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#26 -- Mercury in NY's Drinking Water?, 22-Feb-2006

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #26

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2006.........Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.
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Table of Contents...

The Canaries Had Their Coal Mines
Precautionary action can take many forms. An early warning system
is an important kind of precautionary action, monitoring local
conditions to keep good things going or stop bad things from
happening. This story describes an early warning system that's
testing for mercury in wildlife in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Oregon Farmers Join an Early Warning Network for Pesticides
Oregon farmers have joined an early warning network to discover
pesticide contamination as early as possible, aiming to minimize harm
to the Pudding River and its tributaries.
New Study Finds REACH Could Save EU Billions of Euros
The European Union's precautionary REACH legislation on chemicals
(coming up for a final vote any day now) could save Europeans
billions of dollars (euros, actually) in water treatment and other
environmental costs such as sewage treatment, according to new
research for the European Commission.
Right-wing Extremists Maintain a Drumbeat Opposing Precaution
In recent weeks, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's ultra-right-wing
newspaper, the Washington Times, has stepped up its attacks on the
precautionary principle. Here the Reverend Mr. Moon opens his columns
to the American Enterprise Institute, which claims that precaution
has paralyzed business leaders, frightened judges out of their wits,
falsely labeled children as "vulnerable," and stifled needed
innovation. Notice that zero evidence is offered to support these
claims.
Soviet Hamakua?
Andrew Walden, a newspaper editor in Hawaii, has grown alarmed
because 9000 residents of rural Hamakua, Hawaii (on the big island)
propose to adopt the "precautionary principle" and reduce the use of
pesticides and genetically modified seeds in agriculture. They also
propose to "be mindful of the 7th generation" -- perhaps indicating
an unAmerican concern for the future. As Mr. Walden sees it, this all
adds up to a communist plot to establish a new Soviet outpost in the
Pacific.

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From: New York Times, Aug. 8, 2005
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THE CANARIES HAD THEIR COAL MINES

By Anthony Depalma

Hunter Mountain Wild Forest, N.Y., Aug. 3 -- So far this summer, Wing
Goodale and his boss, David C. Evers, have used decoys and recorded
bird calls to lure about 150 thrushes, warblers and other wild
songbirds into nets here and in several others parts of New York
City's Catskill Mountain Watershed to determine what is happening to
the drinking water.

From each tiny bird, no bigger than a cellphone, Mr. Goodale, a
research biologist, gently takes blood samples with toothpick-size
pipettes. Then Mr. Evers, also a biologist, stretches out a bird's
wing and counts down to its 11th flight feather, which he deftly
plucks and puts into a plastic storage bag for sampling.

Mr. Evers, who is executive director of the BioDiversity Research
Institute, a nonprofit research and education group in Gorham, Me.,
is looking for signs of mercury in the songbirds. He has a pretty
good hunch that he will find it, as he has already found mercury in
songbirds in the Adirondacks and in New England.

If substantial amounts of mercury show up in the blood and feathers
he has collected, it could spell trouble for the watershed and,
potentially, for the nine million people who rely on the New York
drinking water that comes from here because it would mean that the
toxin is present in ways that were previously unknown.

"It's far more extensive than was ever put forth to the public," Mr.
Evers said.

Mercury contamination has long been present in lakes, rivers and the
city's reservoirs.

Mercury, a liquid metal, does not get into water because of broken
thermometers, as some believe. Rather, mercury occurs naturally in
the earth, including in coal. It is released into the air by coal-
burning power plants and other sources.

Emissions from power plants in the Midwest drift toward New York. The
real problem comes when the airborne mercury comes into contact with
water and is transformed into its toxic form, methylmercury. Although
the water in New York City's Catskill reservoirs is considered safe
to drink, state health officials have posted advisories warning that
pregnant women and children ought to limit their consumption of bass,
trout and other fish caught in the reservoirs because the fish have
absorbed some of the toxic material.

Until recently, the mercury problem was thought to be limited to
water. The discovery of mercury in songbirds that never go into the
water may represent a serious new threat.

Mr. Evers was invited to the watershed by the New York chapter of the
Nature Conservancy, a national environmental group that has helped
protect open spaces throughout the state.

In recent years, New York City has spent about $175 million to buy
about 60,000 acres of Catskill woodlands to protect the reservoirs.
But what good is buying forest land, asked Alan White, director of
the conservancy's Catskill Mountain Program, if the health of the
forest itself is at risk?

It is still early in the investigation, but Mr. Evers, who spent more
than a decade studying the impact of mercury on water birds like
loons, believes that the harmful form of mercury gets caught in the
fallen leaves and other litter on the forest floor, where it is
consumed by sow bugs, centipedes and other small insects.

As those bugs are eaten by larger bugs, the mercury content is passed
on. The buildup of mercury continues as those insects are eaten by
songbirds.

Mr. Evers and Mr. White say that it makes sense to think of forest
songbirds as early warning systems, like the canaries that used to be
carried into coal mine shafts. If the canaries died, miners hurried
out of the mines because they knew that dangerous methane or carbon
monoxide was present.

In the same way, unnatural levels of mercury in songbirds could be
interpreted as a sign of pending danger in the forests. In loons and
other water birds, excessive levels of mercury cause erratic behavior
and lower birthrates.

The scientists in the Catskills are focusing their attention on the
wood thrush, a gutsy little frequent flier with a flutelike voice
that can combine two notes at once. The wood thrush can migrate as
far south as Panama, more than 2,500 miles from the Catskills.

In recent decades, the number of wood thrushes has declined 45
percent, and the reason is unclear. Mr. Evers says biologists
initially suspected that destruction of the bird's winter habitat was
responsible. But now he thinks elevated levels of mercury could be to
blame.

The connection between mercury in the birds and the purity of the
city's drinking water is indirect, but real. As Mr. White explained,
if the songbird population declines, the natural check on insects
will be disturbed.

Without the birds preying on them, caterpillars and other destructive
insects can defoliate forests, killing trees that filter runoff that
eventually winds up in the reservoirs.

Before dawn, Mr. Evers and Mr. Goodale set up nearly invisible traps,
called mist nets, along a trail on the western slope of Hunter
Mountain, in between the city's Schoharie and Ashokan Reservoirs.

On the forest floor near the nets they placed plastic decoys and CD
players that reproduced the thrush's beautiful ee-oh-lay song.

By 8 a.m. they had trapped about 10 birds, including several wood
thrushes. Because the wood thrush is somewhat larger than other
forest songbirds, it is believed that it will show a higher level of
mercury when the tests are completed in about six weeks.

If these initial studies of songbirds indicate, as expected, that
there is a serious problem with mercury, Mr. White said the long-
range concern would be that "these forest systems will start to
unravel," endangering the water supply.

Mr. White said that there was no immediate health danger, and the New
York City Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the
city's water system and continuously tests for mercury, has not
detected the element in the water.

New York is one of only a handful of cities in the country that do
not filter their drinking water. What goes into the upstate
reservoirs comes out in New York taps 120 miles later unfiltered,
although chlorine and fluoride are added.

Mr. Evers says it is much too early to determine what the impact of
mercury on the songbirds might be, or how long before the reservoirs
are affected in any way.

But he said that, when it comes to drinking water, it is important to
anticipate a potential problem.

