March 23, 2001

Green Files #18: Dioxin Study is a Political Hot Potato for EPA + NO, MR. BOND, I EXPECT YOU TO DIE + BODY, WANNA TEST MY BODY, BODY + Trade Secrets: A Moyers Report on PBS (next March 26) uncovers how our health and safety have been put at risk and why powerful forces don't want the truth to be know + World's Imperiled Shores and Coral Reefs to Get Millions in Aid + Excerpts from the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin #44 -- Biodiversity loss: The issues that need to be addressed before it is too late + Belize: The old story about dams and development + New Rainforest Destruction in Brazil + Children - The silent victims of global greed + DELTA DAWN, WHAT'S THAT OIL SPILL YOU'VE GOT ON + THE SHINING PATHOGEN

Hello everyone

One last compilation for this week. Coming up next week: A compilation on Miracles and Mysteries, more material on the Foot and Mouth Disease, a comment on the Great Fall of Materialism (about the deepening market crash) and lots more!

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living; the world owes you nothing; it was here first."

- Mark Twain


From: "Alberto H. F. Machado" <>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001

Published on Monday, March 12, 2001 in the San Francisco Chronicle

Dioxin Study is a Political Hot Potato for EPA

Dioxin has gone from being a 'possible' to a 'known' human carcinogen

by Mark Hertsgaard

ONE OF EVERY thousand high-risk Americans could develop cancer from the toxic chemical dioxin, according to a landmark study the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to make official. Even more worrisome, the study warns, are dioxin's effects on the thyroids and immune systems of children. Ten years in the making, EPA's dioxin study is a political hot potato for the Bush administration. Issue the study, and the administration angers its allies in the chemical, paper and other dioxin-producing industries, who will surely face calls for stricter regulation. Bury the study, and environmental activists will cry coverup, further damaging the administration's shaky credibility on the mom- and-apple-pie issue of environmental protection.

How President Bush and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman handle this dilemma is important in its own right. But their decision will also shed light on the administration's policy toward the international treaty on persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, that 122 nations, including the United States, negotiated last year. The treaty, which calls for eliminating dioxin and other toxics "wherever feasible," will be signed in May in Stockholm by environmental ministers of signatory countries. Will Whitman be among them? There is irony in all this for Bush, for the dioxin study was initiated in 1991 during his father's presidency. What's more, Bush Senior and his EPA chief, William Reilly, ordered the study at the specific behest of the chemical industry, which complained that environmentalists' calls for limits on dioxin were based on hype, not sound science. But now that the study is near completion, it is unwelcome in corporate boardrooms. "Industry pushed for this study as a way to stall tougher regulations," says Rick Hind of Greenpeace, one of 411 groups that recently wrote Bush, urging the study's release. "Dioxin has gone from being a `possible' to a `known' human carcinogen, and the risks of cancer have increased tenfold."

Dioxin first attracted public attention during the Vietnam War; it was the contaminant in the defoliant Agent Orange. The chemical's reputation worsened in the 1980s, when it caused the evacuation of the Love Canal neighbors in upstate New York. Dioxin is formed whenever chlorinated compounds are burned. It remains ubiquitous because it is a byproduct of so many industrial processes. Production of PVC plastic - the plastic used in water pipes and credit cards - is a leading source of dioxin. So is the operation of waste incinerators, steel plants and paper mills that use chlorine as a bleaching agent. Every person on Earth has dioxin in his system. The chemical lodges in the fatty tissues of animals that consume contaminated water and plants; it also accumulates through the food chain. Humans who eat lots of fatty foods or fish therefore end up with the highest body burdens. Exposure is especially high for people, often poor or nonwhite or both, living near industrial facilities (46 percent of the nation's public housing projects are situated within a mile of toxic factories, according to a University of Texas-Dallas study.)

So, will the EPA study see the light of day? In truth, its contents are no secret. A working draft is on the agency's Web site, and the media has reported on it. But the study has no legal standing until the EPA formally approves it. Taking that step would oblige the EPA to incorporate the study's findings into its regulations, and therein lies the rub. Bush and Whitman have records of skepticism toward regulations that restrict corporations' freedom of action. As governor of New Jersey, Whitman removed approximately 1,000 chemicals from a "right to know" law that required companies to inform residents about toxics used in their communities. Whitman disparaged the law as bureaucratic overkill, claiming it listed such trivial items as lipstick. But sodium hydrosulfate was also on the list, and in 1995 it caused an explosion at a factory in the town of Lodi that killed five workers and caused evacuation of 400 residents.

Criticizing regulation is easy in the abstract, but real people can end up paying a terrible price for lack of proper regulation. It's terrible and unnecessary, for the costs of changing production patterns are often overstated. In Europe, bleaching of paper has been virtually eliminated without economic pain, an experience that doubtless fueled governments' enthusiasm for the POPs treaty. Here in the Bay Area, the governments of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Marin County have passed resolutions calling for the elimination of dioxin wherever possible. Bush and Whitman can score points with voters, who overwhelmingly support environmental protection - if they reconsider their skepticism of regulation, release the dioxin study and sign the POPs treaty. The chemical and paper industries may not be happy, but surely that should matter less than the health of the American people.

Mark Hertsgaard is the author of "Earth Odyssey: Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future" (Broadway Books) and a columnist for the Blue Ridge Press syndicate. He lives in San Francisco. ©2001 San Francisco Chronicle


21 Mar 2001

In yet another decision deemed yucky by environmentalists, the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management is proposing to suspend mining regulations
approved by former President Clinton to protect the environment. The
rules give the BLM more flexibility to deny mining permits that seem
likely to lead to lots of pollution and they require companies that
mine on federal land to post a bond guaranteeing that they will clean
up after themselves if they cause a mess. Sounds reasonable, right?
Apparently not to the Bush-era BLM. It wants to open a 45-day
comment period on the rules, after which point it could reinstate the
former rules that give much more latitude to mining companies or
adopt a combination of the new and old rules.

Denver Rocky Mountain News, M.E.
Sprengelmeyer, 21 Mar 2001,1299,DRMN_35 _166998,00.html

Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar 2001

On Monday night, March 26th, your local public television station will air a groundbreaking investigative report on the chemical industry.

22 Mar 2001

A study released by U.S. health officials yesterday showed for the
first time that most Americans carry detectable levels of plastics,
pesticides, and heavy metals in their blood and urine. The study by
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measured the
presence of 27 chemicals in humans and found levels in the average
person that were far below those where problems with the toxics
typically occur. Previously, researchers had only been able to
measure the levels of many of these chemicals in air, water, and
food. Levels of mercury were found to be lower than expected in
children and higher among women of child-bearing age, though still
below federal standards.

Washington Post, David Brown, 22 Mar 2001


Subject: Trade Secrets: A Moyers Report on PBS - March 26th at 9:00 pm

In TRADE SECRETS: A MOYERS REPORT, correspondent Bill Moyers and producer Sherry Jones uncover how our health and safety have been put at risk and why powerful forces don't want the truth to be known. This investigative report, accompanied by a Web site, is based on a massive archive of secret industry documents as shocking as the "tobacco papers."

TRADE SECRETS provides everyone working on toxic chemicals and environmental health issues a tremendous education and outreach opportunity. To help maximize that opportunity, the Environmental Health Fund, the Environmental Working Group, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice and Women's Voices For the Earth are launching Coming Clean, a project aimed at cleaning up the chemical industry's contamination of our food, our bodies and our environment.

Coming Clean is working with groups across the country to organize local communities.

TRADE SECRETS viewing events. For more information about how you can organize a viewing event in your community, please contact Ann Long at, Charlotte Brody at, Bryony Schwan at or Monica Rohde at or visit

Whatever you do, make sure you're watching PBS on March 26th. And make sure everyone you know is watching with you. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Thanks to Bill Moyers, we're about to get one of our biggest and best weapons yet in the fight against a poisoned planet.



March 15, 2001

World's Imperiled Shores and Coral Reefs to Get Millions in Aid


UNITED NATIONS, March 14 — The United Nations Foundation, created in 1997 by Ted Turner, is proposing to make its largest grant to date — $10 million — to an international campaign to save and restore the world's dwindling coral reefs.

The money would go to an alliance of private, academic and intergovernmental groups, the International Coral Reef Action Network, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Members of the network are expected to raise an additional $4 million.

The environment program says that by adding money already spent on drawing up plans as well as the income generated by the $10 million grant, the four-year project could be worth about $29 million by 2005. By then, the organizers hope, communities around the world will have taken charge of conservation and management of the reefs and endangered shorelines.

The grant is subject to approval by the United Nations Foundation's international board, due to meet on Friday. In 1997, Mr. Turner pledged to donate $1 billion in stock over 10 years for projects involving United Nations agencies. Until now, grants have been much smaller and many have gone to programs for women and girls. The foundation has been looking for substantial environmental projects to support, officers of the organization say.

Lauretta Burke, an expert on coastal ecosystems at the World Resources Institute in Washington, which is part of the project, called the prognosis for the world's reefs "pretty dire." The institute, an independent organization, did a study in 1998 that still serves as a benchmark for environmentalists.

"We found that about 60 percent of the world's coral reefs are threatened by human activities," Ms. Burke said. "In particular, we looked at coastal development, over-fishing, destructive fishing, marine pollution and sediment from inland sources. Sediment is an important threat. Many reefs are just being buried, and the sunlight is being radically reduced."

Global warming is also considered a threat to reefs. Ms. Burke said that during the warming currents of El Niño in 1997 and 1998 there was severe bleaching of many reefs, leading to the death of the coral, which is an accumulation of living organisms. Bleaching occurs when sea temperatures at least one degree centigrade above normal summer temperatures are sustained for a month or more.

"But over-fishing seems to be far and wide the most pervasive of threats," she said, adding that the institute is now preparing a detailed study of Southeast Asia, an area with the richest but most endangered reefs.

Fishing with explosives has been widespread in Southeast Asia, where a huge beach tourism industry has also brought damage to fragile coral reefs. Political turmoil and corruption have hampered conservation in the Philippines and Indonesia, which have more than 10,000 islands.

The most immediate action is planned for the Caribbean and the eastern coast of Africa. Around the Caribbean, the program hopes to set up demonstration sites in St. Lucia, Belize, Bonaire and Mexico. In East Africa, there are plans to establish model projects in the Seychelles, Madagascar and Kenya. Other sites will be focuses for early remedial work.

Projects are to follow in the South Pacific, where the environment program says that considerable work has already been done, and in Southeast Asia.

Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001
From: Teresa Perez <>
Subject: [wrmfriends] WRM Bulletin #44


International Secretariat
Maldonado 1858,
CP 11200 Montevideo
Ph +598 2 403 2989
Fax +598 2 408 0762
Web page:

44 MARCH 2001

THE FOCUS OF THIS ISSUE: Biodiversity, forests and people

Biodiversity loss constitutes a major threat to millions of people throughout the world and particularly in the tropics, where peoples' livelihoods strongly depend on forests and their biodiversity. At the same time, the increasing loss of biodiversity and forests puts a question mark on humanity's future on Earth. The fact that the Convention on Biological Diversity's Scientific Body (SBSTTA) has recently addressed the forest issue provides a good opportunity to highlight the problem seeking for solutions. We have therefore focused this WRM Bulletin on the problem, looking at it from different perspectives and particularly on how biodiversity loss affects people at the local level, who are in fact protecting --in many cases against their governments-- what governments have committed themselves to protect.




- Biodiversity loss: The issues that need to be addressed before it is too late

The world is increasingly concerned over the disappearance of life forms on Earth and many organizations --governmental and non governmental-- appear to be trying to find solutions to the problem. However, in most cases they are failing, either because of implementing the wrong solutions --or more simply for not doing anything-- or because the political, economic and social causes which are at the root of the problem are not being adequately addressed.

It is important to stress that, contrary to what many people believe, those most interested in the conservation of biodiversity are not environmental organizations but local communities, whose livelihoods and cultural survival to a large extent depend on the products and services provided by forests and other ecosystems. For them, the issue is not restricted to the conservation of certain species, but to the conservation of the entire ecosystem.

In the specific case of tropical forests, local communities are facing a number of situations which are leading to the disappearance of the resources they depend upon. In most cases, they are struggling to protect their forest against government policies. Some of those policies aim at the large scale extraction of timber, oil or minerals lying within the territories of indigenous peoples and other local communities. This type of "development" results in widespread environmental destruction, while at the same time offering few benefits to local people, who end up in a far worse situation than before. Other policies aim at energy production and large areas are entirely destroyed or degraded by hydroelectric dams, while local people are "relocated" against their wishes, again in the name of "development". But probably one of the most disastrous policies --for local peoples and biodiversity-- is the opening up of the forest through road building, usually coupled with a colonization policy and with the concession of large tracts of forests to corporations.

One of the most catastrophic examples of the above is that of the Brazilian Amazon. In the 1950s, the government opened up the forest under the slogan of "a land without men for men without land". This racist policy totally ignored the existence of indigenous peoples, who had inhabited the territory centuries before the creation of the Brazilian state. Indigenous people were murdered, repressed, died as a result of illnesses brought in by the colonizers and the result was the extermination of entire indigenous communities and the beginning of the widespread destruction of the Amazon forest that continues until today. Unfortunately, Brazil is but an example and similar situations are still occuring in most of the Amazonian countries and throughout the tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Oceania, with support from multilateral and bilateral Northern institutions and to the benefit of local elites and transnational corporations.

If the above were taken into account and if the world's governments were honestly interested in the conservation of forests and their biodiversity, then the first issue they should be addressing is precisely that one: the recognition of the territorial rights of indigenous and other local peoples, whose interests are in line with forest conservation. Biodiversity experts working within the Convention of Biological Diversity are instead focusing on issues such as "invasive alien species" --which undoubtedly is an important problem-- while ignoring that the most dangerous "invasive alien species" for forests and forest peoples are those who open up the forest for "development" without taking into account that the forest is "a land with people".

Experts should also be addressing the role played in the destruction of forests and biodiversity by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Regional Development Banks, Export-Credit and bilateral aid agencies, northern consultancies and corporations and many other actors --examples of whose activities are detailed in the articles below. However, to the view of most experts this would be "political" --not scientific-- and thus outside their mandate. But they are wrong, because unless those issues are addressed, most of their work will be useless in relation with the stated aim of conserving biodiversity.

Biodiversity experts should also be trying to halt the spread of monocultures, which constitute a major threat to biodiversity, particularly in forest ecosystems. More and more tropical forest areas are being substituted by fast growing eucalyptus, pine, gmelina or acacia tree plantations and the disaster is being hidden under the name of "forest cover". Absurd as it may seem, a forest area converted to monoculture plantations is still considered to be a "forest" --according to the FAO definition-- thus hiding the destruction of millions of hectares of some of the most diverse environments on Earth. Unfortunately, biodiversity experts are still not even challenging this absurd definition.

Finally, it is important to stress that governments are not seriously addressing what is probably the worst threat to global biodiversity: climate change. All the efforts aimed at conserving biodiversity at the local level will be almost totally useless if the industrialized North --and particularly the United States-- continue destroying the world's climate through their greenhouse gas emissions. And even worse, some governments --particularly those of the US, Canada, Japan and Australia-- are promoting the use of large scale tree monocultures as carbon sinks --in order to avoid the need to cuts emissions-- thus increasing the problem of biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity loss is not simply "happening": it is the necessary effect resulting from a number of causes and the problem will only be solved when those causes are effectively addressed. Which is something that will need to begin to happen very soon, or otherwise it could be too late.


Note from Jean: I’ll include only two more articles, the one about Belize which I visited recently and which I hope will choose wisely and avoid the same development trap in which so many other countries fell into, and another only about the destruction of a remote and pristine part of the Brazilian rainforest.

