrats usually track right on
security issues to shift the political battleground to domestic
issues. Both parties see rewards in preaching danger.

But if politicians do not check these policies, who will? Homeland
security and military organizations exist to protect against
particular threats. They do not weigh the total risk associated with
their activities. Alaska's Office of Homeland Security will not argue
that safety would be better served by reallocating their budget to the
purchase of snowplows. The Air Force will not tell you that no rival
justifies the F-22. Experts in think tanks and academia hoping for
political appointments and grants often follow politicians and defense
organizations' lead. The media, dependant on the government for
stories and driven by the bottom line to alarmism, conveys worst-case
fears.

On the other side, as Congressman Les Aspin once wrote, there is no
other side. No one alarms us about alarmism. Everyone likes lower
taxes, but not enough to organize against defense spending. Only a
scattering of libertarians and anti-war liberals confront a bipartisan
precautionary principle juggernaut.

Enlightenment won't solve the problem; powerful interests that are
hurt by precautionary defense policies will. In most cases, interests
have to be dragged into competition. That requires institutional
mechanisms -- like the Office of Management and Budget -- that pit
risk reducers' budgets against each others, that consider the safety
value, for instance, of a dollar spent on health care against a dollar
spent on defending Taiwan.

No formula tells us how to maximize safety. But skepticism -- toward
both what we are told to fear and the defenses we are sold to confront
it -- is a good start.

==============

The author is a doctoral candidate in political science and member of
the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. His article "The Terrible 'Ifs'" will appear in the winter
issue of the Cato Institute's Regulation Magazine.

Copyright Copyright 2007 The Washington Post Company

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From: ABC News (Sydney, Australia), Dec. 12, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

COMPULSORY CHILD WEIGH-IN NOT ENOUGH: EXPERT

A prominent health economist says the Federal Government's plan to
check the weight of every four-year-old in an effort to curb childhood
obesity is a small step in the right direction.

But Dr Paul Gross, the director of the Institute of Health Economics
and Technology Assessment, says not continuing the weight checks
through until the age of 10 is a big mistake.

Dr Gross says childhood obesity needs to be treated as seriously as
other health problems.

"When we normally have public health problems like tuberculosis or
HIV/AIDS or other things that begin to intrude on us in ways that are
very serious, we take public health measures of being precautionary
and we start to warn people and educate early," he said.

"We use public health measures which take the precautionary principle,
go on the front foot -- let's not fool around with this."

Sports program

Australian Sports Commission head Mark Peters says getting children
active after school is the key to reducing childhood obesity.

Mr Peters has told a child obesity conference in Sydney that the
Commission's national after-school program has grown since it was
introduced two years ago to reach more than 3,000 schools.

Mr Peters says the program is helping to fight childhood obesity and
he hopes it can be expanded to reach more children in future.

We certainly have over 40 per cent of the sites that are in rural and
regional Australia and we have 44 special schools involved in the
program as well," he said.

"We're looking to spread the program, which started as a pilot, to
make sure we're capturing all the different populations in Australia."
Copyright 2007 ABC Privacy Policy

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter offers news, views and practical
examples of the Precautionary Principle, or Foresight Principle, in
action. The Precautionary Principle is a modern way of making
decisions, to minimize harm. Rachel's Precaution Reporter tries to
answer such questions as, Why do we need the precautionary
principle? Who is using precaution? Who is opposing precaution?

We often include attacks on the precautionary principle because we
believe it is essential for advocates of precaution to know what
their adversaries are saying, just as abolitionists in 1830 needed
to know the arguments used by slaveholders.

Rachel's Precaution Reporter is published as often as necessary to
provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

As you come across stories that illustrate the precautionary
principle -- or the need for the precautionary principle --
please Email them to us at rpr@rachel.org.

Editors:
Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

To start your own free Email subscription to Rachel's Precaution
Reporter
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P.O. Box 160, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903
rpr@rachel.org
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
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:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #120 "Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World" Wednesday, December 12, 2007.........Printer-friendly version www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Featured stories in this issue...

