Posts Tagged ‘Dioxin’

Indien: Bhopal als Menetekel der Globalisierung

Montag, Juli 19th, 2010

“The killing fields of MNCs

By Vandana Shiva

The Bhopal gas tragedy was the worst industrial disaster in human history. Twenty-five thousand people died, 500,000 were injured, and the injustice done to the victims of Bhopal over the past 25 years will go down as the worst case of jurisprudence ever.
The gas leak in Bhopal in December 1984 was from the Union Carbide pesticide plant which manufactured ‘carabaryl’ (trade name ‘sevin’) — a pesticide used mostly in cotton plants. It was, in fact, because of the Bhopal gas tragedy and the tragedy of extremist violence in Punjab that I woke up to the fact that agriculture had become a war zone. Pesticides are war chemicals that kill — every year 220,000 people are killed by pesticides worldwide.
After research I realised that we do not need toxic pesticides that kill humans and other species which maintain the web of life. Pesticides do not control pests, they create pests by killing beneficial species. We have safer, non-violent alternatives such as neem. That is why at the time of the Bhopal disaster I started the campaign ‘No more Bhopals, plant a neem’. The neem campaign led to challenging the biopiracy of neem in 1994 when I found that a US multinational, W.R. Grace, had patented neem for use as pesticide and fungicide and was setting up a neem oil extraction plant in Tumkur, Karnataka. We fought the biopiracy case for 11 years and were eventually successful in striking down the biopiracy patent.
Meanwhile, the old pesticide industry was mutating into the biotechnology and genetic engineering industry. While genetic engineering was promoted as an alternative to pesticides, Bt cotton was introduced to end pesticide use. But Bt cotton has failed to control the bollworm and has instead created major new pests, leading to an increase in pesticide use.
The high costs of genetically-modified (GM) seeds and pesticides are pushing farmers into debt, and indebted farmers are committing suicide. If one adds the 200,000 farmer suicides in India to the 25,000 killed in Bhopal, we are witnessing a massive corporate genocide — the killing of people for super profits. To maintain these super profits, lies are told about how, without pesticides and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), there will be no food. In fact, the conclusions of International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, undertaken by the United Nations, shows that ecologically organic agriculture produces more food and better food at lower cost than either chemical agriculture or GMOs.
The agrochemical industry and its new avatar, the biotechnology industry, do not merely distort and manipulate knowledge, science and public policy. They also manipulate the law and the justice system. The reason justice has been denied to the victims of Bhopal is because corporations want to escape liability. Freedom from liability is, in fact, the real meaning of ‘free trade’. The tragedy of Bhopal is dual. Interestingly, the Bhopal disaster happened precisely when corporations were seeking deregulation and freedom from liability through the instruments of ‘free trade’, ‘trade liberalisation’ and ‘globalisation’, both through bilateral pressure and through the Uruguay Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which led to the creation of the World Trade Organisation.
Injustice for Bhopal has been used to tell corporations that they can get away with murder. This is what senior politicians communicated to Dow Chemical. This is what the US-India Commission for Environmental Cooperation forum stated on June 11, 2010, in the context of the call from across India for justice for Bhopal victims. As one newspaper commented, Bhopal is being seen as a ‘road block and impediment to trade… the recommendations include removing road blocks to commercial trade by (India), and adoption of a nuclear liability regime’.
Denial of justice to Bhopal has been the basis of all toxic investments since Bhopal, be it Bt cotton, DuPont’s nylon plant or the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill.
Just as Bhopal victims were paid a mere Rs 12,000 (approximately $250) each, the proposed Nuclear Liability Bill also seeks to put a ceiling on liability of a mere $100 million on private operations of a nuclear power plant in case of a nuclear accident. Once again, people can be killed but corporations should not have to pay.
There has also been an intense debate in India on GMOs. An attempt was made by Monsanto/Mahyco to introduce Bt brinjal in 2009. As a result of public hearings across the country, a moratorium has been put on its commercialisation. Immediately after the moratorium a bill was introduced for a Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India —the bill does not only leave the biotechnology industry free of liability, but it also has a clause which empowers the government to arrest and fine those of us who question the need and safety of GMOs.
From Bhopal to pesticides to GMOs to nuclear plants, there are two lessons we can draw. One is that corporations introduce hazardous technologies like pesticides and GMOs for profits, and profits alone. And second lesson, related to trade, is that corporations are seeking to expand markets and relocate hazardous and environmentally costly technologies to countries like India.
Corporates seek to globalise production but they do not want to globalise justice and rights. The difference in the treatment of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical in the context of Bhopal, and of BP in the context of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico shows how an apartheid is being created. The devaluation of the life of people of the Third World and ecosystems is built into the project of globalisation. Globalisation is leading to the outsourcing of pollution — hazardous substances and technologies — to the Third World. This is at the heart of globalisation — the economies of genocide.
Lawrence Summers, who was the World Bank’s chief economist and is now chief economic adviser to the Obama government, in a memo dated December 12, 1991, to senior World Bank staff, wrote, ‘Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the less developed countries?’
Since wages are low in the Third World, economic costs of pollution arising from increased illness and death are least in the poorest countries. According to Mr Summers, the logic ‘of relocation of pollutants in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that’.
All this and Bhopal must teach us to reclaim our universal and common humanity and build an Earth Democracy in which all are equal, and corporations are not allowed to get away with crimes against people and the planet.

