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#76 -- Precaution Goes to Court, 7-Feb-2007

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #76

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

Wednesday, February 7, 2007..........Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.
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Table of Contents...

British Court Case Highlights Precautionary Approach to Pesticides
The [British] Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution concluded
there was a lack of concrete evidence on the health impacts of
pesticides and suggested the precautionary principle be followed until
more information was available. The advice was ignored.
Editorial: Climate Change Demands Action
A major newspaper, New York Newsday, urges use of the precautionary
principle in response to evidence of human contributions to global
warming.
Long Island Residents Oppose A Radio Tower, Invoking Precaution
Residents who spoke out at last night's meeting, however, don't
want to wait for any "if." They would rather operate according to the
precautionary principle that is now the rule in several countries and
a few American municipalities regarding environmental issues. The
principle states -- very roughly -- that where an activity raises
concerns about public or environmental health, the burden of proof is
on those carrying out the activity, rather than the public.
Synthetic Chemicals Can Affect Offspring
"In the absence of concrete data for many of these chemicals, the
precautionary principle should be exercised," said Dr. Linda Guidice,
chairwoman of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the
University of California at San Francisco and the organizer of the
reproductive health conference that brought 500 scientists, clinicians
and community activists together last week.
The Years the Locusts Ate
To protect the future against climate chaos, we must "bring back
the precautionary principle" and shift the burden of proof onto those
whose activities despoil the environment.
Nanotechnology: The Next Battleground?
The concerns expressed by those wary of nanotechnology are very
similar to those expressed by critics of biotechnology, namely that we
just don't know what the impacts will be. It is this lack of knowledge
that has led some to invoke the precautionary principle and call for a
moratorium on certain aspects of nanotechnology use and research.
Poles, Czechs Likely to Accept Missile Shield: Analysts
President Bush says he initiated the Iraq war as a precautionary
measure. Now the military in Poland and the Czech Republic say they
want to accept a U.S. missile shield as a precautionary measure.

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From: www.edie.net, Feb. 6, 2007
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PESTICIDES CAMPAIGNER TAKES DEFRA TO THE HIGH COURT

By Sam Bond

A woman who has been fighting for stricter laws controlling the
spraying of agricultural chemicals [in England] has welcomed a judge's
decision to allow her to take her battle to the next level.

For the past six years Georgina Downs has waged a one-woman war
against Defra [Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] for
its perceived failure to provide protection against the damage caused
by pesticides, both to the environment and human health.

Through the vehicle of her UK Pesticides Campaign, Ms Downs has been
arguing that Government is legally obliged to protect people with
tighter regulation, risk assessment for spraying near residential
areas and what she sees as the serious inadequacies of the existing
bystander risk assessment.

"The fact that there has never been any risk assessment for the long-
term exposure for those who live, work or go to school near pesticide
sprayed fields means that there is no evidence to support the
Government's continued assertions that there are no health risks to
people in the countryside from crop-spraying," she said.

Ms Downs has now been granted permission by a High Court Judge,
Honourable Justice Mitting, to Judicially Review the approach taken
and policy adopted by David Miliband to the control of the use of
pesticides in crop-spraying.

Her case is based on the fact that Government has chosen to ignore
several of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on
Environmental Pollution (RCEP), which was asked by Ministers to
examine the potential threat to health and the environment posed by
spraying.

The commission had concluded there was a lack of concrete evidence on
the health impacts of pesticides and suggested the precautionary
principle be followed until more information was available.

The easiest way to do this, it said, would be to to introduce no-spray
buffer zones around the edges of fields which backed onto residential
areas.

Government considered the advice but decided the buffer zones were
unproven and unnecessary and would put an unacceptable financial
burden on farmers.

Ms Downs claimed that Defra's response to the RCEP report, published
in July 2006, continued to demonstrate the Government's 'clear
commitment to protecting industry interests over and above protecting
public health'.

Her case is expected to be listed for a full High Court Hearing in the
spring.

Copyright Faversham House Group Ltd 2007. edie news articles may be
copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or
distribution is permitted without prior written consent.

To print: Select File and then Print from your browser's menu This
story was printed from www.edie.net

Pesticides campaigner takes Defra to the High Court (published on 6-
February-2007) URL: http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?id=12571

A woman who has been fighting for stricter laws controlling the
spraying of agricultural chemicals has welcomed a judge's decision to
allow her to take her battle to the next level.

For the past six years Georgina Downs has waged a one-woman war
against Defra for its perceived failure to provide protection against
the damage caused by pesticides, both to the environment and human
health.

Through the vehicle of her UK Pesticides Campaign, Ms Downs has been
arguing that Government is legally obliged to protect people with
tighter regulation, risk assessment for spraying near residential
areas and what she sees as the serious inadequacies of the existing
bystander risk assessment.

"The fact that there has never been any risk assessment for the long-
term exposure for those who live, work or go to school near pesticide
sprayed fields means that there is no evidence to support the
Government's continued assertions that there are no health risks to
people in the countryside from crop-spraying," she said.

Ms Downs has now been granted permission by a High Court Judge,
Honourable Justice Mitting, to Judicially Review the approach taken
and policy adopted by David Miliband to the control of the use of
pesticides in crop-spraying.

Her case is based on the fact that Government has chosen to ignore
several of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on
Environmental Pollution (RCEP), which was asked by Ministers to
examine the potential threat to health and the environment posed by
spraying.

The commission had concluded there was a lack of concrete evidence on
the health impacts of pesticides and suggested the precautionary
principle be followed until more information was available.

The easiest way to do this, it said, would be to to introduce no-spray
buffer zones around the edges of fields which backed onto residential
areas.

Government considered the advise but decided the buffer zones were
unproven and unnecessary and would put an unacceptable financial
burden on farmers.

Ms Downs claimed that Defra's response to the RCEP report, published
in July 2006, continued to demonstrate the Government's 'clear
commitment to protecting industry interests over and above protecting
public health'.

Her case is expected to be listed for a full High Court Hearing in the
spring.

CP Copyright Faversham House Group Ltd 2007

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From: Newsday, Feb. 6, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

EDITORIAL: CLIMATE CHANGE DEMANDS ACTION

Panel report erases lingering doubts

Even the Bush White House, stubbornly skeptical about the dangers of
global warming, accepts the latest report of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, which says it's "very likely" that human
activity has caused most of the global temperature increase since
1950. Now the question is what the president and the Congress are
ready to do. This is a time to start moving from debate to action.

The panel's fourth report since 1990 is not a shoot-from-the-hip
screed from an activist group. It summarizes the work of hundreds of
authors and peer reviewers, modified in response to more than 30,000
comments on the drafts. So it sifts out extreme findings to achieve a
broad consensus. It won the approval of 113 nations, including the
United States.

"It reflects the sizeable and robust body of knowledge regarding the
physical science of climate change, including the finding that the
Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused
most of the warming of the last 50 years," said the top White House
delegate to the panel's meeting. Still, last week a House committee
heard testimony that Bush officials have pressured government
scientists to remove comments about global warming from documents.

This page accepted the national decision not to join the Kyoto
agreement on cutting greenhouse gases because it did not include China
and India, which are becoming huge emitters. (Many on the panel wanted
the new report to say it was "virtually certain" that human activity
is causing the warming. But China objected, so the final result was
"very likely.")

The panel will propose solutions later this year. It's time to get
beyond Kyoto and reach global agreement on a menu of steps to reduce
global warming. The precautionary principle dictates that, even in the
absence of 100 percent certainty, we now know enough to get moving
fast, to do what we can to slow down the warming.

Copyright Newsday Inc.

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From: Northender.com (Oyster Bay, N.Y.), Feb. 2, 2007
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TOWER OF DISSENT

By Brian Brennan

The third public meeting was held last night on a subject that has
polarized a substantial portion of the Bayville population.

Village Mayor Victoria Siegel and the Village trustees last night
allowed representatives of the Nassau County police and fire
departments to present their argument that the Village must allow the
County to install a new, T-band, digital turnkey radio system on its
water tower.

The system would be composed of multiple antennas and electromagnetic
microwave dishes, as well as a substantial shed at the base of the
tower.

The audience, assembled in the auditorium of the Bayville Intermediate
School, heard from a panel of the proposal's supporters before the
floor was opened to questions and comments.

The reasons why

Proponents of the system insist that it would greatly enhance the
communication capabilities of the County's first responders throughout
Long Island. It would allow Nassau to have its own unique frequency,
they say, an improvement over the current system of sharing a UHF band
with municipalities in New Jersey. This, the County claims, has forced
its emergency personnel to transmit at levels that do not interfere
with co-users but that limit radio traffic capacity.

The County also insists that coverage itself would be far more
comprehensive and reliable, allowing solid interoperability with all
of Nassau and Suffolk counties, New York City, and three miles out
into Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Early last month, County Executive Tom Suozzi held a press conference
and hit out at local Long Island governments that he claimed were
compromising public safety by refusing to allow antennas to be placed
on their water towers.

Opposition to the antennas stems from fears of the radiation generated
by the microwave dishes, especially as the water tower is cattycorner
to the Bayville Primary School.