120% More Child Leukaemia Near German Nukes
"Given these massive findings at every German nuclear power station
location, a radiation-linked cause is highly likely in every case.
Anyone who now still talks of coincidence is making himself
ridiculous," writes Dr. Angelika Claussen. "The precautionary
principle enshrined in European environment law now demands that the
German nuclear power stations be switched off immediately."
Ethics Is Real Issue Behind Milk-labeling Controversy
Much of modern science is now dedicated to the work of undoing the
problems caused by previous advances. By all means, it makes perfect
sense to employ the "precautionary principle" when research on any
aspect of food production is not conclusive -- in doing so, the
countries of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all 25 members
of the European Union have already banned the use of rBST/rBHG
[Monsanto's growth-enhancing hormone injected into many cows in the
U.S.] in the production of milk.
Legal Appeals Exhausted, So Only Avenue Left Leads To Victoria
People of the Tsawwassen first nation in Canada opposed a proposal
to place huge electric powerlines above their homes. They based their
appeal on the precautionary principle because several studies have
linked childhood leukemia to living near powerlines. Last week
Canada's Supreme Court rejected that precautionary appeal.
Canadian Environmental Protection Act Requires Precaution
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999 endorses the
precautionary principle directly.
The Politics of Chicken Littleism
The whole of contemporary American defense policy is
precautionary. We plan for the worst; believing that on weapons
proliferation, terrorism and military rivals, we are better safe than
sorry. Following President Bush's preemption doctrine, the mere
possibility of danger justifies preventive war and annual defense
spending of over $600 billion -- more than at any point in the Cold
War even if you account for inflation.
Precaution for Obesity in Australia
The guiding principle of public health has always been primary
prevention. Now public health practitioners are beginning to see that
the precautionary principle is another form of primary prevention.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
From: Indymedia (Germany), Dec. 9, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

120% MORE CHILD LEUKAEMIA NEAR GERMAN NUKES

By Diet Simon

A German study has found children under five are at 60% greater risk
of getting cancer and 120% greater risk of getting leukaemia if they
live within five kilometres of a nuclear power station. The case-
control study covers the 16 locations of German nuclear power stations
over a period of 24 years.

It was initiated by the German section of International Physicians for
the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and carried out by the Office
for Radiation Protection (BfS), which reports to the German
environment ministry.

The study shows that the closer children live to a nuke, the more they
are at risk of contracting leukaemia.

Researchers from the University of Mainz found that 37 children living
within a radius of five kilometres from reactors developed leukaemia,
whereas only 17 new cases were to be anticipated on the basis of the
statistical average for the study period from 1980 to 2003.

Consequently, the analysis concludes that 20 additional leukaemia
cases are related to the fact that the children live so close to the
nuclear power plants.

"Our study confirms that in Germany a relationship is observable
between the proximity of the home to the nearest nuclear power plant
at the time of diagnosis and the risk of contracting cancer
(respectively leukaemia) before the child's fifth birthday," the
researchers write.

One member of the expert commission that oversaw the study even
considers the conclusions to be understated. According to him, the
data indicate an increased risk of cancer for children in a radius of
50 kilometres.

It needed lobbying since 2001 by the local IPPNW section and more than
10,000 protest letters from the public authorities and ministries to
get the BfS to commission the study.

The campaign was triggered by a study initiated by the IPPNW and
carried by Dr. Alfred Korblein (Environment Institute Munich), which
found significantly higher child cancer incidence near Bavarian
nuclear power stations.

The BfS commissioned its study of the Mainzer Kinderkrebsregister
(Mainz Child Cancer Register) in 2003.

"Now that the connection between increased cancer and leukaemia rates
and proximity of the residence to the nuclear power station has been
established, the causes of this must be further clarified
immediately," IPPNW says in a media release.

"The population affected at nuclear power station locations must be
examined by suitable screening methods fast and comprehensively."

"Given these massive findings at every German nuclear power station
location, a radiation-linked cause is highly likely in every case.
Anyone who now still talks of coincidence is making himself
ridiculous," writes Dr. med. Angelika Claussen, chair of the German
IPPNW.

"The precautionary principle enshrined in European environment law now
demands that the German nuclear power stations be switched off
immediately."

"The IPPNW demands that the environment ministry now greatly reduce
the obviously too lax upper limits for radioactive emissions from
nuclear power stations. From now on the burden of proof of cause of
illness should no longer have to be borne by parents, but conversely
by the operators of the nuclear installations."

