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#68 -- REACH -- Fab or Flawed?, 13-Dec-2006

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If your group is interested in working with us to put on a
precautionary principle training in your community during
2007, please send an email to sherri@sehn.org.

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #68

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

Wednesday, December 13, 2006.........Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.
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Table of Contents...

New Mexico Precaution Taskforce Publishes Its Report
The Report of the New Mexico (NM) Precautionary Principle Task
Force, "Incorporating the Precautionary Principle into State
Government," is now available online.
REACH: Barely Alive and in Critical Condition
Europe's long-awaited chemicals-policy law, REACH, survived a
second reading today in the European Parliament. However, as enacted,
REACH has been badly watered down and contains major loopholes,
according to a coalition of European health, environment, consumer and
women's organizations.
EU Passes Sweeping Chemical Reform
Compared to their European counterparts, U.S. activists are more
enthusiastic about REACH, the chemicals-policy law adopted today by
the European Parliament.
Greens: European Parliament Passes Weak Chemicals Policy
The Greens and the European Free Alliance (EFA) immediately derided
the European chemicals policy, REACH, enacted today by the European
Parliament. Green Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas said, "This deal
is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry..."
European Union Approves Sweeping Chemicals Curbs
The Wall Street Journal says, "The tough new law will require
manufacturers and importers to document how some 30,000 chemicals are
used in products from cleaning liquids and plastics to furniture and
electronics. About 1,500 chemicals deemed most dangerous to humans and
animals will be at the heart of a new regulatory battleground for
manufacturers and chemical producers doing business in or with the
EU."
Europeans Pass Chemical Regulation Law
The Houston Chronicle says, "Some dangerous chemicals could be
banned from the European market and about 30,000 substances used in
everyday products ranging from detergents to toys will have to be
registered in a central European Union database under a law approved
Wednesday."

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From: New Mexico Environment and Health Coalition, Oct. 12, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

NEW MEXICO PRECAUTION TASKFORCE PUBLISHES ITS REPORT

By Earl James, Coalition Convenor

The Report of the New Mexico (NM) Precautionary Principle Task Force
"Incorporating the Precautionary Principle into State Government,"
published October 12th, is now available online.

The New Mexico Precautionary Principle Task Force was established by
the NM Departments of Environment and Health after the passage of
legislation put forward by the New Mexico Environment and Health
Coalition and sponsored by NM Representative Antonio Lujan. The
University of New Mexico's Office of the Vice President for Research
and Economic Development provided a Task Force Coordinator.

The New Mexico Environment and Health Coalition provided a
precautionary principle staffer to the Task Force in the person of Ann
McCampbell, MD. Ann conducted extensive research and brought the
perspective and knowledge of an environmenal health physician to the
table.

Participants in the Task Force brought many other perspectives, from
that of the two lead agencies (NM Departments of Environment and
Health) to the NM State Police Office of Public Safety, the NM Organic
Commodities Commission, the Association of Commerce and Industry, the
City of Santa Fe, and many others.

The Report makes 34 specific recommendations in four categories:

* Integrated Pest Management

* Good Health Strategies

* Construction and Renovation

* Indoor Air Quality/Tobacco

Specific State Offices or Agencies are identified as responsible for
implementation.

The NM Environment and Health Coalition will assist with the
development of a strategic implementation plan for the
recommendations, and will initiate a program to bring these
recommendations to local governments around the State.

For more information on the Report or the Task Force, contact Ann
McCampbell, MD at drannmcc@aol.com, or Matt Baca, Task Force
Coordinator, at baca@unm.edu.

Funding from the McCune Charitable Foundation and the Collaborative on
Health and Environment have sustained the Coalition's work and made
its ongoing Precautionary Principle project possible.

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From: Women in Europe for a Common Future, Dec. 13, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

REACH: BARELY ALIVE AND IN CRITICAL CONDITION

Strasbourg, France -- A plenary vote by Members of the European
Parliament has left the new EU chemicals legislation, REACH, alive but
in a critical condition, according to health, environment, consumer
and women's advocacy groups.

'Alive': The legislation, designed to replace rules up to 40 years
old, sets Europe on the first modest step towards a new approach to
chemicals regulation: companies will have to provide safety data for
large volume chemicals that they produce or import into Europe, and
there is a mechanism for the substitution of persistent and
bioaccumulative chemicals if safer alternatives exist. It also allows
the public to request information about the presence of a limited
number of hazardous chemicals in products. In the past, companies
could sell almost any chemical they liked without providing health and
safety information; and hazardous chemicals were only restricted in
response to scandal on a case-by-case basis.

'Not kicking': Major loopholes in REACH will still allow many
chemicals that can cause serious health problems, including cancer,
birth defects and reproductive illnesses, to continue being used in
manufacturing and consumer goods. Further concessions exempt companies
which import and manufacture chemicals in volumes below 10 tonnes a
year -- 60% of chemicals covered by REACH -- from the requirement to
provide any meaningful safety data.

REACH and the new European Chemicals Agency will therefore require
intensive care from policymakers over the coming years to ensure that
they protect the public from highly hazardous chemicals.

Under REACH, many 'high-concern' chemicals will be allowed onto the
market if producers claim that they can 'adequately control' them. The
approach of adequate control -- and safe thresholds -- is premised on
a risky gamble, given the unknown effects of chemicals in combination,
on vulnerable hormone functions, and on the development of children
from the earliest stages of life. Medical associations, consumer
groups and innovative businesses across Europe had called for a
complete substitution requirement in REACH as the minimum necessary
measure against hazardous chemicals.

The loopholes and provisions for self-regulation contained in these
measures leave REACH very vulnerable to further manipulation by the
chemical industry. There is no guarantee, for example, that
information from third parties about safer alternatives to hazardous
chemicals will be considered in every case.