First to take the podium was County Police Deputy Inspector Ed Horace.
Mr. Horace said that three key points would be illustrated throughout
the night: that putting the antennas up will benefit Bayville and all
of Nassau County, that Bayville's water tower is critical to the plan
to improve coverage throughout Long Island, and that there are
absolutely no health risks whatsoever.

Also speaking were County Police Commissioner James H. Lawrence,
Assistant County Chief Fire Marshall Peter Meade, independent
consultant Ron Petersen, and Stephanie Walsh, a project site reviewer
for Motorola, which has been awarded the contract to install and
operate the system.

The Bayville Fire Department submitted a letter read by Mayor Siegel
urging support for the proposal. Regardless of whether this particular
proposal was judged to be safe or not, the letter said, it was
imperative that communications be improved.

"After 9/11, those of us in law enforcement took a step back and
examined the way we do public security," Commissioner Lawrence told
the audience. "I am aware that a lot of you are here because of the
things that you have heard. I ask you to just look at the facts."

The Commissioner said that the current system, erected in 1982, is
inadequate and "partially unsafe" because of its spotty coverage. He
called it "disheartening" that it was necessary to invoke memories of
9/11 to underscore the need for improved communications. Many first
responders lost their lives that day due to inadequate radio
communications, he said.

Ron Petersen and Motorola's Stephanie Walsh were there to offer more
in-depth analyses of the safety issues. Mr. Petersen has a consulting
firm and is also a former chairman of the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Initial Committee on Electromagnetic
Safety. He is currently secretary of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine
and Biology Study (EMBS) Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR).

The panel took pains to convey that there was nothing arbitrary in the
selection of Bayville as a necessary site. A team of engineers scouted
the island for locations, Ms. Walsh said, and a refusal by Bayville to
take part in the project would affect the entire communication chain.

She said the sites on which the engineers settled are "absolutely the
sites we need", and that, "We simply can't meet the required coverage
needs without Bayville."

Individuals on both sides of the debate came armed with studies,
reports and statistics about the system's safety.

Ron Petersen quoted the World Health Organization (WHO), the IEEE and
the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radio Protection to back
up his assurance that the level of radiation generated is less than
one-tenth of the maximum allowed by the US Federal Communications
Commission and other national agencies.

His argument is also supported by the report summarizing an
independent study commissioned by the Village and available on the
Village website that reads, "The expected increases of electromagnetic
radiation levels are small in Bayville, because the energy radiated by
the proposed antennas would go far overhead. It would be very weak
when it reaches a few people in Mill Neck. There should be no fear of
microwave or other Radio Frequency exposure to adults or small
children living in Bayville or attending either Bayville school."

Mr. Petersen said that it is easy to Google the topic and access a
multitude of articles and reports purporting to be from experts that
paint a frightening picture of electromagnetic radiation. But
documents that withstand the scientific process and peer review, he
said, support his argument.

Every resident who spoke expressed some degree of disapprobation for
the proposal. Some cited studies and documents, the validity of each
Mr. Petersen dismissed. Most, however, cited a lack of solid
documentation either way.

The precautionary principle

The EPA and WHO continue to study the possibility of links between
electromagnetic radiation and health problems such as developmental
difficulties in children and cancer. "These are living documents. If
anything is found....then the standard will be changed," Mr. Petersen
said.

Residents who spoke out at last night's meeting, however, don't want
to wait for any if. They would rather operate according to the
precautionary principle that is now the rule in several countries and
a few American municipalities regarding environmental issues. The
principle states -- very roughly -- that where an activity raises
concerns about public or environmental health, the burden of proof is
on those carrying out the activity, rather than the public.

Those who raised their hands to speak at last night's meetings
indicated that, to them, the proponents of this plan have not
satisfactorily discharged that burden. One resident seemed to sum up
the sentiments of the majority when she told the panel, "The bottom
line is: you don't know."

Several referred to the once-imagined safety of asbestos, tobacco,
hormone replacement therapy and the air quality at Ground Zero.

One resident presented Mayor Siegel and the Village trustees with a
petition containing over 250 signatures urging them to block the
proposal. After she had given it to them, the resident said it was "an
insult to hide behind the cloak of 9/11 and homeland security."

Several expressed concern and support for firefighters and the police,
but said that any communications benefits offered by the system did
not outweigh the uncertainty. "We have to ask ourselves: is the
tradeoff worth it?" said Joseph DiGennaro.

Resident Beverly Pacifico took the podium and spoke of taking her
school-aged son to a chemo treatment that very day as part of his
battle against leukemia. She was one of many who said that no risk to
the health of the Village's children was acceptable.

Also at issue was the fact that Bayville already had 52 antennas on
its water tower, largely belonging to cell phone carriers who pay the
village for the space.

"I wouldn't be that concerned if there wasn't already so much
equipment there. I know from the outside, it looks like we're
resisting something that's helping us, but that's really not the
case," said Chris Zino, a Bayville resident and volunteer firefighter
for Oyster Bay.

Mr. Zino questioned the legality of this arrangement, in lieu of a
deed dating back to the 1950's that prohibited commercial use of the
water tower. Mayor Siegel replied that the Village barred cell phone
companies from using the tower for years until being advised by their
counsel in 2003 that the clause to which Mr. Zino referred had
expired.

In answer to a question from resident Mary Pell, the Mayor said that
the Village could only legally remove the antennas of companies with
which it had contract if it relocated the antennas to another location
within the Village.

Ms. Pell asked when those contracts expired, and was told by Mayor
Siegel that that issue would be looked into.

The meeting began at 7:30 and ended promptly at 9:00. When several in
the audience called out questions as to whether there would be any
more meetings on the subject, Mayor Siegel replied that the vote would
be carried out publicly.

No date for the vote has been released.

Copyright 2006 Northender.com

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From: InsideBayArea.com, Feb. 4, 2007
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SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS CAN AFFECT OFFSPRING

Scientists believe effects can extend to two generations

By Douglas Fischer, staff writer

SAN FRANCISCO -- Your ability to reproduce -- and the health of your
child and even your grandchildren -- hinges on an exquisitely timed
series of chemical reactions controlled by infinitesimally tiny
amounts of hormones.

You scramble those reactions at your peril, in other words, and last
week hundreds of researchers gathered at the University of California,
San Francisco, warned society may be doing exactly that with synthetic
chemicals.

The chemicals, known as endocrine disrupters, are found everywhere in
our environment: our food, lotions, shampoos, baby bottles, toys,
appliances, even the casings encapsulating our medicines. They mimic
hormones at levels scientists only recently have been able to measure,
and some are active at concentrations of a part-per-trillion or less
-- a speck of dirt sullying 55tons of clean laundry.

Most worrisome to scientists: In many cases the effect of such
pollution on our bodies remains as mysterious as the processes they
potentially disrupt.

"In the absence of concrete data for many of these chemicals, the
precautionary principle should be exercised," said Dr. Linda Guidice,
chairwoman of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at UCSF
[University of California at San Francisco] and the organizer of the
reproductive health conference that brought 500 scientists, clinicians
and community activists together last week.

The list of potential effects, scientists concluded, stretches across
every aspect of reproductive and sexual development -- preconception,
conception, pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, menopause.

Every key developmental stage is driven by a tightly choreographed
fluctuation in hormones. A flood of endocrine disrupters, scientists
fear, obviates that dance.

For those suffering from endometriosis, there's no need to imagine.

Wendy Botwin of Oakland was 18 when she felt the first signs:
mysterious sickness, massive abdominal pain, irregular periods,
crushing headaches, painful sex. Two-and-a-half years passed before a
doctor diagnosed endometriosis, a debilitating disease where the
tissue lining the uterus appears outside the womb in other parts of
the body.

Today, at 37, Botwin has been on every type of birth control pill,
been advised to get pregnant (she may be infertile) and to have a
hysterectomy. One drug sent her into menopause, at age 21.

Nothing has worked.

She feels certain something in the environment has triggered this. Her
father died at 62 of stomach cancer. Her younger sister last year was
diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She feels, she said, very much like a
canary in a coal mine.

"I know we've polluted our bodies and the Earth," she said. "The
environment is really inside of our bodies. It's not just outside."

The science of endocrine disrupters is still controversial. The
effects in humans are uncertain. Government panels assessing the
weight of the evidence for many of these compounds repeatedly have
found no need for concern. But scientists say disturbing gaps remain
in our knowledge.

- Several studies have shown pesticides suppress fetal testosterone in
laboratory animals. But scientists can't fully explain the
consequence. They don't even know the role testosterone plays in a
baby boy's brain development.

- The womb was once thought of as a gatekeeper, shielding the
developing baby from harm. No more. A number of contaminants readily
traverse the placenta, and others -- synthetic fragrances, for one --
are thought to hold the door open, so to speak.

- Female mice exposed in utero to bisphenol-A, a estrogenic additive
used to line food cans and make plastic shatterproof, among other
things, saw a 40percent increase in chromosomally abnormal eggs,
according to one research team.

But this is where the science gets murky. In November a European panel
investigating the effects of bisphenol-A concluded levels found in the
environment pose no threat to our health, despite findings such as
Hunt's.

Why? Mice and humans process bisphenol-A differently, the panel said.

Mice recirculate the compound and appear to be particularly sensitive
to such weak estrogens. Humans, in contrast, rapidly transform
bisphenol-A in the gut into a compound devoid of hormonal activity,
then pass it via urine.