"The wood thrush is a good indicator species," Mr. Evers said. "If
this small-scale, pilot project shows that there is a danger in these
parts, it will be time to go to the policy makers and say this is
what we've found, and we should do something about it."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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From: Statesman Journal (Salem, Or.), Feb. 15, 2006
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FARMERS HELP DETECT PESTICIDES IN WATER

More are joining a Marion County prevention program

By Beth Casper, Statesman Journal

Erika Toler's horses and sheep quench their thirst at a small,
unnamed creek on her property east of Salem.

Naturally, she wants the water as clean as possible.

But when it rains, brown water pours from nearby fields, down the
road and through a clay pipe to the small waterways' headwaters.

"I am worried about pesticides flowing over," said the Marion County
resident. "We want to capture the water and filter it before it gets
down to the livestock."

Her concerns are shared by Scott Eden, a resource conservationist
with the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District.

Eden is part of a new pilot project to reduce the number and
concentrations of pesticides in the Pudding River basin. Toler's
creek runs into Beaver Creek, which eventually leads to the Pudding
River.

Through the Pudding River Pesticide Stewardship Network, Eden works
with farmers and ranchers to explain which pesticides are detected in
the area's waterways, where they might be coming from and what can be
done about them.

"Basically, the detections are higher than we would want," Eden said.
"We are trying to investigate where they might have been coming from.
With help from growers, we can find out if it is in the application
of pesticides or in some other process."

Eden said the program will go nowhere without help from the farmers,
who own the land and are personally invested in the area.

"The farmers would like to reduce any effects they may be having, but
they are busy," he said.

For farmers and ranchers, getting involved with the network provides
another benefit: keeping precious soils on their property.

"The science says if you can keep the soil from leaving the property,
you keep pesticides out of the water," said Dennis Roth of Wilco
Farms, a farmers cooperative.

Farmers and ranchers are beginning to apply for grants and technical
assistance to identify places to reduce soil erosion.

One of the ways is by planting grasses, which creates root systems
that hold soil in place.

"We like to save our soil because it's so costly," said Jeff Butsch,
a farmer in the area. "We planted perennial grass last fall, and it
is just getting established right now. But the idea is to make the
rainwater go into the soil and not run off."

The program in the Pudding basin is based on similar voluntary
activities in Hood River and The Dalles.

In 1999, Hood River residents asked state officials whether
pesticides used in area orchards were affecting nearby waterways.
Tests showed an association between the times pesticides were sprayed
and detections of the same pesticides in the creeks, said Fenix
Grange, a toxics coordinator for the Oregon Department of
Environmental Quality.

Growers changed some of their practices, including some things as
seemingly benign as changing the size of pesticide droplets sprayed
on fruit trees.

"We've had consistent and remarkable improvements in water quality up
there," Grange said.

The frequency of detection of a toxic insecticide in area creeks fell
by two-thirds between 2001 and 2004, partly because of the work done
by farmers in the program, Grange said.

The Pudding River Pesticide Stewardship Network started as a pilot
project last year to see whether what worked in orchard country would
work in mixed-use agricultural areas.

The Pudding River area has a mix of orchards, row crops and cane
berries. It also has high concentrations of many pesticides.

Water sampling done between 1991 and 1995 by the U.S. Geological
Survey showed 43 pesticides in Zollner Creek, one of the creeks that
flows into the Pudding River.

"That is quite high compared to even other agricultural sites around
the country," said Hank Johnson, a hydrologist with the U.S.
Geological Survey in Portland.

Results won't be detectable for a few years, experts say, but related
projects already are making a dent in pesticide reductions.

Last week, farmers in the Pudding River watershed were asked to drop
off banned and obsolete pesticides at a free collection in Mount
Angel.

Stored pesticides can leak and find their way into streams.

More than 16,000 pounds of obsolete and banned pesticides was
collected, including 100 pounds of DDT, which the U.S. government
banned in the 1970s.

"Keeping pesticides out of streams is the ultimate goal," said Dennis
Roth, a plant manager for Wilco Farms. "Farmers who have some of the
old stuff -- because they bought a farm and it's not labeled -- this
gave them an avenue to get rid of it."

And in the end, Eden said, everyone benefits from the reduction of
pesticides in waterways -- from water users and landowners downstream
to fish.

bcasper@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6994

Copyright 2006 StatesmanJournal.com

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From: EurActiv, Feb. 16, 2006
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NEW STUDY EVALUATES ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF REACH

RELATED: Chemicals Policy review (REACH)

Background:

Most studies on the draft REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation
and Authorisation of Chemicals) have focused on the costs to the
economy of imposing stricter controls on chemical manufacturers,
including on downstream users of chemicals in other industrial
sectors. But few have explored the possible long-term benefits of
REACH in reducing potential chemical threats to the environment as
these are less easily quantifiable.

The aim of this latest study, prepared by independent researchers and
published on 15 February 2006, is to assess the benefits of REACH on
the environment and to humans who are exposed to chemicals via the
environment. It therefore excludes direct exposure of consumers as
well as worker exposure, which has already been analysed in a
separate study (EurActiv, 20 Oct. 2005).

The bitter row over the expected costs of REACH was officially ended
in April last year with the publication of a further impact
assessment (EurActiv, 27 Apr. 2005). The report had seemingly
brought an end to the dispute after some 36 other impact studies were
evaluated by EU and national experts under the Dutch Presidency
(EurActiv, 2 Nov. 2004).

Issues:

The long-standing dispute over the potential costs and benefits of
the REACH proposal was given fresh momentum with the publication on
15 February of an impact study by independent researchers.

The study _ carried out at the request of the Commission's
environment directorate by research and consultancy firm DHI Water &
Environment -concludes that REACH would save a minimum of €150-500
million by the year 2017, at the expected close of its 11-year roll-
out period. By the year 2041, the savings would add up to €8.9
billion, mostly in areas such as "purification of drinking water,
disposal of dredged sediment and incineration of sewage instead of
disposal on farmlands".

The estimates were calculated using what the researchers say is the
most robust available data and "well-documented cases of costs" in
combination with an assumption that "the potential benefit of REACH
would be only at 10%" of total costs".

Less reliable scenarios were considered as well, one based on
consumers willingness to pay for cleaner drinking water or for
avoiding the health effects of chemical pollution, in particular
cancer. Another extrapolated findings from past experience with well-
known substances which are now restricted (trichlorobenzene,
nonylphenol and tetrachloroethylene), to avoid similar mistakes. But
the results obtained were judged too uncertain.

Positions:

"We are pleased that another study confirms the enormous benefit that
REACH would carry," the Commission environment spokesperson, Barbara
Helfferich, told EurActiv. "It confirms the extended impact
assessment we did back in 2003," she added. However, she cautions
that no single study can give a full picture. "The baseline, she
added, is still the [Commission's] extended impact assessment."

The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) said it welcomes the
study's aim to assess the benefits of REACH "as it is important to
establish as complete a picture as possible of the potential impacts
of REACH [...] before legislative decisions are made."

However, CEFIC draws attention to uncertainties in the study.
"Calculations are based on historical data, which cannot be directly
applied to estimate the future impact," it points out. For example,
it says the study fails to take into account "the constant progress
of environmental technology" or the impact of legislation currently
being enforced at national or regional level.

"Even the results of what is claimed as the most robust approach
therefore remain highly questionable," CEFIC claims. "The present
debate on REACH has advanced well beyond comparison of costs and
benefits; what is needed now are practical solutions to problems that
have been identified," it says.

Environmental campaigners at Greenpeace claim that the combined cost
savings in the study shows REACH "could bring extra environmental
benefits worth up to €95 billion over 25 years". This sum, says
Greenpeace, would "come on top of the expected €50 billion in health
cost savings over 30 years identified by the Commission in 2003, when
it launched the REACH proposal."

