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Health, travel, environment and other related topics. Tips and tricks for keeping your body in shape for spiritual life. Taking care of your health while traveling in India.

Change in environmental policies spreading from E.U. - to U.S. and hopefully to India, too

nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 15:56:27 +0530
European Environmental Rules Propel Change in U.S.

Published: July 6, 2004, New York Times

BRUSSELS - When Darcy White of Raytown, Mo., chose to breast-feed her baby daughter two years ago, she had never heard of brominated flame retardants. But after randomly participating in a study, she learned that her breast milk carried unusually high levels of the chemicals.

Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced an agreement with chemical manufacturers to phase out the worst of these toxic compounds, which are present in a wide variety of consumer goods like furniture and computer monitors, and Congress is considering legislation to make the ban permanent.

But it was only after the chemicals had been banned here in Europe that sufficient political pressure built for a phaseout in the United States.

That cycle was no accident. Globalization has often been condemned as encouraging a race to the bottom as multinationals seek the cheapest and least regulated place to do business. But increasingly, American environmental and public health advocates see globalization as a way to start a race to the top. They are taking their issues to the European Union, hoping to use regulations there as a lever for regulations in the United States.

"We are putting more resources into Europe than we otherwise would have done," says Charlotte Brody, coordinator of Health Care Without Harm, a Washington-based group attempting to reduce harmful substances in hospital supplies. "We desperately need the E.U. to be raising the bar and show what is possible."

Environmental groups, too, are working more closely with European lawmakers.

"We feel that Europe is a real opportuni ty," says Ned Helme, executive director for the Center for Clean Air Policy in Washington. Once Europe moves ahead on programs to curb the gases believed to cause global warming, Mr. Helme believes, it will promote change in the United States. "We're pushing where the opportunity for innovation is greatest," he said.

The regulations affect a broad range of American chemical, energy and electronics companies, and industry groups say bureaucrats they did not elect are wielding unprecedented power over them, based on insufficient evidence of harm.

"The E.U. is going where no man has gone before," says James Lovegrove, managing director of the European division of the American Electronics Association, a United States industry lobby. "The moment the ink hits the paper in Europe it becomes a global piece of legislation.''

The generally stricter European laws reflect a different philosophical approach to regulation, says Dr. Indra Spiecker, a lawyer specialized in comparative law and assistant professor for American law at the University of Osnabrück in Germany. American lawmakers primarily look to cost-benefit analysis, which holds that the benefit of imposing regulation should outweigh its cost. European nations have more readily embraced what is called the precautionary principle. Essentially, Europeans emphasize the cost of inaction, while Americans tend to focus on the cost of action.

"Fifteen years ago consumer issues would start in the United States and sweep over to Europe," says Ursula Schliessner, a product safety lawyer at McKenna Long & Aldridge in Brussels. "Now when there are consumer issues in the E.U. they trigger reactions in the United States."

In the case of the flame retardants, scientists from the Environmental Working Group, researching the prevalence of the chemicals in American mothers, discovered that Ms. White, an outwardly healthy 31-year-old practicing nurse, had some of the highest levels ever recorded. Studies have shown that, in laboratory animals, the chemicals can cause severe damage to the brain, especially in the first months of life. No one has proved that the substances are dangerous to humans, and Ms. White's daughter, Katelyn, is thriving.

Although concerned, Ms. White does not warn expectant mothers who come to her maternity ward to be tested for the chemicals. "You don't want to freak out mothers more than they already are," she says.

But Dr. Linda Birnbaum, director of the experimental toxicology division at the E.P.A., says the risk identified in the European studies, which then triggered additional research in America, was high enough to warrant action.

A co-author of the current legislation in Congress, Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, also says the European action against the substance was important to raise the issue in the United States. "The fact that the E.U. is taking steps really helps give us an argument" to ban the substances, she said.

European legislation can have an even more immediate impact in an area like consumer electronics. Because of the global nature of the electronics business, a multinational that redesigns its product to eliminate a substance banned in the E.U. often finds it cheaper to sell that product worldwide.

One such law that came into force last year limits or eliminates metals used in electronics considered particularly noxious when they leach into the environment.

The E.U. is now considering sweeping new regulation of its chemical industry that has unleashed what analysts here say is the biggest lobbying effort in Brussels ever mounted by American industry.

The new law, known as Reach, would place the burden of proof of safety on the producers before its sale, rather than waiting for problems to spur regulation later. It would force American chemical companies to comply with the legislation in order to continue exporting to Europe - and raises the fear of similar legislation in the United States.

The chemical industry points out that few if any of the unregulated chemicals are causing obvious health crises and says the legislation is overly bureaucratic and expensive. The American Chemical Council has marshaled its members to alter or derail the legislation.

But American environmental groups are eagerly supporting the law. "This is the place where the action is," says Tony Long, director of the World Wildlife Fund European policy office. He sees the potential effects of Reach broader than its technical jurisdiction. "This will have results around the world," he says.
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 20:36:07 +0530
This is an example how policies are forced to change also in India, where American "garbage" companies are exposed for selling drinks with pesticides in them. Such scandals bring awareness to a people who has blind faith in Western imports, spiritual as well as material ones.