Such differences, according to the European Food Safety
Administration, "raise considerable doubts about the relevance of any
low-dose observations in rodents for humans."

There's another example out there, however: DES, or
diethylstilbestrol, a wonder drug given with the best of intentions
from the 1940s to the 1970s to pregnant women prone to miscarriage.

The mothers did fine, but DES ravaged the reproductive tracts of their
children.

DES did its damage, scientists now know, because it turned hormones on
at a time during fetal development when they would normally be silent.
That, researchers say, is exactly what bisphenol-A and a soup of other
endocrine-disrupting compounds do.

Sandra Steingraber, a noted ecologist, author and cancer survivor,
echoed Botwin's thoughts on the environment and endometriosis as she
told scientists of her experience being pregnant with her daughter,
Faith.

"We need to start thinking of our reproductive lives as a live musical
performance. Our bodies are the piano, but the hands are the
environment," she said. "We are nothing less than the receivers of
environmental messages. As that message changes, we are changing
ourselves."

Contact Douglas Fischer at dfischer@angnewspapers.com or (510)
208-6425.

Copyright 2000-2006 ANG Newspapers

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From: TheTyee.ca, Feb. 5, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

THE YEARS THE LOCUSTS ATE

Too late now? Shame on enemies of action on global warming.

By Rafe Mair

Thank God it's finally over! The blockbuster environmental report put
out last week by a blue ribbon panel of scientists permits no argument
except that of a fool. The increasing greenhouse gases and the results
will be very serious if we start doing something now, and catastrophic
if we don't. In fact, the most important message from this report is
that the dramatic consequences we once just feared are already with us
and worsening by the day.

What a shame. What horrible governmental neglect -- deliberate neglect
at that! The years we should have learned and acted, our governments
permitted and even encouraged the horrible practices that now threaten
the very existence of our species on this planet. This shameful time,
the past 25 years, are, as Churchill would likely have called them,
the years the locusts ate.

Let's look at what happened. The public relations people spent the
whole time telling the world that the climate concerns were stuff and
nonsense. Exaggerations! Bad science! What was happening either wasn't
happening or, if it was, it was just one of Mother Nature's cyclical
things that would come and go.

Dropping our best defence

Public relations people are not hired to pass judgment on how their
clients ply their trade. They are hired to put the best possible face
on everything they do. I know a bit about it because I briefly did
some consulting work, 20 years ago, for a large PR firm. Some of what
the flack does is pretty routine stuff and relatively harmless. When,
however, they jump the line between true and false, they do enormous
harm.

Their most effective weapon we, through our politicians, handed to the
environment despoilers long ago.

We -- our society -- placed the onus of proving harm upon ourselves,
not the user.

At the same time, our governments [in Canada] took away from us the
former policemen in the environment, namely, the federal Department of
Fisheries and Oceans and the provincial Ministry of Environment. These
two agencies still exist but they have been thoroughly politicized,
and now they too put the onus of proving harm on the public and in
fact shill for the industries they are supposed to monitor!

On environment issues, therefore, the public has no friends save
themselves and environmental organizations they support.

Bring back the precautionary principle

The onus of proof must be placed back where it belongs -- on those who
would use the environment. Moreover, the onus of proof -- and this is
critical -- must be accompanied by the precautionary principle which
argues that if an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible
harm to the public, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm
would not ensue, the action must not take place.

In days gone by, this principle was at least the stated policy of
government. While I don't want to belabour a constant issue of mine,
the classic breach of the precautionary principle was the farming of
Atlantic salmon in B.C. [British Columbia] waters.

Put shortly, 15 years ago, when the fish farms came seriously to our
coast, there was an abundance of evidence from Norway, Scotland and
Ireland demonstrating that it was hugely dangerous to have fish pens
near migrating salmonid smolts because the sea lice from these cages
would destroy them.

Between 1997, the time the NDP [New Democratic Party] government
placed a moratorium on Atlantic salmon farms, and 1991, when the
Campbell government lifted it, independent science poured forth and
unanimously supported the evidence from Norway, Scotland and Ireland.
The Campbell government ignored the science, thereby saying "get
stuffed" to those who pled the precautionary principle.

Flacks versus facts

What the removal of the precautionary principle does is play right
into the hands of the PR flack because instead of having to defend his
client, all he need do is raise doubts, with disinformation as his
main weapon. The actions taken by the fish farmers are remarkable
examples of how independent science has been downplayed and often
ignored. Let me give you one example.

After years of denying that lice from fish farms attacked salmon
smolts in the Broughton Archipelago, where tiny smolts have to run a
gauntlet of millions of sea lice from these cages, the farmers and
their buddies in government argued that no one had proved that it was
these precise lice that were doing the damage!

Even when some fish pens were left fallow during salmon migrations,
and there was a bountiful return, the flacks, wonderfully aping the
ink fish, raised all manner of silly possibilities as explanations. I
only use the fish farm example because it's current in our bailiwick.
The shifting of the burden of proof onto the public instead of it
remaining on those who would advocate taking the action, is worldwide.

We have a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (federal) and a B.C.
Environment Ministry both of which have laws to administer which
clearly place the burden of proof on those who want to take the
action.

Yet, instead of enforcing these rules, both ministries, on orders from
their political masters, have taken upon themselves the duty of
helping the potential spoilers with their licensing requirements,
turning a blind eye to their transgressions, and promoting the
industry they are supposed to monitor. (In one case, the B.C.
government actually returned fines levied against the fish farmers!)

We're out of time

This may all seem like legalistic nit-picking but it's far from that.
The shifting of the burden of proof away from those using the
environment has meant that the work governments are supposed to do as
policemen of the environment not only doesn't happen any more, but
worse, the government "policemen" are on the side of the despoiler!

What has all this to do with global warming?

A hell of a lot. For if the governments are going to support obvious
causes of global warming and other environmental degradation, it will
fall to the people -- not those they elect to look after their
interests -- and environmental groups they may support to demonstrate
the harm.

The only way we can tackle both the big problems and the lesser ones
is for governments to place the onus of disproving harm squarely on
the user.

Given the recent history of both the federal and provincial
governments, that won't be easy. But, unless we put the burden of
proof where it belongs, we have zero chance of making headway in our
long delayed fight for our planet's survival.

==============

Rafe Mair writes a Monday column for The Tyee. You can read previous
ones here. Mair's website is www.rafeonline.com and his latest book,
Over the Mountains, is at your bookstore...or it damn well should be.

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From: OhmyNews International (South Korea), Feb. 3, 2007
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NANOTECHNOLOGY: THE NEXT BATTLEGROUND?

Fight may be brewing between rampant capitalism and concerned citizens

By John Horvath

Nanotechnology is a manufacturing technology on a very small scale.
The particles used in nanotechnology research or manufacturing are
invisible to the human eye, one nanometer being one billionth of a
meter. A human hair is 80,000 nanometers wide.

Although nanotechnology is still very much in its infancy, already
there are concerns over the widespread use of the technology.
Furthermore, apprehension isn't restricted to one field, but covers
areas such as human health, environmental impacts, effects on
international trade and developing countries, and the possible
proliferation in armaments.

The concerns expressed by those wary of nanotechnology are very
similar to those expressed by critics of biotechnology, namely that we
just don't know what the impacts will be. It is this lack of knowledge
that has led some to invoke the precautionary principle and call for a
moratorium on certain aspects of nanotechnology use and research.

Although most people don't realize it, we are already surrounded by
products developed using nanotechnology. Face creams and sun tan
lotions are two examples, and there are claims that such creams, which
are able to pass through the skin, are potentially mutagenic and
cancerous. Other products include such things as self-cleaning
trousers and crack-resistant paint.

Nanoparticles can pass into the body by three means: through
inhalation, ingestion, and transdermally. It's not so much what
nanoparticles are made of as much as their size. Toxicity increases as
the size of the particle decreases.

Another worry is where the particles get to within the body. It's
already well known from pharmaceutical companies that putting a drug
on the back of a nanoparticle can increase the delivery of the drug to
the brain. The problem is that if a nanoparticle can get to the brain,
then it can also get to other sensitive parts of the body, such as the
kidneys, liver, or even foetus.

Aside from this, some are also worried about the military implications
of nanotechnology. Research is already being conducted by the military
in several countries; indeed, military research into the use of
nanotechnology has been going on since the 1980s. Recently, there has
been a marked increase in such research activity, particularly in the
U.S. Researchers in the U.S. are currently working on a battle suit
that would protect soldiers from radiation and also act as a compress
when a soldier is injured. Other innovations include the facilitation
of surveillance, bombs the size of a pen that could flatten a whole
city, and, ultimately, the manipulation of the human body to make
soldiers more stress-tolerant, to repair injuries more effectively,
and to speed up reactions. What is of concern to many is that once
such technology has been used by the military, the transfer to the
civilian sector will be a natural step.

As a result of all this, some scientists are calling for a slow
deceleration of nanotechnology research in order to buy time for an
international agreement on limits to such technology. Some experts
claim that governments are currently running around five years behind
the times in terms of assessing the potential impacts.

