SEX , LIES AND HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS
SEX , LIES AND HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS
2006-05-10 at 10:39:00 am #15393
Sex, lies and hazardous chemicals
— What business does a chemical company have between your bedroom
sheets? Should chemical companies be meddling with the protection of
your health? Of course they should have no business in your sex life or
personal health, but unfortunately the chemical industry is fighting
hard to protect their privilege to make hazardous chemicals with the
potential to seriously affect both.
Across the industrialised world sperm counts have fallen as much as 50
percent in the last 50 years. (The ‘endangered sperm’, anyone?)
Infertility rates have more than doubled in industrialised countries
since the 1960s, while testicular cancer has become increasingly
common. Reproductive system birth defects are increasing in baby boys.
The exact cause of these changes is unknown but one of the suspects is
our exposure to the increasing amount of hazardous chemicals in our
daily lives. So great is our exposure that unborn children can be
exposed to over 100 manmade industrial chemicals while still
in the womb. Many of these substances have the potential to harm the
development of an infant’s reproductive system.
Our report, ‘Fragile: Our reproductive health and chemical exposure‘,
collates the findings of a number of scientific studies. Together, the
studies show for the first time a comprehensive picture of an increase
in reproductive health disorders, mirroring the rising presence in our
lives of man-made chemicals.
Fix required, but trashing in progress
At least in Europe there is an attempt underway to address growing
concerns about chemical pollution and the effects of hazardous
chemicals on public health and the environment. A new law (REACH) is
being drafted but has come under unprecedented, concerted attack from
the chemical industry.
The chemical industry has led a massive lobby effort in Brussels to
make sure the new law will do more to protect their short-term profit
rather than provide long term solutions to chemical contamination of
our environment, our homes and our bodies. Some of the ‘highlights’ of
the chemicals industry’s efforts to trash REACH include:
- Denying and undermining the health and environmental problems caused by hazardous chemicals.
- Deliberately exaggerating potential costs and scare-mongering
about job losses to mislead and intimidate European politicians into
watering down the REACH proposal. Actual costs of the law will be a
tiny fraction of the chemical industry’s huge profit margins.
- Actively slowing down and stalling the process of drafting REACH in an attempt to prevent it ever becoming law.
Our man in Brussels, Jorgo Riss has seen this industry lobby up close
and knows it’s not pretty: “Lack of accountability and transparency in
Brussels decision-making comes at the cost of public interest
legislation. The chemicals industry’s corrosive campaign to destroy
REACH thus far has depended on the willingness of key officials to
abandon their role as public servants and behave like industry
Putting a face to the lobby
One of the main backers of the lobby effort is German chemical giant BASF.
While industry has argued that extra protection from hazardous
chemicals will cost too much , the income of BASF rose 50 percent to a
huge US$3.7 billion! With those profits, BASF can afford to maintain a
close relationship with many politicians. In 2005, over 235 politicians
received money from BASF in Germany alone.
We have been pressuring European politicians to stand up for the
interests of the people who actual elected them rather than the
chemical industry. Now we are exposing the companies who lobby against
health and the environment.
Mother and baby protest at chemical company BASF, which has been lobbying against stronger laws on hazardous chemicals.
To expose the dark side of BASF, we turned up at the company’s annual
meeting with mothers demanding that BASF stop producing chemicals that
contaminate their babies.
Ulrike Kallee was at the BASF meeting: “When I learned I was pregnant,
I was immediately distressed by the knowledge that my child will be
born with hazardous chemicals in his or her body. I find it totally
immoral that companies like BASF can continue to produce such chemicals
even when safer alternatives exist. help me. to stop this madness and
protect the health of all of our children.”
At the Danish BASF headquarters pregnant women protested the production
by BASF of chemicals that are known to contaminate unborn babies.
If you live in Europe you can pressure european politicians to resist
industry lobbying and demand that publicly elected officials stand up
for your rights.