Rachel's Precaution Reporter #108

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2007........Printer-friendly version
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Featured stories in this issue...

Wild Salmon Endangered by Sea Lice from Salmon Farms
  In Canada, 18 scientists have written to the Prime Minister: "We
  have united our voices because wild salmon are essential to life in
  the North Pacific and to the British Columbia economy. We feel the
  weight of scientific evidence is enough to enact the precautionary
Report Urges National Environmental Health Strategy for Canada
  "We must adopt a preventative and precautionary approach to our
  future. There are safer substitutes for most, if not all, of the toxic
  chemicals currently being used and released into the environment."--
  The David Suzuki Foundation
GM Contamination Scandal in Germany
  "The incident shows that risks linked with modified crops cannot be
  controlled in the long term [and] we call for a stringent application
  of the precautionary principle. Contamination will continue to spread
  unless strict controls are enforced and zero contamination of seed is
  the norm."
Crisis Grips Farming as Foot-and-mouth Returns
  The Scottish Government also warned, "The precautionary principle
  means that any animal showing unusual symptoms is reported and is then
  the subject of immediate and rigorous investigation by vets from the
  Animal Health Agency.


From: Environmental Communication Options, Sept. 18, 2007
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The following is an open letter sent earlier to Prime Minister Stephan
Harper and Premier Gordon Campbell regarding the threat to British
Columbia's (BC's) wild Pacific salmon from sea lice breeding on farmed
salmon. The letter has been signed by 18 respected scientists and

For more information, contact Alexandra Morton at 250-949-1664.

BC wild salmon endangered by failure to contain sea lice from salmon
farms -- Open letter from respected scientists and researchers

Dear Steven Harper and Gordon Campbell,

We, the undersigned, are convinced by the published scientific
evidence that the debate is over; sea lice breeding on farmed salmon
are threatening BC's wild Pacific salmon. There are many threats to
wild salmon; however there is now extensive peer-reviewed science that
sea lice spread from farm to wild salmon and kill juvenile wild
salmon. In some cases, sea lice originating from salmon farms are
estimated to have killed up to 95% of the wild juvenile salmon that
pass salmon farms during their ocean migrations. This is unacceptable
for any industry.

The scientific literature reports that sea lice infestations of wild,
juvenile salmon are associated with salmon farms and wild salmon
population declines in several countries: Canada, Norway, Scotland,
and Ireland.

John Fredriksen, owner of Marine Harvest, one of the biggest salmon
farming companies, both globally and in Canada, recently stated
publicly: "I am concerned about the future for wild salmon. Fish
farming should not be allowed in fjords with salmon rivers" (Norwegian
newspaper Altaposten July 19, 2007). Earlier this year the BC Special
Legislative Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture recommended granting
no new net pen farm licenses and moving all existing salmon farms into
close-contained facilities. Despite this Pat Bell, British Columbia's
Minister of Agriculture and Lands, has granted three more net pen
licenses. In consultation with the salmon farming industry and
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Pacific Salmon Forum spent $315,000
of the public's funds collecting a baseline dataset to examine sea
lice response to fallowing salmon farms. But as of today Marine
Harvest and Mainstream Canada have restocked farms spanning the entire
Broughton Archipelago. Consequently this definitive study is no longer

We have united our voices because wild salmon are essential to life in
the North Pacific and to the BC economy. We feel the weight of
scientific evidence is enough to enact the precautionary principle.
For wild salmon to survive in an era of major environmental stresses
through global climate change, a pathogen barrier must be established
between BC's farmed and wild salmon populations; there are no
scientific results to the contrary. Furthermore, we are warning the BC
public that where farmed and wild salmon populations meet in narrow
marine passages, as in Broughton and off Campbell River, we can expect
long-term wild salmon stock decline if farmed salmon are not
quarantined. When our government ignores the immutable natural law
that disease is amplified when host populations are crowded, we pay
the price of irreversible loss of a very valuable resource.

We the undersigned agree that based on the published scientific
evidence, the only management action that can ensure the protection of
wild salmon stocks from farmed salmon is a complete physical barrier
to pathogen transmission between wild and farm salmon (closed
containment). We are aware that such changes may have economic
consequences for the industry. The science is clear. It is now up to
the government and the people of Canada to decide whether the economic
benefits of aquaculture, as currently practiced, outweigh the threats
to wild salmon and the ecosystems and economies that depend on healthy
and abundant wild salmon populations.

We write this public letter out of a sense of duty to future


David Suzuki, Ph.D.
David Suzuki Foundation

Daniel Pauly, Ph.D.
Director, Fisheries Centre
University of British Columbia

Richard Routledge, Ph.D.
Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
Simon Fraser University

Larry Dill, Ph.D.
Professor and Director,
Behavioral Ecology Research Group,
Dept. of Biological Sciences,
Simon Fraser University

Mark A. Lewis, Ph.D.
Center for Mathematical Biology
University of Alberta

Wade Davis, Ph.D.
National Geographic Society

Boris Worm, Ph.D.
Marine Conservation Biology
Dalhousie University, Halifax

John Volpe, Ph.D.
University of Victoria Environmental Studies
Victoria BC

Don McQueen, Ph.D.
Emeritus Research Professor
York University, Toronto.
Adjunct Professor,
Simon Fraser University

Craig Orr, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Coquitlam, BC

Neil Frazer, Ph.D.
Department of Geology and Geophysics
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Rob Williams, Ph.D.
University of British Columbia
St. Andrews University
Pearse Island, BC

Michael Burt, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
University of New Brunswick

Gordon Hartman, Ph.D.
Retired Biologist
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Lance Barrett-Lennard, Ph.D.
Co-chair Resident Killer Whale Recovery Team

Paul Spong. Ph.D.
Director, OrcaLab/Pacific Orca Society
Hanson Island, BC

Helena Symonds
Director, Orcalab/Pacific Orca Society
Hanson Island, BC

Alexandra Morton, R.P.Bio.
Director Salmon Coast Field Station
Echo Bay, BC

Copyright 2006 Environmental Communication Options

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From: Canadian Press, Sept. 18, 2007
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Ottawa (CP) -- Canada needs to adopt a national environmental health
strategy to address how contaminants in the air and water are
affecting the public's wellbeing, says a new report released Tuesday
by the David Suzuki Foundation.

The report, written by B.C. environmental lawyer David Boyd, will be
presented at the Canadian Public Health Association conference in

Entitled "Prescription for a Healthy Canada," Boyd's report says
Canada lags behind other countries -- including the United States and
Australia -- in monitoring how environmental contaminants affect
children, as well as the diseases they cause.

He adds that Canada has weaker standards than other countries on the
use of pesticides and the amount of pesticide residues allowed on

One of his key recommendations is that Canada strengthen its laws,
regulations and policies to transfer the onus onto industry for
proving "beyond a reasonable doubt" that their products are safe. He
also advocates the use of the "substitution principle," where
manufacturers are required to use products with safer alternatives.

"We must adopt a preventative and precautionary approach to our
future. There are safer substitutes for most, if not all, of the toxic
chemicals currently being used and released into the environment,"
Boyd writes.

"These safer substitutes would save lives, prevent illnesses, protect
ecosystems and benefit our economy."

Other recommendations include:

- improving research and monitoring of the effects of contaminants on
the public, through blood, urine and other tests. The information
should go into a national tracking system.

- Educational and medical institutions should ensure that there is
professional development in the area of environmental health.

- The federal government should make sure it supports international
laws aimed at phasing out certain toxins and contaminants such as
mercury and asbestos.

The federal government recently moved to stiffen regulations on air
contaminants with its latest environmental plan.

Copyright 2007 The Canadian Press.

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From: Student Operated Press, Sept. 18, 2007
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By SOPnewswire

German authorities have found genetically modified rapeseed in
conventional crops. A spokesperson for the environmental minister of
North Rhine-Westphalia stated that consignments from the company
Deutsche Saatgutveredlung contained seeds tolerant to the herbicide
glufosinate. Glufosinate is sold by the German company Bayer
CropScience under the trademarks LIBERTY and BASTA. About 1500
hectares have already been planted with the genetically modified
crops. The origin of the contamination is unclear.

Jan Pehrke from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers comments:
"Neither seed merchants nor farmers are responsible for this mess.
Bayer must take responsibility for the organisms it created and must
pay for the damage." Bayer is the world market leader for pesticides.
The company sells a variety of crops resistant to glufosinate,
including rice, cotton, corn and soybeans. "The incident shows that
risks linked with modified crops cannot be controlled in the long
term", Pehrke continues. "We call for a stringent application of the
precautionary principle. Contamination will continue to spread unless
strict controls are enforced and zero contamination of seed is the

The European Union approved imports of rapeseeds tolerant to
glufosinate in March 2007. An application to grow modified oilseed
rape was, however, rejected in 2004 on environmental grounds. Bayer
also applied for permission to import genetically modified rice and
soybean. In a similar way to the recent contamination of American
long-grain rice, the current case probably goes back to field trials
conducted in the late nineties.