Not only this, but the ways in which researchers handle nanoparticles
is justification in itself for slowing down and taking stock of
nanotechnology. While scientists in South Africa handle nanoparticles
as if they were dealing with the AIDS virus, other researchers,
including some in Europe, wear only a "Japanese subway mask" as
protection. As one observer put it, "this is like wearing a volleyball
net to keep out mosquitoes."

In addition to this, there is the broader socio-economic implications
of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology will mean that the raw materials
that we currently consider to be essential will change, and that this
will have a dramatic effect on developing countries, many of which
rely on the export of raw materials. Additionally, the effect on
developing countries is such that some countries are adapting
themselves to nanotechnology as a means for development. This, in
turn, creates a situation where the basic needs of society are brushed
aside in favor of high technology centers.

As in other areas of science and technology, such as biotechnology and
various areas of computer technology, namely software development,
there are also concerns about the impact of intellectual property, as
it is conceivable that a single patent may have dominance over many
industrial sectors since it could cover the fundamentals of all
matters. To this extent, a collusion of interest between industry and
government must be avoided. Hence, government policy mustn't be
composed by small groups of experts and bureaucrats, but include the
general public as well. Moreover, policy makers need to ask the right
questions to ensure that big business doesn't circumvent regulation.

The Big Attraction

Although there are many opponents and critics of nanotechnology, not
everyone is so skeptical of the new technology. Some even see it as a
way of rectifying present enigmas, such as pollution. Because of the
scale of the particles in question, it's envisaged that future
applications could allow the removal of the smallest contaminants,
including greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Some point out that the abandonment of broad areas of technology
research, such as nanotechnology, will only push such research
underground, where development would continue unimpeded by ethics and
regulation. In such a situation, it would be the less stable and less
responsible practitioners (for example, terrorists) who would have all
the expertise.

To this extent, many who reject calls for a moratorium on
nanotechnology note that technology has always been a double-edged
sword. Moreover, they argue that forgoing fields such as
nanotechnology is untenable. Nanotechnology is simply the inevitable
end result of a persistent trend toward miniaturization that pervades
all of technology. It is far from a single centralized effort but is
being pursued by a myriad of projects with many diverse goals.

Along these lines, the European Commission (EC) has high hopes for
nanotechnology. For most politicians, the possible benefits of the
technology far outweigh any potential hazards. At best, the
precautionary principle is sidestepped by a promise to look into an
issue in more depth. For instance, the U.K. government recognized the
need for further research in this area and promptly requested a study
on the potential benefits and problems of nanotechnology. A report was
subsequently released entitled "The social and economic challenges of
nanotechnology," prepared by the U.K.'s economic and social research
council.

The authors of the report maintain their aim is to "stimulate debate"
with the paper's publication. Three areas are highlighted as central
to this debate: the governance of technological change; social
learning and the evaluation of risk and opportunity under uncertainty;
and the role of new technology in ameliorating or accentuating
inequity and economic divides. Yet by carefully observing the language
of the U.K. report, it's clear that the British government's move is
more of an exercise in spin management, with the aim to highlight the
benefits and downplay the concerns.

While the report is useful in that it provides a general overview to
what nanotechnology is, it nevertheless skims over present day
concerns as something which belongs far out into the distant future
(and thus the problem of other generations), this despite the fact
that many of the worries are over applications and products already on
the market. An artificial split is made between current nanotechnology
research and applications (i.e., those which may be possible in the
medium term) and those which may emerge in the long term. Current
applications are predominantly limited to advances in well-established
areas of applied science, such as material science and colloid
technology. Medium-term applications are likely to focus on overcoming
barriers to technological progress, while long term applications are
seen as more difficult to predict, and are thus viewed as the focus of
most concern by critics.

As with biotechnology, what the "debate" on nanotechnology actually
represents is an overall shift in the framework of European science
and technology, in where research is moving away from knowledge
generation to one of income generation. The two are mutually
exclusive, as the pursuit of profit means patents and intellectual
property rights put limits on the free flow of information. While
competition may mean the production of cheaper goods, it also means
withholding vital knowledge for fear that your rival may end up making
money off your ideas.

This is the enigma that Eurocrats have been struggling to overcome.
Although capable of producing excellence in terms of research, Europe
is finding it hard to capitalize on it. While the EU shows a
creditable performance in some fields (such as medical research,
chemistry, aeronautics or telecommunications), it is falling ever
further behind in biotechnology and the information technologies.

Overall, Europe's performance in terms of trade in high technology is
continuing to deteriorate: its trade deficit in this field increased
from 9 billion euro in 1995 to 48 billion in 2000. For the EC, a clear
indicator of this competitive weakness is the falling share of patent
registrations of European origin, whether on the European or the U.S.
market.

But there is one ray of hope: in the nanotechnologies, a sector with a
particularly promising future, Europe is almost level with the United
States in terms of publications and patents. Thus, the only way to
stop the overall decline of Europe's performance of trade in high
technology is to increase European investment in research, with the
ultimate aim of turning knowledge into profit. For many Eurocrats, the
E.U. had already lost out in the bitter harvest over biotechnology;
they now feel that they must make sure that the same doesn't happen
with nanotechnology.

Copyright 2007 Ohmynews

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From: DefenseNews.com, Feb. 2, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

POLES, CZECHS LIKELY TO ACCEPT MISSILE SHIELD: ANALYSTS

By Chris Johnson, Reuters, Warsaw

Despite fierce public opposition, center-right governments in Poland
and the Czech Republic are determined to push through plans to site a
U.S. missile defense system and thus tie Washington's interests to
their region.

Although the system -- with a radar station in the Czech Republic and
up to 10 ground-based ballistic rockets, or interceptors, in Poland --
would offer no protection now to either country, Warsaw and Prague are
playing a longer game.

Analysts and diplomats say both center-right governments in the former
communist states see the U.S. system as a way of locking in a long-
term strategic relationship with Washington.

And despite polls showing deep public doubt, and strident political
opposition, both administrations believe they can get the plans
through parliament provided some concessions are met.

"The missile shield is viewed as a long-term insurance policy for
times of acute instability," said Eugeniusz Smollar, president of the
Center for International Relations in Warsaw.

"The argument is that if the United States has a major base here, it
will view this territory as special and will therefore have a much
stronger motivation to look after its security."

The proposed central European defense system would be able to detect
and shoot down missiles carrying nuclear, bacteriological or chemical
warheads, which the Pentagon says could be fired from Iran from 2011
or 2012.

The system would be part of a multi-billion-dollar scheme to counter
"rogue regimes", such as North Korea. Up to 25 interceptors are to be
installed this year in the United States.

LONG-TERM RISK

While neither Warsaw nor Prague sees threats now from either Russia or
Iran, they are using a precautionary principle.

At the back of their minds, officials say the two countries are
worried about a possible long-term risk from their former Soviet
masters in Russia, which could be several decades away, and about
potential future missiles from the Middle East.

The missile defense plans have angered Russia, which sees it as an
attempt to change the strategic balance in Europe. Russian President
Vladimir Putin criticized the plans on Jan. 31 and said Russia would
come up with a "highly effective" response.

Iran, Putin told a news conference in Moscow, did not possess long-
range missiles, only medium-range devices.

"Our specialists don't think that anti-missile systems in Eastern
Europe are aimed against terrorists or Iran. Can you really fight
terrorists with ballistic missiles?" he said.

Tim Williams, head of European security analysis at the Royal United
Services Institute, said there was "lingering concern about Russia" in
Poland and the Czech Republic.

"This system would be no use against any concerted attack (from
Russia). Russia has hundreds of missiles and could easily overwhelm
both countries.

"But (Warsaw and Prague) feel it binds them to Washington for the long
term, and in that it has extra appeal," he added.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is due to discuss the U.S.
proposal with all political parties next week, officials said on Jan.
31, and formal negotiations with Washington are likely to begin in the
middle of February.

Williams said a calculation that Warsaw and Prague were among the most
likely governments to accept the system was one of the key reasons
they were selected by Washington.

The central European countries also fall in a convenient geographic
band, far enough north for interceptors to shoot down any incoming
missiles aimed at Europe, and close enough to most other European
states to offer them protection under the shield.

VISAS AND PATRIOTS

An opinion poll this week showed most Poles oppose placing the
missiles on Polish soil, and Czech public opinion is also hostile,
comments by political parties in Prague suggest.

The left-wing Czech opposition Social Democrats said on Jan. 31 party
members were leaning against hosting the radar.

"This is going to be a hotly debated issue and it won't be easy to
push it through," said Jiri Pehe, head of the New York University in
Prague. "Now it is 50:50 in parliament."

But a waiver of visas for Czech citizens visiting the United States
could swing public opinion in favor of the scheme, analysts say, and
politicians from all major Czech parties have said it would underpin
the country's long-term security.

The ruling Civic Democrats back the idea in general.

"I am deeply convinced that locating the base (here) will raise the
safety of the Czech Republic and its citizens," Prime Minister Mirek
Topolanek said in parliament on Jan. 31.

In Poland, the plan has raised concern among junior partners of the
coalition government who have suggested the missiles could make the
country a target of terrorism.

But this objection can probably be overcome, diplomats say, if the
ruling conservative Law and Justice party can get U.S. help to place
advanced medium-range Patriot batteries in Poland to counter any risk
of attack from rogue missiles.

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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.

