March 27, 2001
Green Files #19: GE Alert -- Apr. 3 Deadline for sending critical comments to the FDA about their new set of pro-industry rules on genetically engineered (GE) foods + My feedback on Bill Moyers Special on toxic chemicals + The Chemical Papers: Secrets of the Chemical Industry Exposed + Payback Time for Bush's corporate friends + Keep Arsenic Out of Tap Water + Pollution issue + Italy Poised To Roll Out Chip-Based ID Cards + The Foot-and-Mouth Disease Carnage
You may get angry reading this one...
But if you take action, it will alleviate "THE PROBLEM".
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
THIS IS URGENT AND EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR ALL US CITIZENS -- AND MUST BE ACTED UPON TODAY!
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001
From: NLP News Flashes <NLPNews@natural-law.org>
TELL THE FDA THAT GENETICALLY ENGINEERED PRODUCTS MUST BE LABELED AND TESTED FOR SAFETY!
The Food and Drug Administration is now accepting public comment on its proposed new rules on genetically engineered (GE) foods. Despite overwhelming consumer demand, the FDA has failed to require health and ecological safety testing or mandatory labeling, and thus puts your health and our environment at risk and deprives you of the right to know or choose what you are eating.
The proposed rules:
* Do not require mandatory pre-market safety testing
* Do not require pre-market environmental review
* Do not require mandatory labeling of GE foods
* Restrict voluntary labeling of non-GE foods
* Require a mere letter of notification prior to the marketing of a GE food
* Fail to ensure public access to adequate information for independent review
* Are supported by industry and opposed by consumer groups
The FDA needs to hear from hundreds of thousands of Americans that:
* The FDA must require mandatory pre-market comprehensive environmental review. Unlike conventional pollutants, where a given amount of pollutant causes a limited amount of damage, a small number of mutant genes could have a population explosion and reproduce forever, causing unlimited and irreparable damage.
* The FDA must require mandatory pre-market long-term health testing. GE products could be toxic, cause allergic responses, have lower nutritional value, and compromise immune responses in consumers.
* The FDA must require mandatory labeling of GE products. Without mandatory labeling, neither consumers nor health professionals will know if an allergic or toxic reaction was the result of a genetically engineered food. Consumers would be deprived of the critical knowledge needed to hold food producers liable should any of these novel products be hazardous.
* The FDA must end its cozy relationship with the industries it purports to be regulating. People have been allowed to work for a biotech company, then work for the FDA writing the regulatory rules on that company's product, then go back to working for the company. Ninety-two percent of FDA advisory committee meetings had at least one conflict of interest.
PLEASE ACT TODAY. THE DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS IS TUESDAY, APRIL 3.
Email your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org with "Docket 00N-1396 & Docket 00D-1598" in the Subject line
Mail your comments to: Docket 00N-1396 & Docket 00D-1598 Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305) Food and Drug Administration 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061 Rockville, MD 20852
For more information: http://www.organicconsumers.org - 218-226-4164
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001
Subject: Fwd: Mar 26 Bill Moyers Special on toxic chemicals
From: Irmgard Gelletly <email@example.com>
Note from Jean: Irmgard was sending below (deleted here) an urgent invitation to view Bill Moyers Special broadcast on toxic chemicals on PBS yesterday (March 26). After watching this most excellent report, I suddenly realized I had just experienced something somewhat akin to what happened when 100 million Americans watched the world premier on TV of the movie "The Day after" which helped galvanize the peace movement and world public opinion to turn the tide of the nuclear arms race and prevent such a stupid disaster from ever happening. This broadcast has the potential to achieve a similar degree of public outrage and commitment to turn the tide of the growing worldwide chemical toxic poisoning of all life that is already generating tens of thousands of new cancers in children and adults alike all over the world and jeopardizing the health and safety of generations to come.
Here is a summary below of what was in this special report. If you missed it, at least you'll have an idea of the content of this broadcast. You should also be able to read soon the transcript of this program at http://www.pbs.org/tradesecrets/ where lots (REALLY LOTS OF DATA AND TEXT!!) more information is also available including a video copy of the broadcast.
A brief flash presentation on the health issues related to exposure to chemical toxicity that is now so pervasive can also be viewed at the following site:
Note from Jean: This is Hot Stuff! If you can read it to the end, you'll certainly find it necessary to stop using lots of skin and hair care products you thought were inocuous.