The BfS media release about its study in German: http://www.bf
s.de/en/bfs/presse/aktuell_press/Studie_Kernkraftwerke.html
More
IPPNW background and chronology in German at www.ippnw-ulm.de More
on the topic: www.alfred-koerblein.de www.bfs.de

Contact: Reinhold Thiel, #49 0176-511 64 195 or #49 7346-8407, Dr.
med. Angelika Claussen, IPPNW Chair #49 521-15 22 13, Henrik Paulitz,
IPPNW expert on nuclear energy issues #49 621-3972-668.

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From: Truth About Trade & Technology, Dec. 4, 2007
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ETHICS IS REAL ISSUE BEHIND MILK-LABELING CONTROVERSY

On its face, the recent decision by the state Department of
Agriculture to crack down on what it considers to be false or
misleading claims on dairy product labels might seem to be in
everyone's best interest.

Consumers are protected from misinformation; farmers are protected
from dairy co-ops wishing to dictate how they should farm; and, of
course, the Monsanto Corp. is protected from taking a huge loss on one
of its most controversial products.

As is often the case in situations such as this, however, what's
really being protected is the status quo in an industry that is sorely
in need of progressive change and an infusion of visionary thinking.
The essential question to ask is, "What's really in everyone's best
interest over the long term?"

In our opinion, it is not an example of visionary insight to assert
that anyone involved in the dairy industry will benefit in the long
run by withholding information from members of the public, making it
more difficult for them to discern how their food is being produced.
Effective food labeling will work to reveal, not conceal, the
essential facts of interest to consumers.

But it's important to understand that the entire labeling controversy
is only a sideshow to the real issues involved here, which have more
to do with ethics and the industry-perceived need for the use of
performance-enhancing drugs in livestock production.

The use of artificial growth hormones (rBST or rBGH) is certainly not
the only example of such drugs being used on farms today. In fact, the
majority of antibiotics sold in America are used in livestock
production as growth-promoting agents, not as treatment for disease in
humans or animals as many uninformed, potentially confused consumers
might assume.

What's so wrong if an individual farmer or group of them working
together wishes to advertise, even on a label, the choice made not to
use such drugs at all, or at least not unless clinically indicated?
While we are so busy debating when and how it is proper to put an
absence claim on food labels, when do we get to consider the value of
being completely forthcoming with consumers and letting them make
informed choices?

It is our belief that the agricultural community in Pennsylvania --
and in America -- might be missing the visionary opportunity of a
lifetime to make complete disclosure its primary operating principle.
Why are we even debating the proper labeling of performance-enhancing
drugs used in food production, when the world would beat a path to our
door if we banned them altogether?

The history of science and technology is full of examples where
particular accomplishments have helped to improve life on earth as we
know it.

But much of modern science is now dedicated to the work of undoing the
problems caused by previous advances. By all means, it makes perfect
sense to employ the "precautionary principle" when research on any
aspect of food production is not conclusive -- in doing so, the
countries of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all 25 members
of the European Union have already banned the use of rBST/rBHG in the
production of milk.

Why would we in this country stake the future of our farms on anything
less than production of the highest quality food products possible? We
have an opportunity to recognize not only the responsibility, but the
power we have in the agricultural community to make more careful
choices for the future, and to fully involve our paying customers as
partners in that process, as well.

The food labeling decisions being made on our behalf, whether as
farmers or consumers, are poorly conceived and shortsighted and will
serve only to continue the seemingly unending cycle of dim hopes and
dashed dreams that have characterized family farms in America for the
last half century.

In contrast to this bleak picture, consumers worldwide are waking up
to the promise of more informed choices and an agriculture that works
with nature instead of against it. Let's give them what they want and
deserve, and ensure the future viability of our farms in the process.

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From: The Province (Vancouver, B.C., Canada), Dec. 11, 2007
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LEGAL APPEALS EXHAUSTED, SO ONLY AVENUE LEFT LEADS TO VICTORIA

By Brian Lewis, The Province

For a group of frustrated residents fighting to protect their
Tsawwassen neighbourhood, this is likely the final call to the B.C.
government for a display of common sense.