Editors:
Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org

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:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #76 "Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World" Wednesday, February 7, 2007..........Printer-friendly version www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Table of Contents...

British Court Case Highlights Precautionary Approach to Pesticides
The [British] Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution concluded
there was a lack of concrete evidence on the health impacts of
pesticides and suggested the precautionary principle be followed until
more information was available. The advice was ignored.
Editorial: Climate Change Demands Action
A major newspaper, New York Newsday, urges use of the precautionary
principle in response to evidence of human contributions to global
warming.
Long Island Residents Oppose A Radio Tower, Invoking Precaution
Residents who spoke out at last night's meeting, however, don't
want to wait for any "if." They would rather operate according to the
precautionary principle that is now the rule in several countries and
a few American municipalities regarding environmental issues. The
principle states -- very roughly -- that where an activity raises
concerns about public or environmental health, the burden of proof is
on those carrying out the activity, rather than the public.
Synthetic Chemicals Can Affect Offspring
"In the absence of concrete data for many of these chemicals, the
precautionary principle should be exercised," said Dr. Linda Guidice,
chairwoman of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the
University of California at San Francisco and the organizer of the
reproductive health conference that brought 500 scientists, clinicians
and community activists together last week.
The Years the Locusts Ate
To protect the future against climate chaos, we must "bring back
the precautionary principle" and shift the burden of proof onto those
whose activities despoil the environment.
Nanotechnology: The Next Battleground?
The concerns expressed by those wary of nanotechnology are very
similar to those expressed by critics of biotechnology, namely that we
just don't know what the impacts will be. It is this lack of knowledge
that has led some to invoke the precautionary principle and call for a
moratorium on certain aspects of nanotechnology use and research.
Poles, Czechs Likely to Accept Missile Shield: Analysts
President Bush says he initiated the Iraq war as a precautionary
measure. Now the military in Poland and the Czech Republic say they
want to accept a U.S. missile shield as a precautionary measure.

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From: www.edie.net, Feb. 6, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

PESTICIDES CAMPAIGNER TAKES DEFRA TO THE HIGH COURT

By Sam Bond

A woman who has been fighting for stricter laws controlling the
spraying of agricultural chemicals [in England] has welcomed a judge's
decision to allow her to take her battle to the next level.

For the past six years Georgina Downs has waged a one-woman war
against Defra [Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] for
its perceived failure to provide protection against the damage caused
by pesticides, both to the environment and human health.

Through the vehicle of her UK Pesticides Campaign, Ms Downs has been
arguing that Government is legally obliged to protect people with
tighter regulation, risk assessment for spraying near residential
areas and what she sees as the serious inadequacies of the existing
bystander risk assessment.

"The fact that there has never been any risk assessment for the long-
term exposure for those who live, work or go to school near pesticide
sprayed fields means that there is no evidence to support the
Government's continued assertions that there are no health risks to
people in the countryside from crop-spraying," she said.

Ms Downs has now been granted permission by a High Court Judge,
Honourable Justice Mitting, to Judicially Review the approach taken
and policy adopted by David Miliband to the control of the use of
pesticides in crop-spraying.

Her case is based on the fact that Government has chosen to ignore
several of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on
Environmental Pollution (RCEP), which was asked by Ministers to
examine the potential threat to health and the environment posed by
spraying.

The commission had concluded there was a lack of concrete evidence on
the health impacts of pesticides and suggested the precautionary
principle be followed until more information was available.

The easiest way to do this, it said, would be to to introduce no-spray
buffer zones around the edges of fields which backed onto residential
areas.

Government considered the advice but decided the buffer zones were
unproven and unnecessary and would put an unacceptable financial
burden on farmers.

Ms Downs claimed that Defra's response to the RCEP report, published
in July 2006, continued to demonstrate the Government's 'clear
commitment to protecting industry interests over and above protecting
public health'.

Her case is expected to be listed for a full High Court Hearing in the
spring.

Copyright Faversham House Group Ltd 2007. edie news articles may be
copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or
distribution is permitted without prior written consent.

To print: Select File and then Print from your browser's menu This
story was printed from www.edie.net

Pesticides campaigner takes Defra to the High Court (published on 6-
February-2007) URL: http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?id=12571

A woman who has been fighting for stricter laws controlling the
spraying of agricultural chemicals has welcomed a judge's decision to
allow her to take her battle to the next level.

For the past six years Georgina Downs has waged a one-woman war
against Defra for its perceived failure to provide protection against
the damage caused by pesticides, both to the environment and human
health.

Through the vehicle of her UK Pesticides Campaign, Ms Downs has been
arguing that Government is legally obliged to protect people with
tighter regulation, risk assessment for spraying near residential
areas and what she sees as the serious inadequacies of the existing
bystander risk assessment.

"The fact that there has never been any risk assessment for the long-
term exposure for those who live, work or go to school near pesticide
sprayed fields means that there is no evidence to support the
Government's continued assertions that there are no health risks to
people in the countryside from crop-spraying," she said.

Ms Downs has now been granted permission by a High Court Judge,
Honourable Justice Mitting, to Judicially Review the approach taken
and policy adopted by David Miliband to the control of the use of
pesticides in crop-spraying.

Her case is based on the fact that Government has chosen to ignore
several of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on
Environmental Pollution (RCEP), which was asked by Ministers to
examine the potential threat to health and the environment posed by
spraying.

The commission had concluded there was a lack of concrete evidence on
the health impacts of pesticides and suggested the precautionary
principle be followed until more information was available.

The easiest way to do this, it said, would be to to introduce no-spray
buffer zones around the edges of fields which backed onto residential
areas.

Government considered the advise but decided the buffer zones were
unproven and unnecessary and would put an unacceptable financial
burden on farmers.

Ms Downs claimed that Defra's response to the RCEP report, published
in July 2006, continued to demonstrate the Government's 'clear
commitment to protecting industry interests over and above protecting
public health'.

Her case is expected to be listed for a full High Court Hearing in the
spring.

CP Copyright Faversham House Group Ltd 2007

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From: Newsday, Feb. 6, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

EDITORIAL: CLIMATE CHANGE DEMANDS ACTION

Panel report erases lingering doubts

Even the Bush White House, stubbornly skeptical about the dangers of
global warming, accepts the latest report of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, which says it's "very likely" that human
activity has caused most of the global temperature increase since
1950. Now the question is what the president and the Congress are
ready to do. This is a time to start moving from debate to action.

The panel's fourth report since 1990 is not a shoot-from-the-hip
screed from an activist group. It summarizes the work of hundreds of
authors and peer reviewers, modified in response to more than 30,000
comments on the drafts. So it sifts out extreme findings to achieve a
broad consensus. It won the approval of 113 nations, including the
United States.

"It reflects the sizeable and robust body of knowledge regarding the
physical science of climate change, including the finding that the
Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused
most of the warming of the last 50 years," said the top White House
delegate to the panel's meeting. Still, last week a House committee
heard testimony that Bush officials have pressured government
scientists to remove comments about global warming from documents.

This page accepted the national decision not to join the Kyoto
agreement on cutting greenhouse gases because it did not include China
and India, which are becoming huge emitters. (Many on the panel wanted
the new report to say it was "virtually certain" that human activity
is causing the warming. But China objected, so the final result was
"very likely.")

The panel will propose solutions later this year. It's time to get
beyond Kyoto and reach global agreement on a menu of steps to reduce
global warming. The precautionary principle dictates that, even in the
absence of 100 percent certainty, we now know enough to get moving
fast, to do what we can to slow down the warming.

Copyright Newsday Inc.

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From: Northender.com (Oyster Bay, N.Y.), Feb. 2, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

TOWER OF DISSENT

By Brian Brennan

The third public meeting was held last night on a subject that has
polarized a substantial portion of the Bayville population.

Village Mayor Victoria Siegel and the Village trustees last night
allowed representatives of the Nassau County police and fire
departments to present their argument that the Village must allow the
County to install a new, T-band, digital turnkey radio system on its
water tower.

The system would be composed of multiple antennas and electromagnetic
microwave dishes, as well as a substantial shed at the base of the
tower.

The audience, assembled in the auditorium of the Bayville Intermediate
School, heard from a panel of the proposal's supporters before the
floor was opened to questions and comments.

The reasons why

Proponents of the system insist that it would greatly enhance the
communication capabilities of the County's first responders throughout
Long Island. It would allow Nassau to have its own unique frequency,
they say, an improvement over the current system of sharing a UHF band
with municipalities in New Jersey. This, the County claims, has forced
its emergency personnel to transmit at levels that do not interfere
with co-users but that limit radio traffic capacity.

The County also insists that coverage itself would be far more
comprehensive and reliable, allowing solid interoperability with all
of Nassau and Suffolk counties, New York City, and three miles out
into Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Early last month, County Executive Tom Suozzi held a press conference
and hit out at local Long Island governments that he claimed were
compromising public safety by refusing to allow antennas to be placed
on their water towers.

Opposition to the antennas stems from fears of the radiation generated
by the microwave dishes, especially as the water tower is cattycorner
to the Bayville Primary School.

First to take the podium was County Police Deputy Inspector Ed Horace.
Mr. Horace said that three key points would be illustrated throughout
the night: that putting the antennas up will benefit Bayville and all
of Nassau County, that Bayville's water tower is critical to the plan
to improve coverage throughout Long Island, and that there are
absolutely no health risks whatsoever.

