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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #49

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2006............Printer-friendly version
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Table of Contents...

Puerto Rico's Precautionary Principle Law #416 Leads the Way
  In 2004, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico passed an exemplary law
  embodying the precautionary principle. Law 416 shows how precaution
  can go beyond narrow uses, such as municipal purchasing policies and
  control of pesticides, to embody a rich, well-rounded philosophy for
  conducting human affairs in a respectful manner.
Creating a Vision of a Desirable Future -- Toward Tomorrow
  The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of
  Massachusetts, Lowell, has a new project and web site to help us all
  create a common agenda for getting to the kind of world we want. It's
  called Toward Tomorrow.
In Canada, a New Pesticide Law Shifts the Burden of Proof
  The Canadian Minister of Health must now initiate a special review
  of any pesticide that contains active ingredients that have been
  banned by other member nations of the Organization for Economic
  Cooperation and Development (OECD) due to health or environmental
  concerns. During the special review, the burden is on pesticide
  manufacturers to provide evidence that their products are not harmful.
Israel Announces Ban of Chlorypyrifos and Diazinon
  "Taking consideration of conditions in Israel, the existence of
  alternatives for most of these product uses and on the basis of the
  precautionary principle, a decision was taken to stop the marketing of
  pest control products for sanitation which contain these two
  substances [chlorpyrifos and diazinon] beginning on December 31,
Europe Bans 22 Hair Dye Chemicals to Increase Consumer Safety
  The European Commission -- the environmental agency of the European
  Union -- on July 20 banned 22 hair dye substances to increase consumer
New Report: Environmental Risk Management in New Zealand
  In New Zealand, the Treasury has issued a report arguing that the
  precautionary principle needs to be implemented carefully, to get the
  most benefits while minimizing economic disruptions.


From: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #49, Aug. 2, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]


By Peter Montague

On Sept. 22, 2004, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico adopted the
precautionary principle in Law 416, which is Section 4 of the
Environmental Public Policy Act. The law requires all govermnental
entities in Puerto Rico to use the precautionary principle in

Law 416 originated with a young lawyer, Esteban Mujica-Cotto, who was
then the head of Puerto Rico's Environmental Quality Board. Mr.
Mujica-Cotto is now active with the Coalicion para el Desarrollo
Sostenible, Inc. (Coalition for Sustainable Development).

From our web site, you can retrieve the full 87-page text of Law 416
in Spanish (10 megabytes PDF), or just the first 5 articles of the
law in Spanish or English.

We asked Carolyn Raffensperger, a lawyer and the world's leading
advocate for the precautionary principle, to give us her assessment of
Puerto Rico's Law 416. Here is what she told us:

1) Law 416 is quite wonderful. It embodies a fully modern version of
precaution, including reversing the burden of proof (this appears
twice -- actual reversal and polluter pays), alternatives assessment,
and democratic decision-making. It asserts a responsbility to future
generations. Note that it blends the Wingspread Statement and
Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration. It uses the democracy language
and the other how-to steps from the Wingspread statement, combined
with the Rio definition of precaution.

2) In spite of its anthropocentric language, it specifies the
necessary science as a) interdisciplinary and b) ecological. This is
refreshing, not to rely only on toxicology.

3) It includes the notion of restoration as well as preventing harm
and eliminating harm. These are three strong concepts. It's not just
preventing but also eliminating the harms we already have and
restoring the environment.

4) It identifies multiple sources of harm, including human population
and technological advances, not merely toxic chemicals. The
implication is that population and advanced technologies both have the
potential to disrupt the harmony between humans and the environment.
So perhaps Puerto Rico and Europe are going to be the leading
jurisdictions paying attention to new developments such as

5) It recognizes the right to enjoy (and to some extent the obligation
to maintain) a healthy environment.

6) It specifies cultural and aesthetic values -- not just the
scientifically established toxicological values (e.g. it goes way
beyond "let's not poison people"). This means that people can be clear
about what they love. This enlivens the democracy clause.

7) The progress desired under the goals is SOCIAL progress. The
economic driver is employment -- not just making corporations rich.

8) It requires the long view, as well as the short term perspective.
This reinforces the obligation to future generations.

9) It situates Puerto Rico within the larger world. The language "to
maximize international cooperation by anticipating and avoiding the
deterioration of the quality of the worldwide environment" is
wonderful. Can you imagine all 50 states adopting that language and
then acting on policies to mazimize international cooperation to
anticipate and avoid deterioration?

10) And it drills down to the smaller political entities --
municipalities, institutions and individuals -- embedding precaution
in the smallest units of action.