Nadia Haiama of Greenpeace European Unit said "much greater benefits
would follow if the proposal were extended to include mandatory
substitution of hazardous chemicals and if it obliged producers to
supply full safety information on their substances."

In a briefing paper, the WWF stresses that 50 billion euros in
environmental benefits over 25 years identified in the DHI study come
"in addition to the 50 billion health benefits over 30 years already
identified by the Commission when its proposal was published".

Since the first version of the REACH proposal was submitted in
October 2003, a row has pitted industry experts against
environmentalists and trade unions over the potential costs and
benefits of REACH. The row was officially ended in April last year
with the publication of an additional impact study done by KPMG for
the European chemical industry council (CEFIC) and business
organisation UNICE (EurActiv, 27 Apr. 2005).

To the surprise of NGOs, who had criticised the methodology as being
biased in favour of industry, the KPMG study confirmed the
Commission's own extended impact assessment, published along with the
initial REACH proposal in 2003.

At the time, Enterprise Commissioner Verheugen and Environment
Commissioner Dimas, said that the new study did not add much to the
debate as it confirmed most of the Commission's own assessment. The
first Commission estimates evaluated the costs of REACH at around
€2.3 bn over 11 years or 0.05% of the annual turnover of the sector.

Links

European Union

Commission (DG Environment): Study on the assessment of the impact of
REACH on the environment and human health Executive summary Full
report
(15 Feb. 2006)

Commission (DG Environment): Fact sheet on REACH

Commission (DG Enterprise): Extended impact assessment of REACH SEC
(2003) 1171/3 (29 Oct. 2003)

Commission (DG Enterprise): Extended impact assessment of the new
chemicals policy


EU Actors positions

WWF: Commission says REACH could bring further environmental
benefits of up 50 billion euros over 25 years
(16 Feb. 2006)

WWF: Briefing on DG ENV study, Benefits of REACH (Feb. 2006)

European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC): New study on benefits of
REACH lacks certainty and concrete proposals
(16 Feb. 2006)

Greenpeace: New REACH benefits study shows potential extra €95
billion in savings
(15 Feb. 2006)

Related Documents

UN agrees global strategy for safer chemicals (09 February 2006)

Ministers soft on substitution rules for dangerous chemicals (14
December 2005)

EU unsure about replacing dangerous chemicals (01 December 2005)

Chemical sector defines future research agenda (28 November 2005)

Concerns over chemical contamination of baby milk (25 November 2005)

Copyright EurActiv 2000-2005

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From: The Washington Times, Feb. 21, 2006
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SCAREDY-CAT SOCIETY

By Shelley Widhalm

Risk was too risky and fear was too common even before September 11,
and the growing obsession with avoiding danger may threaten our
society's future, scholars said at a recent Washington conference.
"Most human experiences come with a health warning, continually
reminding us that we cannot be expected to manage the risks we face,"
said Frank Furedi, a professor at the University of Kent in
England. "A powerful culture of precaution works to estrange the
public from the ideals of risk taking, innovation and
experimentation." Policy-making has become more arbitrary, driven by
"what if?" questions, said Mr. Furedi, author of "Politics of Fear:
Beyond Left and Right," speaking last week at the American
Enterprise Institute (AEI)
.

A disaster occurs, some kind of meaning is attributed to it, someone
is blamed and policy is implemented or changed with safety as the
ultimate goal, he said. Social policy, as a result, is focused on
reassuring people that they are safe, but what they get instead is
the illusion of safety while losing autonomy and control over their
own lives, he said.

"Nobody gets criticized for being safe," Mr. Furedi said. "What is
irresponsible is taking risks."

Last week's conference, "Panic Attack: The Precautionary Culture, the
Politics of Fear and the Risks to Innovation," was co-sponsored by
AEI in cooperation with the Institute of Ideas, a British think tank.
The conference focused on exploring the impact risk aversion has on
many aspects of life, ranging from education to business. It also
focused on the power that the precautionary principle -- a loose term
that calls for precaution to the point of risk avoidance in
innovation, human relationships and anything humans do -- has on
Western culture.

Such is the politics of fear, Mr. Furedi said, that children, women
and the elderly are labeled as "vulnerable" -- about 80 percent to 90
percent of the population.

The corporate "social responsibility" movement, initiated by some
advocacy groups, pressures businesses to avoid risk, said Jon
Entine
, an adjunct fellow at AEI and scholar in residence at Miami
University in Oxford, Ohio.

"Business leaders are increasingly paralyzed by caution... reacting
rather than leading," Mr. Entine said.

The benefits of most innovations are unseen, while the risks are made
public, said James K. Glassman, a resident fellow at AEI. If one
person is harmed from the side effects of a medication that helped
many others, the media tell the story of harm, he said. "Bad news
gets attention," Mr. Glassman said. "In other words, forget the
science; just ban it."

The media generate an exaggerated sense of danger, said Ronald Bailey
of Reason magazine.

"The media regularly fan the flames of fear of new technologies," he
said, citing fear-mongering accounts of the dangers of cell phones,
chemicals, in-vitro fertilization, population growth and genetically
enhanced crops.

In the legal world, risk focuses on the lowest common denominator --
the few people who may be displeased by a product, said Philip
Howard,vice chairman of the law firm of Covington & Burling in New
York. For fear of lawsuits, he said, some playgrounds have been
stripped of climbing ropes or jungle gyms, businesses do not give
employment references, and products have warning labels that nobody
reads. "Our leaders lost authority in themselves," Mr. Howard said.
Judges, he said, no longer believe they have the authority to dismiss
fraudulent cases. As a result, people can sue for almost any reason,
he said.

"There needs to be a major revolution in the way judges perceive
their jobs," Mr. Howard said.

Excessive fears extend down to the cradle. Though American children,
with few exceptions, are mentally and emotionally sound, many adults
regard them as fragile and vulnerable, Christina Hoff Sommers said.

Adults try to insulate children from the remote possibility of
getting hurt or injured or enduring a slight to their self-esteem,
including from any kind of competition, even in sports, said Ms.
Sommers, a resident scholar at AEI.

Psychologists state that, though the message has not reached the
public, children need self-control, not bolsters to their self-
esteem, she said.

"Today's children are the most overprotected in history. They're also
the most overpraised," Ms. Sommers said, adding that some adversity
is necessary. "We shortchange them," she said.

Copyright 2006 News World Communications, Inc.

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From: Hawaii Reporter, Feb. 21, 2006
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SOVIET HAMAKUA?

By Andrew Walden

About 30 Hamakua and rural Hilo residents gathered in late January at
the Kalanianaole School for the first of a series of meetings of the
Hamakua Coast's Community Development Corporation (HCDC). HCDC,
mandated by the County General Plan adopted in 2005, is intended to
garner community input to draw up a community development plan which
will be submitted to the County Council for a vote. The Community
Development Corporation process is beginning in Kona under the
chairmanship of former County Councilman Curtis Tyler and will
beginning in the Puna District with a meeting at the Nanawale
Community Center, Feb. 23.

