Rachel's Precaution Reporter #112
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

From: Seattlest ...........................................[This story printer-friendly]
October 16, 2007


[Rachel's introduction: In her stunning new book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer, Dr. Devra Davis calculates that there have been over 10 million preventable cancer deaths over the past 30 years, due to an obsessive, militaristic focus on "beating" the disease, rather than removing carcinogens from our environment or adopting other preventative measures.]

The first thing to know about Devra Davis is that she's not speaking from the sidelines: she's director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, is an environmental health expert, professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy and Management.

So when she said that the war on cancer has been almost completely wrong-headed, we perked up and listened more intently. Last night at Town Hall she spoke about her new book The Secret History of the War on Cancer. The staggering number she's arrived at is that there have been over 10 million preventable cancer deaths over the past 30 years, due to an obsessive, militaristic focus on "beating" the disease, rather than removing carcinogens from our environment or adopting other preventative measures. Discretion, once again, is the better part of valor.

Davis pointed out that as early as 1936, scientists understood that tobacco, diagnostic and solar radiation, benzene, and hormones caused cancer. She detailed how the Pap smear's introduction was stalled -- for more than a decade after it was known to save lives -- because the medical establishment didn't want non-doctors conducting tests. And then of course there's our long, compromised relationship with tobacco, including "doctors prefer Camels" ads and four-pack-a-day directors of anti-cancer initiatives.

If you missed the talk, you can listen to her NPR interview online. We don't know if she points out in that one, though, that the "war on terror" suffers from the same misguided obsession on proving to terrorists who's Number One! while ignoring the environmental factors that supply them. We also found this article where she takes Bjorn Lomborg, another recent Town Hall visitor, to task at Grist for his faulty grasp of statistics and the precautionary principle.

2003-2007 Gothamist LLC. We use MovableType.


From: New York Times .....................................[This story printer-friendly]
October 17, 2007


[Rachel's introduction: Because it embraces the precautionary principle, "the European Union is gaining the upper hand in regulating the behavior of multinational corporations, and is thus amassing more economic power."]

By Dan Mitchell

If you want to know what's in your food, finding out is easy enough -- just look at the label. Federal law mandates that food producers list ingredients. Not so with makers of cosmetics, and millions of Americans have no idea what they are putting on their skin each day.

That is not the case in Europe, where the European Union has imposed strict limits on the chemicals that manufacturers can use in products ranging from body spray to bug spray.

A result, Mark Schapiro, an investigative journalist, says in his book, "Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power," is not only that American consumers are more at risk than their European counterparts. Besides that, he says, the European Union is also gaining the upper hand in regulating the behavior of multinational corporations, and is thus amassing more economic power.

American consumers assume "that somebody out there is assessing what it is they put on their bodies," he said this week on San Francisco's public radio station KQED (kqed.org/forum). That, he said, is an "illusion."

The book offers various examples of the kinds of chemicals that are allowed by the United States government, but restricted by the European Union. Much of the book is devoted to cosmetics, since, in that business, the regulatory gulf between Europe and the United States is especially wide.

But there are examples in nearly every manufacturing industry. For example, Europe has restricted the use of phthalates -- compounds, often used in toys, that make plastic softer. But the United States has not, even though there is an "enormous body of evidence" that phthalates cause decreased production of testosterone in young boys, Mr. Schapiro said.

Europe "operates according to the precautionary principle," Mr. Schapiro said in an interview with the Center for Investigative Reporting, (centerforinvestigativereporting.org) where he is the editorial director. In the United States, "regulators wait for final scientific 'proof,' an elusive goal that creates what critics call 'paralysis by analysis.'"

The Economist, in an article citing "Exposed," said last month that in Europe, unlike the United States, "corporate innocence is not assumed."


Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company


From: Physics Today ......................................[This story printer-friendly]
October 14, 2007


[Rachel's introduction: In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize this year, the Nobel committee said, in part, "Indications of changes in the earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds."]

The Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice- President Al Gore have won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize: "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"

"I would like to pay tribute to the scientific community, who are the winners of this award," says IPCC Chairman R. K. Pachauri. "The experts and scientists are the backbone of the IPCC and they provide the knowledge, which has contributed to the success of the IPCC... and this will energize the IPCC to do even more in the future."