"The Chemical Papers: Secrets of the Chemical Industry Exposed"
Bill Moyers TV special to reveal how the public was kept in the dark about the dangers of toxic chemicals.
Every powerful story about fighting for truth and justice has its heroes. This story, a tale of the secrets and lies behind America's chemical industry, is no exception.
Like Erin Brockovich, the paralegal-turned-movie icon who fought against toxic polluters in California, Elaine Ross was determined to uncover the truth. Ross wanted to know what had killed her husband, a chemical plant worker in the bayous of Louisiana, at the untimely age of 46. She teamed up with crusading lawyer William "Billy" Baggett, Jr, the son of a famous Southern litigator, and together they have become central figures in a David-and-Goliath battle to protect the health of all Americans, especially workers.
Now, in the latest chapter of the story, a team led by Bill Moyers has created a PBS special report called "Trade Secrets" that will air on Monday evening, March 26. The special, based on a secret archive of chemical industry documents, explores the industry pattern of obfuscating, denying and hiding the dangerous effects of chemicals on unsuspecting workers and consumers.
At its core, the Moyers show asks a deeply troubling question: With more than 75,000 synthetic chemicals having been released into the environment, what happens as our bodies absorb them, and how can we protect ourselves? As part of the report, Moyers took tests designed to measure the synthetic chemicals in his body -- a measurement known as "chemical body burden." Moyers learned that his body contained 31 different types of PCBs, 13 different toxins and pesticides such as malathion and DDT.
When it hits the air, the Moyers special is expected to re-energize veteran health activists and medical professionals in their fight against a growing problem -- unregulated and untested chemicals flooding the commercial market place. This public heat, coupled with a burgeoning grassroots resistance to chemical producers, may set the industry on the defensive like never before ... but that's getting ahead of the story.
Legal Battle in the Bayou
Elaine Ross's husband, Dan, spent 23 years working at the Conoco (later Vista) chemical plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana. After being diagnosed with brain cancer, according to Jim Morris of the Houston Chronicle, "Dan Ross came to believe that he had struck a terrible bargain, forfeiting perhaps 30 years of his life through his willingness to work with vinyl chloride, used to make one of the world's most common plastics."
"Just before he died [in 1990] he said, 'Mama, they killed me,'" recalled Elaine. "I promised him I would never let Vista or the chemical industry forget who he was."
And she hasn't. She teamed up with Billy Baggett to file a wrongful death suit against Vista. Baggett won a multimillion-dollar settlement for Ross in 1994, but she wasn't satisfied with just the money. She knew that her husband's death wasn't an isolated incident -- that many other chemical plant workers were dead, dying or sick because their employers weren't telling them about potential health hazards. And Vista certainly wasn't the only culprit.
So Ross told Baggett to take the fight to the next level. Baggett did, suing 30 companies and trade associations including the Chemical Manufacturers Association (now called the American Chemistry Council) for conspiracy, alleging that they hid and suppressed evidence of vinyl chloride-related deaths and diseases.
As a result of the litigation brought on Ross's behalf, Baggett has been able to obtain what he says is more than a million previously secret industry documents over the past decade. These "Chemical Papers," as they are becoming known, chronicled virtually the entire history of the chemical industry, much of it related to vinyl chloride -- minutes of board meetings, minutes of committee meetings, consultant reports, and on and on.
According to Jim Morris of the Chronicle, the documents suggested that major chemical manufacturers closed ranks in the late 1950s to contain and counteract evidence of vinyl chloride's toxic effects. "They depict a framework of dubious science and painstaking public relations, coordinated by the industry's main trade association with two dominant themes: Avoid disclosure and deny liability." The chemical companies were hiding the fact that they had "subjected at least two generations of workers to excessive levels of a potent carcinogen that targets the liver, brain, lungs and blood-forming organs."
"Even though they (the chemical companies) may be competitive in some spheres, in others they aren't," Baggett told Morris. "They have a mutual interest in their own employees not knowing (about health effects), in their customers not knowing, in the government not knowing."
"There was a concerted effort to hide this material," said Dr. David Rosner, a professor of public health and history at Columbia University who has reviewed many of the documents as part of a research project. "It's clear there was chicanery."
And while the documents show that the industry freely shared health information among themselves, "the companies were evasive with their own employees and the government," wrote Morris. "They were unwilling to disrupt the growing market for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, used in everything from pipe to garden hoses." The whole case and others like it "accentuate the problem of occupational cancer, which, by some estimates, takes more lives (50,000) each year than AIDS, homicide or suicide, but receives far less attention."
"What I hope to achieve, through Billy, is that every man who works in a chemical plant is told the truth and tested on a regular basis in the proper manner," Elaine Ross told the Chronicle. "I want the chemical companies to be accountable for every little detail that they don't tell these men."
In a prepared statement, the Chemical Manufacturers Association called such charges "irresponsible." The group said that it promotes a policy of openness among its members.
From Courtroom to Television Set
Award-winning TV producer Sherry Jones, who got access to the treasure trove of chemical company archives, started deeply probing the industry and its secret ways. She brought her findings to Bill Moyers, with whom she had previously worked.
Moyers agreed that the story needed to be told. The result of their collaboration is "Trade Secrets," the 90 minute special that will be followed by a 30 minute roundtable discussion among industry representatives and advocates for public health and environmental justice. Coming as it does on Monday night, March 26 -- the night after the Academy Awards, where Julia Roberts may very well receive an Oscar for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich -- this one-two punch of mass audience attention could deal the chemical industry quite a blow.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Center for Disease Control has released its "National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals" (available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/dls/report). The report, based on new technology that measures chemicals directly in blood and urine, has found a wide range of dangerous chemicals present in most humans.
Citizen activists and health experts have been fighting for decades to protect their families from untested and unsafe synthetic chemicals. It has been a difficult battle, due in part to public misconceptions. Almost 80 percent of Americans think that the government tests chemicals for safety, which is untrue. Aside from chemicals directly added to food or drugs, there are no health and safety studies required before a chemical is manufactured, sold or used in commercial or retail products. The same is true for cosmetic products and the chemicals in them.
So if the government isn't regulating chemical safety, who is? Unfortunately, the chemical industry itself.
As health advocates have long complained, this self-regulation simply isn't enough. "For the most part, we rely on chemical companies to vouch for the safety of their products," says public health advocate Charlotte Brody, a former nurse. "That's like relying on the tobacco industry to assess the risk of tobacco."
Take the case of Dursban, Dow Chemical's indoor insecticide product. Even after 276 people filed lawsuits claiming that they were poisoned by Dursban, Dow didn't reveal information about the product that proved its toxicity. When the truth finally came out in 1996, the company was fined a miniscule $740,000 by the Feds for withholding information from public officials.
Critics have long said that strong government regulations would have prevented such fiascoes, and with "Trade Secrets" and the Chemical Papers as ammunition, they may be closer to getting their wish than ever before.
Taking the Chemical Industry to Task
Using the Moyers special as a rallying point, a coalition of grassroots groups called "Coming Clean" has bonded together to oppose the chemical industry. In early March, dozens of national leaders - health professionals, scientists, activists and media experts -- gathered for a weekend retreat in Northern Virginia to plan the elements of this long-term assault. Charlotte Brody, currently Coming Clean's head organizer, expressed the anger and outrage behind the meeting.
"For decades, chemical companies kept secret the hazards of chemicals they produce," Brody said. "These chemicals are in our food, our water, the air we breathe. Now, they're in all of us. Every child on earth is born with these synthetic chemicals in their bodies, and only a small percentage of these chemicals have been adequately tested."
Dr. Mark Mitchell, a physician from Hartford, Connecticut and one of the leaders of the national effort, insisted that to protect ourselves and our children from the harm of toxic chemicals, "We must phase out all dangerous chemicals over the next 10 years, beginning with those for which there are safer alternatives. And we must stop making the same mistakes, by prohibiting the introduction of any new chemicals that pose a threat to our health and our children's health. There also needs to be government action to insure the right to know about toxic chemicals, production, use and test results."
As a first step, Coming Clean plans to engage the public with the message of "Trade Secrets." All across the country, thousands of events and viewing parties are being organized, timed to coincide with the Moyers show. The events harken back to the campaign surrounding the 1980s nuclear holocaust film, "The Day After," which galvanized a vanguard of anti-nuke activists to oppose the arms race.
"The local viewing parties will give people a chance to talk about the film after they see it," says Stacy Malkan, Coming Clean's media coordinator.