The battle by the Tsawwassen Residents Against Higher Voltage Lines --
to stop the B.C. Transmission Corp. from building two 230-kilovolt
transmission lines supported by 40-metre steel towers on a four-
kilometre right-of-way over their 150 homes, schools and parks -- is
drawing to a close.

A decision late last week by the Supreme Court of Canada to deny the
residents leave to appeal an earlier B.C. Court of Appeal decision,
which favoured the BCTC, was a serious blow to the residents, who have
now spent almost $400,000 -- raised by nickels and dimes from personal
pockets, donations, garage sales, etc. -- on fighting the provincial
Crown corporation in court.

The Supreme Court gave no reason for its decision, which the resident
group had based on the "precautionary principle."

This is a guideline, used in many countries, which says that when
there's no absolute scientific proof, one way or the other, that
something may be harmful to human health, one should either avoid the
risk or take adequate safeguards.

The residents wanted the senior court to order the B.C. Utilities
Commission to use that principle in applying a decision to the BCTC
application to upgrade its existing lower-voltage lines through
Tsawwassen. The primary concern is that the high-voltage power lines,
which in many cases will run right over residential backyards, will
expose homeowners and their families to electromagnetic fields over
the long term.

For years there have been concerns that electromagnetic fields may
cause serious health problems, including increased incidents of
leukemia, especially among children. However, even though absolute
proof has not been established one way or the other on the impacts of
human exposure, countries such as the U.K. now exercise cautionary
limits when placing high-voltage power lines in populated areas.

But that isn't happening in B.C.

To date, Victoria has stood solidly behind the B.C. Utilities
Commission's 2006 decision to allow the BCTC to build the overhead
line through Tsawwassen, even though the commission did not consider
all other options and based its call only on lower costs. Since then,
research by the resident group has found that horizontal direct
drilling, which is a common technique in the oilpatch, can be used to
lay power lines underground, encased in protective pipelines.

Even Delta South Liberal MLA Val Roddick and the Delta municipal
council back this technology as an obvious solution for Tsawwassen.

And while the horizontal drilling industry itself says the extra costs
are likely less than $10 million, the BCTC counters it'll be an extra
$40 million to make the switch, but I'm told this is a figure that's
purely political, not practical.

I'm also told the option for switching to horizontal direct-drilling
in Tsawwassen now sits on B.C. Energy Minister Richard Neufeld's desk.

Mr. Minister, you have an excellent opportunity to prove that the
"green" policies in your government represent a better environment and
not merely a drive to save dollars, no matter what the consequences to
taxpayers.

Copyright The Vancouver Province 2007

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From: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #120, Dec. 12, 2007
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CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT REQUIRES PRECAUTION

By Peter Montague

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999 endorses the
precautionary principle directly. In the preamble it says,

"Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to implementing the
precautionary principle that, where there are threats of serious or
irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be
used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent
environmental degradation;"

The Act begins with this declaration:

"Declaration

"It is hereby declared that the protection of the environment is
essential to the well-being of Canadians and that the primary purpose
of this Act is to contribute to sustainable development through
pollution prevention."

It goes on to spell out the duties of the government of Canada, as
follows:

"Duties of the Government of Canada

"2. (1) In the administration of this Act, the Government of Canada
shall, having regard to the Constitution and laws of Canada and
subject to subsection (1.1),

"(a) exercise its powers in a manner that protects the environment and
human health, applies the precautionary principle that, where there
are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific
certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective
measures to prevent environmental degradation, and promotes and
reinforces enforceable pollution prevention approaches;

(a.1) take preventive and remedial measures to protect, enhance and
restore the environment;

(b) take the necessity of protecting the environment into account in
making social and economic decisions;

(c) implement an ecosystem approach that considers the unique and
fundamental characteristics of ecosystems;

(d) endeavour to act in cooperation with governments to protect the
environment;

(e) encourage the participation of the people of Canada in the making
of decisions that affect the environment;

(f) facilitate the protection of the environment by the people of
Canada;

(g) establish nationally consistent standards of environmental
quality;

(h) provide information to the people of Canada on the state of the
Canadian environment;