Since the cultivation of GM rapeseed is forbidden in Europe, German
authorities ruled that the plants have to be destroyed immediately. As
the contamination probably was not detected for several years it is
highly probable that further areas are affected. The Coalition against
Bayer Dangers demands that no further GM crops be approved and demands
a cancellation of the import approval for glufosinate resistant

Further information:

EU Removes Five GM Corn and Rapeseed Varieties

Australian Approval of Bayer's GM Canola Stalled by States

Bayer's GM Oilseed Rape: Negative Impact on Wildlife

EU-wide application to grow Bayer's GMO oilseed rape rejected on
environmental grounds

Coalition against BAYER Dangers

Tel: (+49) 211-333 911 Fax: (+49) 211-333 940

Please send an e-mail to receiving the English newsletter Keycode
BAYER free of charge

Copyright 2007 SOPnewswire and The Student Operated Press.

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From: The Courier (Dundee, Scotland), Sept. 13, 2007
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By Steve Bargeton, political editor

SCOTLAND'S LIVESTOCK industry was in the grip of a new foot-and-mouth
crisis last night after a new outbreak in England.

Livestock movement restrictions were re-instated in Scotland after the
confirmation of the outbreak near Egham in Surrey, where a 10-
kilometre control zone was set up -- and a cull was confirmed for the
farm next door.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the
animals must be killed as a "precautionary measure."

Yesterday precautionary tests were carried out on a single sheep
showing signs of illness at the Lawrie and Symington market at Lanark
while, as events moved quickly, Scottish Government officials insisted
Scotland was foot-and-mouth free.

They were proved correct when vets confirmed the animal -- which had a
high temperature -- did not have the disease.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said, "It is being tested to
make sure it doesn't have anything contagious. But it definitely does
not have foot-and-mouth."

The Scottish Government also warned, "The precautionary principle
means that any animal showing unusual symptoms is reported and is then
the subject of immediate and rigorous investigation by vets from the
Animal Health Agency.

"During the August outbreak there were over 130 such investigations,
mostly in England but a handful in Scotland. Initial testing proved
negative, as did subsequent tests.

"This is what we mean by strict vigilance, looking at every case
including the one at Lanark today -- however slight the suspicions -- and
following this up meticulously.

"It is a legal obligation to report any suspicion of disease. We must
be vigilant against this disease."

In an emergency statement to parliament, rural affairs secretary
Richard Lochhead described the Surrey outbreak as "a gut-wrenching
body blow" for the Scottish industry.

"This development comes only days after we were able to lift the few
remaining movement restrictions which were implemented following the
previous outbreak of the disease confirmed on August 3," he told MSPs.
"This had been an important step for our livestock sector and the red
meat sector in their route back to normality."

The minister said he had, from 3pm yesterday, reintroduced a ban on
moving animals, but he announced exceptions.

They are -- movement of dairy cows across public highways for milking; of
animals for emergency veterinary treatment; and of animals direct to
slaughter, subject to supervision.

Describing the new outbreak as "extremely harrowing news," Mr Lochhead
said, "We acknowledge that this will have a huge impact on events
planned for the next few days.

"However, given the risk of disease spread from animals coming from
and going to a number of separate locations, we cannot afford these to
go ahead in this period of uncertainty.

"I fully recognise the disruption this means to industry, but I know
they understand that it is an essential step."

Mr Lochhead said the Scottish Government's emergency procedures were
activated and he was working closely with UK departments and

Yesterday afternoon the minister took part in an emergency tele-
conference chaired by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

First Minister Alex Salmond will today chair a meeting of meat
producers, processors, retailers and industry bodies, which was
planned before the new Surrey outbreak.

"It is now doubly important, and will focus on both FMD and soaring
cereal prices," said Mr Salmond.

"There is no doubt that Scotland's livestock industry is facing a very
difficult time, entirely due to factors outwith its control."

He continued, "Livestock farming and production make a huge
contribution, not just to our economy, but also to our way of life.

"But high world prices for grain is putting the sector under enormous
pressure -- and reports of a foot-and-mouth case in Surrey could hardly
have come at a worse time."

Email the Editor with your views

Copyright All copyright D C Thomson & Co Ltd., 2007
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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.

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