Coke & Pepsi Sales Collapse in India Due to Pesticide Contamination

(August 2003)

RAMA LAKSHMI, WASHINGTON POST: This is one war that PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are not waging against each other.

Since an Indian environmental watchdog group released a report alleging that the drinks contain high levels of pesticide residue, the two international cola giants have battled consumer panic, "smash-the-bottle" street campaigns and angry lawmakers calling for a ban on the products. Both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have issued countless rebuttals and published advertisements disputing the allegations. On [August 8], they took the matter to court.

"Unfortunately the whole matter has come to a point where it is beginning to damage our business in India," David Cox, Coca-Cola's Asia

The unlikely alliance formed soon after the release on [August 5] of a report by the Center for Science and Environment, a private group based in New Delhi that has fought numerous environmental battles against the bottled water, automobile and paper industries. Tests of 12 leading drinks produced and marketed in India by the two companies showed that "all samples contained residues of four extremely toxic pesticides and insecticides: lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos," the report said.

"In all samples, levels of pesticide residues far exceeded the maximum residue limit for pesticides in water used as 'food,' set down by the European Economic Commission," the report stated.

The report asserted that "each sample had enough poison to cause --- in the long term --- cancer, damage to the nervous and reproductive systems, birth defects and severe disruption of the immune system."

The tests made headlines in newspapers across the country [August 6], and the
Indian Parliament discontinued the sale of Pepsi and Coke in its cafeteria, while several lawmakers demanded a ban on the drinks.

"They are playing with the lives of the people," Ramjilal Suman, a member of Parliament from the opposition Samajwadi Party, shouted from the floor of the lower house. "This is nothing but poison in the name of soft drinks." Another legislator called the drinks "a silent killer."

The health minister, Sushma Swaraj, told Parliament that the results of the study were "shocking" and promised a "comprehensive inquiry." Samples of leading cola brands were sent to government laboratories for independent tests.

Indian law requires only that drinks be made from potable water --- without defining the term.

At least two public interest groups filed court petitions calling for a nationwide ban on the drinks. For a third day, young members of various political parties and student groups demanding a ban smashed bottles of the two brands on streets across the country [August 8].

In an unusual joint news conference, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola --- which enjoy a growing $1.2 billion market in India, selling about 6.5 billion bottles per year --- swiftly denied the report's contentions and asserted that pesticide levels in their beverages were below EEC levels.

PepsiCo took out newspaper advertisements that gave details of its testing methods and declared: "The safest thing you are likely to drink today is a Pepsi."

Vasi Reddy of Vimta Laboratories, a firm that PepsiCo used for tests, said that "in this billion-plus developing nation, due to excessive pesticide use, our entire food chain contains pesticide residues. In tests, even human milk in India contained pesticide residue" that was greater than the limits set by the Worth Health Organization.

"The real issue is to have a proactive policy on phasing out pesticides," Reddy said.
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 21:23:31 +0530
When you go to India, by all means avoid eating of Cauliflower, Grapes including raisins, and Cashew nuts. I would not even eat cashew nuts here, even if it is of organic origin. DDT is used on them, and it remains for a long time in the soil. Cauliflower in India is among the worst poison-carriers in food, since it is not pealable. Besides the fertilizers and pestizides used, whitener is also added if it travels long distances.

Since ghee cannot be bought in America, I have seen that bhaktas there sometimes buy it from Indian shops. Be warned that DDT is stored in fat, so cows fed with DDT containing food most likely store it in their milk-fat. DDT is also stored in body-fat. DDT is highly carcinogenic, outlawed in Europe and the U.S., but widely used in India. (DDT was invented by a Swiss company and they still dump it on poorer nations. It is a shame.)

Also beware of exclusive wearing of Indian made textiles, especially when they are commercially shipped to the West, or stored in modern shops in India. Cotton is the most heavily poisoned plant in India, and, when textiles are shipped, additional pesticides are added to avoid damage during shipment (same is true for other Asian nations). Some months back I accidentially heard of a case of woman who had developed a deadly disease (poisons eating up her brain) just from unpacking textiles from India for a sales company for 15 years.

This is not meant to deterr anyone from going to India, but just to beware from unnecessary exposure to serious avoidable health-risks.

A solution is: Make your friends in India aware of these things and have them buy organic stuff as far as possible. Vraja and other Dhams can become India's foremost example of organic farming, if the temples start to ask for it, and practice organic farming themselves. Most temples in India own land where they grow rice and other things. Rice is heavily poisoned in India also. Temples and their sevaites can apply sound practices when dealing with nature. They should be the first to take an interest in this, since they worship God professionally, and therefore should not be out to hurt and kill themselves and others by poisoning their produce.
Malatilata - Fri, 16 Jul 2004 00:10:28 +0530
Here are some tips how to avoid harmful chemicals in everydaylife: