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Environment

Published: 22.11.2010
Written by Tore B. Krudtaa

What does words lik environment, sustainable development and biodiversity mean to you?

How much do we contribute to make sure following generations shall be able to enjoy clean air, clean soil, a healthy animal life and food and water that is not contaminated with poison?

Unfortunately, in most countries, there is little serious control with new products which a manufacturer whish to market and sell. Most industrialized countries has regulatory authorities which task is to make sure that our air, soil, water and food are kept free from toxic substances. But, unfortunately, in most cases, the risk assessments made by our regulatory authorities are based on information provided by the manufacturer. In other words, it is the studies made by the manufacturer that is the foundation for the health- and environmental risk assessments that is made.

The history has repeatedly shown us that many highly toxic products are beeing approved. Only after many years on the market and after these products has made huge damage to the environment and/or our health, they are finally removed from the market.

Examples of such products are: PCB, Dioxin, DDT, Agent Orange and Atrazin. Today, only Atrazin is allowed sold in several countries. Atrazin are prohibited in Norway and the European Union. Unfortunately are products like PCB, Dioxin, DDT and Agent Orange very little biodegradable. This means that these substances use very long time to be destroyed by natural processes. These products also accumulate in fatty tissues, which result in accumulation upwards in the food chain. As a direct consequence of irresponsible safety studies made by many multinational corporations, most people on this planet today have small amounts of Dioxin in their bodies. Many of these irresponsible companies withheld information which showed that these substances where extremely dangerous to the environment, animals and humans.

If we look at the decisions made by "responsible" authorities in Norway, in relation to the use of toxic substances (diflubenzuron and teflubenzuron) in the feed for farmed salmon, Mattilsynet's (the equivalence of U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approval to use 19 different GMOs in feed for 4 different fish feed producers, as well as the fact that Roundup is allowed used in both agriculture and gardens (read more about Roundup here), much indicate that the regulatory authorities feel a greater responsibility against the manufacturers than the responsible they have in relation to protect humans, animals and the environment against potential toxic substances.

What is worrying is how little understanding many regulative authorities, politicians and scientists show in relation to the precautionary principle. Especially in relation to new technology and new products which is approved on the world market.

The "precautionary principle" got full support internationally in relation to a statement made in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Here we can read: "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation".

If we take a closer look at the work that was done by U.S FDA, prior to the approval of Posilac (also called rBGH), one will soon understand that the regulatory authorities which are there to prevent harmful products from beeing approved, does not do their job very well. And it is obvious that these authorities consciously overlooked worrying scientific studies and reports from farmers, which under normal circumstances would have lead to a total ban of the product. The main reason for this was that top politicians and a multinational corporation together managed to lay the groundwork for "less regulatory control in favour of approving new products". In the Posilac affair this political decision to bypass sound science eventually lead to the approval of Posilac (rBGH), a product which many scientists could testify was harmful for the cows. There is also strong indications that people that consume milk from cows injected with Posilac put their health at risk. In other words: Regulatory authorities that approved Posilac (rBGH), did not take into account scientific studies which showed that Posilac was dangerous to the cows, and they did not use the precautionary principle in relation to the health of the consumers. Read more about this over at "Institute for Responsible Technology": GM Hormones in Diary.

One would think that regulatory authorities in the Unites States had learnt an important lesson after the Posilac affair, and eventually managed to get in place routines which would prevent a similar scandal to happen again. Oh... no, shortly after this, U.S FDA manage to classify GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). This happened even without the GMOs beeing tested and it happened despite strong warnings from U.S. FDA's own scientists. Again U.S. FDA choose to bypass sound science in favour of a corporate giant and political decisions. Read about it here: "How GMO was approved at US FDA - Biodeception".

After many years with the use of GMO in agriculture we can safely say that these products should never have been allowed outside closed laboratories. The main reason, in our opinion, is this: "Neither the GMO-industry nor the GMO-farmer can prevent patented genes from the GM-crops to spread into conventional crops or into closely related species". So why would this be anything to worry about? What is important to remember, in relation to GMO, is that the GMO-producer have placed genes into the target organism from totally unrelated species, genes which would never have ended up in the target organism by natural breeding. Another thing to remember is that at the time when scientists first managed to do this complex task, the very same scientists claimed that on gene only coded for one protein and one attribute. This allegation was soon rejected by many scientists, and today we know that one gene can code for more than one protein and therefore result in a variety of different attributes in the organism. We also know that the GMO-industry does not fully understand how a gene interact with the rest of the DNA, and therefore have no control over what will happen when these GMOs are used outside closed laboratories. With this knowledge it is totally irresponsible to allow living GMOs beeing used outside closed laboratories. Unfortunately, many politicians in many countries have been dassled by all the so called benefits the GMO-industry promised these GM-crops should give the human kind, without accepting the simple fact that GM-crops will infect konventional crops, and closely related species, with the patented genes. The direct consequence of this is that ecological farmers get their crops infected with the patented genes. Some researchers claim that a buffer zone from 100 metres to some kilometres should prevent the patented genes from spreading into the conventional crops. The scientists that claim this, is obviously not informed about the fact that the patented genes can be spread by cross pollination (via wind, beez, birds, animals, transport). It is also several examples where bags with convetional seeds have been infected with GMO-seeds. Why have the countries, which have approved the use of GMOs, not respected the precautionary principple?

Today, more than ever, we need that our regulatory authorities take the precautionary principple seriously, and that priority is given to the environment and health, instead of the industry. Unfortunately, our regulatory authorities choose to approve highly dangerous products instead of protecting the environment and our health. This bad tendency need to be turned around, and we need to do something about this before it is to late. This something must be to make sure there is no doubt that our regulatory authorities honor the environment and our health. This again mean that we need routines which prevents that people with interest in on industry can govern the very same industry, or to prevent that people which are to make risk assessments of certain products have interest in approving the same products.

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