"Rather than going to bed angry, they can discuss the issues with other concerned neighbors, and then channel their outrage and ideas into powerful grassroots coalitions."
Momentum around the Moyers special seems to be picking up. The Whole Foods supermarket chain has agreed to carry Coming Clean's flyers in every one of their stores, and many email listservs, chat rooms and message boards are buzzing about the March 26 show.
While most viewings will happen in private homes, activists in dozens of cities -- from Anchorage to Austin to Biddeford, Maine -- are holding public viewing events. In Ann Arbor, for example, a public viewing will be held in an organic brew pub. In Buffalo, New York, environmental and labor leaders will stage a public showing, and will use it as an opportunity to recognize three local whistle blowers battling pollution and environmental injustice. And in San Francisco, where breast cancer rates are among the highest in the country, Mayor Willie Brown, Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Barbara Boxer will all watch the show at the public library.
Eventually, the coalition hopes to harness the public outcry to push for government regulations and class action suits against the chemical giants. Some organizers are hoping that Congress finally wakes up and focuses a spotlight on the chemical industry, while others are calling for corporate accountability.
"The American people deserve to know what chemical executives knew and when they knew it," said Gary Cohen, a leader of the Boston-based Environmental Health Fund and co-coordinator of the group Health Care Without Harm.
The Chemical Industry Backlash
In all likelihood, the chemical industry will trudge out familiar responses to "Trade Secrets." They will bring in experts to argue the scientific validity of chemical poisoning. They will say, for example, that doses are so low that animals would have to drink 50,000 bathtubs of contaminated water to suffer any harm. But health professionals counter that small doses can have measurable impact in humans, and that people are often more sensitive to toxic substances than test animals. Furthermore, no tests have been done on the cumulative, long term effects of small doses.
The industry also likes to tell the public that it has changed since the 50's, 60's and '70s, when chemical companies stonewalled every request for information or hint of danger. Of course, major incidents like the debacle over Dursban undermine that claim. Thus, despite millions of dollars of effort over the years, the public ranks the industry next to last in terms of credibility (trailing only the tobacco industry).
So the chemical industry has essentially abandoned it's efforts to change public opinion. As in most industries with health and safety issues, the chemical giants focus instead directly on Congress, where lobbying and campaign contributions are often more effective ways to wage their battle. Their goal is a simple one: to make sure that no laws would ever require them to perform health and safety testing for the compounds they produce.
Needless to say, they have been totally successful thus far. But the time may be ripe for change. Polls show public sentiment is increasingly anti-corporate. According to a recent Business Week poll, 82 percent of the public feels that corporations wield too much power. According to a recent Roper poll, half the population feels that environmental regulations haven't gone far enough.
With the chemical industry at the bottom of the public's "good corporate citizen" list, a critical mass of citizens may soon come together to fight back.
Read also at http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010321/hl/chemicals_1.html
CDC: Exposure to Chemicals Higher Than Expected (Reuters - March 21)
The first ever nationwide report to measure levels of environmental chemicals in the bodies of Americans has found unexpectedly high levels of compounds used in some types of soap, shampoo, and other products.
See also this about the toxicity of regular tampons, the long term effects of the resulting extended chemical build up in the female body and the availability of organic tampons at this URL: http://www.byteserv.com.au/EcoYarn/FactsLayout.html - ALL WOMEN SHOULD READ THIS!
Other resources at http://www.preventcancer.com
THERE IS A POWERFUL ARTICLE IN THIS WEEK'S TIME MAGAZINE ABOUT ALL THAT BUSH IS NOW DOING TO PAYBACK THE MONEY CONTRIBUTED BY HIS CORPORATE FRIENDS AND BACKERS. SEE "CEO-IN-CHIEF: Bush Embraces Corporate America -- The President makes several moves that boost big business and bash labor" AT:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,102930,00.html - AND "His Gifts To Big Business" AT http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,102933,00.html
Read also from: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,103558,00.html
"Is Bush Using a Phony 'Energy Crisis' for Cover on the Environment? Why he'll probably get away with it." LOTS of outrageously revealing stuff about Bush and his corporate cronies in this article!
Take action to defend Clinton's roadless plan
From: "Leti Guerra" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Keep Arsenic Out of Tap Water
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001
Safe drinking water - Here is an issue that affects us all. President Bush seems to care more about business and money than about the wellfare of the people. We need to take action.
This is a must read.
