Rachel's Democracy & Health News #853
Thursday, May 4, 2006

From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #853 ..........[This story printer-friendly]
May 4, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: If you've been reading our weekly Precaution Reporter, you know that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently came out against the precautionary principle. There's a good reason for this: a precautionary approach offers a truly conservative alternative to the radical philosophy of "corporate profit at any cost" -- a philosophy that is demonstrably wrecking the planet.]

Peter Montague, co-editor, Rachel's Precaution Reporter

The precautionary principle is not a silver bullet for solving environmental, economic, or social problems. Organized grass-roots action in local communities is still the only reliable engine for civic improvement and social change. However, the precautionary principle can serve as a guide for that community-based activism, and it can provide a framework for an integrated, consistent approach to environmental, economic, and social problems.

What is fundamentally new about the precautionary approach is that it asks not, "How much harm is acceptable?" but instead asks, "How much harm is avoidable?" It invites us to set goals, examine alternative ways of achieving those goals, set benchmarks, check our progress, and engage affected parties in decisions. It asserts an important, even heroic, role for government as guardian of the commons (all the things we own together but none of us own individually, such as air and water), and it offers us all an opportunity to re-energize participatory democracy and continue building a multi-issue social movement grounded in science, ethics, fairness, and public health.

Six reasons why we need a precautionary approach

Reason #1: The global ecosystem has been badly damaged and is undergoing further damage all the time. Every part of the global ecosystem needs to be conserved and preserved, and so a fundamentally conservative approach to the world is appropriate at this time in history. In the recent past, the absence of a precautionary approach has resulted in significant harm to the world and to humans.

Reason #2. The world has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. The world used to appear to be "empty" but now it is "full" -- of humans and their artifacts. You can't do anything anymore without affecting someone else. Given this fact, and given that the global ecosystem needs to be preserved and protected from further damage, humans need a fundamentally conservative philosophy as a guide.

The precautionary principle is a profoundly conservative idea. Precaution is grounded in the desire to maintain and preserve the world that we inherited and will pass on to our children. It leads us to oppose change for the sake of change. It leads us to oppose thoughtless, precipitate action. It invites us to set goals, to envision the world we want and figure out how to achieve it.

The precautionary principle is grounded in both science and ethics. It is fundamentally grounded in the modern philosophy of science, the view that all our scientific knowledge is always contingent and incomplete, subject to revision in the future. But precaution is also grounded in ethical knowledge that is timeless, ancient, transmitted to us by our ancestors, grounded in faith (for some, religious faith, for others faith that love, respect and charity will prevail over indifference and self-centeredness, and, for almost everyone, faith that the golden rule is a steady, reliable guide).

Specifically, the precautionary principle is grounded in ecological science, the understanding of the world as a complex system whose interactions cannot be entirely comprehended, so our understanding will always entail some uncertainty. There are some things that we can never know (and by definition we don't know what it is that we don't know), and so we can never assume that we know or understand everything about any situation. We are always somewhat flying blind, and so it makes sense to navigate thoughtfully and proceed deliberately.

Although the precautionary principle is fundamentally grounded in science, it does not assume that scientific knowledge is the only valid way of knowing about the world. Historical knowledge, local knowledge, spiritual understanding, ethical perspectives of right wrong, cultural perspectives on what is appropriate, community preferences and individual conviction -- all have a place in decisions based on the precautionary approach.

The precautionary principle is conservative because it is grounded in humility. It does not arrogantly assume that we can re-engineer natural systems or social systems with foreseeable outcomes. That is why precaution favors a democratic examination of alternatives. That is also why it favors monitoring results, with periodic review of outcomes in a constant search for better ways ("adaptive management"). And that is why it leads us to prefer decisions that are reversible.

The precautionary principle is conservative in that it assumes we are each responsible for the consequences of our own actions and that, therefore, we have an obligation to try to learn what those consequences might be before we act (via environmental impact assessment, and health impact assessment), and what those consequences have been after we have acted (in other words, systematically monitoring results).

The precautionary principle improves accountability. No doubt you are familiar with the argument that private ownership of land leads to better land-use decisions. By the same logic, people who are going to be directly affected by a decision should, in principle, make a better decision than people who will not be affected. (Internationally this is known as the "principle of subsidiarity" -- decisions should be made by a decision-making body that lies as close as possible to those who will be affected.)

Reason #3: The precautionary principle offers an opportunity to restore confidence in government. It tells us what government is FOR.