"Indications of changes in the earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness," says a press release [issued by] the Nobel Prize foundation, "and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds."

"What may be missed in the announcement of this award," says historian Spencer Weart, who has written a book on the history of the science of global warming, "is that only a fraction of the IPCC is the thousands of scientists who work on the main report... There are other reports that the IPCC issues that include practical advice on steps to reduce climate change." Moreover, he adds, "The IPCC reports are formed through consensus, not just by scientists, but also by the representatives of nearly every government in the world. All these groups have agreed, including countries such as China, that that there are economical steps that can be taken to avoid the risk of extreme climate events by 2100."

"In fact," says Weart, "the Nobel Peace Prize committee is behind the curve in relating this year's award to climate change. Recently a group of 3- and 4-star US generals and admirals issued a statement stating that global warming is a strategic threat to the United States. Global warming, along with all environmental degradation, is a threat to world peace. We can confidently assert that there will be more conflicts over resources such as water as the effects of climate change increase. This ties into some new scientific results in the last 10-15 years in which we've discovered that ancient civilizations have collapsed due to the environmental pressure of climate change."

This point is also amplified by the Foundation's press release: "By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world's future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control."

Copyright 2007 by the American Institute of Physics


From: European Commission .................................[This story printer-friendly]
October 17, 2007


[Rachel's introduction: The three main requirements for any effective system to protect the biodiversity of our deep seas are (1) we need more knowledge; (2) we need a truly precautionary approach, to prevent heedless damage from continuing while we acquire that knowledge, and (3) we need appropriate tools that can be implemented quickly and effectively once such habitats have been identified.]

What are vulnerable marine habitats? What do we know about them?

When scientists talk about vulnerable marine habitats in the context of the deep sea, they are referring to structures such as cold-water corals, hydrothermal vents, sea mounts or deep sea sponge beds. Not a great deal is known about such structures, but two things are already clear from the research that has been conducted to date: 1. that they function as concentrators of biodiversity in what are otherwise relatively barren and featureless expanses of sea bed; and 2. that they are extremely vulnerable to rapid and irrecoverable destruction by human activity, including in particular by physical contact with bottom fishing gears. Since such features are formed on a time scale which is closer to geology than to biology, there is no way in which this damage can be made good in the next several hundred years. It is therefore even more vital than with other fragile ecosystems, that we adopt a truly precautionary approach to their protection.

What is a 'destructive fishing practice', and what kind of impact does it have?

These habitats can be damaged by many kinds of human activity. Bottom trawling has been singled out by certain environmentalist groups as symbolic of the wreckless destruction which such deep sea features may be subject to, but it is far from the only hazard. Serious damage can also be caused by gear such as dredges, bottom-set gillnets, bottom- set longlines, pots and traps. And the effects of such fishing practices are aggravated when they are combined with the impact of non-fishing activities, such as hydrocarbon prospection, laying of submarine cables, or waste dumping, to name but a few. Actual damage to deep coral reefs has been documented in the Northeast Atlantic, the West Atlantic, the Tasman Sea and other areas in studies which provide compelling evidence of the gravity of the problem and of the urgent need to take decisive protective action.

What kind of measures can and should be implemented to protect such habitats?

The UN General Assembly, in its Resolution 61/105 of December 2006, called on states to take three kinds of action, both individually, and acting together through the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs):

To introduce a systematic obligation of prior environmental impact assessment for all deep sea fishing activities;

To improve and strengthen research and data collection activities, so as to facilitate the rapid and timely identification of vulnerable marine ecosystems;

To introduce area closures wherever such ecosystems are detected, as well as to impose an obligation on vessels encountering such an ecosystem where none was previously recorded to move on immediately, and to report the location of the habitat they have found without delay to the relevant authorities.

These three kinds of measure meet the three main requirements for any effective system to protect the biodiversity of our deep seas: we need more knowledge; we need a truly precautionary approach, to prevent heedless damage from continuing while we acquire that knowledge, and we need appropriate area-based protection tools that can be implemented quickly and effectively once such habitats have been identified.

