Rachel's Precaution Reporter #46
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

From: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #46 ...................[This story printer-friendly]
July 12, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: 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.]

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, Minnesota.

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 principle.

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 (SEHN).

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 guardians.


From: Herald News (Hackensack) ...........................[This story printer-friendly]
July 11, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: 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 working.]

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 parks.

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.


From: Environmental Health Perspectives ...................[This story printer-friendly]
July 1, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: "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."]

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 shampoos).

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 used.

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."


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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