The precautionary approach tells us that a major purpose of government (some would argue "the" purpose of government) is to safeguard the commons, all the things we own together and none of us owns individually -- air, water, the human gene pool, all the human knowledge each of us inherits at birth, and more. According to this "public trust doctrine" government has a legal duty to serve as a trustee of the commons (in legalese, the commons is the "trust property"). The trust beneficiary is present and future generations. The government's trust responsibility cannot be alienated, denied, repudiated, given away, or ignored. The trustee has a responsibility to protect the trust property from harm, including harm perpetrated by trust beneficiaries.

The commons form the base for the entire human enterprise, the biological platform that makes all economic activity -- indeed, all life -- possible. Therefore, protecting the commons deserves the benefit of the doubt compared to any particular economic activity.

Reason #4: Government regulation of powerful technologies has not worked out well. The shortcomings of the current regulatory approach come into sharper focus as the world becomes ever more full. Examples of large-scale problems: Global contamination from the petrochemical industry, proliferation of atomic bombs (and radioactive waste) stemming from the nuclear power industry, global warming caused chiefly by the transportation and energy industries, the unfolding threat of global genetic contamination from the biotechnology industry, and soon the most potent technologies of all -- synthetic biology and nanotechnology.

Historically, our approach to innovation has been trial and error. Try something new, then manage the damage. But our technologies are increasingly powerful, and there are more of us using those technologies each passing day, so trial-and-error is now less appropriate than it once may have been. Therefore, prevention is now much more important than it once was.

Quantitative risk assessment (QRA) provides the basis for most modern regulatory activity. Unfortunately, by focusing on the most-exposed individual, quantitative risk assessment has allowed the entire planet to become contaminated with industrial poisons. In addition, there are other serious limitations of quantitative risk assessment as a basis for decision-making. I will mention only four:

1) It is difficult for ordinary people to understand, so it runs counter to the basic decision-making principles of an open society -- transparency and participation in decisions by those who will be affected

2) It cannot realistically or reliably assess the multiple stresses to which we are all exposed more-or-less constantly.

3) The results of a quantitative risk assessment often cannot be reproduced by two groups of risk assessors working with the same set of data -- so risk assessment fails a basic test of science, reproducibility.

4) Politics can enter into risk assessments. As William Ruckelshaus, first administrator of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said in 1984, "We should remember that risk assessment data can be like the captured spy: If you torture it long enough, it will tell you anything you want to know."

Basically, quantitative risk assessment asks "How much harm is acceptable?" or "How much damage can we get away with?" instead of asking, "How much harm can we avoid?"

Quantitative risk assessment may have a role to play in evaluating alternatives (along with environmental impact assessment, life-cycle benefit-cost accounting, health impact assessment, and other evaluative techniques), but this is different from choosing an alternative then relying heavily (or solely) on quantitative risk assessment to justify that choice.

Reason #5: Economic growth has slowed since 1970, and the search for a path to accelerated economic growth is propelling a rush to dangerous new technologies ("the next big thing") -- biotechnology, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, weapons in space, etc.

Furthermore, because of slowed economic growth and the resulting necessity for "belt-tightening", we can no longer afford to clean up more big mistakes. Trial-and-error learning has proven to be prohibitively expensive. For example, the burden of chronic disease, waste land, unsupportable transportation systems and attendant land- uses (suburban sprawl) -- all show that past ways of conducting our lives and our businesses are no longer affordable. As the price of energy rises, repairing past mistakes (and sustaining past lifestyles) will be become even less affordable. (In 2000 the price of a barrel of oil was $10.00; today, six years later it is more than $60.)

Reason #6: A precautionary approach could re energize the environmental movement. In recent years the environmental movement has been struggling to maintain progress toward its goals. The movement has found itself on the defensive. Some even argue that the environmental movement is "dead." Others point out that most people consider their job more important than almost anything else in their lives and the environmental movement has often ignored jobs and economic development. Others say the movement has lost some of its luster partly because it is "against everything."

The precautionary principle gives us something to be FOR and not merely AGAINST.

Precaution is a modern idea whose time has come. The European Union has written precaution into its constitution and is now working out detailed policies to embody the basic premise of precaution: taking action to avert harm before the full extent of the harm can be proven to a scientific certainty.