In the case of the Hamakua District, Big Island leftists have been
working -- outside the CDC process -- with Representative Dwight
Takamine (D-Hamakua, Kohala) since August, 2004 to draw up a 132-
point plan which clearly spells out their goals. As Rory Flynn a
former employee of the Hawaii County Legislative Auditor's office
describes it, the so-called "Hamakua Agricultural Plan" is a
blueprint for, "...construction of a New Age socialist republic in
Hamakua." Asked about this for a Hawaii Island Journal article Bill
Beach, who along with his wife Lori leads the drafting of the Plan,
does not deny the characterization. He tells the Journal, "I've
talked to some people who call it a 'New-Age Socialist Plan On Golden
Pond." But my response to that is, 'Well, where do you start? Don't
you start with ideals and then work the details out?'"

The community plan drafting process will likely be completed in all
three districts after a newly elected County Council is seated in
January, 2007. The progress and direction of the CDCs is likely to
closely mirror the Council races. Beach's socialist "ideals" are
similar to what leftists will be pushing for in the CDC meetings
islandwide.

As described in the November 2005 issue of Hawaii Business, "...
the Ag Plan began as modest discussions to decide how to distribute
1,050 acres of county-owned agricultural land in Paauilo. County,
state and federal officials drafted a three-page document, which
addressed the needs and concerns of the new farmers. Takamine took
the document to the community in a series of meetings, where the Ag
Plan caught on like a sugar-cane wildfire. "'It [the Ag Plan]
mushroomed into a much bigger project, larger than anyone expected,"
says Lori Beach... the unofficial Ag Plan coordinator." That could be
the understatement of the year.

Takamine's Ag Plan calls for no less than four tax increases. It
foresees the establishment of five "community action committees" and
"community boards." All in a rural area with a population of about
9000 residents.

While claiming to promote agriculture the "Ag Plan" attacks
agriculture as it is practiced in the real world. It calls for a
program to "... monitor the selection and application of chemical
pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer; and... develop incentives to
reduce dependency on such chemicals." Insect and weed control are
necessary to any export-oriented agricultural production. The Hilo-
Hamakua Coast includes commercial farms which grow much of Hawaii's
locally produced bananas.

Takamine's plan also calls for, "... educational meetings to inform
farmers regarding the potential legal liability they may face if they
plant GMO crops." The threat to sue farmers growing papaya, corn or
other of the GM crops which make up a sizeable percentage of American
(and Hawaii) agriculture is odd given the fact that no individual
farmer in the US has ever been successfully sued for planting legally-
obtained GM seeds.

This threat is one of five anti-GM proposals which should be alarming
to every papaya farmer on this island. GM foods have been in the
daily diet of Americans for several years now and not one single
person anywhere on Earth has ever been shown to have been harmed due
to the genetic modification of plants. Such common foods as corn and
soybeans -- as well as papaya -- are genetically modified. Diabetics
now can use human insulin -- instead of bovine insulin -- only
because organisms have been genetically modified to produce it.
Hawaii's year-round growing season makes GM plant trials one of the
most important high-value agricultural businesses in these isles.
Moreover, Hawaii-based research contributes mightily to the world's
ability to increase agricultural production and reduce the use of
pesticides with GM plant varieties.

The Hamakua Ag Plan calls for the County to adopt the so-called
"precautionary principle" in an ordinance modeled after one adopted
by the City of San Francisco, CA. The San Francisco ordinance reads,
"...precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and
effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." This
would help activists greatly by relieving them of the need to
actually prove anything. To assert their power under the ordinance,
they merely need to claim there is a threat. The opportunities for
graft and blackmail abound.

The Plan also contains the odd phrase, "Be mindful of the seventh
generation." As is typical of leftists, the most radical proposals of
all are introduced on the sly in the hope that nobody will know
exactly what they mean. This is no different.

There are several possible meanings, but the one which enters into
political discourse is the "Seventh Generation Amendment" to the U.S.
Constitution proposed by the Green Party starting in the mid 1990s.
It reads:

"The rights of the people to use and enjoy air, water, sunlight, and
other renewable resources determined by Congress to be common
property, shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their
availability for the future generations."

Renewable resources including: soil, trees, crops and livestock could
be made common (i.e. state) property. Anyone familiar with the
disastrous environmental record of the former socialist bloc
countries knows where this leads. In essence, your property from the
grassroots down would be no longer yours, nor the air you breathe,
nor the water you drink. That which is not owned is not cared for.

Fortunately, even in Hawaii, this is beyond the power of governments
operating under the US Constitution. But Takamine and Beach's Ag Plan
contains proposals to buy up "important Ag lands" for "preservation"
by "County land bank(s)... and... non-profit land trusts ...." These
lands would then be leased out to "bona fide" farmers.

The Ag Plan also calls for "... enforce(ment of) Ag Use on Ag zoned
lands." Penalties for homeowners judged insufficiently agricultural
by the "community action board" are not specified. This follows the
pattern set by Judge Ronald Ibarra's Hokulia decision, which
threatens the property of all landowners on ag lands subdivided since
1976. They also call for a "moratorium" on further subdivision of ag
lands.

In addition to calling for the confiscation with compensation of
"Important Ag Lands" the Ag Plan also calls for the State and
Kamehameha Schools to, "... approve requests by farmers leasing
agricultural land... to construct on the leased land dwellings for
the farmer's family and farm workers and other agriculture-related
structures and improvements."

In short, private property would be eliminated to the greatest degree
possible. Land would be transferred to the government and the large
trusts. Agricultural estates with large houses built on land bought
from the sugar plantations would be replaced by "bona-fide"
sharecroppers with tiny shacks on leased land. After driving the
entire population into poverty, the "Plan" has a solution for that as
well: "... an affordable housing 'village' that resembles the
existing sugar worker camps in Paauhau and Paauilo."

In essence, the Hamakua Ag Plan is a one way trip back -- not to the
sugar plantation with its' union rules and regular paydays -- but to
something more akin to the Jim Crow South with most of us taking the
role of black sharecroppers while the elected officials and their
politically correct cronies take the place of the privileged white
elites. While most of us live in poverty in the "village," or tend to
leasehold farms, the elites would prosper in the "pristine, quiet
environment" they created by driving us out. They would make millions
as proprietors of New Age retreat centers for mainland yuppies that
pay $1000 a night to rediscover their 7th chakra.

The Hamakua Ag Plan is a blueprint for an entire region where the
majority are dependent on the whims of government officials and land
trustees. Forced back under this kind of domination, people would be
ready-made for control by "the old-boy network" or "the machine." No
wonder Dwight is happy.

Big Island residents should not be deceived. This is a plan leftists
have for all of us. It may take different forms in different areas,
but the intent is the same.

Knowledge is power. This plan can be defeated if Hawaii County
residents step forward and make their voices heard in the Community
Planning meetings being held across this island. The solutions for
Hawaii will come from diversified economic opportunity, individual
liberty, and free enterprise -- not big government, big trusts, and
the confiscation of private property.

Links:

http://www.webspawner.com/users/hamakuacommunity/index.html

http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/1105/1105_bigisland_coast.aspx

http://www.hawaiiislandjournal.com/2005/03b05a.html

Andrew Walden is the publisher and editor of Hawaii Free Press, a Big
Island-based newspaper. He can be reached via email at
andrewwalden@email.com

HawaiiReporter.com reports the real news, and prints all editorials
submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the
editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to
Malia@HawaiiReporter.com

Hawaii Reporter 1314 S. King St., Suite 1163 Honolulu, Hawaii 96814

Information and Subscription Phone: 808-524-4500 Fax: 808-524-4594
Subscribe@HawaiiReporter.com

City Desk Phone: 808-306-3161 Fax: 808-263-8181
Tips@HawaiiReporter.com

http://www.HawaiiReporter.com

Copyright 2006 Hawaii Reporter, Inc.