The draft regulation proposed by the Commission translates these three recommendations into action for EU vessels fishing in waters for which there is no RFMO or interim arrangement in place. In parallel, the Commission on behalf of the EU will continue to campaign within RFMOs for equivalent rules and measures to be put in place. The interim arrangements adopted this spring, on proposal from the Commission, by the parties to the creation of an RFMO in the South Pacific are a good example of international cooperation to implement the precautionary approach recommended by the UN.

Why does the EU not support a total ban on bottom trawling?

Some parties, including certain states, have called for a blanket ban on bottom trawling throughout the high seas. The Commission, on behalf of the European Union, has consistently argued for a more targeted approach, for two main reasons:

Biodiversity in the deep seas is not evenly distributed, but is concentrated in a number of specific areas, which tend to be those where vulnerable marine ecosystems are found. However, fisheries activities can be and often are profitably pursued outside these areas. For example, fisheries such as those for hake, a very important fishery for the EU, take place at depths of around 200 m on top of the continental shelf where the seabed is generally made of sediments.

Vessels engaging in these fisheries may extend their operations to the shelf edge where they may encounter corals and sponges that are common on the slopes. It makes sense, then, to assess these fishing operations in advance of their being carried out, establish how they move between safer and riskier areas and determine what freedom of movement the vessels should have and what areas they should definitely avoid. However, to ban all bottom fishing in these areas would serve no environmental purpose, and would cause unnecessary and unjustified economic and social damage to the fishing industry. Any fisheries regulation needs to be perceived by stakeholders to be legitimate and proportionate in order for it to work.

A blanket ban on bottom fishing throughout the high seas would only be effective if it could rely on an enforcement system agreed by States.

That possibility exists only within RFMOs. That is why our position has been that the matter needs to be addressed by the RFMOs. The proposal of a blanket ban as it was formulated failed to provide any practical mechanism by which the ban could have been enforced. That made the proposal difficult to support.

However, the Commission does recognise the weakness of the situation in regions of the high seas for which no RFMO is in place. They represent such uncharted territory, that Flag states must commit to managing the fleets that operate in these areas with particular rigour, and ensure transparency among them on what is being done in this respect. The principle of precaution is always crucial in fisheries management, but in this context it is truly the only basis for any possible measure, since data on vulnerable marine ecosystems is so scarce. It is for this reason that the Commission is also proposing an absolute ban on fishing with bottom gear in all areas below 1000 metres. This ban extends a similar measure introduced in the Mediterranean last year by the General Commission for Fisheries in the Mediterranean (GCFM), where it has been widely accepted by stakeholders.

What is the EU doing to prevent such damage to deep sea ecosystems within European waters?

The European Union and its Member States have already declared a number of significant areas closed to some or all types of fishing gear in order to protect vulnerable marine habitats in the European Waters. These areas include the very large areas around the Azores and the Canary Islands which are closed to bottom fishing, and more targeted closures in the North East Atlantic west of Ireland, and in the North Sea to the north of Scotland.

More generally, the European Union already has an instrument which enables it to establish Marine Protected Areas, going substantially beyond fisheries closures, within EU waters, in the form of the Natura 2000 network. This network of protected areas is based on the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive, and provides the highest possible level of environmental protection. Certain fisheries closed areas, such as those closed to the West of Ireland earlier this month, have been identified through the Natura 2000 process, and their application for Natura 2000 status is currently being considered.

Why do we need a Regulation for the South West Atlantic? How many EU vessels presently fish there?

The longstanding dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands has made it impossible to agree on the establishment of a regional management regime for straddling stocks in the south west Atlantic, and it is unlikely that these difficulties can be overcome in the near future.

The EU fleet present in this area operates both within the Falklands Islands Conservation Zone and in the high seas. There are about 20 EC trawlers (flagged to Spain) active in bottom trawl fisheries targeting mainly hakes (Merluccius hubbsi, M. australis) and squid (Illex argentinus, Loligo gahi). In total, the fishery counted about 100 licensed vessels in 2006 including, besides the Spanish fleet, vessels registered in the Falklands and vessels flagged to Korea, China and Chinese Taipei.

A study carried out for the Commission in 2002 reports three main harvesting areas, two of which are in international waters bordering the Argentine EEZ. At these points the seabed falls rather abruptly from 200m to 1000m. This description corresponds to a location where deep water corals and sponges may likely occur on the steep continental slope. Although hakes and squid are harvested mainly on sandy bottoms on the shelf flats, trawls extending beyond the shelf break may be deployed deep and thus threaten to damage any coral reefs they encounter.