- Belize: The old story about dams and development

In the last issue of our bulletin we included an article on Belize, calling it a country "where forests can still be saved." We should have added: "if the government and a Canadian power company allows it." The fact is that the Canadian based Fortis Inc. -- which also holds a majority stake in Belize Electricity Ltd.-- is planning to build a dam along a branch of the Macal River.

Environmentalists in Belize are carrying out actions to prevent this happening, because the project would flood a sensitive jungle habitat whose thick riverbank vegetation offers a bountiful green feast for tapirs, jaguars and scarlet macaws. The area where the dam is proposed is part of a biological corridor that Central American nations are trying to preserve against broader encroachment. "This is the center of biodiversity, not only for Belize," said Sharon Matola, the director of the Belize Zoo and one of the dam's most outspoken opponents. "This is the cradle for biodiversity for Central America. Look at the scarlet macaw; they breed in that river valley. This is the only place in Central America where they live unmolested."

The pro-dam lobby has reacted with the usual arguments, beginning by attacking the involvement of "foreign" groups supporting local environmentalists. Along those lines, Prime Minister Said Musa said: "We don't think it is fair for these environmental groups to be beating up Belize over this little dam when their own countries have so many of them. Now they are trying to tell us we can't have one." He appears to have forgotten that Fortis is also foreign and if this "little dam" were to be implemented, it would be beating up Belize's environment, not because of its environmental or social concerns but simply for profits.

In turn, the local press has --with no evidence at all- accused opposers of the dam of being lawbreakers and terrorists. A few leading citizens have called the environmental groups enemies of the nation that are trying to impose racist schemes to keep Belize undeveloped, while more moderate pro-dam positions have said the environmental groups are denying this country the kinds of modern conveniences that others take for granted.

The debate between environmentalists and developers and government officials has become so heated that some local opponents of the dam say they have become targets for retaliation. Kimo Jolly, a teacher and environmentalist, said he had been dismissed from his teaching job recently after holding a seminar that touched on the dam as well as the proposed sale of Belize's water authority to overseas investors.

In sum, the old false antagonism between development and conservation. In spite of all the internationally agreed commitments for biodiversity conservation, in spite of the growing awareness about the impacts of environmental destruction, it is still being perceived as a necessity for the achievement of "development." The much publicized concept of "sustainable development" continues to be but an empty slogan only useful for continuing business --and destruction-- as usual.

Within that context, the environmentalists' struggle to protect the Macal River deserves our wholehearted support. The notion that national and international environmental organizations are trying to "beat up" Belize or to keep it in a state of undevelopment constitute only a bad excuse for avoiding the real issue. The Macal need not be sacrificed and we sincerely hope that this project will be definitely shelved. Development and conservation are both necessary and must go hand in hand.

Article based on information from: David Gonzalez, 'Upbeat Plan for a Dam in Belize Turns Nasty', March 2, 2001, the New York Times; Ricardo Carrere's personal observations in Belize


- Brazil: Whose sovereignty?

In international processes related to forests and biodiversity, Brazil is one of the countries with a stronger discourse regarding the defense of countries' sovereignty. Unfortunately, it is only a discourse. In reality, what most of Brazil's different governments have actually done is to open the door wide open to foreign investment and the results have been increased poverty and environmental degradation. Which has nothing to do with defending the country's sovereignty. Quite the opposite. Examples of the above abound and we have chosen only one recent example of yet one more project against the Amazon forest: the Urucu Gas and Oil Project in Amazonas.

This project is to expand oil and gas production in the Urucu oil field, in an area of highly dense tropical forest, among the most remote and least ecologically disturbed of the Amazon basin. The total project cost is estimated at about 1.04 billion dollars and will also include two additional pipelines (420 and 550 kms respectively), to be buried 1-3 metres underground. Laying and maintaining the pipelines will require the opening of a 15-30 metre-wide road along their entire length, thus resulting in the destruction of some 200,000 hectares of forest exclusively for that purpose. But that is not all. Every 15 kilometres, clearings large enough for a helicopter to land are to be made and given that both the roads and the clearings must be kept open for the estimated life of the project (20-50 years), this will open up to further forest degradation. It is a proven fact that no other single factor more clearly leads to deforestation --acting as conduits for loggers, miners, ranchers and colonists-- in the Amazon than the opening of new roads.