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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
Reporter
send a blank Email to one of these addresses:

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In response, you will receive an Email asking you to confirm that
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:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #26 "Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World" Wednesday, February 22, 2006.........Printer-friendly version www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Table of Contents...

The Canaries Had Their Coal Mines
Precautionary action can take many forms. An early warning system
is an important kind of precautionary action, monitoring local
conditions to keep good things going or stop bad things from
happening. This story describes an early warning system that's
testing for mercury in wildlife in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Oregon Farmers Join an Early Warning Network for Pesticides
Oregon farmers have joined an early warning network to discover
pesticide contamination as early as possible, aiming to minimize harm
to the Pudding River and its tributaries.
New Study Finds REACH Could Save EU Billions of Euros
The European Union's precautionary REACH legislation on chemicals
(coming up for a final vote any day now) could save Europeans
billions of dollars (euros, actually) in water treatment and other
environmental costs such as sewage treatment, according to new
research for the European Commission.
Right-wing Extremists Maintain a Drumbeat Opposing Precaution
In recent weeks, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's ultra-right-wing
newspaper, the Washington Times, has stepped up its attacks on the
precautionary principle. Here the Reverend Mr. Moon opens his columns
to the American Enterprise Institute, which claims that precaution
has paralyzed business leaders, frightened judges out of their wits,
falsely labeled children as "vulnerable," and stifled needed
innovation. Notice that zero evidence is offered to support these
claims.
Soviet Hamakua?
Andrew Walden, a newspaper editor in Hawaii, has grown alarmed
because 9000 residents of rural Hamakua, Hawaii (on the big island)
propose to adopt the "precautionary principle" and reduce the use of
pesticides and genetically modified seeds in agriculture. They also
propose to "be mindful of the 7th generation" -- perhaps indicating
an unAmerican concern for the future. As Mr. Walden sees it, this all
adds up to a communist plot to establish a new Soviet outpost in the
Pacific.

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From: New York Times, Aug. 8, 2005
[Printer-friendly version]

THE CANARIES HAD THEIR COAL MINES

By Anthony Depalma

Hunter Mountain Wild Forest, N.Y., Aug. 3 -- So far this summer, Wing
Goodale and his boss, David C. Evers, have used decoys and recorded
bird calls to lure about 150 thrushes, warblers and other wild
songbirds into nets here and in several others parts of New York
City's Catskill Mountain Watershed to determine what is happening to
the drinking water.

From each tiny bird, no bigger than a cellphone, Mr. Goodale, a
research biologist, gently takes blood samples with toothpick-size
pipettes. Then Mr. Evers, also a biologist, stretches out a bird's
wing and counts down to its 11th flight feather, which he deftly
plucks and puts into a plastic storage bag for sampling.

Mr. Evers, who is executive director of the BioDiversity Research
Institute, a nonprofit research and education group in Gorham, Me.,
is looking for signs of mercury in the songbirds. He has a pretty
good hunch that he will find it, as he has already found mercury in
songbirds in the Adirondacks and in New England.

If substantial amounts of mercury show up in the blood and feathers
he has collected, it could spell trouble for the watershed and,
potentially, for the nine million people who rely on the New York
drinking water that comes from here because it would mean that the
toxin is present in ways that were previously unknown.

"It's far more extensive than was ever put forth to the public," Mr.
Evers said.

Mercury contamination has long been present in lakes, rivers and the
city's reservoirs.

Mercury, a liquid metal, does not get into water because of broken
thermometers, as some believe. Rather, mercury occurs naturally in
the earth, including in coal. It is released into the air by coal-
burning power plants and other sources.

Emissions from power plants in the Midwest drift toward New York. The
real problem comes when the airborne mercury comes into contact with
water and is transformed into its toxic form, methylmercury. Although
the water in New York City's Catskill reservoirs is considered safe
to drink, state health officials have posted advisories warning that
pregnant women and children ought to limit their consumption of bass,
trout and other fish caught in the reservoirs because the fish have
absorbed some of the toxic material.

Until recently, the mercury problem was thought to be limited to
water. The discovery of mercury in songbirds that never go into the
water may represent a serious new threat.

Mr. Evers was invited to the watershed by the New York chapter of the
Nature Conservancy, a national environmental group that has helped
protect open spaces throughout the state.

In recent years, New York City has spent about $175 million to buy
about 60,000 acres of Catskill woodlands to protect the reservoirs.
But what good is buying forest land, asked Alan White, director of
the conservancy's Catskill Mountain Program, if the health of the
forest itself is at risk?

It is still early in the investigation, but Mr. Evers, who spent more
than a decade studying the impact of mercury on water birds like
loons, believes that the harmful form of mercury gets caught in the
fallen leaves and other litter on the forest floor, where it is
consumed by sow bugs, centipedes and other small insects.

As those bugs are eaten by larger bugs, the mercury content is passed
on. The buildup of mercury continues as those insects are eaten by
songbirds.

Mr. Evers and Mr. White say that it makes sense to think of forest
songbirds as early warning systems, like the canaries that used to be
carried into coal mine shafts. If the canaries died, miners hurried
out of the mines because they knew that dangerous methane or carbon
monoxide was present.

In the same way, unnatural levels of mercury in songbirds could be
interpreted as a sign of pending danger in the forests. In loons and
other water birds, excessive levels of mercury cause erratic behavior
and lower birthrates.

The scientists in the Catskills are focusing their attention on the
wood thrush, a gutsy little frequent flier with a flutelike voice
that can combine two notes at once. The wood thrush can migrate as
far south as Panama, more than 2,500 miles from the Catskills.

In recent decades, the number of wood thrushes has declined 45
percent, and the reason is unclear. Mr. Evers says biologists
initially suspected that destruction of the bird's winter habitat was
responsible. But now he thinks elevated levels of mercury could be to
blame.

The connection between mercury in the birds and the purity of the
city's drinking water is indirect, but real. As Mr. White explained,
if the songbird population declines, the natural check on insects
will be disturbed.

Without the birds preying on them, caterpillars and other destructive
insects can defoliate forests, killing trees that filter runoff that
eventually winds up in the reservoirs.

Before dawn, Mr. Evers and Mr. Goodale set up nearly invisible traps,
called mist nets, along a trail on the western slope of Hunter
Mountain, in between the city's Schoharie and Ashokan Reservoirs.

On the forest floor near the nets they placed plastic decoys and CD
players that reproduced the thrush's beautiful ee-oh-lay song.

By 8 a.m. they had trapped about 10 birds, including several wood
thrushes. Because the wood thrush is somewhat larger than other
forest songbirds, it is believed that it will show a higher level of
mercury when the tests are completed in about six weeks.

If these initial studies of songbirds indicate, as expected, that
there is a serious problem with mercury, Mr. White said the long-
range concern would be that "these forest systems will start to
unravel," endangering the water supply.

Mr. White said that there was no immediate health danger, and the New
York City Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the
city's water system and continuously tests for mercury, has not
detected the element in the water.

New York is one of only a handful of cities in the country that do
not filter their drinking water. What goes into the upstate
reservoirs comes out in New York taps 120 miles later unfiltered,
although chlorine and fluoride are added.

Mr. Evers says it is much too early to determine what the impact of
mercury on the songbirds might be, or how long before the reservoirs
are affected in any way.

But he said that, when it comes to drinking water, it is important to
anticipate a potential problem.