The new EU Chemicals Agency in Helsinki will have to be closely
monitored to ensure that REACH can deliver. Without the necessary
support, hazardous chemicals will continue to contaminate wildlife,
our homes and our bodies, and REACH will prove a failure.

More information.

Contacts:

Mecki Naschke, Policy Officer, Chemical Policies at European
Environmental Bureau (EEB), +49 176 23 500 897

Javier Calvo, Policy Officer at Eurocoop, +32 (0) 2 285 0076

Aleksandra Kordecka, Chemicals Campaigner at Friends of the Earth
Europe, +32 (0) 498 505165

Nadia Haiama, EU Policy Director on Chemicals at Greenpeace European
Unit, +32 (0)476 961 376

Lisette van Vliet, Toxics Policy Advisor at Health & Environment
Alliance (formerly EPHA Environment Network), +32 (0) 2 234 3645

Daniela Rosche, Chemicals Policy Coordinator at WECF (Women in Europe
for a Common Future), +31 6 22 95 00 27

Noemi Cano, WWF DetoX Campaign Communications Manager, +32 (0) 479
610451

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From: Health Care Without Harm, Dec. 13, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

EU PASSES SWEEPING CHEMICAL REFORM

Industry Must Share Health And Safety Data On Thousands Of Chemicals

December 13, 2006 -- After years of heated controversy, including
concerted efforts by top officials of the Bush Administration and the
chemical industry to derail the new law, the European Parliament today
gave final approval to a sweeping reform that will force companies to
gather health and safety data on thousands of chemicals used in
everyday commerce, including those chemicals currently on the market
with no information. Though the legislation was weakened by an
unprecedented lobbying campaign, the core pieces of the legislation
remain intact and represent a major shift in chemicals control.

"The EU has taken a major step toward reforming an outdated chemical
regulatory system that has massively failed in its objective to
protect public health. When one in three people contract cancer in
their lifetime, we need to stop using known and suspected cancer-
causing chemicals in commerce. The same goes for chemicals that are
now accumulating in our children's bodies," said Bev Thorpe, director
of Clean Production Action.

The REACH (for Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of
Chemicals) legislation agreed to today will require chemical companies
to share health and safety information about their chemicals with
downstream users (such as electronics and cosmetics industries) and
the public. A few thousand of the most hazardous chemicals will
require formal authorization providing a stronger incentive to
substitute them with safer alternatives. Some of the most dangerous
chemicals -- such as those that are very persistent and those that
accumulate up the food chain -- will not be allowed if safer
substitutes are available. If substitutes are not available, chemical
makers will be forced to draw up a substitution research and adoption
plan.

"REACH is the world's most ambitious attempt to eliminate the dangers
of untested, unregulated chemicals that are found at work, in our
homes and in our bodies. To protect the health of Americans and the
competitiveness of US companies, we must now overhaul our own laws on
toxic chemicals," said Daryl Ditz, senior policy advisor at the Center
for International Environmental Law.

He said the US is already falling behind in the global shift toward
safer, non-toxic products. As one example, toxic toys containing
phthalates, which are linked to permanent birth defects in the male
reproductive system, were banned years ago in the EU, but are still on
US shelves. The city of San Francisco recently banned phthalate-
containing toys and is now being sued by the chemical industry.

REACH is expected to enter into force in April 2007 and will roll out
in stages over the next eleven or more years. US environmental groups
have listed their demands for chemicals policy reform which is
available at www.louisvillecharter.org. Several states are moving
ahead with chemical policy reform and a bill has been introduced at
the national level as well, the Kids Safe Chemicals Act.

For more information about REACH:

University of Massachusetts, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production
site on REACH: http://www.chemicalspolicy.org/reach.shtml

Statement by the Center for International Environmental law on the
basics of the REACH deal: http://www.ciel.org/Chemicals/Reach_1De
c06.html


For more information about the REACH process visit:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/story_page/064-
1169-345-12- 50-911-20061207STO01168-2006-11-12-2006/default_en.htm


# # #

Contact: Beverley Thorpe, Clean Production Action, +1 514 933 4596,
bev@cleanproduction.org

Daryl Ditz, Ph.D., Center for International Environmental Law, + 1 202
785 8700, dditz@ciel.org

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From: The Greens/EFA In the European Parliament, Dec. 13, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

GREENS: EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PASSES WEAK CHEMICALS POLICY

European Parliament rubberstamps weak chemicals policy deal with no
guarantee of greater protection from hazardous chemicals


The European Parliament today voted to adopt the compromise deal on
the REACH regulation, agreed with Council on 30 November, rejecting
both the Greens' alternative compromise and individual Green
amendments aimed at strengthening the text. Speaking after the vote
Swedish Green and shadow rapporteur, Carl Schlyter said:

"As expected, the EP has rubber-stamped the deal on REACH, bringing to
an end 9 years of discussions on reviewing the EU's chemicals rules.
The rapporteur is toasting the 'success' of the compromise, however it
is far too early to judge if the new regulation will offer much
greater protection to EU citizens from hazardous chemicals.

"One certainty is that the EP failed to ensure mandatory substitution
of substances of high concern in consumer products where a safer
alternative exists. In doing so, the Parliament missed the opportunity
to guarantee better protection from these chemicals, all to protect
short-term profits for the chemicals industry."

UK Green MEP and Environment Committee member Caroline Lucas added:

"This deal is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry,
rewarding it for its intense and underhand lobbying campaign. While
the legislative text has now been agreed, the devil will be in the
detail of the implementation of these rules. We are deeply worried
that the key goal of this legislation -- to offer EU citizens and the
environment sufficient protection from dangerous chemicals -- appears
to have been lost in the haste to agree a compromise.