From: "ActForChange" <email@example.com>
When Americans turn on their faucets, they expect the water coming out to be safe to drink. Yet, in President Bush's latest clumsy and craven payback to his powerful industrialist backers, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it will withdraw a new requirement to reduce levels of poisonous arsenic allowed in our tap water.
In response, Working Assets is sponsoring an urgent action on this issue.
FOR MORE ON THIS, PLEASE GO AT:
A proven carcinogen, arsenic occurs naturally, but is also a common byproduct of mining operations. Not coincidentally, Bush received more money from the mining industry during last year's campaign than any other candidate for federal office, and his party sucked in another $5.6 million from the same special interest lobby. Bush's loyalty to these supporters comes at the expense of some 13 million Americans the EPA itself estimates are at risk from deadly diseases linked to arsenic exposure: Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, birth defects, reproductive problems, neurological damage and cancers of the bladder, lung, skin, kidney, nasal passage, liver and prostate.
I RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING FROM A LONG-TIME SUBSCRIBER TO THIS NETWORK. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE AN ADMINISTRATION BENT ON SERVING THE INTERESTS OF BIG CORPORATIONS AND THUS WHICH IS PRO-POLLUTION - NOT TO MENTION THEIR PLANNED DEEP CUTS IN THE EPA BUDGET. BUT THANKS TO THE COURAGEOUS STAND OF WHISTLE-BLOWERS LIKE TOM, (AND TV PROGRAMS LIKE TRADE SECRETS!) THE POLLUTERS MAY NOT HAVE THE FREE RIDE THEY WERE HOPING FOR WITH W. - THAT IS, IF THE PUBLIC WAKES UP AND STARTS ROARING LOUD ENOUGH TO FORCE BUSH AND HIS POLLUTERS ACCOMPLICES TO CLEAN UP THEIR ACT -- AND OUR ENVIRONMENT.
From: PRCenter@webtv.net (Tom)
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2001
Subject: Pollution issue
A letter I sent to: Earth Justice firstname.lastname@example.org
and a few other groups...
I thought you all might also be interested.
My name is Tom Booth and I live in East Tennessee...
I was referred to you by Greenpeace.
I worked for a "scrap metal" plant. They had a load of pipe with asbestos pipe wrap dumped on the yard due to be reloaded and shipped out to another location to be "shredded". I was concerned that this might be a public hazard... and the material might best be handled in a different manner... such as burial on site or in an aproved landfill.
When I went to management about it... After going through the ranks... The owner of the company denied it was asbestos and told me that if I thought it was asbestos I needed to "go clock out". I said I wasn't quiting over it... He repeated again that He wanted me to go clock out "If I believed it was asbestos". and said he did not have time to argue about it that his time is money... etc.
Though convoluted I took this statement: "If you believe it is asbestos I want you to go clock out" to mean I was fired. I saw, and still see, no other way of interpreting it.
When I got home and called a local law firm, considered the best in this area... I was informed that they were already working for my former employer.
I was denied unemployment on the grounds that I was given the "option" to clock out and left "voluntarily". However an "option" with no alternative but to ignore a public hazard... risk my own health and safety and that of my co-workers... and to wilfully and knowingly participate in an apparent felony (willful violation of the clean air act etc.)... is not an option... in my opinion.... Though apparently not in the opinion of the Tennessee Dep. of Labor & Workforce Development...
It appears that the convoluted manner in which I was fired... or coerced into "leaving voluntarily" as an "option" constitutes a loophole of some sort in EPA and OSHA environmental and worker safety laws and standards. Putting employees that show any concern about the environmental practices of their employers in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
If polluters can sidestep the law so easily and get away with it... Cover up one irresponsible (or possibly criminal) act with another (by simply firing or dismissing any employees that try to act in a responsible manner with no fear of legal repercussions) you may as well throw the environmental law books in the river along with the toxic pollutants from this and other companies.
I have about a week to file a second appeal... I would like some good legal help if any is available. I'm not concerned really about the money owed to me in unemployment benefits as I am in hopefully closing this "loophole" that renders polluters unaccountable for their actions.
NOTE FROM JEAN: See also a similar story - "Federal Worker Is Fired in Wildlife Refuge Map Flap
(3/15/2001) at: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/20010315/t000022700.html
TOM ALSO WROTE:
I have written, called or e-mailed everyone and every agency or organization I could think of...
