Legislative Issues

As Weiss and Landrigan (2000) pointed out, more than 80,000 chemicals are registered with the EPA, and less than one quarter (23%) of the chemicals produced or imported annually have been tested for effects on human development. Because of lack of testing, we are told that the evidence regarding toxicity is inconclusive, and the chemicals are deemed "innocent until proven guilty." This practice contrasts with the Precautionary Principle, where decision makers act conservatively to prevent harm to humans and the environment (Tickner, 1997), a principle that has guided legislation in European countries such as Sweden (Dinan & Bieron, 2001), and formed the basis of the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The resulting treaty outlines goals for dealing with the hazards of PBTs, including reducing their quantity and impact (McGinn, 2002). Some industry representatives and legislators might argue that it is too costly and impractical to increase regulation, especially by requiring evidence that the product is safe before allowing it on the consumer market. This position is ironic given the vast amounts of money spent on medical treatment of known toxin-induced illnesses, such as Parkinson's Disease and can-

"Where there's smoke, there's money. "

© The New Yorker Collection 1985 Joseph Mirachi from cartoonbank.com. All rights reserved.

"Where there's smoke, there's money. "

© The New Yorker Collection 1985 Joseph Mirachi from cartoonbank.com. All rights reserved.

cer. Slowing the progression of Parkinson's Disease by just 10% would result in savings of $327 million per year (Parkinson's Action Network, 2002), and the overall annual cost of cancer is currently estimated at $107 billion, including direct medical costs, mortality costs, and lost productivity (Cancer Research Treatment Foundation, 2002).

Apparently, we cannot count on industry or legislators to protect us from hazards associated with PBTs, perhaps because both factions benefit from the production and distribution of these substances. It is worth investigating political campaign contributions from industries that manufacture toxins or contribute to pollution. For example, energy companies (oil, coal, gas, and nuclear power) donated over $60 million to the 2000 U.S. presidential campaigns, more than 75% of which went to the Republican Party ("Who Gave," 2001). It should not surprise us then, that the George W. Bush administration promoted an energy policy that continues to rely on and subsidize those same industries, despite the overwhelming evidence regarding health, pollution, and other environmental impacts.

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Responses

  • yrj toskala
    Where there's smoke there's money joseph mirachi?
    8 years ago

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