"Worryingly, while the legislative phase was relatively transparent
except for the final trialogues, the crucial implementation of REACH
promises to be an opaque process in which the chemicals industry will
have enormous influence and will try to weaken REACH further. Given
the deep division between the Commission services responsible, many
more behind-the-scenes fights are looming. It is unacceptable the
Chemicals Agency, which will prepare crucial decisions on these
substances, can be veiled in secrecy. We can only hope that consumers
will make use of their right to get information about substances of
very high concern in everyday products to such an extent that the
retail sector will voluntarily withdraw products containing these
chemicals."

Richard More O' Ferrall,
Press and Communications Officer,
The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament
Tel: Brussels +32 2 2841667 / Strasburg +33 3 88174375
Mobile: +32-477-44-38-42
Fax: 0032 2 2844944
richard.moreoferrall@europarl.europa.eu

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From: Wall Street Journal, Dec. 13, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

EUROPEAN UNION APPROVES SWEEPING CHEMICALS CURBS

Companies Brace for New Restrictions

By Mary Jacoby

BRUSSELS -- The European Union greatly expanded its campaign against
industrial pollutants, with lawmakers approving sweeping restrictions
on chemicals that could upend global manufacturing and supply chains
and saddle thousands of companies with huge costs.

The tough new law will require manufacturers and importers to document
how some 30,000 chemicals are used in products from cleaning liquids
and plastics to furniture and electronics. About 1,500 chemicals
deemed most dangerous to humans and animals will be at the heart of a
new regulatory battleground for manufacturers and chemical producers
doing business in or with the EU -- the world's second-richest
consumer market.

Precise rules underpinning the law will be hashed out over the next
decade, making it hard to gauge the full cost or identify where supply
problems might arise. But the uncertainty alone will complicate
business planning and product development.

"There's mounds of uncertainty," said Eric Karofsky, a senior analyst
with AMR Research in Boston, a manufacturing-consulting firm. Because
it is unclear which substances will pass EU muster, "If you're a
manufacturer, how do you go ahead and plan your business?"

A new agency in Helsinki, Finland, will compile a database of
chemicals and their properties from data industry will be required to
submit over the next decade, with the first phase of the regime
expected to be in place by spring 2007. The most toxic substances
could end up banned.

The direct costs of supplying safety information about a substance
range from €20,000 to €400,000 ($26,528 to $530,560), depending on the
volume of data requirements, according to the Parliament.

Companies on the front line of the issue -- chemicals, electronics and
plastics makers among them -- are bracing for the effect of the
landmark legislation, dubbed Reach for "registration, evaluation and
authorization of chemicals." Many U.S. manufacturers appear to be
counting on being considered so-called downstream users of targeted
chemicals, as opposed to the manufacturers or importers that will be
responsible for the substances' documentation. But how those roles are
defined remains to be seen, and could prove tricky.

German chemical company BASF AG has budgeted "hundreds of millions of
euros" to comply with the law and help its network of suppliers
navigate the new bureaucracy, said Wolfgang Gerhard, BASF senior vice
president for corporate and governmental relations. The company began
two years ago setting up a database to track how thousands of
substances are used in industrial processes, he said.

Finnish cellphone maker Nokia Corp. makes 150 products using 30,000
components and 500,000 direct and indirect suppliers, said Markus
Terho, the company's director of environmental affairs. Nokia would
have to show chemicals are being used safely in each step and switch
to less-toxic alternatives.

Chris Huntley, a spokesman for Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Minn.,
said the latest version of Reach is much improved, but that his
company is concerned about how fast regulators will be able to
register the 1,500 products. He said companies will have just 3.5 years
to complete the process, while Dow understands the EU can register
just 20 to 25 substances a year. "If they can't do it within four
years, you could end up with a system that doesn't provide the
confidence" it will work well, Mr. Huntley said.

He couldn't offer specific estimates of the cost of registering Dow
products, but said it will be similar to BASF's -- in the hundreds of
millions of euros.

Dan Turner, a spokesman for DuPont Co., said the Wilmington, Del.,
company will adopt a "business as usual" attitude for registering
products containing perfluorooctanoic acid, used in the company's
Teflon nonstick products. Studies show PFOA collects in women's breast
milk, and have caused various illnesses in animals, but Mr. Turner
said Dow doesn't believe PFOA is toxic.

Parker Hannifin Corp. of Cleveland, which makes a wide array of items
such as hoses and hydraulic equipment used by thousands of other
manufacturers, hopes that in most cases it will be considered a
"downstream user" and thus avoid dealing directly with the regulatory
hurdles. Rick Taylor, the company's director of environmental
compliance, says one change he anticipates is shifting from directly
importing chemicals into Europe for Parker's plants there -- in which
case Parker would be responsible for certification -- to buying those
chemicals from a supplier that already has dealt with the legal
hurdles.

The big cost for companies like Parker, Mr. Taylor says, is likely to
arise when suppliers suddenly stop selling certain chemicals because
they don't want to deal with registration. That would require Parker
to reformulate a product, which could create a cascade of problems
with its customers.

Uncertainty is widespread among nonchemical companies about what, if
anything, they may have to do. In a survey of 127 global makers of
electronics products released this week by Technology Forecasters of
Alameda, Calif., just 13% said they believe their products would be
affected by Reach, while more than half -- 52% -- said they didn't
know.

Europe has been a leader in imposing rules to get electronics
companies, auto makers and others to clean up their acts. The Reach
initiative comes on the heels of an edict called the Restriction of
the use of certain Hazardous Substances, or RoHS, which took effect in
June. It requires any electronics maker doing business in the EU to
eliminate or sharply curtail six toxic substances, including lead,
cadmium and mercury. In 2005, the EU put into effect a directive
called WEEE -- for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment -- that
required electronics makers to set up recycling and disposal systems
for their gadgets.

The three-year debate over the Reach law was at times emotional and
personal. Environmentalists warned of babies drinking contaminated
breast milk, while a member of the European Commission, the EU's
executive arm, tested her blood and discovered 28 chemicals found in
furniture, carpets and food that are potentially harmful to hormonal
and reproductive systems.