(i) apply knowledge, including traditional aboriginal knowledge,
science and technology, to identify and resolve environmental
problems;

(j) protect the environment, including its biological diversity, and
human health, from the risk of any adverse effects of the use and
release of toxic substances, pollutants and wastes;

(j.1) protect the environment, including its biological diversity, and
human health, by ensuring the safe and effective use of biotechnology;

(k) endeavour to act expeditiously and diligently to assess whether
existing substances or those new to Canada are toxic or capable of
becoming toxic and assess the risk that such substances pose to the
environment and human life and health;

(l) endeavour to act with regard to the intent of intergovernmental
agreements and arrangements entered into for the purpose of achieving
the highest level of environmental quality throughout Canada;

[snip]

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From: Washington Post, Dec. 5, 2007
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THE POLITICS OF CHICKEN LITTLEISM

By Benjamin Friedman, The Cato Institute

Right-wing politicians criticize the environmental movement for its
reliance on the precautionary principle -- the belief that any
possible environmental risk to health and safety should be met with
decisive preventive action, no matter how small the risk or how costly
the response. But for the past several years, hawkish right-wingers
have been operating under their own version of the precautionary
principle -- in this case, that any threat to national security should
be met with preventive action, regardless of cost or the remoteness of
the risk.

This was the logic behind our preventive war in Iraq -- there was a
possibility that the Hussein regime was working on weapons of mass
destruction, that their efforts would yield success, and that Hussein
would then either use the weapons himself or give them to terrorist
groups. Indeed, the whole of contemporary American defense policy is
precautionary. We plan for the worst; believing that on weapons
proliferation, terrorism and military rivals, we are better safe than
sorry.

It is prudent to prepare for dangers. But it is also prudent to
consider the costs of excessive prudence. This holds true for both the
environment and national security.

University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein notes that the
precautionary principle fails to acknowledge that decisions about one
risk cannot be made in a vacuum. Because resources are always limited,
efforts to reduce one risk take resources away from activities meant
to combat other risks, whether through government programs or private
investment. And because of unintended consequences, actions that
address one danger often create new ones.

Consider asbestos. When people first learned that asbestos could cause
respiratory diseases including lung cancer if inhaled or ingested, the
precautionary principle justified a rush to remove the material from
buildings. It later became clear that the removal process creates
greater risk of exposure and the cost of removal is enormous. Because
undisturbed asbestos in building materials poses no health risk (and
greatly reduces fire risk), society is better off leaving asbestos be.

The illogic of the precautionary principle does not mean that states
should not regulate dangers. But decisions about risk should be
evaluated by cost-benefit analysis. That means considering the cost
that preventive action would avert, the likelihood that preventive
action will work, and the action's cost. (Fairness dictates that we
should also consider the distribution of costs and benefits -- do the
costs unfairly fall on one group and the benefits on another.)
Uncertainty clouds this math. But rational decision making attempts to
weigh all relevant risks rather than focusing myopically on one.

Since the Soviet Union's collapse left the United States with no
military peer, the defense establishment has justified itself with
precautionary reasoning. Strategy documents like the Quadrennial
Defense Review claim that the Soviet threat has been replaced by
terrorists, civil wars, rogue states and a hostile China. Following
President Bush's preemption doctrine, the documents argue that the
mere possibility of danger justifies preventive war and annual defense
spending of over $600 billion -- more than at any point in the Cold
War even if you account for inflation. The strategy documents avoid
weighing the risks that their policies confront against the risks that
they create.

Specific policies share this fault. Only precautionary reasoning
justifies spending heavily to protect every U.S. town from terrorism.
Terrorists could strike New Hampshire. But the possibility is so
remote and the utility of the spending is so unclear that the Granite
State's counter-terrorism funds would be better spent elsewhere.

Another example is national policy on prospective employees for U.S.
intelligence agencies. Security agents go to extremes to make sure a
job applicant does not serve a foreign power -- slowing clearances to
a crawl. As a result, intelligence agencies cannot hire the people
they most need -- people who often hail from, or have relatives living
in, foreign hot spots.