Also speaking were County Police Commissioner James H. Lawrence,
Assistant County Chief Fire Marshall Peter Meade, independent
consultant Ron Petersen, and Stephanie Walsh, a project site reviewer
for Motorola, which has been awarded the contract to install and
operate the system.

The Bayville Fire Department submitted a letter read by Mayor Siegel
urging support for the proposal. Regardless of whether this particular
proposal was judged to be safe or not, the letter said, it was
imperative that communications be improved.

"After 9/11, those of us in law enforcement took a step back and
examined the way we do public security," Commissioner Lawrence told
the audience. "I am aware that a lot of you are here because of the
things that you have heard. I ask you to just look at the facts."

The Commissioner said that the current system, erected in 1982, is
inadequate and "partially unsafe" because of its spotty coverage. He
called it "disheartening" that it was necessary to invoke memories of
9/11 to underscore the need for improved communications. Many first
responders lost their lives that day due to inadequate radio
communications, he said.

Ron Petersen and Motorola's Stephanie Walsh were there to offer more
in-depth analyses of the safety issues. Mr. Petersen has a consulting
firm and is also a former chairman of the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Initial Committee on Electromagnetic
Safety. He is currently secretary of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine
and Biology Study (EMBS) Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR).

The panel took pains to convey that there was nothing arbitrary in the
selection of Bayville as a necessary site. A team of engineers scouted
the island for locations, Ms. Walsh said, and a refusal by Bayville to
take part in the project would affect the entire communication chain.

She said the sites on which the engineers settled are "absolutely the
sites we need", and that, "We simply can't meet the required coverage
needs without Bayville."

Individuals on both sides of the debate came armed with studies,
reports and statistics about the system's safety.

Ron Petersen quoted the World Health Organization (WHO), the IEEE and
the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radio Protection to back
up his assurance that the level of radiation generated is less than
one-tenth of the maximum allowed by the US Federal Communications
Commission and other national agencies.

His argument is also supported by the report summarizing an
independent study commissioned by the Village and available on the
Village website that reads, "The expected increases of electromagnetic
radiation levels are small in Bayville, because the energy radiated by
the proposed antennas would go far overhead. It would be very weak
when it reaches a few people in Mill Neck. There should be no fear of
microwave or other Radio Frequency exposure to adults or small
children living in Bayville or attending either Bayville school."

Mr. Petersen said that it is easy to Google the topic and access a
multitude of articles and reports purporting to be from experts that
paint a frightening picture of electromagnetic radiation. But
documents that withstand the scientific process and peer review, he
said, support his argument.

Every resident who spoke expressed some degree of disapprobation for
the proposal. Some cited studies and documents, the validity of each
Mr. Petersen dismissed. Most, however, cited a lack of solid
documentation either way.

The precautionary principle

The EPA and WHO continue to study the possibility of links between
electromagnetic radiation and health problems such as developmental
difficulties in children and cancer. "These are living documents. If
anything is found....then the standard will be changed," Mr. Petersen
said.

Residents who spoke out at last night's meeting, however, don't want
to wait for any if. They would rather operate according to the
precautionary principle that is now the rule in several countries and
a few American municipalities regarding environmental issues. The
principle states -- very roughly -- that where an activity raises
concerns about public or environmental health, the burden of proof is
on those carrying out the activity, rather than the public.

Those who raised their hands to speak at last night's meetings
indicated that, to them, the proponents of this plan have not
satisfactorily discharged that burden. One resident seemed to sum up
the sentiments of the majority when she told the panel, "The bottom
line is: you don't know."

Several referred to the once-imagined safety of asbestos, tobacco,
hormone replacement therapy and the air quality at Ground Zero.

One resident presented Mayor Siegel and the Village trustees with a
petition containing over 250 signatures urging them to block the
proposal. After she had given it to them, the resident said it was "an
insult to hide behind the cloak of 9/11 and homeland security."

Several expressed concern and support for firefighters and the police,
but said that any communications benefits offered by the system did
not outweigh the uncertainty. "We have to ask ourselves: is the
tradeoff worth it?" said Joseph DiGennaro.

Resident Beverly Pacifico took the podium and spoke of taking her
school-aged son to a chemo treatment that very day as part of his
battle against leukemia. She was one of many who said that no risk to
the health of the Village's children was acceptable.

Also at issue was the fact that Bayville already had 52 antennas on
its water tower, largely belonging to cell phone carriers who pay the
village for the space.

"I wouldn't be that concerned if there wasn't already so much
equipment there. I know from the outside, it looks like we're
resisting something that's helping us, but that's really not the
case," said Chris Zino, a Bayville resident and volunteer firefighter
for Oyster Bay.

Mr. Zino questioned the legality of this arrangement, in lieu of a
deed dating back to the 1950's that prohibited commercial use of the
water tower. Mayor Siegel replied that the Village barred cell phone
companies from using the tower for years until being advised by their
counsel in 2003 that the clause to which Mr. Zino referred had
expired.

In answer to a question from resident Mary Pell, the Mayor said that
the Village could only legally remove the antennas of companies with
which it had contract if it relocated the antennas to another location
within the Village.

Ms. Pell asked when those contracts expired, and was told by Mayor
Siegel that that issue would be looked into.

The meeting began at 7:30 and ended promptly at 9:00. When several in
the audience called out questions as to whether there would be any
more meetings on the subject, Mayor Siegel replied that the vote would
be carried out publicly.

No date for the vote has been released.

Copyright 2006 Northender.com

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From: InsideBayArea.com, Feb. 4, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS CAN AFFECT OFFSPRING

Scientists believe effects can extend to two generations

By Douglas Fischer, staff writer

SAN FRANCISCO -- Your ability to reproduce -- and the health of your
child and even your grandchildren -- hinges on an exquisitely timed
series of chemical reactions controlled by infinitesimally tiny
amounts of hormones.

You scramble those reactions at your peril, in other words, and last
week hundreds of researchers gathered at the University of California,
San Francisco, warned society may be doing exactly that with synthetic
chemicals.

The chemicals, known as endocrine disrupters, are found everywhere in
our environment: our food, lotions, shampoos, baby bottles, toys,
appliances, even the casings encapsulating our medicines. They mimic
hormones at levels scientists only recently have been able to measure,
and some are active at concentrations of a part-per-trillion or less
-- a speck of dirt sullying 55tons of clean laundry.

Most worrisome to scientists: In many cases the effect of such
pollution on our bodies remains as mysterious as the processes they
potentially disrupt.

"In the absence of concrete data for many of these chemicals, the
precautionary principle should be exercised," said Dr. Linda Guidice,
chairwoman of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at UCSF
[University of California at San Francisco] and the organizer of the
reproductive health conference that brought 500 scientists, clinicians
and community activists together last week.

The list of potential effects, scientists concluded, stretches across
every aspect of reproductive and sexual development -- preconception,
conception, pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, menopause.

Every key developmental stage is driven by a tightly choreographed
fluctuation in hormones. A flood of endocrine disrupters, scientists
fear, obviates that dance.

For those suffering from endometriosis, there's no need to imagine.

Wendy Botwin of Oakland was 18 when she felt the first signs:
mysterious sickness, massive abdominal pain, irregular periods,
crushing headaches, painful sex. Two-and-a-half years passed before a
doctor diagnosed endometriosis, a debilitating disease where the
tissue lining the uterus appears outside the womb in other parts of
the body.

Today, at 37, Botwin has been on every type of birth control pill,
been advised to get pregnant (she may be infertile) and to have a
hysterectomy. One drug sent her into menopause, at age 21.

Nothing has worked.

She feels certain something in the environment has triggered this. Her
father died at 62 of stomach cancer. Her younger sister last year was
diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She feels, she said, very much like a
canary in a coal mine.

"I know we've polluted our bodies and the Earth," she said. "The
environment is really inside of our bodies. It's not just outside."

The science of endocrine disrupters is still controversial. The
effects in humans are uncertain. Government panels assessing the
weight of the evidence for many of these compounds repeatedly have
found no need for concern. But scientists say disturbing gaps remain
in our knowledge.

- Several studies have shown pesticides suppress fetal testosterone in
laboratory animals. But scientists can't fully explain the
consequence. They don't even know the role testosterone plays in a
baby boy's brain development.

- The womb was once thought of as a gatekeeper, shielding the
developing baby from harm. No more. A number of contaminants readily
traverse the placenta, and others -- synthetic fragrances, for one --
are thought to hold the door open, so to speak.

- Female mice exposed in utero to bisphenol-A, a estrogenic additive
used to line food cans and make plastic shatterproof, among other
things, saw a 40percent increase in chromosomally abnormal eggs,
according to one research team.

But this is where the science gets murky. In November a European panel
investigating the effects of bisphenol-A concluded levels found in the
environment pose no threat to our health, despite findings such as
Hunt's.

Why? Mice and humans process bisphenol-A differently, the panel said.

Mice recirculate the compound and appear to be particularly sensitive
to such weak estrogens. Humans, in contrast, rapidly transform
bisphenol-A in the gut into a compound devoid of hormonal activity,
then pass it via urine.

