Rachel's Precaution Reporter #46

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2006.............Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.

Table of Contents...

Precaution and the Seventh Generation Principle
  In the U.S., the precautionary principle no longer stands alone. It
  is now part of a cluster of ideas that, together, form a new
  philosophy for protecting the natural environment and human
  communities. Some of the other ideas include the public trust
  doctrine, protecting the commons, and most recently the principle
  of Seventh Generation Guardianship.
Clifton, N.J., Takes Precautionary Action, Bans Pesticides in Parks
  The New Jersey Environmental Federation, a statewide coalition, is
  pressing municipal and county governments to minimize (or abandon
  entirely) the use of chemical pesticides in public parks. It's
California's New Precautionary Cosmetics Law
  "Although the new act applies only in California, its effects are
  likely to reverberate nationwide. Consumer advocates predict that
  manufacturers seeking to avoid negative publicity will remove, rather
  than report, suspect ingredients."


From: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #46, Jul. 12, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]


By Peter Montague

In the U.S., the precautionary principle no longer stands alone. It is
now part of a cluster of ideas that, together, form a new (and
evolving) philosophy for protecting the natural environment and human
communities. The other ideas, at this point, are the public trust
doctrine, protecting the commons, and most recently the principle
of Seventh Generation Guardianship. (In my own mind, I add
"localizing the economy" and "zero waste" to this cluster of
precautionary ideas.)

The most recent -- and most ancient -- addition to this cluster of
"precautiuonary" ideas is the Seventh Generation Principle of the
Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people.

The Bemidji Statement on Seventh Generation Guardianship was released
July 6, 2006, during the 14th Protecting Mother Earth Conference,
convened by the Indigenous Environmental Network in Bemidji,

The Bemidji Statement combines the indigenous wisdom of the
Haudenosaunee -- "The first mandate.... is to ensure that our
decision- making is guided by consideration of the welfare and well
being of the seventh generation to come." -- with the precautionary

The Statement calls for new guardians and new guardian institutions to
protect the future of us all. The Statement evolved from a
conversation that began in Alaska in December 2005 between Alaska
Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), the Indigenous Environmental
Network (IEN), and the Science and Environmental Health Network

You can get the full Bemidji statement here in a format suitable for
printing (just cut and paste it into your word processor). And you can
read how guardianship is starting to find its way into some of our
institutions in places like New Jersey and Wisconsin. We can all be

Return to Table of Contents


From: Herald News (Hackensack), Jul. 11, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]


By Ashley Kindergan

CLIFTON -- Sunbathers, dog walkers and small children can frolic on
the grass in city parks this summer without worrying about dangerous
chemicals. The city has become one of just a handful of state
municipalities to sign on to an initiative that bans pesticide use in

The New Jersey Environmental Federation, an environmental advocacy
group, lobbied Clifton earlier this year to participate in its
statewide effort to eliminate the use of pesticides for pest and weed
control in parks. Jane Nogaki, program coordinator for the NJEF, said
that Clifton was one of only a few other municipalities around the
state to pass a resolution touting the program's ideals. Others
include Brick Township, Chatham, Irvington, Ocean City, Pine Beach and
Burlington County, Nogaki said.

According to the group, 4 million pounds of pesticide are used in the
state every year. Exposure to pesticides can cause birth defects,
nerve damage and cancer, according to the federal Environmental
Protection Agency. Risk from pesticides depends on the level of
exposure and the specific type of pesticide.

"We want to reduce exposure to pesticides, particularly to young
children where they play," Nogaki said. "Our campaign is to reduce
pesticides in every venue in New Jersey, but we focus on parks because
that is where children play."

The city has used pesticides sparingly and practiced environmentally
friendly pest control for many years, but officially banned pesticide
use in April, according to Al DuBois, Department of Public Works
recycling coordinator and a former environmental commission member.

City Manager Al Greco said the county, which handles insect control
for municipalities, has sprayed for mosquitoes "intermittently" in the
past and would again when public health concerns required it.

By banning the pesticides altogether and putting up signs in city
parks declaring them "Pesticide-Free Zones," DuBois said he hopes
residents will think twice before using the chemicals on their own
lawns, a practice over which the city has no control.

"As more and more people enter the parks, it becomes an educational
tool," DuBois said. "Maybe they'll say, 'I have a landscaper who does
it every year, and do I need to do that?'"

Nogaki and other no-pesticide proponents say there are safer ways than
chemicals to control weeds, insects and vermin. Prevention is the most
effective tool, which means keeping grass cut low, removing standing
water and hand-pulling weeds. Organic pest control methods such as
vinegar-based solutions are also effective.

At least a few government bodies in Passaic County have similar
policies. Passaic Director of Public Works Ted Evans said his workers
do not spray herbicides and pesticides in city parks. Paterson
Superintendent of Parks and Shade Trees Tony Vancheri said his workers
only used common weed killers sparingly, but preferred to simply
remove diseased trees or resod grassy areas whenever grubs show up.
Passaic County does not spray pesticides for the purposes of weed
control in county parks, said spokeswoman Dolores Choteborsky. The
county does provide mosquito control by spraying insecticide every
year, said county Health Department spokesman Stephen Summers.
Ringwood is also discussing implementing a pesticide policy, according
to borough Clerk Kelly Rohde.