Precaution offers an opportunity to revitalize the environmental movement by re-establishing the broken link between environmental protection and public health, taking advantage of a shared core focus on prevention. For example, see Kriebel and Tickner, 2001. And see "Health and 'Environmental Health:' Expanding the Movement," in Rachel's News #843.

In 1988 the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) provided a useful definition of public health in its landmark study, The Future of Public Health. The IOM report characterized public health's mission as "fulfilling society's interest in assuring conditions in which people can be healthy."

Another enduring definition of public health was provided in 1920 by C.E.A. Winslow:

"... the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health and efficiency through organized community effort for the sanitation of the environment, the control of communicable infections, the education of the individual in personal hygiene, the organization of medical and nursing services for the early diagnosis and preventive treatment of disease, and for the development of the social machinery to insure everyone a standard of living adequate for the maintenance of health, so organizing these benefits as to enable every citizen to realize his birthright of health and longevity."[1]

In chapter 1 of his text book, "Public Health: What It is and How It Works," Bernard Turnock offers this summary of the core idea of public health:

"If public health professionals were pressed to provide a one word synonym for public health, the most frequent response would probably be prevention." (Turnock, pg. 20)

Turnock notes six unique features of public health. I will mention only five:

1) It is based in a social justice philosophy -- everyone has a right to health services and to health; no one deserves to be burdened with disease.

2) It is inherently a political enterprise.

3) It is inextricably linked with government -- by definition government must play a role in fostering conditions that allow people to become and remain healthy.

4) It is grounded in science (many sciences).

5) Its primary strategy is prevention.

In sum, the public health approach and the precautionary approach share a great deal in common.

When the U.S. got serious about focusing on environmental problems in the late 1960s, President Nixon responded by creating a new federal agency to "protect the environment," U.S. EPA. An important and powerful citizen movement developed to support, extend, and critique the work of that agency. Unfortunately, much of that work and advocacy took place entirely separate from the agencies, methods, practices and goals that had long ago been established to protect and foster public health.

It seems to me that the precautionary principle offers us a sturdy bridge to connect time-honored, long-established public health principles and practices (and infrastructure) with a new generation of community-based activists and governmental guardians of the public trust (the commons) to propel a new social movement to prevent harm and protect our common heritage so that we can pass this world on, undamaged, to future generations.


[1] C.E.A. Winslow, "The Untilled Field of Public health," Modern Medicine Vol. 2 (1920), pgs. 183-191.


From: New York Times (pg. A24) ...........................[This story printer-friendly]
May 2, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Giant corporations are planning to restrict your use of the internet, giving speedy access to those who pay a hefty fee, and slow unreliable access to the rest of us. It's happening in Congress right now. Click here to send a message to your Representative and Senators (you do not need to know their names), saying you oppose corporate control of the internet. If you favor equal access to the internet, speak up now.]

"Net neutrality" is a concept that is still unfamiliar to most Americans, but it keeps the Internet democratic. Cable and telephone companies that provide Internet service are talking about creating a two-tiered Internet, in which Web sites that pay them large fees would get priority over everything else. Opponents of these plans are supporting Net-neutrality legislation, which would require all Web sites to be treated equally. Net neutrality recently suffered a setback in the House, but there is growing hope that the Senate will take up the cause.

One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access, and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.

That would be a financial windfall for Internet service providers, but a disaster for users, who could find their Web browsing influenced by whichever sites paid their service provider the most money. There is a growing movement of Internet users who are pushing for legislation to make this kind of discrimination impossible. It has attracted supporters ranging from MoveOn.org to the Gun Owners of America. Grass-roots political groups like these are rightly concerned that their online speech could be curtailed if Internet service providers were allowed to pick and choose among Web sites.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee defeated a good Net-neutrality amendment last week. But the amendment got more votes than many people expected, suggesting that support for Net neutrality is beginning to take hold in Congress. In the Senate, Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, and Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, are drafting a strong Net-neutrality bill that would prohibit broadband providers from creating a two-tiered Internet. Senators who care about the Internet and Internet users should get behind it.


New York Times (pg. A14) February 20, 2006

Editorial: Tollbooths on the Internet Highway

http://www.precaution.org/lib/06/toolbooths_on_internet_highway. 060220.htm

When you use the Internet today, your browser glides from one Web site to another, accessing all destinations with equal ease. That could change dramatically, however, if Internet service providers are allowed to tilt the playing field, giving preference to sites that pay them extra and penalizing those that don't.