Such differences, according to the European Food Safety
Administration, "raise considerable doubts about the relevance of any
low-dose observations in rodents for humans."

There's another example out there, however: DES, or
diethylstilbestrol, a wonder drug given with the best of intentions
from the 1940s to the 1970s to pregnant women prone to miscarriage.

The mothers did fine, but DES ravaged the reproductive tracts of their
children.

DES did its damage, scientists now know, because it turned hormones on
at a time during fetal development when they would normally be silent.
That, researchers say, is exactly what bisphenol-A and a soup of other
endocrine-disrupting compounds do.

Sandra Steingraber, a noted ecologist, author and cancer survivor,
echoed Botwin's thoughts on the environment and endometriosis as she
told scientists of her experience being pregnant with her daughter,
Faith.

"We need to start thinking of our reproductive lives as a live musical
performance. Our bodies are the piano, but the hands are the
environment," she said. "We are nothing less than the receivers of
environmental messages. As that message changes, we are changing
ourselves."

Contact Douglas Fischer at dfischer@angnewspapers.com or (510)
208-6425.

Copyright 2000-2006 ANG Newspapers

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From: TheTyee.ca, Feb. 5, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

THE YEARS THE LOCUSTS ATE

Too late now? Shame on enemies of action on global warming.

By Rafe Mair

Thank God it's finally over! The blockbuster environmental report put
out last week by a blue ribbon panel of scientists permits no argument
except that of a fool. The increasing greenhouse gases and the results
will be very serious if we start doing something now, and catastrophic
if we don't. In fact, the most important message from this report is
that the dramatic consequences we once just feared are already with us
and worsening by the day.

What a shame. What horrible governmental neglect -- deliberate neglect
at that! The years we should have learned and acted, our governments
permitted and even encouraged the horrible practices that now threaten
the very existence of our species on this planet. This shameful time,
the past 25 years, are, as Churchill would likely have called them,
the years the locusts ate.

Let's look at what happened. The public relations people spent the
whole time telling the world that the climate concerns were stuff and
nonsense. Exaggerations! Bad science! What was happening either wasn't
happening or, if it was, it was just one of Mother Nature's cyclical
things that would come and go.

Dropping our best defence

Public relations people are not hired to pass judgment on how their
clients ply their trade. They are hired to put the best possible face
on everything they do. I know a bit about it because I briefly did
some consulting work, 20 years ago, for a large PR firm. Some of what
the flack does is pretty routine stuff and relatively harmless. When,
however, they jump the line between true and false, they do enormous
harm.

Their most effective weapon we, through our politicians, handed to the
environment despoilers long ago.

We -- our society -- placed the onus of proving harm upon ourselves,
not the user.

At the same time, our governments [in Canada] took away from us the
former policemen in the environment, namely, the federal Department of
Fisheries and Oceans and the provincial Ministry of Environment. These
two agencies still exist but they have been thoroughly politicized,
and now they too put the onus of proving harm on the public and in
fact shill for the industries they are supposed to monitor!

On environment issues, therefore, the public has no friends save
themselves and environmental organizations they support.

Bring back the precautionary principle

The onus of proof must be placed back where it belongs -- on those who
would use the environment. Moreover, the onus of proof -- and this is
critical -- must be accompanied by the precautionary principle which
argues that if an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible
harm to the public, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm
would not ensue, the action must not take place.

In days gone by, this principle was at least the stated policy of
government. While I don't want to belabour a constant issue of mine,
the classic breach of the precautionary principle was the farming of
Atlantic salmon in B.C. [British Columbia] waters.

Put shortly, 15 years ago, when the fish farms came seriously to our
coast, there was an abundance of evidence from Norway, Scotland and
Ireland demonstrating that it was hugely dangerous to have fish pens
near migrating salmonid smolts because the sea lice from these cages
would destroy them.

Between 1997, the time the NDP [New Democratic Party] government
placed a moratorium on Atlantic salmon farms, and 1991, when the
Campbell government lifted it, independent science poured forth and
unanimously supported the evidence from Norway, Scotland and Ireland.
The Campbell government ignored the science, thereby saying "get
stuffed" to those who pled the precautionary principle.

Flacks versus facts

What the removal of the precautionary principle does is play right
into the hands of the PR flack because instead of having to defend his
client, all he need do is raise doubts, with disinformation as his
main weapon. The actions taken by the fish farmers are remarkable
examples of how independent science has been downplayed and often
ignored. Let me give you one example.

After years of denying that lice from fish farms attacked salmon
smolts in the Broughton Archipelago, where tiny smolts have to run a
gauntlet of millions of sea lice from these cages, the farmers and
their buddies in government argued that no one had proved that it was
these precise lice that were doing the damage!

Even when some fish pens were left fallow during salmon migrations,
and there was a bountiful return, the flacks, wonderfully aping the
ink fish, raised all manner of silly possibilities as explanations. I
only use the fish farm example because it's current in our bailiwick.
The shifting of the burden of proof onto the public instead of it
remaining on those who would advocate taking the action, is worldwide.

We have a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (federal) and a B.C.
Environment Ministry both of which have laws to administer which
clearly place the burden of proof on those who want to take the
action.

Yet, instead of enforcing these rules, both ministries, on orders from
their political masters, have taken upon themselves the duty of
helping the potential spoilers with their licensing requirements,
turning a blind eye to their transgressions, and promoting the
industry they are supposed to monitor. (In one case, the B.C.
government actually returned fines levied against the fish farmers!)

We're out of time

This may all seem like legalistic nit-picking but it's far from that.
The shifting of the burden of proof away from those using the
environment has meant that the work governments are supposed to do as
policemen of the environment not only doesn't happen any more, but
worse, the government "policemen" are on the side of the despoiler!

What has all this to do with global warming?

A hell of a lot. For if the governments are going to support obvious
causes of global warming and other environmental degradation, it will
fall to the people -- not those they elect to look after their
interests -- and environmental groups they may support to demonstrate
the harm.

The only way we can tackle both the big problems and the lesser ones
is for governments to place the onus of disproving harm squarely on
the user.

Given the recent history of both the federal and provincial
governments, that won't be easy. But, unless we put the burden of
proof where it belongs, we have zero chance of making headway in our
long delayed fight for our planet's survival.

==============

Rafe Mair writes a Monday column for The Tyee. You can read previous
ones here. Mair's website is www.rafeonline.com and his latest book,
Over the Mountains, is at your bookstore...or it damn well should be.

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From: OhmyNews International (South Korea), Feb. 3, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

NANOTECHNOLOGY: THE NEXT BATTLEGROUND?

Fight may be brewing between rampant capitalism and concerned citizens

By John Horvath

Nanotechnology is a manufacturing technology on a very small scale.
The particles used in nanotechnology research or manufacturing are
invisible to the human eye, one nanometer being one billionth of a
meter. A human hair is 80,000 nanometers wide.

Although nanotechnology is still very much in its infancy, already
there are concerns over the widespread use of the technology.
Furthermore, apprehension isn't restricted to one field, but covers
areas such as human health, environmental impacts, effects on
international trade and developing countries, and the possible
proliferation in armaments.

The concerns expressed by those wary of nanotechnology are very
similar to those expressed by critics of biotechnology, namely that we
just don't know what the impacts will be. It is this lack of knowledge
that has led some to invoke the precautionary principle and call for a
moratorium on certain aspects of nanotechnology use and research.

Although most people don't realize it, we are already surrounded by
products developed using nanotechnology. Face creams and sun tan
lotions are two examples, and there are claims that such creams, which
are able to pass through the skin, are potentially mutagenic and
cancerous. Other products include such things as self-cleaning
trousers and crack-resistant paint.

Nanoparticles can pass into the body by three means: through
inhalation, ingestion, and transdermally. It's not so much what
nanoparticles are made of as much as their size. Toxicity increases as
the size of the particle decreases.

Another worry is where the particles get to within the body. It's
already well known from pharmaceutical companies that putting a drug
on the back of a nanoparticle can increase the delivery of the drug to
the brain. The problem is that if a nanoparticle can get to the brain,
then it can also get to other sensitive parts of the body, such as the
kidneys, liver, or even foetus.

Aside from this, some are also worried about the military implications
of nanotechnology. Research is already being conducted by the military
in several countries; indeed, military research into the use of
nanotechnology has been going on since the 1980s. Recently, there has
been a marked increase in such research activity, particularly in the
U.S. Researchers in the U.S. are currently working on a battle suit
that would protect soldiers from radiation and also act as a compress
when a soldier is injured. Other innovations include the facilitation
of surveillance, bombs the size of a pen that could flatten a whole
city, and, ultimately, the manipulation of the human body to make
soldiers more stress-tolerant, to repair injuries more effectively,
and to speed up reactions. What is of concern to many is that once
such technology has been used by the military, the transfer to the
civilian sector will be a natural step.

As a result of all this, some scientists are calling for a slow
deceleration of nanotechnology research in order to buy time for an
international agreement on limits to such technology. Some experts
claim that governments are currently running around five years behind
the times in terms of assessing the potential impacts.

Not only this, but the ways in which researchers handle nanoparticles
is justification in itself for slowing down and taking stock of
nanotechnology. While scientists in South Africa handle nanoparticles
as if they were dealing with the AIDS virus, other researchers,
including some in Europe, wear only a "Japanese subway mask" as
protection. As one observer put it, "this is like wearing a volleyball
net to keep out mosquitoes."