Like California's Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA), the city
and county of San Francisco, and other early adopters of the
precautionary principle, Puerto Rico must now fully implement the
principle -- and that's the hard part.

If Puerto Rico takes this law seriously, it will become a world leader
in environmental protection. We are eagerly watching their next steps.
All together, Puerto Rico has written and adopted an exemplary set of
far-reaching principles embodied in the precautionary approach,
Raffensperger said.

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From: BE SAFE Campaign for Precaution, Jul. 26, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]


By Anne Rabe

Toward Tomorrow -- Creating A Vision Of A Sustainable Future

This is an exciting new project from Lowell Center for Sustainable
Production. For many years in the U.S., scientists, advocates, and
policymakers have largely reacted to immediate health and ecosystem
threats without a clear vision or corresponding set of future goals.
As a result, the debate about links between health and environment
have focused on which materials and substances cause which problems,
rather than a discussion about what kind of world we want to live in
and how we want to get there. This failure to articulate a vision has
contributed to perceptions that the environmental and health movements
are thoughtlessly oppositional, and impede technological and economic

The overall purpose of Toward Tomorrow is to provide inspiration and
tools that enable a wide range of organizations to envision a
sustainable future and take effective steps towards it.

The initiative seeks to develop an agenda for action on health and the
environment by bringing together leaders and scholars from diverse
fields. We aim to identify goals that will guide the next generation
as they address the complex linkages between human and ecosystem
health: linkages critical for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention
of global health threats. Toward Tomorrow is predicated on the belief
that scientists, government officials, and community, health,
environment and business leaders can find common cause in recognizing
human consumption and production as sources of both problems and
solutions. For more information, visit www.towardtomorrow.org.

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From: The David Suzuki Foundation, Jul. 7, 2006
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By David Suzuki

I have good news and I have bad news. So let's start with the good.

Last week, a long-awaited (since 2002!) piece of federal legislation
came into force [in Canada] -- the Pest Control Products Act. It's a
boring name for a vitally important tool to help protect farm workers,
gardeners and other Canadians across the country from hazardous

Unlike some legislation that sounds good on paper, but is rendered
ineffective due to political loopholes (the Species At Risk Act comes
to mind), this legislation looks like it should do exactly as it was
intended -- help keep some of the worst poisons out of our food chain,
our water supplies and our bodies.

According to the new Act, the federal Minister of Health is now
obliged to initiate a special review of pesticides that contain active
ingredients which have been banned by other member nations of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) due to
health or environmental concerns. Once the Minister initiates a
review, the onus is on pesticide manufacturers to provide evidence
that their products are not harmful.

This makes perfect sense. If other countries have found these
substances to be harmful enough to ban them, then it should be up to
their manufacturers to provide strong evidence to the contrary if they
are to be allowed in Canada. Anything less would be to treat Canadians
like second-class citizens.So far, so good. But here's the bad news:
according to a recent review of the chemicals found in pesticides sold
in Canada, a whopping 61 of them are already banned in other
industrialized countries. Thus, while other jurisdictions have seen
fit to guard their citizens from these chemicals, Canadians have been
given no such protection.

Many of these chemicals are still sold widely in our country. For
example, two of the top-five pesticides used in Ontario in 2003
contain atrazine and 1,3-dichloropropene -- chemicals banned in OECD
countries like Germany and Sweden. Atrazine is a hormone-mimic,
meaning it can disrupt hormone levels, impair reproduction and cause
developmental defects, while 1,3-dichloropropene is highly toxic to
the liver and kidneys and is classified as a possible human

Pesticide manufacturers have often fought regulation on the grounds
that there is often no "conclusive" proof that their products harm
human or environmental health. But when it comes to human health,
surely extensive evidence should be enough. And the evidence is indeed
extensive. According to a recent paper published in the Annals of
Neurology, for example, exposure to pesticides -- even at low levels -
can increase a person's risk of developing Parkinson's disease by 70
per cent.

Another point to remember is that pesticide manufacturers are already
getting away with a loophole. Instead of testing pesticides in the
form they are sprayed on fields and gardens, only their "active
ingredients" are required to be tested. Yet studies have found that
pesticides often contain other agents to enhance the effectiveness of
the active ingredient, making the actual end product much more

For too long Canada has let its environmental and health regulations
slide. Frankly, it's embarrassing and unbecoming of a country that
prides itself on being a leader in these fields. With the new Act
coming into force, we have an opportunity to catch up -- at least in
this area.