How are these fisheries regulated at present?

These fisheries are already subject to national management arrangements imposed by the Flag States of the vessels. In the case of EU vessels, these arrangements include a number of basic requirements stipulated by EU regulations. They are also subject to monitoring, including on-board observers and Vessel Monitoring Systems.

Because the fleet operates both in the Falklands Conservation zone and in the high seas, the vessels involved have licenses delivered by the Falklands Islands Government Fisheries Department. Catch data is collected by the Falkland Islands Government and by the Spanish authorities, and the latter also provide for an on-board observer programme. Research surveys specifically aimed at the identification of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the region have been announced by Spain.

Source : Commission Europeenne (europa.eu.int)


From: San Francisco Bay Area IndyMedia ....................[This story printer-friendly]
October 16, 2007


[Rachel's introduction: "If the Precautionary Principle were exercised no human being would be allowed to live in Public Housing and other sub-standard residential housing -- where crime and other mundane acts for survival are a fact of life."]

By Francisco Da Costa

Injunctions that were first introduced in Southern California where thousands of people get killed and where the environment is totally different from San Francisco -- have never worked. Here in San Francisco our City and County of San Francisco has to be blamed. Now, is the time to voted the City Attorney, the District Attorney, the Mayor -- all Democrats out of office and into oblivion.

Fundamentally, we all know that we must as citizens of San Francisco work hard to make things better in our neighborhoods.

This land belongs to the First People and I welcome those that want to make this their land. In the course of this article -- you will learn about those that should move away and make some other land their home.

We sure do not want those that favor imposing policies that have NOT been whetted with meaningful dialog. We do not favor INJUNCTIONS.

We cannot depend on Mayor Gavin Newsom, Denis Herrera the City Attorney, Kamala Harris the District Attorney to help us in San Francisco.

Our City so called "gangs" -- are not the gangs, you have in other Cities like Los Angeles.

Our groups of folks that have chosen a certain life style were formed mostly because of lack of opportunities. We stay together to protect ourselves from those that are the forces of EVIL. The City Attorney is one of them. He and his cohorts.

People get released from jails after long terms of incarceration and left to fend for themselves.

No one wants to address this situation. No one -- not even those that talk about it but really do not address the situation.

This City with a $6.4 Billion dollar budget is quick to waste millions but cannot give opportunity to its constituents that are released from jails to get fully absorbed into the community.

And, no one takes into consideration those that are released from jails -- where inmates are housed like animals. Then left to fend for themselves -- with little or no skills and no family or other support. Go figure.

Our City of San Francisco has with intent allowed folks mostly of color to live in Public Housing like animals for years.

With intent allowed thousands of units to fall into disrepair with delayed maintenance. Stop kidding the folks that KNOW the TRUTH.

If the Precautionary Principle were exercised no human being would be allowed to live in Public Housing and other sub-standard residential housing -- where crime and other mundane acts for survival are a fact of life.

Our City encourages with INTENT de-population and redlining. Segregation of the worst order.

The City Attorney, the District Attorney, the Mayor, Gavin Newsom - who is a coward can screw around with filthy rich folks -- but cannot think outside the box to help and come out with new fresh ideas to help the poor, the homeless, those that need opportunities and hang around in groups for survival.

We have 5,400 citation linked to truancy and the District Attorney has just awoken and she wants to go after the parents of the children.

There is no talk about children of color exposed to pollution, harmed with chemicals, much of it radiological in nature. Bombarded with heavy metals -- all documented -- well, expose anyone to this stuff and you will create a climate for hostility.

Expose children to this environment and they will NOT go anywhere including SCHOOL. Duh!

This City has cited over 46,687 homeless folks and spent over $7.8 million to incarcerate the homeless. Yes, this City named after Saint Francis Assisi.

Our City jails are packed and a judge just today ruled to release those prisoners with non-violent crimes.

They will be released and they should all go to stay with Kamala Harris, Dennis Herera, and Mayor Gavin Newsom.

We have a City population of about 760,000 and for every 23 constituents we have 1 City Employee. Why do we need so many outsiders working in this City?