"The wood thrush is a good indicator species," Mr. Evers said. "If
this small-scale, pilot project shows that there is a danger in these
parts, it will be time to go to the policy makers and say this is
what we've found, and we should do something about it."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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From: Statesman Journal (Salem, Or.), Feb. 15, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

FARMERS HELP DETECT PESTICIDES IN WATER

More are joining a Marion County prevention program

By Beth Casper, Statesman Journal

Erika Toler's horses and sheep quench their thirst at a small,
unnamed creek on her property east of Salem.

Naturally, she wants the water as clean as possible.

But when it rains, brown water pours from nearby fields, down the
road and through a clay pipe to the small waterways' headwaters.

"I am worried about pesticides flowing over," said the Marion County
resident. "We want to capture the water and filter it before it gets
down to the livestock."

Her concerns are shared by Scott Eden, a resource conservationist
with the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District.

Eden is part of a new pilot project to reduce the number and
concentrations of pesticides in the Pudding River basin. Toler's
creek runs into Beaver Creek, which eventually leads to the Pudding
River.

Through the Pudding River Pesticide Stewardship Network, Eden works
with farmers and ranchers to explain which pesticides are detected in
the area's waterways, where they might be coming from and what can be
done about them.

"Basically, the detections are higher than we would want," Eden said.
"We are trying to investigate where they might have been coming from.
With help from growers, we can find out if it is in the application
of pesticides or in some other process."

Eden said the program will go nowhere without help from the farmers,
who own the land and are personally invested in the area.

"The farmers would like to reduce any effects they may be having, but
they are busy," he said.

For farmers and ranchers, getting involved with the network provides
another benefit: keeping precious soils on their property.

"The science says if you can keep the soil from leaving the property,
you keep pesticides out of the water," said Dennis Roth of Wilco
Farms, a farmers cooperative.

Farmers and ranchers are beginning to apply for grants and technical
assistance to identify places to reduce soil erosion.

One of the ways is by planting grasses, which creates root systems
that hold soil in place.

"We like to save our soil because it's so costly," said Jeff Butsch,
a farmer in the area. "We planted perennial grass last fall, and it
is just getting established right now. But the idea is to make the
rainwater go into the soil and not run off."

The program in the Pudding basin is based on similar voluntary
activities in Hood River and The Dalles.

In 1999, Hood River residents asked state officials whether
pesticides used in area orchards were affecting nearby waterways.
Tests showed an association between the times pesticides were sprayed
and detections of the same pesticides in the creeks, said Fenix
Grange, a toxics coordinator for the Oregon Department of
Environmental Quality.

Growers changed some of their practices, including some things as
seemingly benign as changing the size of pesticide droplets sprayed
on fruit trees.

"We've had consistent and remarkable improvements in water quality up
there," Grange said.

The frequency of detection of a toxic insecticide in area creeks fell
by two-thirds between 2001 and 2004, partly because of the work done
by farmers in the program, Grange said.

The Pudding River Pesticide Stewardship Network started as a pilot
project last year to see whether what worked in orchard country would
work in mixed-use agricultural areas.

The Pudding River area has a mix of orchards, row crops and cane
berries. It also has high concentrations of many pesticides.

Water sampling done between 1991 and 1995 by the U.S. Geological
Survey showed 43 pesticides in Zollner Creek, one of the creeks that
flows into the Pudding River.

"That is quite high compared to even other agricultural sites around
the country," said Hank Johnson, a hydrologist with the U.S.
Geological Survey in Portland.

Results won't be detectable for a few years, experts say, but related
projects already are making a dent in pesticide reductions.

Last week, farmers in the Pudding River watershed were asked to drop
off banned and obsolete pesticides at a free collection in Mount
Angel.

Stored pesticides can leak and find their way into streams.

More than 16,000 pounds of obsolete and banned pesticides was
collected, including 100 pounds of DDT, which the U.S. government
banned in the 1970s.

"Keeping pesticides out of streams is the ultimate goal," said Dennis
Roth, a plant manager for Wilco Farms. "Farmers who have some of the
old stuff -- because they bought a farm and it's not labeled -- this
gave them an avenue to get rid of it."

And in the end, Eden said, everyone benefits from the reduction of
pesticides in waterways -- from water users and landowners downstream
to fish.

bcasper@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6994

Copyright 2006 StatesmanJournal.com

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From: EurActiv, Feb. 16, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

NEW STUDY EVALUATES ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF REACH

RELATED: Chemicals Policy review (REACH)

Background:

Most studies on the draft REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation
and Authorisation of Chemicals) have focused on the costs to the
economy of imposing stricter controls on chemical manufacturers,
including on downstream users of chemicals in other industrial
sectors. But few have explored the possible long-term benefits of
REACH in reducing potential chemical threats to the environment as
these are less easily quantifiable.

The aim of this latest study, prepared by independent researchers and
published on 15 February 2006, is to assess the benefits of REACH on
the environment and to humans who are exposed to chemicals via the
environment. It therefore excludes direct exposure of consumers as
well as worker exposure, which has already been analysed in a
separate study (EurActiv, 20 Oct. 2005).

The bitter row over the expected costs of REACH was officially ended
in April last year with the publication of a further impact
assessment (EurActiv, 27 Apr. 2005). The report had seemingly
brought an end to the dispute after some 36 other impact studies were
evaluated by EU and national experts under the Dutch Presidency
(EurActiv, 2 Nov. 2004).

Issues:

The long-standing dispute over the potential costs and benefits of
the REACH proposal was given fresh momentum with the publication on
15 February of an impact study by independent researchers.

The study _ carried out at the request of the Commission's
environment directorate by research and consultancy firm DHI Water &
Environment -concludes that REACH would save a minimum of €150-500
million by the year 2017, at the expected close of its 11-year roll-
out period. By the year 2041, the savings would add up to €8.9
billion, mostly in areas such as "purification of drinking water,
disposal of dredged sediment and incineration of sewage instead of
disposal on farmlands".

The estimates were calculated using what the researchers say is the
most robust available data and "well-documented cases of costs" in
combination with an assumption that "the potential benefit of REACH
would be only at 10%" of total costs".

Less reliable scenarios were considered as well, one based on
consumers willingness to pay for cleaner drinking water or for
avoiding the health effects of chemical pollution, in particular
cancer. Another extrapolated findings from past experience with well-
known substances which are now restricted (trichlorobenzene,
nonylphenol and tetrachloroethylene), to avoid similar mistakes. But
the results obtained were judged too uncertain.

Positions:

"We are pleased that another study confirms the enormous benefit that
REACH would carry," the Commission environment spokesperson, Barbara
Helfferich, told EurActiv. "It confirms the extended impact
assessment we did back in 2003," she added. However, she cautions
that no single study can give a full picture. "The baseline, she
added, is still the [Commission's] extended impact assessment."

The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) said it welcomes the
study's aim to assess the benefits of REACH "as it is important to
establish as complete a picture as possible of the potential impacts
of REACH [...] before legislative decisions are made."

However, CEFIC draws attention to uncertainties in the study.
"Calculations are based on historical data, which cannot be directly
applied to estimate the future impact," it points out. For example,
it says the study fails to take into account "the constant progress
of environmental technology" or the impact of legislation currently
being enforced at national or regional level.

"Even the results of what is claimed as the most robust approach
therefore remain highly questionable," CEFIC claims. "The present
debate on REACH has advanced well beyond comparison of costs and
benefits; what is needed now are practical solutions to problems that
have been identified," it says.