It's now up to Health Minister Tony Clement to decide what to do.
According to the new Act, he's obliged to call for a special review of
all 61 pesticides, but politicians are notoriously skilled at finding
ways to shirk their duties. Let's hope Mr. Clement lives up to his and
makes a decision to protect the health and well being of all

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From: Israel Ministry of the Environment, Jul. 30, 2006
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The Ministry of Environmental Protection [of Israel] has decided to
ban the use of pest control products containing the organophosphates
chlorypyrifos and diazinon beginning on December 31, 2007. This is in
light of their ban in the US and the growing body of evidence
concerning the risk factors associated with these organophosphates.

In the past, these substances were permitted for use taking into
account toxicity risks, largely tested on the basis of
acetylcholinesterase inhibition. In recent years a growing body of
evidence has accumulated regarding previously unknown risks from these
substances. A risk assessment conducted by the US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), which led to banning the use of these
products in the U.S., and additional updated toxicological data, point
to the rise of developmental neurotoxicity in embryos and infants
associated with the exposure of pregnant women and babies to
chlorypyrifos and diazinon.

Based on the findings, a decision was taken to adopt the rationale
behind the EPA action and to initiate the banning of these substances
for home use in Israel. Taking consideration of conditions in Israel,
the existence of alternatives for most of these product uses and on
the basis of the precautionary principle, a decision was taken to stop
the marketing of pest control products for sanitation which contain
these two substances beginning on December 31 2007.

Files for download:

On the Issue of the U.S. EPA Restrictions for Chlorpyrifos Use in
Homes and the Ensuing Proposed Adoption of this Policy in Israel
344K PDF

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From: Europa.com, Jul. 20, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]


In order to ensure safety of hair dye products for consumers the
European Commission has banned 22 hair dye substances (see list
below).Today's ban concerns 22 hair dye substances for which industry
has not submitted any safety files at all. The Scientific Committee
advising the Commission had recommended the ban of these substances
following the conclusions of a scientific study that the long term use
of certain hair dyes bears a potential risk of bladder cancer. Today's
ban is a first step in an overall strategy, agreed with Member States
and stakeholders in April 2003, to establish a positive list of hair
dye substances which are considered safe for human health. The ban
will enter into force on 1 December 2006. In addition, the cosmetics
industry submitted 115 safety files on hair dye substances for
evaluation by the EU's Scientific Committee on Consumer Products

European Commission Vice-President Gunter Verheugen, responsible for
enterprise and industry policy, said: "Substances for which there is
no proof that they are safe will disappear from the market. Our high
safety standards do not only protect EU consumers, they also give
legal certainty to European cosmetics industry."

The Commission's strategy to ensure the safety of hair dye products
foresees to ban all permanent and non-permanent hair dyes for which
industry has not submitted any safety files and those for which the
SCCP has given a negative opinion.

In a public consultation, the Commission had asked producers to
provide safety files for their substances. These files, based on
scientific expertise, have to prove that a substance does not pose a
health risk for consumers.

Subsequently, the cosmetics industry submitted, by the end of last
year, 115 files on hair dye substances for evaluation by the EU's
Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP). The scientific
committee will adopt final opinions in a step by step approach (next
opinions will be emitted in October 2006). The Commission will then
act accordingly.

Today's ban concerns 22 hair dye substances for which industry has not
submitted any safety files at all. This ban has also been notified
under the TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) procedure to the WTO.
Since no comments were received following this notification, it can be
assumed that the ban will not significantly impact the competitiveness
of the hair dye manufacturers.

Presently, the safety of the before mentioned 115 hair dye substances
is being assessed by the SCCP whose final opinions will serve the
Commission as a basis to take further decisions on their regulation.


The hair dye market in the EU was € 2.6 billion in 2004 which accounts
for some 8% of the value of output of the cosmetics industry in

Permanent hair dyes account for 70-80% of the colouring product market
in Europe. More than 60% of women colour their hair, 5-10% of men, the
average frequency of use is 6-8 times per year.

In its opinion of 12 June 2001 the SCCP concluded that the potential
risks of the use of certain, permanent hair dyes are of concern. In a
second opinion of 17 December 2002, the SCCP stated that there is
epidemiological evidence to indicate that the regular and long term
use of hair dyes by women may be associated with the development of
bladder cancer. It recommended an overall safety assessment strategy
for hair dyes including the requirements for testing hair dye cosmetic
ingredients for their potential genotoxicity or mutagenicity.

