December 27, 2007

European Union Adopts Chemical Toxicity Standards

The United States has been held hostage to the chemical industry for decades with millions of dollars invested in K-Street to assure that the politicians and the regulatory agencies that oversee the industry turn a blind eye to the toxicity of chemicals. As in many other areas where the United States no longer leads, the European Union has decided that the health of their citizens is more important than the profits of the chemical industry. Since 2004, the EU has banned use of chemicals in production which cannot prove they do not effect human health and this ban affects industries in importing countries (such as the US) as well. They did this despite the enormous efforts of the US government aligned with the chemical industry to derail the new regulations.

The European Union is demanding that its industries take responsibility for the collateral health damages that its products may cause, and it is doing so with innovations that are leading the world. In the process, American consumers are being put in a position that would have been unimaginable as little as a decade ago. Shortly after the EPA was founded, the United States imposed domestic restrictions on some of the most dangerous pesticides and other chemicals, and U.S. companies responded by exporting millions of pounds of these toxins to Third World countries, where such regulations didnít exist. The irony is that our nationís steady retreat from environmental leadership means it may soon become a dumping ground for chemicals deemed too hazardous by more progressive countries. Meanwhile, Americans may also be the incidental beneficiaries of protective standards created by the government of a foreign country in which they have no say. In recent years the United States has opposed a multitude of environmental and human-rights initiatives that have gained international legitimacy without its participation. Indeed, this country is no longer where it likes to imagine itself to beóat the axis of influence around which the rest of the world revolves.

The past 60 years have been a massive experiment on the effects of man-made chemicals on the human body and the environment. Wonder how many of those 60,000 untested chemicals will be able to pass the new rules? Kudos to the EU. What will it take to make our government as responsive to the health of its citizens?

Posted by Mary at December 27, 2007 10:57 AM | Science | Technorati links |
Comments

While it's true the EU has taken the lead from the US in researching & regulating chemicals, the EU rules have also been watered down considerably. I wish I had a cite to an article I read a few weeks ago giving some of the legislative history on the EU rules. Can't remember if the writers of the article said that the US had been lobbying (on behalf of the US chemical industry) for loosening up the new EU rules but it's possible. After all, during the Clinton administration, the then trade rep (now head of the World Bank) Zoellick, pretty much pimped for Monsanto & genetically modified crops/seeds, etc.,--the US has pushed very very hard at the EU (& UK) to accepted GM products AND, as in the US, with no labeling so consumers can't even make up their own minds about what to ingest.

"Free trade" is a real misnomer--since free doesn't mean that the EU can't simply say no to GMO--because our people don't want it. Instead the US can push, via the WTO, etc., to force acceptance GM seeds, products, etc., on the EU.

Posted by: azurite at December 27, 2007 04:42 PM

Oussama Bin Laden killed Bhutto

Posted by: ccoaler at December 27, 2007 11:28 PM