Industry groups argued they already make strong efforts to use
chemicals safely. A program run by the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development in Paris already collects much of the data
the EU law seeks, and covers industries in North America and most of
Europe.

But environmentalists convinced European policy makers those programs
aren't enough. "Hazardous industrial chemicals are widespread in house
dust, rainwater, wildlife, in our own blood and that of unborn
infants," said Justin Wilkes of WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund.

The U.S. has also expressed concern about the law, worried about its
effect on U.S. exports. But EU leaders said the legislation would set
a global standard and called on the U.S. and other nations to adopt
similar restrictions.

The scope of Reach is vast: It will apply to any product made in or
imported into the 480 million-person EU. Given the global nature of
manufacturing and trade, companies large and small around the world
will have to grapple with the rules.

"The costs of compliance are incalculable," said Adrian Harris,
secretary-general of Orgalime, a trade association representing
European electronics, metalworking and mechanical industries.

Under Reach, manufacturers will be required to substitute safer
alternatives to the 1,500 most dangerous chemicals known or suspected
to cause cancer, birth defects and other serious illnesses. Most have
never been subjected to rigorous testing because they were in use
before many countries began passing environmental-protection laws in
the 1980s.

If an alternative doesn't exist, industry would need to fund research
and development to try to find one. But in a compromise reached last
month, regulators will be able to make exceptions for chemicals whose
use in certain instances is considered more beneficial than
detrimental to public health. Environmentalists called that compromise
a giant loophole for the €586 billion ($776 billion) European
chemicals industry.

An additional 140 substances not only considered toxic but that also
linger for a particularly long time in the bodies of humans and
animals face removal from the market. Such substances include flame
retardants and other chemicals used to make carpets and textiles,
electronics, paints and wax, and pots and pans.

It isn't clear how much the legislation will ultimately cost
businesses. "It's huge. Nobody knows," says Steven Russell, a lawyer
with the American Chemistry Council trade group in Washington. Some
idea can be found in RoHS legislation that went into effect in June.
The cost to U.S. electronics makers alone to remove the six substances
from their manufacturing chains will be an estimated $30 billion,
according to AMR's Mr. Karofsky.

-- Timothy Aeppel in Pittsburgh, Jim Carlton in San Francisco, Steve
LeVine in Dallas and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Write to Mary Jacoby at mary.jacoby@wsj.com1

Copyright 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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From: Houston (Tex.) Chronicle, Dec. 13, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

EUROPEANS PASS CHEMICAL REGULATION LAW

By Jan Sliva, Associated Press Writer

Strasbourg, France -- Some dangerous chemicals could be banned from
the European market and about 30,000 substances used in everyday
products ranging from detergents to toys will have to be registered in
a central European Union database under a law approved Wednesday.

The European Parliament passed the law -- one of the most complex and
far-reaching EU regulations ever -- after years of haggling marked by
intense lobbying by the European chemicals industry and by protests
from environmentalists who sought more restraints on the industry.

The law, a compromise balancing health and environmental concerns
against fears that excessive red tape would stifle business, puts the
burden of proof on companies to show that industrial chemicals and
substances used in everyday products are safe.

It is likely to take effect in mid-2007.

"It is a major step forward for public health, workers' safety and
protection of the environment. In the end, we want to get rid of the
most dangerous chemicals while boosting research and development in
Europe," said Italian Socialist Guido Sacconi, who was charged with
steering the legislation through the EU assembly.

Under the rules, producers will have to register the properties of
chemicals with an agency to be set up in Helsinki, Finland, that will
have powers to ban those presenting significant health threats.
Companies will be required to gradually replace the most high-risk
chemicals -- so-called persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic
substances _ where safer alternatives exist. If no alternative exists,
producers will have to submit a plan to develop one.

Because of fears over potential job losses, the parliament scaled back
chemicals-testing requirements in the first reading of the law --
known as REACH, for Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of
Chemicals _ last year. Some 13,000 substances, deemed of high concern,
face automatic testing, but almost all tests were waived for little-
used chemicals of which only 1 to 10 metric tons are produced or
imported into the EU annually.

EU governments further scaled back the law passed Tuesday on second
reading in an effort to reduce costs for the EU's chemicals industry,
worth about $582.9 billion and employing 1.3 million people in 27,000
companies.

The registration process for all of the 30,000 chemicals should be
completed in 11 years. The first stage of the process aims to register
substances that are produced in the largest quantities and the most
harmful ones, such as carcinogens, mutagens and toxins affecting
reproduction.

The direct costs of supplying safety information about a substance
range from $26,500 to $530,000, depending on the volume of data
requirements, according to the parliament.

REACH replaces some 40 directives currently governing the use of
chemicals in the EU. In the past, companies could sell almost any
chemical without being required to provide detailed health and safety
information.

The compromise has been criticized both by industry, which complains
it is too complicated and will burden companies with unnecessary
bureaucracy, and environmentalists, who say it will allow dangerous
chemicals to enter the market through loopholes.

"This deal is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry,
rewarding it for its intense and underhand lobbying campaign. We are
deeply worried that the key goal of this legislation -- to offer EU
citizens and the environment sufficient protection from dangerous
chemicals -- appears to have been lost in the haste to agree a
compromise," said lawmaker Caroline Lucas of Britain's Green Party.

Environmentalists are also worried that under REACH, many high-concern
chemicals will be allowed onto the market if producers can prove they
can adequately control them.

The United States has also expressed concern about the law, worried
about its effect on U.S. exports. But EU leaders said the legislation
would set a global standard and called on the Americans and other
nations to adopt similar restrictions.

"From a global perspective, the safety requirements established by
REACH will be on a completely new level," said Finnish Trade Minister
Mauri Pekkarinen, speaking for the EU presidency.