Various small, rural communities along the Urucu and Solimoes Rivers have already suffered from the construction of the first 280 km of pipelines completed in 1998. The pipeline road blockaded three streams, formerly used by communities for drinking water, bathing and washing and causing the manioc flour production, a principal source of income and subsistence staple, to cease. Drinking water now has to be brought from a considerable distance. Various other creeks used by local populations along the Urucu River were silted up or rendered inaccessible by the pipeline. Fish populations have fallen dramatically in the Urucu River. Brazil nut and fruit trees have been cut down in several places.

The project is supported by the Japanese Export-Import Bank (JEXIM), which has already committed US$ 64 million for the construction of the Urucu Natural Gas processing plant. The JEXIM Bank is thus the financial catalyst for a huge, environmentally risky scheme that already is on track to catalyse a major development disaster of the sort tragically familiar in the Amazon. Both Japan and Brazil are signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity, but business seems to be business and biodiversity conservation something to talk about.

Article based on information from: Rich, Bruce et al., "Export Credit Agencies in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela", Environmental Defense, 2001(?)


To get the rest of this most excellent bulletin - which covers a long list of greed-motivated environmental atrocities financed by the World Bank, the Japanese Export-Import Bank and other similar pro-development institutions and shows that indeed very little time is left to reverse decades of pillaging of our global environment - with the only glimmer of hope coming from the Indigenous and Campesino Biological Corridor in Central America which appears to be a potential sucess story, either go at or ask it and susbcribe to it by writing at

Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001
From: "Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D." <>
Subject: Children - The silent victims of global greed


Every hour of every day, children die all over the world because of short-sighted political choices that keep toxic substances steadily flowing into our air, water, and food and keep the world's water supplies clouded with human waste. You don't hear about them on the evening news, all these dead children. They are just considered the necessary consequences of progress and the unequal distribution of wealth in our world.

Read about this disturbing situation in this week's Healing Our World commentary, "Children - The silent victims of global greed," at
on the Environment News Service, hosted by the LYCOS Network.

The industrialized countries stand by and watch as this worldwide tragedy goes on every moment of every day. Most leaders would say it would cost to much to fix this global problem, yet there is really plenty of money in the world. What is lacking vision and heart.

This is a good time to be contemplating ending tragedies such as this. CLIP

I wish you peace.

Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D.

Professor of Environmental Studies
Antioch University, Seattle
University of Phoenix, Washington Campus

Author of "Healing Our World," a weekly column of opinion on the Environment News Service, available on the LYCOS Search Engine and Internet Guide at

Visit Jackie's website on teaching, activism and an archive of over 150 of his articles at

19 Mar 2001
Environmental news from GRIST MAGAZINE

The Niger River Delta -- 42,000 square miles of wetland that is home to 7 million Nigerians -- has been ravaged by five multinational oil companies extracting 2 million barrels of crude oil per day from the area. From 1986 to 1996, oil spills equal to 10 Exxon Valdez disasters fouled rivers and jungles in the region, according to a study commissioned by the CIA. Even the multinationals admit that spills continue today. Clean-up efforts and compensation have been slow to come from the companies. "The oil companies must and should be subordinate to the people. Right now they are lords and masters," says Oronto Douglas, who works at the Nigerian advocacy group Environmental Rights Action.

Washington Post, Douglas Farah, 18 Mar 2001

Take action to help out Nigerian enviros


Infectious diseases are on the rise in wildlife populations around
the world, threatening Florida's manatees and other endangered
species. Although the diseases may not get as much media attention
as those affecting domesticated livestock, nasty microbes of all
sorts are becoming more active in previously unexposed wild areas,
says Peter Daszak, a wildlife disease researcher. He calls the
threats "pathogen pollution." Why the jump in infectious outbreaks?
Cheryl Woodley of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration says that climate change, habitat degradation, and
farm runoff into rivers and bays are big contributors to the problem.

Washington Post, Cheryl Lyn Dybas, 19 Mar 2001