Reach Ashley Kindergan at 973-569-7164 or Kindergan@northjersey.com.

Copyright 2006 North Jersey Media Group Inc.

Return to Table of Contents


From: Environmental Health Perspectives, Jul. 1, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]


By Cynthia Washam

Californians frustrated with what they consider the FDA's loose
control over cosmetic safety have taken matters into their own hands
with the country's first state cosmetics regulatory act, which takes
effect in January 2007. The California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 [SB
484] will require manufacturers to report the use of potentially
hazardous ingredients to the state Department of Health Services
(DHS), which in turn will alert consumers. The DHS has the authority
to investigate whether the product could be toxic under normal use and
to require that manufacturers submit health effects data.
Manufacturers that continue marketing products deemed unsafe in
California could face legal action.

"The legislation's sponsors believe that the basis of the law is the
public's right to know," says Kevin Reilly, DHS deputy director of
prevention services. The new law uses the list of toxicants drawn up
under California's Proposition 65, which mandates that the governor
publish a list, updated at least yearly, of chemicals that are known
to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other
reproductive harm.

Although the new act applies only in California, its effects are
likely to reverberate nationwide. Consumer advocates predict that
manufacturers seeking to avoid negative publicity will remove, rather
than report, suspect ingredients. Those formulas would then be
marketed coast to coast.

Impetus for the law stems from consumers' concerns over long-term
exposure to certain cosmetic ingredients. Cosmetic use has not been
linked to chronic illnesses, but some products do contain carcinogens
(such as formaldehyde, used in nail treatments), teratogens (such as
lead acetate, used in two hair dyes), and other reproductive toxicants
(such as di-n-butyl phthalate, used in nail treatments and dandruff

Studies in recent years have shown that humans absorb and inhale
sometimes surprisingly high levels of toiletry ingredients. In the
November 2005 issue of EHP, a team led by Susan M. Duty of the
Harvard School of Public Health demonstrated that urine concentrations
of phthalate metabolites increased by 33% with each personal care
product-hair gel or spray, lotion, deodorant, cologne, aftershave-that
subjects used.

Historically, cosmetics safety has been in the hands of manufacturers;
the FDA requires no premarket testing. Each year, an expert panel
convened by the industry-funded Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR)
identifies priority ingredients for which it conducts literature
reviews and analyses to determine safety. The panel-made up of
independent academic researchers and representatives from industry,
consumer interests, and the FDA-has declared 9 of the 1,286
ingredients reviewed since 1976 unsafe for normal cosmetic use. But
manufacturers are not obligated to eliminate any ingredients-at least
one ingredient identified as unsafe by CIR, hydroxyanisole, is still

Safety advocates see evidence of any harm in any use as reason enough
for a ban. "Ingredients suspected of causing cancer shouldn't be used
in cosmetics," says spokesman Kevin Donegan of the Breast Cancer Fund,
a San Francisco-based nonprofit that promoted the California bill.

F. Alan Andersen, director and scientific coordinator of CIR, counters
that the dose creates the danger. "We don't subscribe to the notion
that if there's ever an adverse effect, [a chemical] must not be in a
product people use," he says. "It doesn't make sense to us to apply
the precautionary principle. Instead, we use a risk assessment
approach, and the wide margins of safety that we have found for
chemicals such as phthalates using this approach assure us that actual
use of cosmetics is safe."

The law drew fierce opposition from individual companies and the
Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) as it worked its
way through the California legislature. "CTFA supports strong federal
regulation by the FDA," says Kathleen Dezio, executive vice president
of public affairs and communications for the association. "For this
reason, CTFA has generally opposed state-specific legislation that
would undermine this national approach and lead to an unworkable
state-by-state patchwork of rules... or unjustified, extreme
requirements that are well beyond those placed on any other category
of food, beverages, drugs, or consumer products." She adds that CTFA
has met with the DHS and "pledged our cooperation in accomplishing the
requirements" of the law.

Some manufacturers have already ceded to public pleas for safer
products. In the past two years, almost 350 of them signed a pledge
promoted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of health
and environmental groups, to use no chemicals linked to cancer or
birth defects. Industry leaders L'Oreal and Revlon broke new ground
last year when they promised that products they sold in the United
States would meet more stringent European Union standards. In 2004
Europe enacted a ban on suspected carcinogens, mutagens, and
reproductive toxicants in personal care products.

"We're definitely seeing a shift in the attitude of manufacturers,"
Donegan says. "They're starting to see the benefits of removing
anything that could cause cancer."

Return to Table of Contents


  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

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

  Full HTML edition: join-rpr-html@gselist.org
  Table of Contents edition: join-rpr-toc@gselist.org

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

Environmental Research Foundation
P.O. Box 160, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903