Environmental campaigners at Greenpeace claim that the combined cost
savings in the study shows REACH "could bring extra environmental
benefits worth up to €95 billion over 25 years". This sum, says
Greenpeace, would "come on top of the expected €50 billion in health
cost savings over 30 years identified by the Commission in 2003, when
it launched the REACH proposal."

Nadia Haiama of Greenpeace European Unit said "much greater benefits
would follow if the proposal were extended to include mandatory
substitution of hazardous chemicals and if it obliged producers to
supply full safety information on their substances."

In a briefing paper, the WWF stresses that 50 billion euros in
environmental benefits over 25 years identified in the DHI study come
"in addition to the 50 billion health benefits over 30 years already
identified by the Commission when its proposal was published".

Since the first version of the REACH proposal was submitted in
October 2003, a row has pitted industry experts against
environmentalists and trade unions over the potential costs and
benefits of REACH. The row was officially ended in April last year
with the publication of an additional impact study done by KPMG for
the European chemical industry council (CEFIC) and business
organisation UNICE (EurActiv, 27 Apr. 2005).

To the surprise of NGOs, who had criticised the methodology as being
biased in favour of industry, the KPMG study confirmed the
Commission's own extended impact assessment, published along with the
initial REACH proposal in 2003.

At the time, Enterprise Commissioner Verheugen and Environment
Commissioner Dimas, said that the new study did not add much to the
debate as it confirmed most of the Commission's own assessment. The
first Commission estimates evaluated the costs of REACH at around
€2.3 bn over 11 years or 0.05% of the annual turnover of the sector.

Links

European Union

Commission (DG Environment): Study on the assessment of the impact of
REACH on the environment and human health Executive summary Full
report
(15 Feb. 2006)

Commission (DG Environment): Fact sheet on REACH

Commission (DG Enterprise): Extended impact assessment of REACH SEC
(2003) 1171/3 (29 Oct. 2003)

Commission (DG Enterprise): Extended impact assessment of the new
chemicals policy


EU Actors positions

WWF: Commission says REACH could bring further environmental
benefits of up 50 billion euros over 25 years
(16 Feb. 2006)

WWF: Briefing on DG ENV study, Benefits of REACH (Feb. 2006)

European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC): New study on benefits of
REACH lacks certainty and concrete proposals
(16 Feb. 2006)

Greenpeace: New REACH benefits study shows potential extra €95
billion in savings
(15 Feb. 2006)

Related Documents

UN agrees global strategy for safer chemicals (09 February 2006)

Ministers soft on substitution rules for dangerous chemicals (14
December 2005)

EU unsure about replacing dangerous chemicals (01 December 2005)

Chemical sector defines future research agenda (28 November 2005)

Concerns over chemical contamination of baby milk (25 November 2005)

Copyright EurActiv 2000-2005

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From: The Washington Times, Feb. 21, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

SCAREDY-CAT SOCIETY

By Shelley Widhalm

Risk was too risky and fear was too common even before September 11,
and the growing obsession with avoiding danger may threaten our
society's future, scholars said at a recent Washington conference.
"Most human experiences come with a health warning, continually
reminding us that we cannot be expected to manage the risks we face,"
said Frank Furedi, a professor at the University of Kent in
England. "A powerful culture of precaution works to estrange the
public from the ideals of risk taking, innovation and
experimentation." Policy-making has become more arbitrary, driven by
"what if?" questions, said Mr. Furedi, author of "Politics of Fear:
Beyond Left and Right," speaking last week at the American
Enterprise Institute (AEI)
.

A disaster occurs, some kind of meaning is attributed to it, someone
is blamed and policy is implemented or changed with safety as the
ultimate goal, he said. Social policy, as a result, is focused on
reassuring people that they are safe, but what they get instead is
the illusion of safety while losing autonomy and control over their
own lives, he said.

"Nobody gets criticized for being safe," Mr. Furedi said. "What is
irresponsible is taking risks."

Last week's conference, "Panic Attack: The Precautionary Culture, the
Politics of Fear and the Risks to Innovation," was co-sponsored by
AEI in cooperation with the Institute of Ideas, a British think tank.
The conference focused on exploring the impact risk aversion has on
many aspects of life, ranging from education to business. It also
focused on the power that the precautionary principle -- a loose term
that calls for precaution to the point of risk avoidance in
innovation, human relationships and anything humans do -- has on
Western culture.

Such is the politics of fear, Mr. Furedi said, that children, women
and the elderly are labeled as "vulnerable" -- about 80 percent to 90
percent of the population.

The corporate "social responsibility" movement, initiated by some
advocacy groups, pressures businesses to avoid risk, said Jon
Entine
, an adjunct fellow at AEI and scholar in residence at Miami
University in Oxford, Ohio.

"Business leaders are increasingly paralyzed by caution... reacting
rather than leading," Mr. Entine said.

The benefits of most innovations are unseen, while the risks are made
public, said James K. Glassman, a resident fellow at AEI. If one
person is harmed from the side effects of a medication that helped
many others, the media tell the story of harm, he said. "Bad news
gets attention," Mr. Glassman said. "In other words, forget the
science; just ban it."

The media generate an exaggerated sense of danger, said Ronald Bailey
of Reason magazine.

"The media regularly fan the flames of fear of new technologies," he
said, citing fear-mongering accounts of the dangers of cell phones,
chemicals, in-vitro fertilization, population growth and genetically
enhanced crops.

In the legal world, risk focuses on the lowest common denominator --
the few people who may be displeased by a product, said Philip
Howard,vice chairman of the law firm of Covington & Burling in New
York. For fear of lawsuits, he said, some playgrounds have been
stripped of climbing ropes or jungle gyms, businesses do not give
employment references, and products have warning labels that nobody
reads. "Our leaders lost authority in themselves," Mr. Howard said.
Judges, he said, no longer believe they have the authority to dismiss
fraudulent cases. As a result, people can sue for almost any reason,
he said.

"There needs to be a major revolution in the way judges perceive
their jobs," Mr. Howard said.

Excessive fears extend down to the cradle. Though American children,
with few exceptions, are mentally and emotionally sound, many adults
regard them as fragile and vulnerable, Christina Hoff Sommers said.

Adults try to insulate children from the remote possibility of
getting hurt or injured or enduring a slight to their self-esteem,
including from any kind of competition, even in sports, said Ms.
Sommers, a resident scholar at AEI.

Psychologists state that, though the message has not reached the
public, children need self-control, not bolsters to their self-
esteem, she said.

"Today's children are the most overprotected in history. They're also
the most overpraised," Ms. Sommers said, adding that some adversity
is necessary. "We shortchange them," she said.

Copyright 2006 News World Communications, Inc.

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From: Hawaii Reporter, Feb. 21, 2006
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SOVIET HAMAKUA?

By Andrew Walden

About 30 Hamakua and rural Hilo residents gathered in late January at
the Kalanianaole School for the first of a series of meetings of the
Hamakua Coast's Community Development Corporation (HCDC). HCDC,
mandated by the County General Plan adopted in 2005, is intended to
garner community input to draw up a community development plan which
will be submitted to the County Council for a vote. The Community
Development Corporation process is beginning in Kona under the
chairmanship of former County Councilman Curtis Tyler and will
beginning in the Puna District with a meeting at the Nanawale
Community Center, Feb. 23.