The Senate held hearings last week on "network neutrality," the principle that I.S.P.'s -- the businesses like Verizon or Roadrunner that deliver the Internet to your computer -- should not be able to stack the deck in this way. If the Internet is to remain free, and freely evolving, it is important that neutrality legislation be passed.

In its current form, Internet service operates in the same nondiscriminatory way as phone service. When someone calls your home, the telephone company puts through the call without regard to who is calling. In the same way, Internet service providers let Web sites operated by eBay, CNN or any other company send information to you on an equal footing. But perhaps not for long. It has occurred to the service providers that the Web sites their users visit could be a rich new revenue source. Why not charge eBay a fee for using the Internet connection to conduct its commerce, or ask Google to pay when customers download a video? A Verizon Communications executive recently sent a scare through cyberspace when he said at a telecommunications conference, as The Washington Post reported, that Google "is enjoying a free lunch" that ought to be going to providers like Verizon.

The solution, as far as the I.S.P.'s are concerned, could be what some critics are calling "access tiering," different levels of access for different sites, based on ability and willingness to pay. Giants like Walmart.com could get very fast connections, while little-guy sites might have to settle for the information superhighway equivalent of a one-lane, pothole-strewn road. Since many companies that own I.S.P."s, like Time Warner, are also in the business of selling online content, they could give themselves an unfair advantage over their competition.

If access tiering takes hold, the Internet providers, rather than consumers, could become the driving force in how the Internet evolves. Those corporations' profit-driven choices, rather than users' choices, would determine which sites and methodologies succeed and fail. They also might be able to stifle promising innovations, like Internet telephony, that compete with their own business interests.

Most Americans have little or no choice of broadband I.S.P."s, so they would have few options if those providers shifted away from neutrality. Congress should protect access to the Internet in its current form. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, says he intends to introduce an Internet neutrality bill, which would prohibit I.S.P.'s from favoring content providers that paid them fees, or from giving priority to their own content.

Some I.S.P.'s are phone and cable companies that make large campaign contributions, and are used to getting their way in Washington. But Americans feel strongly about an open and free Internet. Net neutrality is an issue where the public interest can and should trump the special interests.

Copyright 2006 New York Times Company


From: BBC ................................................[This story printer-friendly]
May 2, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Compared to the British, Americans spend twice as much per person on health care, yet they are twice as likely as the Brits to suffer from diabetes, cancer and heart disease, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers say Americans' lousy health stems from financial insecurity and stress, not from poor health care. "It's not just how we treat people when they get ill, but why they get ill in the first place," says Michael Marmot. Thus we learn once again that the "social determinants of health" are extremely important.]

[Introduction: This story also received good coverage, with unique perspectives, from MSNBC and the New York Times. --DHN editors]

Americans aged 55 to 64 are up to twice as likely to suffer from diabetes, lung cancer and high blood pressure as English people of the same age.

The healthiest Americans had similar disease rates to the least healthy English, the Journal of the American Medical Association study found.

The US-UK research found greater links between health and wealth in the US.

The joint team from University College London, the University of London and health research organisation Rand Corporation, chose two groups of comparable white people from large, long-term health surveys in the US and in England.

In total, the study examined data on around 8,000 people in the two countries.

Each group was divided into three socioeconomic groups based on their education and income.

They then compared self-reports of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and lung disease.

The American group reported significantly higher levels of disease than the English.

Rates of diabetes were twice as high among the US group as the English.

One of the study's authors, James Smith of Rand, said: "You don't expect the health of middle-aged people in these two countries to be too different, but we found that the English are a lot healthier than the Americans."

'Medical care'

Those on the lowest incomes in both countries reported most cases of all diseases, except for cancer, and those on the highest incomes the least.

But these health inequalities were more pronounced in the US than they were in England.

The researchers suggested the lack of social programmes in the US, which in the UK help protect those who are sick from loss of income and poverty, could partly help explain why there was a greater link between Americans' wealth and disease.

But the study also found that differences in disease rates between the two nations were not fully explained by lifestyle factors either.

Rates of smoking are similar in the US and England but alcohol consumption is higher in the UK.

'Bad lifestyle'

Obesity is more common in the US and Americans tend to get less exercise, but even when the obesity factor was taken out, the differences persisted.

One of the researchers Professor Sir Michael Marmot, of the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, said people would automatically presume the differences were caused by the variance in healthcare systems.

US healthcare is funded through an insurance system while England's NHS is funded by taxation and is free at the point of use.

