Rachel's Precaution Reporter #62

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2006..........Printer-friendly version
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Table of Contents...

Corporations Sue San Francisco Over Precautionary Chemicals Policy
  In case you missed it in Rachel's News last Thursday: A group of
  corporations is suing San Francsico in court, claiming the city has no
  right to take precautionary action to protect its children from toxic
  chemicals in toys. This is important news. It is the first legal
  challenge to the precautionary ordinance San Francisco adopted in
Can Greenpeace Get Apple Computer To Adopt Precaution?
  Greenpeace purchased a booth at Mac Expo to pressure Apple Computer
  to adopt green business practices, including the precautionary
  principle. For their efforts, Greenpeace activists were ejected from
  the Expo.


From: San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 26, 2006
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Plaintiffs say state law pre-empts the local ordinance

By Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer

A group of chemical manufacturers, toymakers, retailers and the owner
of the children's store Citikids filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging
San Francisco's ban on the sale of toddler toys and child-care
products that contain certain chemicals suspected of being toxic

The suit argues that state law, including the California Hazardous
Substances Act, pre-empts the San Francisco ordinance.

Today, the plaintiffs are expected to ask San Francisco Superior Court
Judge Peter Busch for a hearing, during which they will seek a
preliminary injunction to delay the Dec. 1 effective date of the
ordinance until the matter is resolved in court.

City officials already had promised business groups that they would
hold off enforcement until after the holidays.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the
ordinance in June. It prohibits the sale, distribution or manufacture
of toys and child care products intended for use by children under the
age of 3 if they contain phthalates, which are used to soften
polyvinyl chloride (or PVC) and bisphenol A, which is common in hard,
clear plastic. The ordinance does not include penalties for

The law is based on the city's "precautionary principle." The
supervisors said they wanted to err on the side of caution and protect
the youngest children.

A similar ban on phthalates in children's toys and child care products
went into effect in the European Union in July. For years, members had
reviewed a growing number of studies showing that some phthalates
caused cancer and reproductive damage in laboratory animals, raising
questions about what the chemical could do to humans.

San Francisco, however, is the only city in the world to ban bisphenol
A in toys and child care products for youngsters. Bisphenol A is used
to make polycarbonate plastic, the substance used to make hard clear
plastic baby bottles.

Lab studies have shown that bisphenol A can leach out of baby bottles.
In animal experiments, at low doses, it has caused cancer in rats.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and scientific bodies in Europe
and Japan have said that low levels of bisphenol A pose no health risk
to humans, the lawsuit said.

In addition to arguing that state law pre-empts the city's effort, the
suing parties contend that the supervisors failed to comply with
Proposition I, a voter-approved measure that requires an economic
review of legislation that might have a material impact on the city
before it goes to a vote.

"No report was prepared, and the city's determination that no report
was required -- when the ordinance will so egregiously impact toy
retailers, grocers and consumers -- was an abuse of discretion," the
suit said.

In a press release, Richard Woo, owner of Citikids Baby News on
Clement Street, said, "The volume of our sales will drop and so will
the number of our employees, since we won't be able to keep them."

Other plaintiffs are American Chemistry Council, California Retailers
Association, California Grocers Association and Juvenile Products
Manufacturers Association.

A spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office declined to
comment on the suit.

"We haven't been served with a complaint. It would be premature for us
to comment on it," said spokesman Matt Dorsey.

E-mail Jane Kay at jkay@sfchronicle.com.

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From: Tech2, Oct. 27, 2006
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By Sharon Khare

Greenpeace's high profile 'Green my Apple' stall was shut-down at the
start of the Mac Expo -- organisers of the Mac Expo claimed they had
received complaints from unnamed sources. The Greenpeace stall was
bought for the three-day expo in an attempt to raise awareness about
concerns over the use of toxic chemicals in Apple's products.

The Greenpeace volunteers manning the stall were signing up Mac fans
to challenge Apple to go green. Flyers explaining the 'Green my Apple'
campaign were handed out to members of the public along with organic
green apples. The volunteers have vowed to return to the expo tomorrow
to continue the 'Green my Apple' campaign.

"This reaction is totally over-the-top" said Iza Kruszewska,
Greenpeace International campaigner at the expo. "Apple refuses to
address our criticisms on their products, both for the recycling and
for the use of harmful chemicals. Instead of hiding their head in the
sand, Apple should be a world leader in the greening of the
electronics industry, not lagging behind," she said.

Apple scored 11th place (out of 14) on a 'Guide to Greener
Electronics' recently released by Greenpeace, with a poor showing on
almost all criteria. Greenpeace also said that Apple fails to embrace
the precautionary principle, withholds its full list of regulated
substances, provides no timelines for eliminating toxic polyvinyl
chloride (PVC) and no commitment at all to phasing out all uses of
brominated flame retardants (BFRs). The company also performs poorly
on product take back and recycling, with the exception of reporting on
the amounts of its electronic waste recycled.

"It's time for Apple to use clean components in all of its products
and to provide a free take-back program to reuse and recycle its
products wherever they are sold. We are challenging the world leader
in design to also be a world leader in environmental innovation. We
challenge Apple to have a product range on the market by 2007 which is
free of the worst toxic chemicals," said Kruszewska.

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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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