In the case of the Hamakua District, Big Island leftists have been
working -- outside the CDC process -- with Representative Dwight
Takamine (D-Hamakua, Kohala) since August, 2004 to draw up a 132-
point plan which clearly spells out their goals. As Rory Flynn a
former employee of the Hawaii County Legislative Auditor's office
describes it, the so-called "Hamakua Agricultural Plan" is a
blueprint for, "...construction of a New Age socialist republic in
Hamakua." Asked about this for a Hawaii Island Journal article Bill
Beach, who along with his wife Lori leads the drafting of the Plan,
does not deny the characterization. He tells the Journal, "I've
talked to some people who call it a 'New-Age Socialist Plan On Golden
Pond." But my response to that is, 'Well, where do you start? Don't
you start with ideals and then work the details out?'"

The community plan drafting process will likely be completed in all
three districts after a newly elected County Council is seated in
January, 2007. The progress and direction of the CDCs is likely to
closely mirror the Council races. Beach's socialist "ideals" are
similar to what leftists will be pushing for in the CDC meetings
islandwide.

As described in the November 2005 issue of Hawaii Business, "...
the Ag Plan began as modest discussions to decide how to distribute
1,050 acres of county-owned agricultural land in Paauilo. County,
state and federal officials drafted a three-page document, which
addressed the needs and concerns of the new farmers. Takamine took
the document to the community in a series of meetings, where the Ag
Plan caught on like a sugar-cane wildfire. "'It [the Ag Plan]
mushroomed into a much bigger project, larger than anyone expected,"
says Lori Beach... the unofficial Ag Plan coordinator." That could be
the understatement of the year.

Takamine's Ag Plan calls for no less than four tax increases. It
foresees the establishment of five "community action committees" and
"community boards." All in a rural area with a population of about
9000 residents.

While claiming to promote agriculture the "Ag Plan" attacks
agriculture as it is practiced in the real world. It calls for a
program to "... monitor the selection and application of chemical
pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer; and... develop incentives to
reduce dependency on such chemicals." Insect and weed control are
necessary to any export-oriented agricultural production. The Hilo-
Hamakua Coast includes commercial farms which grow much of Hawaii's
locally produced bananas.

Takamine's plan also calls for, "... educational meetings to inform
farmers regarding the potential legal liability they may face if they
plant GMO crops." The threat to sue farmers growing papaya, corn or
other of the GM crops which make up a sizeable percentage of American
(and Hawaii) agriculture is odd given the fact that no individual
farmer in the US has ever been successfully sued for planting legally-
obtained GM seeds.

This threat is one of five anti-GM proposals which should be alarming
to every papaya farmer on this island. GM foods have been in the
daily diet of Americans for several years now and not one single
person anywhere on Earth has ever been shown to have been harmed due
to the genetic modification of plants. Such common foods as corn and
soybeans -- as well as papaya -- are genetically modified. Diabetics
now can use human insulin -- instead of bovine insulin -- only
because organisms have been genetically modified to produce it.
Hawaii's year-round growing season makes GM plant trials one of the
most important high-value agricultural businesses in these isles.
Moreover, Hawaii-based research contributes mightily to the world's
ability to increase agricultural production and reduce the use of
pesticides with GM plant varieties.

The Hamakua Ag Plan calls for the County to adopt the so-called
"precautionary principle" in an ordinance modeled after one adopted
by the City of San Francisco, CA. The San Francisco ordinance reads,
"...precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and
effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." This
would help activists greatly by relieving them of the need to
actually prove anything. To assert their power under the ordinance,
they merely need to claim there is a threat. The opportunities for
graft and blackmail abound.

The Plan also contains the odd phrase, "Be mindful of the seventh
generation." As is typical of leftists, the most radical proposals of
all are introduced on the sly in the hope that nobody will know
exactly what they mean. This is no different.

There are several possible meanings, but the one which enters into
political discourse is the "Seventh Generation Amendment" to the U.S.
Constitution proposed by the Green Party starting in the mid 1990s.
It reads:

"The rights of the people to use and enjoy air, water, sunlight, and
other renewable resources determined by Congress to be common
property, shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their
availability for the future generations."

Renewable resources including: soil, trees, crops and livestock could
be made common (i.e. state) property. Anyone familiar with the
disastrous environmental record of the former socialist bloc
countries knows where this leads. In essence, your property from the
grassroots down would be no longer yours, nor the air you breathe,
nor the water you drink. That which is not owned is not cared for.

Fortunately, even in Hawaii, this is beyond the power of governments
operating under the US Constitution. But Takamine and Beach's Ag Plan
contains proposals to buy up "important Ag lands" for "preservation"
by "County land bank(s)... and... non-profit land trusts ...." These
lands would then be leased out to "bona fide" farmers.

The Ag Plan also calls for "... enforce(ment of) Ag Use on Ag zoned
lands." Penalties for homeowners judged insufficiently agricultural
by the "community action board" are not specified. This follows the
pattern set by Judge Ronald Ibarra's Hokulia decision, which
threatens the property of all landowners on ag lands subdivided since
1976. They also call for a "moratorium" on further subdivision of ag
lands.

In addition to calling for the confiscation with compensation of
"Important Ag Lands" the Ag Plan also calls for the State and
Kamehameha Schools to, "... approve requests by farmers leasing
agricultural land... to construct on the leased land dwellings for
the farmer's family and farm workers and other agriculture-related
structures and improvements."

In short, private property would be eliminated to the greatest degree
possible. Land would be transferred to the government and the large
trusts. Agricultural estates with large houses built on land bought
from the sugar plantations would be replaced by "bona-fide"
sharecroppers with tiny shacks on leased land. After driving the
entire population into poverty, the "Plan" has a solution for that as
well: "... an affordable housing 'village' that resembles the
existing sugar worker camps in Paauhau and Paauilo."

In essence, the Hamakua Ag Plan is a one way trip back -- not to the
sugar plantation with its' union rules and regular paydays -- but to
something more akin to the Jim Crow South with most of us taking the
role of black sharecroppers while the elected officials and their
politically correct cronies take the place of the privileged white
elites. While most of us live in poverty in the "village," or tend to
leasehold farms, the elites would prosper in the "pristine, quiet
environment" they created by driving us out. They would make millions
as proprietors of New Age retreat centers for mainland yuppies that
pay $1000 a night to rediscover their 7th chakra.

The Hamakua Ag Plan is a blueprint for an entire region where the
majority are dependent on the whims of government officials and land
trustees. Forced back under this kind of domination, people would be
ready-made for control by "the old-boy network" or "the machine." No
wonder Dwight is happy.

Big Island residents should not be deceived. This is a plan leftists
have for all of us. It may take different forms in different areas,
but the intent is the same.

Knowledge is power. This plan can be defeated if Hawaii County
residents step forward and make their voices heard in the Community
Planning meetings being held across this island. The solutions for
Hawaii will come from diversified economic opportunity, individual
liberty, and free enterprise -- not big government, big trusts, and
the confiscation of private property.

Links:

http://www.webspawner.com/users/hamakuacommunity/index.html

http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/1105/1105_bigisland_coast.aspx

http://www.hawaiiislandjournal.com/2005/03b05a.html

Andrew Walden is the publisher and editor of Hawaii Free Press, a Big
Island-based newspaper. He can be reached via email at
andrewwalden@email.com

HawaiiReporter.com reports the real news, and prints all editorials
submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the
editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to
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Copyright 2006 Hawaii Reporter, Inc.

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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
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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
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please Email them to us at rpr@rachel.org.

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