We should get rid of those employees making over $100,000 with benefits and living outside this City. Cut the number by fifty percent.

Give the money to the City Neighborhoods for opportunities. Cut the City Attorney's Office by half and get the office to work on Quality of Life issues -- mostly linked to corruption of White Collar Crime, Pollution, and graft committed by politicians -- one of them Sophie Maxwell.

City Attorney takes on Pacific Gas and Electricity and loses every time. Millions of dollars down the drain.

Cut the City Attorney and District Attorney's salary to $100,000. If you do not like it -- get away and seek office as a Dog Catcher some where else. We do not want jack asses that do not serve the constituents of San Francisco.

We have folks that are now teaching this screwed by City how to make programs and projects work.

The best Community Based Organizations do not take any money from the City and County of San Francisco.

HOMEYS do not take money from the City and County of San Francisco, Environmental Justice Advocacy does not take money from this Racist City, so does South East Sector Community Development Corporation.

There are others -- but I will not mention them because they will be targeted . We, who I have named -- cannot be targeted because we will fight back and give the suckers -- a piece of their own medication. My organization is one of them -- I have named.

It is time for those of us that are targeted to unite. In unity is strength.

The District Attorney's office, the City Attorney's Office, the Mayor's Office and his cronies waste millions to safe guard the policy and help the filthy rich. The likes of Shorestein, the Fishers, the Blums, Pelosis -- others who work for Cartels linked with blood money in foreign countries.

This City is Racist and now those in the Mission fully understand what we went through when the stupid injunction was imposed on the folks living in the Oakdale Projects.

I go to Oakdale and have been going there and there was no need to - impose the INJUNCTION.


So, where is Lenore Anderson the Director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice? Not a word about this woman -- who is now working for the Mayor of Oakland -- Ron Dellum as his Safety Director!

So, why so many deaths, killings and shootings. One of them today at 47th Avenue by the Ocean Beach? Any Mission Group involved with this fiasco of sorts?

Idiots, who run this City -- have no clue about giving folks opportunities. They know -- how to waste millions.

Let us look at CityBuild -- they bring this Black Woman from Oregon - you know the place where it rains most of the time -- humid as hell - to San Francisco.

The Mayor Office of Economic Development and Work Force waste $41 million dollars with the CityBuild Program. Some five hundred folks or so get placed -- fewer still have NO long term jobs.

Here you have an example of one of the worst type of programs without a business plan.

If you gave some of our groups $41 million they would run this City without a Police Force.

These jack asses wearing suits, making these polices, and smoking white stuff with straws at night would find no place to play the games they do -- during the day mostly and some at night.

In Room 200 at City Hall -- all sorts of hanky panky goes on.

We have asked for a video of what happens there -- who goes in and out and we know a strange type of vibration has been monitored and we know the times and dates -- but we want the video to see if our readings and that of video are in sync.

We believe in Empirical Data -- with vibrations and other sorts of data that leads us to make sound conclusions -- unlike that of the City Attorney and the District Attorney. Scum bags.

The Oakdale Area in the Bayview and the Mission Area are where good folks live -- decent folks that work hard and protect their people. These areas too have lack of good opportunities -- found at Pacific Heights, Potrero Hill, by the Cliff House, and so on.

Here comes those that have failed. Our SF Police Department is Dysfunctional. Ask the better cops and they will tell you.

Our District Attorney waits until there are over 5400 citations linked to TRUANCY to jump on the parents. What the freaking hell is happening here?

Over 46,687 citations given to the homeless. Ask Sister Berney how she feels about this?

We must not allow these scum bags to take control of Our City.

I represent the First People of this City the Muwekma Ohlone. This City was stolen from the First People -- we know better who is on the side of the real people and the corrupt I have named.

The First People were killed. Up until 1924 you could kill an Ohlone and fetch $5 for the scalp no questions asked. The land was stolen by the corrupt.

Nothing much has changed, but joining the already corrupt -- a Latino and a Black have forgotten their roots and have sold their souls to become EVIL.

Over 10,000 families have left San Francisco because of the City's failed policies.

The rest of us that are here have to follow the rules of Injunctions and lack of opportunities.

Well, as I said -- time to unite and stay together and fight the forces of EVIL.