Following the opinions of the SCCP, the Commission together with
Member States and stakeholders agreed on an overall strategy to
regulate hair dyes within Directive 76/768/EEC. The main element of
this strategy is a tiered, modulated approach requiring industry to
submit safety files on hair dyes by certain deadlines to be evaluated
by the SCCP.

Link to Hair Dye Strategy: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/cosme

Link to Notes of Guidance for the Testing of Cosmetic Ingredients and
their Safety Evaluation: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/commit

The following substances will be banned:

Chemical name

6-Methoxy-2,3-Pyridinediamine and its HCl salt





4,5-Diamino-1-Methylpyrazole and its HCl salt

4,5-Diamino-1-((4-Chlorophenyl)Methyl)-1H-Pyrazole Sulfate



4-Methoxytoluene-2,5-Diamine and its HCl salt

5-Amino-4-Fluoro-2-Methylphenol Sulfate


N,N-Dimethyl-2,6-Pyridinediamine and its HCl salt


N-(2-Methoxyethyl)-p-phenylenediamine and its HCl salt

2,4-Diamino-5-methylphenetol and its HCl salt


3,4-Diaminobenzoic acid

2-Aminomethyl-p-aminophenol and its HCl salt

Solvent Red 1 (CI 12150)

Acid Orange 24 (CI 20170)

Acid Red 73 (CI 27290)

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From: The Treasury of New Zealand, Jul. 28, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]


Policy Perspectives Paper 06/06

By Linda Cameron


This paper, published by the Treasury of New Zealand, assesses
whether a more generic and consistent approach is required to
environmental risk management in New Zealand.

The precautionary principle has been developed as a means of avoiding
danger to human health and the environment in situations where there
is a high degree of uncertainty and the effects of policy decisions
are possibly irreversible. The definition most widely quoted is from
the 1992 Rio Declaration, which states that: "where there are threats
of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific evidence
shall not be used as reason for postponing cost-effective measures to
prevent environmental degradation".

There has been rapid growth in the adoption of the precautionary
principle in international agreements and the laws of many countries,
including New Zealand (for matters such as hazardous substances and
new organisms, biosecurity and fisheries). However, it remains highly
controversial. Variations in how the precautionary principle is
interpreted and applied can create problems, including the potential
for significant costs to society through stifling economic development
and technological innovation. The principle offers little guidance for
regulatory policy.

The precautionary principle needs to be considered in the context of a
more generic risk management framework, with clear guidelines that
provide a systematic approach to setting the best course of action
under uncertainty. Such an approach could assist in determining when
and how the principle should be applied to manage risk and uncertainty
while minimising potential economic costs. A key benefit is that it
could support activities that foster development and innovation (that
may not proceed otherwise), through focusing on alternative ways of
implementing the precautionary principle, while still aiming to
minimise or mitigate risks. This could enable the greatest returns to
be achieved with acceptable results, costs and risks.

Currently in New Zealand, the precautionary principle is not being
applied in the context of an integrated risk management framework
(unlike in the European Union, the United States and Canada). There is
also a lack of guidelines on implementation. Clear guidelines could
help ensure a more consistent and subtle approach that explores a
wider range of options.

Draft guidelines developed in Canada could be relevant to New
Zealand and would be the most applicable from an operational
perspective. Key benefits include: a more participatory approach and
increased consistency with international commitments and across
domestic legislation and regulatory regimes. Possible limitations
include the potential cost of participatory processes and successful
implementation being highly dependent on support from government
agencies. Implementation issues would require further exploration.

This working paper is available to view or download in Adobe PDF
format: tpp06-06.pdf (157 KB)

Copyright Crown Copyright. The Treasury, 1 The Terrace, PO Box
3724, Wellington, NEW ZEALAND.

Tel: +64 4 472 2733. Fax: +64 4 473 0982. Email: Treasury Webmaster.

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  Rachel's Precaution Reporter offers news, views and practical
  examples of the Precautionary Principle, or Foresight Principle, in
  action. The Precautionary Principle is a modern way of making
  decisions, to minimize harm. Rachel's Precaution Reporter tries to
  answer such questions as, Why do we need the precautionary
  principle? Who is using precaution? Who is opposing precaution?

  We often include attacks on the precautionary principle because we  
  believe it is essential for advocates of precaution to know what
  their adversaries are saying, just as abolitionists in 1830 needed
  to know the arguments used by slaveholders.

  Rachel's Precaution Reporter is published as often as necessary to
  provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

  As you come across stories that illustrate the precautionary 
  principle -- or the need for the precautionary principle -- 
  please Email them to us at rpr@rachel.org.

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

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