But he pointed out that Americans spent almost double per head [per person] on health care than the English do, even though the system was organised in a different way.

He said: "There is more uneven distribution in the US and something like 15% of Americans have no health insurance and (there are) a bigger number who are under-insured."

But this could not fully explain the differences because the richest Americans with access to highest levels of healthcare still had rates of poor health comparable to the worst off in England.

Infant mortality

"We cannot blame either bad lifestyle or inadequate medical care as the main culprits in these socioeconomic differences in health," Marmot said.

"We should look for explanation to the circumstances in which people live and work.

"We have to take a much broader look at social determinants of health in both countries.

"We need to do further research to fill in the jigsaw pieces of the puzzle," he added.

A Department of Health spokeswoman acknowledged health inequalities in England of the kind revealed in the research and said the government was anxious to tackle them.

It aims to reduce health inequalities in life expectancy and infant mortality by 10% and improve health generally.

"Health trainers, targeted initially at the most deprived communities, are one of the many initiatives which will help narrow this gap by supporting people to make healthier choices in their daily lives," she added.


From: Greenpeace International ...........................[This story printer-friendly]
May 2, 2006


Greenpeace report reveals the impact of toxic chemicals on reproductive health

[Rachel's introduction: A new report from the Science Unit of Greenpeace International reveals a pattern of reproductive disorders related to exposure to the toxic chemicals found in many consumer products.]

Amsterdam -- Falling sperm counts, rising infertility and genital abnormalities in babies could all result from exposure to hazardous man-made chemicals used in perfumes, carpets, electronics, clothing and a host of other consumer goods, a Greenpeace report released today has revealed[1].

The report, 'Fragile: Our reproductive health and chemical exposure', collates the findings of a number of peer-reviewed scientific studies of recent years. Together, the studies show for the first time a comprehensive picture of an increase in reproductive health disorders, mirroring the rising presence in our lives of human-created synthetic chemicals.

Sperm counts have fallen by 50% in 50 years, infertility among couples has more than doubled in industrialised countries since the 1960s, while testicular cancer has become increasingly common. The male- female birth ratio has changed dramatically in some areas and birth defects of the reproductive system are increasingly noted in baby boys.

"The growing body of scientific evidence indicating links between exposure to man- made chemicals and damage to our reproductive systems is extremely disturbing. Greenpeace is calling for any chemical that can potentially harm humans in this way to be removed from use wherever a safer alternative is available," said Dr David Santillo of Greenpeace International's Science Unit, one of the report's authors.

Many of the disorders which have been increasing in incidence are thought to originate in the developing stages of the child's life in the womb or shortly after birth. At the same time, tests have shown that exposure to some commonly used chemicals which may affect fertility takes effect almost from the moment a child is conceived. Among the chemicals concerned are alkylphenols, phthalates, brominated flame retardants, organotin compounds, bisphenol-A and artificial musks. However, these chemicals, used as examples in this report, represent only a fraction of the problem. Most chemicals on the market have never been tested for their safety for human health or the environment, yet many are routinely used in products found on supermarket shelves and in our bathroom cabinets.

A law proposed by the European Union, known as REACH[2], currently being discussed, is supposed to allow for much stricter checks and controls on the manufacture and use of chemicals. But an aggressive lobby from certain chemicals producers has been so successful in undermining REACH that the law could ultimately allow substances suspected of harming our hormone system and sexual organs to remain in use.[3]

Greenpeace International Toxics Campaigner, Helen Perivier, said: "Many individuals and couples see their lives and welfare affected by reproductive disorders. The EU cannot close its eyes to this rising problem by weakening the protection that REACH could provide against chemical-induced health problems."

Greenpeace argues that there can be no justification for allowing the continued use of hazardous chemicals that can be passed to developing children and that may harm sexual development.

Governments and Members of the European Parliament will vote on the EU chemicals regulation later this year.

Notes to the editor:

[1] The report Fragile is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/frag ile

[2] REACH: Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals

[3] Fatal Flaws, http://www.greenpeace.org/fatalflawsbrief


From: The Independent (UK) ...............................[This story printer-friendly]
May 1, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: More than 26,000 species have been added to the famous "red list" of animals and plants that face serious threat of extinction. The modern economy, which demands continuous growth, is shredding the biosphere on which all life depends. When will we realize that an economy premised on endless growth is impossible to sustain on a finite planet?]

by Barrie Clement

More than 26,000 species of animals, birds, plants and fish will this week be added to the list of those in serious danger of extinction. Thousands of species including the common hippopotamus are to be added or moved up the so-called "red list" drawn up by The World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The alarming study by the union, one of the most authoritative pictures of world flora and fauna, will make clear that global warming and human activity is responsible.