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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
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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:
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Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org

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To start your own free Email subscription to Rachel's Precaution
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send a blank Email to one of these addresses:

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If your group is interested in working with us to put on a
precautionary principle training in your community during
2007, please send an email to sherri@sehn.org.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #68 "Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World" Wednesday, December 13, 2006.........Printer-friendly version www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Table of Contents...

New Mexico Precaution Taskforce Publishes Its Report
The Report of the New Mexico (NM) Precautionary Principle Task
Force, "Incorporating the Precautionary Principle into State
Government," is now available online.
REACH: Barely Alive and in Critical Condition
Europe's long-awaited chemicals-policy law, REACH, survived a
second reading today in the European Parliament. However, as enacted,
REACH has been badly watered down and contains major loopholes,
according to a coalition of European health, environment, consumer and
women's organizations.
EU Passes Sweeping Chemical Reform
Compared to their European counterparts, U.S. activists are more
enthusiastic about REACH, the chemicals-policy law adopted today by
the European Parliament.
Greens: European Parliament Passes Weak Chemicals Policy
The Greens and the European Free Alliance (EFA) immediately derided
the European chemicals policy, REACH, enacted today by the European
Parliament. Green Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas said, "This deal
is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry..."
European Union Approves Sweeping Chemicals Curbs
The Wall Street Journal says, "The tough new law will require
manufacturers and importers to document how some 30,000 chemicals are
used in products from cleaning liquids and plastics to furniture and
electronics. About 1,500 chemicals deemed most dangerous to humans and
animals will be at the heart of a new regulatory battleground for
manufacturers and chemical producers doing business in or with the
EU."
Europeans Pass Chemical Regulation Law
The Houston Chronicle says, "Some dangerous chemicals could be
banned from the European market and about 30,000 substances used in
everyday products ranging from detergents to toys will have to be
registered in a central European Union database under a law approved
Wednesday."

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From: New Mexico Environment and Health Coalition, Oct. 12, 2006
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NEW MEXICO PRECAUTION TASKFORCE PUBLISHES ITS REPORT

By Earl James, Coalition Convenor

The Report of the New Mexico (NM) Precautionary Principle Task Force
"Incorporating the Precautionary Principle into State Government,"
published October 12th, is now available online.

The New Mexico Precautionary Principle Task Force was established by
the NM Departments of Environment and Health after the passage of
legislation put forward by the New Mexico Environment and Health
Coalition and sponsored by NM Representative Antonio Lujan. The
University of New Mexico's Office of the Vice President for Research
and Economic Development provided a Task Force Coordinator.

The New Mexico Environment and Health Coalition provided a
precautionary principle staffer to the Task Force in the person of Ann
McCampbell, MD. Ann conducted extensive research and brought the
perspective and knowledge of an environmenal health physician to the
table.

Participants in the Task Force brought many other perspectives, from
that of the two lead agencies (NM Departments of Environment and
Health) to the NM State Police Office of Public Safety, the NM Organic
Commodities Commission, the Association of Commerce and Industry, the
City of Santa Fe, and many others.

The Report makes 34 specific recommendations in four categories:

* Integrated Pest Management

* Good Health Strategies

* Construction and Renovation

* Indoor Air Quality/Tobacco

Specific State Offices or Agencies are identified as responsible for
implementation.

The NM Environment and Health Coalition will assist with the
development of a strategic implementation plan for the
recommendations, and will initiate a program to bring these
recommendations to local governments around the State.

For more information on the Report or the Task Force, contact Ann
McCampbell, MD at drannmcc@aol.com, or Matt Baca, Task Force
Coordinator, at baca@unm.edu.

Funding from the McCune Charitable Foundation and the Collaborative on
Health and Environment have sustained the Coalition's work and made
its ongoing Precautionary Principle project possible.

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From: Women in Europe for a Common Future, Dec. 13, 2006
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REACH: BARELY ALIVE AND IN CRITICAL CONDITION

Strasbourg, France -- A plenary vote by Members of the European
Parliament has left the new EU chemicals legislation, REACH, alive but
in a critical condition, according to health, environment, consumer
and women's advocacy groups.

'Alive': The legislation, designed to replace rules up to 40 years
old, sets Europe on the first modest step towards a new approach to
chemicals regulation: companies will have to provide safety data for
large volume chemicals that they produce or import into Europe, and
there is a mechanism for the substitution of persistent and
bioaccumulative chemicals if safer alternatives exist. It also allows
the public to request information about the presence of a limited
number of hazardous chemicals in products. In the past, companies
could sell almost any chemical they liked without providing health and
safety information; and hazardous chemicals were only restricted in
response to scandal on a case-by-case basis.

'Not kicking': Major loopholes in REACH will still allow many
chemicals that can cause serious health problems, including cancer,
birth defects and reproductive illnesses, to continue being used in
manufacturing and consumer goods. Further concessions exempt companies
which import and manufacture chemicals in volumes below 10 tonnes a
year -- 60% of chemicals covered by REACH -- from the requirement to
provide any meaningful safety data.

REACH and the new European Chemicals Agency will therefore require
intensive care from policymakers over the coming years to ensure that
they protect the public from highly hazardous chemicals.

Under REACH, many 'high-concern' chemicals will be allowed onto the
market if producers claim that they can 'adequately control' them. The
approach of adequate control -- and safe thresholds -- is premised on
a risky gamble, given the unknown effects of chemicals in combination,
on vulnerable hormone functions, and on the development of children
from the earliest stages of life. Medical associations, consumer
groups and innovative businesses across Europe had called for a
complete substitution requirement in REACH as the minimum necessary
measure against hazardous chemicals.

The loopholes and provisions for self-regulation contained in these
measures leave REACH very vulnerable to further manipulation by the
chemical industry. There is no guarantee, for example, that
information from third parties about safer alternatives to hazardous
chemicals will be considered in every case.

The new EU Chemicals Agency in Helsinki will have to be closely
monitored to ensure that REACH can deliver. Without the necessary
support, hazardous chemicals will continue to contaminate wildlife,
our homes and our bodies, and REACH will prove a failure.