The same forces attacked us when we collected 33,200 signatures against the SF Redevelopment Agency. Dennis Herrera and Mayor Gavin Newsom. The matter is in court and we will win. We are winning against Lennar BVHP LLC and want them out of our community -- now.

We must attend meetings and speak up at City Hall -- expose the skunks for what they are.

The City Attorney has no business plan with a meaningful dialog with the community.

The District Attorney has no business plan with meaningful dialog with the community. Every time she opens her mouth she firmly puts her foot inside.

The Mayor is busy with extra curricula activities -- screwing his best friend's wife.

Now, you known what would happen to the sucker -- if he belonged to a group in the Mission that has better trust among close friends.

Well, we cannot stay idle -- there is work to be done -- and test the waters that we can move faster then these scum bags.

We must think and use our POWER to defeat the EVIL forces.

This is San Francisco and we must not cow down to these gutless jerks.

Francisco Da Costa Spokesman Muwekma Ohlone Tribe

Copyright 2000-2007 San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center f


From: The Age (Melbourne, Australia) ......................[This story printer-friendly]
October 15, 2007


[Rachel's introduction: "The precautionary principle applies, as persistent toxics should always be prevented if there is an alternative," he said. "Why did it not consider a chlorine-free process?"]

By James Button

Australian Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull says environmental standards at the Gunns' Tasmanian pulp mill will be the world's best, but some specialist observers of the cutting-edge Swedish pulp and paper industry doubt his claim.

Two years ago, three Swedish pulp and paper mills found small traces of dioxin in production. Dioxin is the world's most toxic chemical, potentially deadly to fish and carcinogenic to humans, and produced from bleaching processes that contain chlorine.

The industry moved fast to adopt remedies. "It is unacceptable for us to have dioxins at pulp and paper mills," environmental director of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation Christina Molde Wiklund said.

She exaggerated slightly. All mills that use chlorine dioxide to bleach pulp produce small amounts of dioxin. The issue is what level is safe. Australia's chief scientist has judged the Gunns' mill to be safe.

But the Government's ruling on how much dioxin discharge it will allow before remedial action must be taken raises questions on standards.

Mr Turnbull has ruled the mill can produce up to two picograms a litre of effluent water before it must take action, and 3.4 picograms a litre before it must be shut down.

Tasmanian officials sent the figures for comment to Erik Nystrom, a specialist in pulp and paper production at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr Nystrom replied that the dioxin level that would trigger closure of the mill equalled the amount of dioxin emitted in a year by the whole Swedish bleached pulp and paper industry, which produced about seven times more bleached pulp than Gunns would produce.

"I cannot understand how it would be possible to get to that level with modern (pulp) processing. Why they have set their levels at this level I don't know. Any Swedish mill that saw such levels would be alarmed and act immediately," he said.

Sweden does not set acceptable dioxin levels, in part because, as the 2005 case suggests, it seeks to eliminate all but the smallest amounts.

Mr Nystrom does not criticise the use of chlorine dioxide, which the EPA and other regulators see as no more environmentally damaging than chlorine-free production.

The world pulp industry vigorously agrees, arguing that pulp made using chlorine dioxide is environmentally sound, cheaper and makes better paper than totally chlorine-free pulp.

But Rune Eriksson, a longtime forestry consultant who has worked for Greenpeace and the WWF, read the chief scientist's report on the Gunns' mill for The Age. He said the mill's standards on permitted levels of nitrogen and phosphorous were middle of the range and not world-class.

He said there was no safe level of dioxin.

Dr Alain Rajotte, a French-Canadian environmental consultant who worked for the OECD and wrote a PhD on Sweden's pulp industry, shares the concern.

"The precautionary principle applies, as persistent toxics should always be prevented if there is an alternative," he said. "Why did it not consider a chlorine-free process?"

If dioxin is the pulp industry demon, such awareness is only 20 years old.

Until the 1970s, pulp was one of the world's most polluting industries, Dr Rajotte said. But within five years of the discovery of a link between chlorine bleaching and dioxins in the late 1980s, the process was all but eliminated in Europe.

The big polluter, chlorine, has gone. Today, the environmental calibrations were finer, Dr Rajotte said. But he was concerned about the long-term exposure of marine life to even small amounts of dioxin. What was the level of risk one was willing to take for the sake of economic development?


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.

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


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