The report will confirm that the common skate, once abundant around Britain, has been virtually wiped out. The fish is still stocked by some supermarkets and fishmongers, but there is increasing pressure on them to ban it in the same way that cod has been removed from many retailers' shelves.

Sharks, skates and rays are all thought to be vulnerable. Around 20 per cent of sharks are in increasing danger of extinction, the study says. The giant devil ray, similar to a manta ray, is often accidentally caught in nets intended for tuna and other fish.

David Sims, senior research fellow at the Marine Biological Association Laboratory at Plymouth, said that one of the main problems with sharks and rays was that they bore live young so that they reproduce more slowly. "Global fisheries are having a massive effect on population. Some of the nets they use could engulf St Paul's Cathedral," he said.

The new research by the IUCN is the result of two years' work by scientists all over the world and adds to the picture revealed in the union's last report in 2004 which said that 15,589 species faced extinction -- 7,266 animals and 8,323 plants and lichens.

While the latest analysis confirms the plight of the polar bear - because climate change threatens its Arctic habitat -- more surprising was the threat to the common hippo. Researchers at the IUCN found that biggest problem was posed by poachers killing the creatures for the ivory in their teeth.

One of the creatures predicted to die out is the Yangtze river dolphin or Baiji. It is thought that just 30 remain and that the chances of breeding-age pairs meeting is extremely low.

Chris Butler-Stroud of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said that the animal was in effect extinct.

The endangered species in the 2004 report included one- third of amphibians and half of all freshwater turtles. At least 15 species had died out over the previous two decades and another 12 survived only in captivity.

Many more, however, are thought to have become extinct without having been recorded. A conservative approach to declaring species lost means that others, which are not yet formally classed as extinct, have probably died out.

Among 3,330 species newly assessed as threatened in 2004 included the fabulous green sphinx moth, from the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, and the African begonia from Cameroon. Most of the new additions in 2004 were amphibians, joining the red list after the Global Amphibian Assessment that revealed one in three species of frog, toad, newt and salamander were under threat.

The Jambato toad from Ecuador, the golden toad from Costa Rica and the kama'o bird from Hawaii were among the species declared extinct over the past two decades.

Britain had nine critically endangered species -- the category at greatest risk -- including the slender-billed curlew and the sociable lapwing (both rare visitors here) and Spengler's freshwater mussel. Another 49 species are classed as endangered or vulnerable, including the Atlantic cod and the Scottish wildcat.

Between 1.6 million and 1.9 million species are known to science, but the total is usually estimated at between 10 million and 30 million - and many of those described and classified are poorly understood.


From: Be Safe .............................................[This story printer-friendly]
April 29, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: In Baltimore June 9-11, you can join with hundreds of activists to share successful precautionary strategies, tools, and programs. The conference will bring together people working on toxics and nuclear pollution, disease prevention, pesticides, worker safety, and many other issues. See you there!]

Come To The 1st National Conference On Precaution

June 9th -- 11th, 2006, University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD

Join with hundreds of activist groups to share successful precautionary strategies, tools, and programs. The conference will bring together people working on toxics and nuclear pollution, disease prevention, pesticides, worker safety, and many other issues.

Learn about over 50 model local, state, and nationwide precautionary policies. Add practical new tools to your arsenal on messaging, alternative assessments, full-cost accounting and more. Participate in trainings on community organizing, fundraising, advocacy, media outreach, and more. Help build the movement for precautionary action to prevent harm from environmental hazards by registering today!

Go to www.besafenet.com/ppconf.html for Conference agenda and registration form.

Space is limited, so please register soon.

Reserve hotel at discount rate by Friday, May 12th. Register by Friday, May 26th.

The 3 day Conference includes over 35 workshops.

It starts Friday 10:00 AM and ends Sunday 4:00 PM.

For more information, contact ppconference@chej.org or 703-237-2249 ext. 11.


Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment & Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are often considered separately or not at all.

The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy, intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and therefore ruled by the few.

In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who gets to decide?" And, "How DO the few control the many, and what might be done about it?"

Rachel's Democracy and Health News is published as often as necessary to provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

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


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