More information.

Contacts:

Mecki Naschke, Policy Officer, Chemical Policies at European
Environmental Bureau (EEB), +49 176 23 500 897

Javier Calvo, Policy Officer at Eurocoop, +32 (0) 2 285 0076

Aleksandra Kordecka, Chemicals Campaigner at Friends of the Earth
Europe, +32 (0) 498 505165

Nadia Haiama, EU Policy Director on Chemicals at Greenpeace European
Unit, +32 (0)476 961 376

Lisette van Vliet, Toxics Policy Advisor at Health & Environment
Alliance (formerly EPHA Environment Network), +32 (0) 2 234 3645

Daniela Rosche, Chemicals Policy Coordinator at WECF (Women in Europe
for a Common Future), +31 6 22 95 00 27

Noemi Cano, WWF DetoX Campaign Communications Manager, +32 (0) 479
610451

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From: Health Care Without Harm, Dec. 13, 2006
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EU PASSES SWEEPING CHEMICAL REFORM

Industry Must Share Health And Safety Data On Thousands Of Chemicals

December 13, 2006 -- After years of heated controversy, including
concerted efforts by top officials of the Bush Administration and the
chemical industry to derail the new law, the European Parliament today
gave final approval to a sweeping reform that will force companies to
gather health and safety data on thousands of chemicals used in
everyday commerce, including those chemicals currently on the market
with no information. Though the legislation was weakened by an
unprecedented lobbying campaign, the core pieces of the legislation
remain intact and represent a major shift in chemicals control.

"The EU has taken a major step toward reforming an outdated chemical
regulatory system that has massively failed in its objective to
protect public health. When one in three people contract cancer in
their lifetime, we need to stop using known and suspected cancer-
causing chemicals in commerce. The same goes for chemicals that are
now accumulating in our children's bodies," said Bev Thorpe, director
of Clean Production Action.

The REACH (for Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of
Chemicals) legislation agreed to today will require chemical companies
to share health and safety information about their chemicals with
downstream users (such as electronics and cosmetics industries) and
the public. A few thousand of the most hazardous chemicals will
require formal authorization providing a stronger incentive to
substitute them with safer alternatives. Some of the most dangerous
chemicals -- such as those that are very persistent and those that
accumulate up the food chain -- will not be allowed if safer
substitutes are available. If substitutes are not available, chemical
makers will be forced to draw up a substitution research and adoption
plan.

"REACH is the world's most ambitious attempt to eliminate the dangers
of untested, unregulated chemicals that are found at work, in our
homes and in our bodies. To protect the health of Americans and the
competitiveness of US companies, we must now overhaul our own laws on
toxic chemicals," said Daryl Ditz, senior policy advisor at the Center
for International Environmental Law.

He said the US is already falling behind in the global shift toward
safer, non-toxic products. As one example, toxic toys containing
phthalates, which are linked to permanent birth defects in the male
reproductive system, were banned years ago in the EU, but are still on
US shelves. The city of San Francisco recently banned phthalate-
containing toys and is now being sued by the chemical industry.

REACH is expected to enter into force in April 2007 and will roll out
in stages over the next eleven or more years. US environmental groups
have listed their demands for chemicals policy reform which is
available at www.louisvillecharter.org. Several states are moving
ahead with chemical policy reform and a bill has been introduced at
the national level as well, the Kids Safe Chemicals Act.

For more information about REACH:

University of Massachusetts, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production
site on REACH: http://www.chemicalspolicy.org/reach.shtml

Statement by the Center for International Environmental law on the
basics of the REACH deal: http://www.ciel.org/Chemicals/Reach_1De
c06.html


For more information about the REACH process visit:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/story_page/064-
1169-345-12- 50-911-20061207STO01168-2006-11-12-2006/default_en.htm


# # #

Contact: Beverley Thorpe, Clean Production Action, +1 514 933 4596,
bev@cleanproduction.org

Daryl Ditz, Ph.D., Center for International Environmental Law, + 1 202
785 8700, dditz@ciel.org

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From: The Greens/EFA In the European Parliament, Dec. 13, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

GREENS: EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PASSES WEAK CHEMICALS POLICY

European Parliament rubberstamps weak chemicals policy deal with no
guarantee of greater protection from hazardous chemicals


The European Parliament today voted to adopt the compromise deal on
the REACH regulation, agreed with Council on 30 November, rejecting
both the Greens' alternative compromise and individual Green
amendments aimed at strengthening the text. Speaking after the vote
Swedish Green and shadow rapporteur, Carl Schlyter said:

"As expected, the EP has rubber-stamped the deal on REACH, bringing to
an end 9 years of discussions on reviewing the EU's chemicals rules.
The rapporteur is toasting the 'success' of the compromise, however it
is far too early to judge if the new regulation will offer much
greater protection to EU citizens from hazardous chemicals.

"One certainty is that the EP failed to ensure mandatory substitution
of substances of high concern in consumer products where a safer
alternative exists. In doing so, the Parliament missed the opportunity
to guarantee better protection from these chemicals, all to protect
short-term profits for the chemicals industry."

UK Green MEP and Environment Committee member Caroline Lucas added:

"This deal is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry,
rewarding it for its intense and underhand lobbying campaign. While
the legislative text has now been agreed, the devil will be in the
detail of the implementation of these rules. We are deeply worried
that the key goal of this legislation -- to offer EU citizens and the
environment sufficient protection from dangerous chemicals -- appears
to have been lost in the haste to agree a compromise.

"Worryingly, while the legislative phase was relatively transparent
except for the final trialogues, the crucial implementation of REACH
promises to be an opaque process in which the chemicals industry will
have enormous influence and will try to weaken REACH further. Given
the deep division between the Commission services responsible, many
more behind-the-scenes fights are looming. It is unacceptable the
Chemicals Agency, which will prepare crucial decisions on these
substances, can be veiled in secrecy. We can only hope that consumers
will make use of their right to get information about substances of
very high concern in everyday products to such an extent that the
retail sector will voluntarily withdraw products containing these
chemicals."