In these areas, hawks claim that doves are reckless. Cutting homeland
security funding to New Hampshire leaves Hanover less prepared. A CIA
applicant might be spy. But hawks accept more risk from the dangers
their policies create. The difference between hawks and doves turns on
how they rate competing risks, not a penchant for risk or safety.

Why do we conjure up so many possible monsters to destroy, and then
overspend to confront them? One answer is that our defense policies
are made by politicians and organizations that benefit from
precautionary policies. In American politics today, there are no
powerful doves. In elections, Democrats usually track right on
security issues to shift the political battleground to domestic
issues. Both parties see rewards in preaching danger.

But if politicians do not check these policies, who will? Homeland
security and military organizations exist to protect against
particular threats. They do not weigh the total risk associated with
their activities. Alaska's Office of Homeland Security will not argue
that safety would be better served by reallocating their budget to the
purchase of snowplows. The Air Force will not tell you that no rival
justifies the F-22. Experts in think tanks and academia hoping for
political appointments and grants often follow politicians and defense
organizations' lead. The media, dependant on the government for
stories and driven by the bottom line to alarmism, conveys worst-case
fears.

On the other side, as Congressman Les Aspin once wrote, there is no
other side. No one alarms us about alarmism. Everyone likes lower
taxes, but not enough to organize against defense spending. Only a
scattering of libertarians and anti-war liberals confront a bipartisan
precautionary principle juggernaut.

Enlightenment won't solve the problem; powerful interests that are
hurt by precautionary defense policies will. In most cases, interests
have to be dragged into competition. That requires institutional
mechanisms -- like the Office of Management and Budget -- that pit
risk reducers' budgets against each others, that consider the safety
value, for instance, of a dollar spent on health care against a dollar
spent on defending Taiwan.

No formula tells us how to maximize safety. But skepticism -- toward
both what we are told to fear and the defenses we are sold to confront
it -- is a good start.

==============

The author is a doctoral candidate in political science and member of
the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. His article "The Terrible 'Ifs'" will appear in the winter
issue of the Cato Institute's Regulation Magazine.

Copyright Copyright 2007 The Washington Post Company

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From: ABC News (Sydney, Australia), Dec. 12, 2007
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COMPULSORY CHILD WEIGH-IN NOT ENOUGH: EXPERT

A prominent health economist says the Federal Government's plan to
check the weight of every four-year-old in an effort to curb childhood
obesity is a small step in the right direction.

But Dr Paul Gross, the director of the Institute of Health Economics
and Technology Assessment, says not continuing the weight checks
through until the age of 10 is a big mistake.

Dr Gross says childhood obesity needs to be treated as seriously as
other health problems.

"When we normally have public health problems like tuberculosis or
HIV/AIDS or other things that begin to intrude on us in ways that are
very serious, we take public health measures of being precautionary
and we start to warn people and educate early," he said.

"We use public health measures which take the precautionary principle,
go on the front foot -- let's not fool around with this."

Sports program

Australian Sports Commission head Mark Peters says getting children
active after school is the key to reducing childhood obesity.

Mr Peters has told a child obesity conference in Sydney that the
Commission's national after-school program has grown since it was
introduced two years ago to reach more than 3,000 schools.

Mr Peters says the program is helping to fight childhood obesity and
he hopes it can be expanded to reach more children in future.

We certainly have over 40 per cent of the sites that are in rural and
regional Australia and we have 44 special schools involved in the
program as well," he said.

"We're looking to spread the program, which started as a pilot, to
make sure we're capturing all the different populations in Australia."
Copyright 2007 ABC Privacy Policy

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter offers news, views and practical
examples of the Precautionary Principle, or Foresight Principle, in
action. The Precautionary Principle is a modern way of making
decisions, to minimize harm. Rachel's Precaution Reporter tries to
answer such questions as, Why do we need the precautionary
principle? Who is using precaution? Who is opposing precaution?

We often include attacks on the precautionary principle because we
believe it is essential for advocates of precaution to know what
their adversaries are saying, just as abolitionists in 1830 needed
to know the arguments used by slaveholders.

Rachel's Precaution Reporter is published as often as necessary to
provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

As you come across stories that illustrate the precautionary
principle -- or the need for the precautionary principle --
please Email them to us at rpr@rachel.org.

Editors:
Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org

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