You are the only one to have given me any kind of positive response or hope... It is very much appreciated.
In the past. Though enjoying your informative compilations I have been critical in that it seems like an overwhelming amount of bad news all the time.
The picture seems very different when the situation is reversed... and you are the one suffering and just hope someone will listen. The good news is you are there doing what you are doing... and it helps.
I don't know if there is anything that can be done at this point in my particular case... but making it known might at least help someone else from falling into the same trap in the future.
CLIP - ANYONE WHO WANTS TO HELP TOM IS WELCOMED TO CONTACT HIM DIRECTLY...
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001
Subject: Italy Poised To Roll Out Chip-Based ID Cards
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2001
[Coming to a police state near you very soon]
The Italian government plans to start a rollout of chip-based citizen ID cards in 2002, following pilots in about 100 cities and towns, according to reports. Public Administration Minister Franco Bassanini earlier this month reportedly confirmed the Italian government planned to go ahead with the smart card project, which would replace paper ID cards Italian citizens carry. The cards will not only store citizenship data, which cardholders will use to do business with municipalities and federal agencies, but are also expected to absorb Italy's nascent chip-based health card. It means the ID would also store insurance and some medical information, say potential vendors on the project. Card readers are to be installed at public offices and in mobile units, such as police vehicles. Later, the cards likely would also store digital certificates, which would allow citizens to digitally sign government documents on the Internet. Besides the chips, the ID cards being tested also carry about 1 megabyte of optical memory, which store digitized versions of cardholder photographs on the front of the cards. This memory could also store other large files, including digitized fingerprints. About 100,000 cards are in the field, but at present are little used, sources tell Card Technology. (2/15)
News item from http://www.ct-ctst.com/ aka Card Technology News
"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."
- John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election (1790)
I FOUND THE FOLLOWING EXTREMELY THOUGHT-PROVOKING AND QUITE TROUBLING.
CLIP - Note from Jean: I was planning to run most of the material I found there, but other more urgent priorities prevents me from doing so. Please go at http://www.whatareweswallowing.com/ and click on the link entitled "The official, the string pullers and the Birmingham 17" to read a farmers perspective on a visit from the MAFF.
Incidents of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Rise in U.K.
MORE ON THE FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001
From: Master Ho <email@example.com>
Actually - that seemed like the most sensible part of the article. It is horrible what is going on here. I know those of you in the States may only be getting a small sound bite on the news, but here it takes over the entire broadcast. People are losing their entire livelihoods in moments. (well, actually no, it is taking so much time to cull, and then burn the animals). They are destroying animals in the exclusion zone that show no sign of the disease.
Ho - it is actually an airborne virus, and it can travel up to 50 km from affected animals. 'Terrifying' is an understatement. It doesn't affect humans, and the really sad thing is that it doesn't actually kill animals - they recover in 8-15 days. The mass slaughter situation we're currently in is to try and eradicate it from the country - this is the first outbreak since the 60s, and the UK was classed as a foot-and-mouth-free country as a result. None of these animals actually NEED to die, but if they were allowed to have the illness and get over it, or if they were vaccinated against it, we'd lose our F&M-free status and that would influence meat and livestock exports and...oh look, there appears to be money at the bottom of all this! What a surprise....
Course, if the poor critters weren't on factory farms and being hauled round the country in cattle-trucks in the first place, it would probably never have spread at all, but don't get me started on that one tonight!!
This is an urgent plea from Ireland. We have been watching in horror as foot-in-mouth disease, related to the diphtheria which affects humans, has been taking over England and the Mainland. We have seen yards of video footage of the bonfires raging all over Europe. Today this plague arrived in Ireland in County Louth, the next county over from where we live.
When this disease hits an area, all cattle, sheep and pigs within a three-kilometre radius are killed. The farmers receive little or no compensation and are quarantined as prisoners on their own land. Family pets may also be executed. There is even talk of hiring gunmen to take out local wildlife including foxes and badgers. Farmers have been committing suicide over the loss of businesses that have been in families for untold generations. Many of the animals 'culled' are known by name. All of the ancient sites have been closed off, inaccessible to those of us who find them so sacred. The halting of the tourism industry is crippling many folk into bankruptcy.
For further information please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Note from Jean: According to the latest news. Tony Blair is now considering shifting strategy and use the vaccine instead of mass slaughter to contain this disease.
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