Richard More O' Ferrall,
Press and Communications Officer,
The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament
Tel: Brussels +32 2 2841667 / Strasburg +33 3 88174375
Mobile: +32-477-44-38-42
Fax: 0032 2 2844944
richard.moreoferrall@europarl.europa.eu

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From: Wall Street Journal, Dec. 13, 2006
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EUROPEAN UNION APPROVES SWEEPING CHEMICALS CURBS

Companies Brace for New Restrictions

By Mary Jacoby

BRUSSELS -- The European Union greatly expanded its campaign against
industrial pollutants, with lawmakers approving sweeping restrictions
on chemicals that could upend global manufacturing and supply chains
and saddle thousands of companies with huge costs.

The tough new law will require manufacturers and importers to document
how some 30,000 chemicals are used in products from cleaning liquids
and plastics to furniture and electronics. About 1,500 chemicals
deemed most dangerous to humans and animals will be at the heart of a
new regulatory battleground for manufacturers and chemical producers
doing business in or with the EU -- the world's second-richest
consumer market.

Precise rules underpinning the law will be hashed out over the next
decade, making it hard to gauge the full cost or identify where supply
problems might arise. But the uncertainty alone will complicate
business planning and product development.

"There's mounds of uncertainty," said Eric Karofsky, a senior analyst
with AMR Research in Boston, a manufacturing-consulting firm. Because
it is unclear which substances will pass EU muster, "If you're a
manufacturer, how do you go ahead and plan your business?"

A new agency in Helsinki, Finland, will compile a database of
chemicals and their properties from data industry will be required to
submit over the next decade, with the first phase of the regime
expected to be in place by spring 2007. The most toxic substances
could end up banned.

The direct costs of supplying safety information about a substance
range from €20,000 to €400,000 ($26,528 to $530,560), depending on the
volume of data requirements, according to the Parliament.

Companies on the front line of the issue -- chemicals, electronics and
plastics makers among them -- are bracing for the effect of the
landmark legislation, dubbed Reach for "registration, evaluation and
authorization of chemicals." Many U.S. manufacturers appear to be
counting on being considered so-called downstream users of targeted
chemicals, as opposed to the manufacturers or importers that will be
responsible for the substances' documentation. But how those roles are
defined remains to be seen, and could prove tricky.

German chemical company BASF AG has budgeted "hundreds of millions of
euros" to comply with the law and help its network of suppliers
navigate the new bureaucracy, said Wolfgang Gerhard, BASF senior vice
president for corporate and governmental relations. The company began
two years ago setting up a database to track how thousands of
substances are used in industrial processes, he said.

Finnish cellphone maker Nokia Corp. makes 150 products using 30,000
components and 500,000 direct and indirect suppliers, said Markus
Terho, the company's director of environmental affairs. Nokia would
have to show chemicals are being used safely in each step and switch
to less-toxic alternatives.

Chris Huntley, a spokesman for Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Minn.,
said the latest version of Reach is much improved, but that his
company is concerned about how fast regulators will be able to
register the 1,500 products. He said companies will have just 3.5 years
to complete the process, while Dow understands the EU can register
just 20 to 25 substances a year. "If they can't do it within four
years, you could end up with a system that doesn't provide the
confidence" it will work well, Mr. Huntley said.

He couldn't offer specific estimates of the cost of registering Dow
products, but said it will be similar to BASF's -- in the hundreds of
millions of euros.

Dan Turner, a spokesman for DuPont Co., said the Wilmington, Del.,
company will adopt a "business as usual" attitude for registering
products containing perfluorooctanoic acid, used in the company's
Teflon nonstick products. Studies show PFOA collects in women's breast
milk, and have caused various illnesses in animals, but Mr. Turner
said Dow doesn't believe PFOA is toxic.

Parker Hannifin Corp. of Cleveland, which makes a wide array of items
such as hoses and hydraulic equipment used by thousands of other
manufacturers, hopes that in most cases it will be considered a
"downstream user" and thus avoid dealing directly with the regulatory
hurdles. Rick Taylor, the company's director of environmental
compliance, says one change he anticipates is shifting from directly
importing chemicals into Europe for Parker's plants there -- in which
case Parker would be responsible for certification -- to buying those
chemicals from a supplier that already has dealt with the legal
hurdles.

The big cost for companies like Parker, Mr. Taylor says, is likely to
arise when suppliers suddenly stop selling certain chemicals because
they don't want to deal with registration. That would require Parker
to reformulate a product, which could create a cascade of problems
with its customers.

Uncertainty is widespread among nonchemical companies about what, if
anything, they may have to do. In a survey of 127 global makers of
electronics products released this week by Technology Forecasters of
Alameda, Calif., just 13% said they believe their products would be
affected by Reach, while more than half -- 52% -- said they didn't
know.

Europe has been a leader in imposing rules to get electronics
companies, auto makers and others to clean up their acts. The Reach
initiative comes on the heels of an edict called the Restriction of
the use of certain Hazardous Substances, or RoHS, which took effect in
June. It requires any electronics maker doing business in the EU to
eliminate or sharply curtail six toxic substances, including lead,
cadmium and mercury. In 2005, the EU put into effect a directive
called WEEE -- for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment -- that
required electronics makers to set up recycling and disposal systems
for their gadgets.

The three-year debate over the Reach law was at times emotional and
personal. Environmentalists warned of babies drinking contaminated
breast milk, while a member of the European Commission, the EU's
executive arm, tested her blood and discovered 28 chemicals found in
furniture, carpets and food that are potentially harmful to hormonal
and reproductive systems.