In addition to this, there is the broader socio-economic implications
of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology will mean that the raw materials
that we currently consider to be essential will change, and that this
will have a dramatic effect on developing countries, many of which
rely on the export of raw materials. Additionally, the effect on
developing countries is such that some countries are adapting
themselves to nanotechnology as a means for development. This, in
turn, creates a situation where the basic needs of society are brushed
aside in favor of high technology centers.

As in other areas of science and technology, such as biotechnology and
various areas of computer technology, namely software development,
there are also concerns about the impact of intellectual property, as
it is conceivable that a single patent may have dominance over many
industrial sectors since it could cover the fundamentals of all
matters. To this extent, a collusion of interest between industry and
government must be avoided. Hence, government policy mustn't be
composed by small groups of experts and bureaucrats, but include the
general public as well. Moreover, policy makers need to ask the right
questions to ensure that big business doesn't circumvent regulation.

The Big Attraction

Although there are many opponents and critics of nanotechnology, not
everyone is so skeptical of the new technology. Some even see it as a
way of rectifying present enigmas, such as pollution. Because of the
scale of the particles in question, it's envisaged that future
applications could allow the removal of the smallest contaminants,
including greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Some point out that the abandonment of broad areas of technology
research, such as nanotechnology, will only push such research
underground, where development would continue unimpeded by ethics and
regulation. In such a situation, it would be the less stable and less
responsible practitioners (for example, terrorists) who would have all
the expertise.

To this extent, many who reject calls for a moratorium on
nanotechnology note that technology has always been a double-edged
sword. Moreover, they argue that forgoing fields such as
nanotechnology is untenable. Nanotechnology is simply the inevitable
end result of a persistent trend toward miniaturization that pervades
all of technology. It is far from a single centralized effort but is
being pursued by a myriad of projects with many diverse goals.

Along these lines, the European Commission (EC) has high hopes for
nanotechnology. For most politicians, the possible benefits of the
technology far outweigh any potential hazards. At best, the
precautionary principle is sidestepped by a promise to look into an
issue in more depth. For instance, the U.K. government recognized the
need for further research in this area and promptly requested a study
on the potential benefits and problems of nanotechnology. A report was
subsequently released entitled "The social and economic challenges of
nanotechnology," prepared by the U.K.'s economic and social research
council.

The authors of the report maintain their aim is to "stimulate debate"
with the paper's publication. Three areas are highlighted as central
to this debate: the governance of technological change; social
learning and the evaluation of risk and opportunity under uncertainty;
and the role of new technology in ameliorating or accentuating
inequity and economic divides. Yet by carefully observing the language
of the U.K. report, it's clear that the British government's move is
more of an exercise in spin management, with the aim to highlight the
benefits and downplay the concerns.

While the report is useful in that it provides a general overview to
what nanotechnology is, it nevertheless skims over present day
concerns as something which belongs far out into the distant future
(and thus the problem of other generations), this despite the fact
that many of the worries are over applications and products already on
the market. An artificial split is made between current nanotechnology
research and applications (i.e., those which may be possible in the
medium term) and those which may emerge in the long term. Current
applications are predominantly limited to advances in well-established
areas of applied science, such as material science and colloid
technology. Medium-term applications are likely to focus on overcoming
barriers to technological progress, while long term applications are
seen as more difficult to predict, and are thus viewed as the focus of
most concern by critics.

As with biotechnology, what the "debate" on nanotechnology actually
represents is an overall shift in the framework of European science
and technology, in where research is moving away from knowledge
generation to one of income generation. The two are mutually
exclusive, as the pursuit of profit means patents and intellectual
property rights put limits on the free flow of information. While
competition may mean the production of cheaper goods, it also means
withholding vital knowledge for fear that your rival may end up making
money off your ideas.

This is the enigma that Eurocrats have been struggling to overcome.
Although capable of producing excellence in terms of research, Europe
is finding it hard to capitalize on it. While the EU shows a
creditable performance in some fields (such as medical research,
chemistry, aeronautics or telecommunications), it is falling ever
further behind in biotechnology and the information technologies.

Overall, Europe's performance in terms of trade in high technology is
continuing to deteriorate: its trade deficit in this field increased
from 9 billion euro in 1995 to 48 billion in 2000. For the EC, a clear
indicator of this competitive weakness is the falling share of patent
registrations of European origin, whether on the European or the U.S.
market.

But there is one ray of hope: in the nanotechnologies, a sector with a
particularly promising future, Europe is almost level with the United
States in terms of publications and patents. Thus, the only way to
stop the overall decline of Europe's performance of trade in high
technology is to increase European investment in research, with the
ultimate aim of turning knowledge into profit. For many Eurocrats, the
E.U. had already lost out in the bitter harvest over biotechnology;
they now feel that they must make sure that the same doesn't happen
with nanotechnology.

Copyright 2007 Ohmynews

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From: DefenseNews.com, Feb. 2, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

POLES, CZECHS LIKELY TO ACCEPT MISSILE SHIELD: ANALYSTS

By Chris Johnson, Reuters, Warsaw

Despite fierce public opposition, center-right governments in Poland
and the Czech Republic are determined to push through plans to site a
U.S. missile defense system and thus tie Washington's interests to
their region.

Although the system -- with a radar station in the Czech Republic and
up to 10 ground-based ballistic rockets, or interceptors, in Poland --
would offer no protection now to either country, Warsaw and Prague are
playing a longer game.

Analysts and diplomats say both center-right governments in the former
communist states see the U.S. system as a way of locking in a long-
term strategic relationship with Washington.

And despite polls showing deep public doubt, and strident political
opposition, both administrations believe they can get the plans
through parliament provided some concessions are met.

"The missile shield is viewed as a long-term insurance policy for
times of acute instability," said Eugeniusz Smollar, president of the
Center for International Relations in Warsaw.

"The argument is that if the United States has a major base here, it
will view this territory as special and will therefore have a much
stronger motivation to look after its security."

The proposed central European defense system would be able to detect
and shoot down missiles carrying nuclear, bacteriological or chemical
warheads, which the Pentagon says could be fired from Iran from 2011
or 2012.

The system would be part of a multi-billion-dollar scheme to counter
"rogue regimes", such as North Korea. Up to 25 interceptors are to be
installed this year in the United States.

LONG-TERM RISK

While neither Warsaw nor Prague sees threats now from either Russia or
Iran, they are using a precautionary principle.

At the back of their minds, officials say the two countries are
worried about a possible long-term risk from their former Soviet
masters in Russia, which could be several decades away, and about
potential future missiles from the Middle East.

The missile defense plans have angered Russia, which sees it as an
attempt to change the strategic balance in Europe. Russian President
Vladimir Putin criticized the plans on Jan. 31 and said Russia would
come up with a "highly effective" response.

Iran, Putin told a news conference in Moscow, did not possess long-
range missiles, only medium-range devices.

"Our specialists don't think that anti-missile systems in Eastern
Europe are aimed against terrorists or Iran. Can you really fight
terrorists with ballistic missiles?" he said.

Tim Williams, head of European security analysis at the Royal United
Services Institute, said there was "lingering concern about Russia" in
Poland and the Czech Republic.

"This system would be no use against any concerted attack (from
Russia). Russia has hundreds of missiles and could easily overwhelm
both countries.

"But (Warsaw and Prague) feel it binds them to Washington for the long
term, and in that it has extra appeal," he added.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is due to discuss the U.S.
proposal with all political parties next week, officials said on Jan.
31, and formal negotiations with Washington are likely to begin in the
middle of February.

Williams said a calculation that Warsaw and Prague were among the most
likely governments to accept the system was one of the key reasons
they were selected by Washington.

The central European countries also fall in a convenient geographic
band, far enough north for interceptors to shoot down any incoming
missiles aimed at Europe, and close enough to most other European
states to offer them protection under the shield.

VISAS AND PATRIOTS

An opinion poll this week showed most Poles oppose placing the
missiles on Polish soil, and Czech public opinion is also hostile,
comments by political parties in Prague suggest.

The left-wing Czech opposition Social Democrats said on Jan. 31 party
members were leaning against hosting the radar.

"This is going to be a hotly debated issue and it won't be easy to
push it through," said Jiri Pehe, head of the New York University in
Prague. "Now it is 50:50 in parliament."

But a waiver of visas for Czech citizens visiting the United States
could swing public opinion in favor of the scheme, analysts say, and
politicians from all major Czech parties have said it would underpin
the country's long-term security.

The ruling Civic Democrats back the idea in general.

"I am deeply convinced that locating the base (here) will raise the
safety of the Czech Republic and its citizens," Prime Minister Mirek
Topolanek said in parliament on Jan. 31.

In Poland, the plan has raised concern among junior partners of the
coalition government who have suggested the missiles could make the
country a target of terrorism.

But this objection can probably be overcome, diplomats say, if the
ruling conservative Law and Justice party can get U.S. help to place
advanced medium-range Patriot batteries in Poland to counter any risk
of attack from rogue missiles.

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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.

Editors:
Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org

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To start your own free Email subscription to Rachel's Precaution
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send a blank Email to one of these addresses:

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