Industry groups argued they already make strong efforts to use
chemicals safely. A program run by the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development in Paris already collects much of the data
the EU law seeks, and covers industries in North America and most of
Europe.

But environmentalists convinced European policy makers those programs
aren't enough. "Hazardous industrial chemicals are widespread in house
dust, rainwater, wildlife, in our own blood and that of unborn
infants," said Justin Wilkes of WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund.

The U.S. has also expressed concern about the law, worried about its
effect on U.S. exports. But EU leaders said the legislation would set
a global standard and called on the U.S. and other nations to adopt
similar restrictions.

The scope of Reach is vast: It will apply to any product made in or
imported into the 480 million-person EU. Given the global nature of
manufacturing and trade, companies large and small around the world
will have to grapple with the rules.

"The costs of compliance are incalculable," said Adrian Harris,
secretary-general of Orgalime, a trade association representing
European electronics, metalworking and mechanical industries.

Under Reach, manufacturers will be required to substitute safer
alternatives to the 1,500 most dangerous chemicals known or suspected
to cause cancer, birth defects and other serious illnesses. Most have
never been subjected to rigorous testing because they were in use
before many countries began passing environmental-protection laws in
the 1980s.

If an alternative doesn't exist, industry would need to fund research
and development to try to find one. But in a compromise reached last
month, regulators will be able to make exceptions for chemicals whose
use in certain instances is considered more beneficial than
detrimental to public health. Environmentalists called that compromise
a giant loophole for the €586 billion ($776 billion) European
chemicals industry.

An additional 140 substances not only considered toxic but that also
linger for a particularly long time in the bodies of humans and
animals face removal from the market. Such substances include flame
retardants and other chemicals used to make carpets and textiles,
electronics, paints and wax, and pots and pans.

It isn't clear how much the legislation will ultimately cost
businesses. "It's huge. Nobody knows," says Steven Russell, a lawyer
with the American Chemistry Council trade group in Washington. Some
idea can be found in RoHS legislation that went into effect in June.
The cost to U.S. electronics makers alone to remove the six substances
from their manufacturing chains will be an estimated $30 billion,
according to AMR's Mr. Karofsky.

-- Timothy Aeppel in Pittsburgh, Jim Carlton in San Francisco, Steve
LeVine in Dallas and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Write to Mary Jacoby at mary.jacoby@wsj.com1

Copyright 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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From: Houston (Tex.) Chronicle, Dec. 13, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

EUROPEANS PASS CHEMICAL REGULATION LAW

By Jan Sliva, Associated Press Writer

Strasbourg, France -- Some dangerous chemicals could be banned from
the European market and about 30,000 substances used in everyday
products ranging from detergents to toys will have to be registered in
a central European Union database under a law approved Wednesday.

The European Parliament passed the law -- one of the most complex and
far-reaching EU regulations ever -- after years of haggling marked by
intense lobbying by the European chemicals industry and by protests
from environmentalists who sought more restraints on the industry.

The law, a compromise balancing health and environmental concerns
against fears that excessive red tape would stifle business, puts the
burden of proof on companies to show that industrial chemicals and
substances used in everyday products are safe.

It is likely to take effect in mid-2007.

"It is a major step forward for public health, workers' safety and
protection of the environment. In the end, we want to get rid of the
most dangerous chemicals while boosting research and development in
Europe," said Italian Socialist Guido Sacconi, who was charged with
steering the legislation through the EU assembly.

Under the rules, producers will have to register the properties of
chemicals with an agency to be set up in Helsinki, Finland, that will
have powers to ban those presenting significant health threats.
Companies will be required to gradually replace the most high-risk
chemicals -- so-called persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic
substances _ where safer alternatives exist. If no alternative exists,
producers will have to submit a plan to develop one.

Because of fears over potential job losses, the parliament scaled back
chemicals-testing requirements in the first reading of the law --
known as REACH, for Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of
Chemicals _ last year. Some 13,000 substances, deemed of high concern,
face automatic testing, but almost all tests were waived for little-
used chemicals of which only 1 to 10 metric tons are produced or
imported into the EU annually.

EU governments further scaled back the law passed Tuesday on second
reading in an effort to reduce costs for the EU's chemicals industry,
worth about $582.9 billion and employing 1.3 million people in 27,000
companies.

The registration process for all of the 30,000 chemicals should be
completed in 11 years. The first stage of the process aims to register
substances that are produced in the largest quantities and the most
harmful ones, such as carcinogens, mutagens and toxins affecting
reproduction.

The direct costs of supplying safety information about a substance
range from $26,500 to $530,000, depending on the volume of data
requirements, according to the parliament.

REACH replaces some 40 directives currently governing the use of
chemicals in the EU. In the past, companies could sell almost any
chemical without being required to provide detailed health and safety
information.

The compromise has been criticized both by industry, which complains
it is too complicated and will burden companies with unnecessary
bureaucracy, and environmentalists, who say it will allow dangerous
chemicals to enter the market through loopholes.

"This deal is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry,
rewarding it for its intense and underhand lobbying campaign. We are
deeply worried that the key goal of this legislation -- to offer EU
citizens and the environment sufficient protection from dangerous
chemicals -- appears to have been lost in the haste to agree a
compromise," said lawmaker Caroline Lucas of Britain's Green Party.

Environmentalists are also worried that under REACH, many high-concern
chemicals will be allowed onto the market if producers can prove they
can adequately control them.

The United States has also expressed concern about the law, worried
about its effect on U.S. exports. But EU leaders said the legislation
would set a global standard and called on the Americans and other
nations to adopt similar restrictions.

"From a global perspective, the safety requirements established by
REACH will be on a completely new level," said Finnish Trade Minister
Mauri Pekkarinen, speaking for the EU presidency.

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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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To start your own free Email subscription to Rachel's Precaution
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send a blank Email to one of these addresses:

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In response, you will receive an Email asking you to confirm that
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