Dr Vandana Shiva is the executive director of the Navdanya Trust

Copyright © 2010 The Asian Age. All rights reserved.”


(Quelle: Asian Age.)


Siehe auch:

International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

Hoax interview by the Yes Men impersonating Dow Chemicals

Vietnam: USA speisen Agent Orange-Opfer ab

Donnerstag, Juli 15th, 2010

“Vietnam, US Still in Conflict over Agent Orange Burden

by Ben Stocking

(Photo: David Guttenfelder/Associated Press)
Tran Thi Gai’s daughters were born with disabilities in a Vietnamese village where Agent Orange was used.

CAM TUYEN, Vietnam — Her children are 21 and 16 years old, but they still cry through the night, tossing and turning in pain, sucking their thumbs for comfort.

Tran Thi Gai’s daughters were born with disabilities in a Vietnamese village where Agent Orange was used. (David Guttenfelder/Associated Press) Tran Thi Gai, who rarely gets any sleep herself, sings them a mournful lullaby. “Can you feel my love for you? Can you feel my sorrow for you? Please don’t cry.”

Gai’s children — both with twisted limbs and in wheelchairs — were born in a village that was drenched with Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. She believes their health problems were caused by dioxin, a highly toxic chemical in the herbicide, which US troops used to strip communist forces of ground cover and food.

Thirty-five years after the end of the Vietnam War, its most contentious legacy is Agent Orange. Eighty-two percent of Vietnamese surveyed in a recent Associated Press-GfK Poll said the United States should be doing more to help people suffering from illnesses associated with the herbicide, including children with birth defects.

After President George W. Bush pledged to work on the issue on a Hanoi visit in 2006, Congress approved $9 million mostly to address environmental cleanup of Agent Orange. But while the United States has provided assistance to Vietnamese with disabilities regardless of their cause, it maintains that there is no clear link between Agent Orange and health problems.

Vietnamese officials say the United States must make a much bigger financial commitment — $6 million has been allocated — to adequately address the problems unleashed by Agent Orange.

“Six million dollars is nothing compared to the consequences left behind by Agent Orange,” said Le Ke Son, deputy general administrator of Vietnam’s Environmental Administration. “How much does one Tomahawk missile cost?”

Between 1962 and 1971, the US military sprayed roughly 11 million gallons of Agent Orange across large swaths of southern Vietnam. Dioxin stays in soil and the sediment at the bottom of lakes and rivers for generations. It can enter the food supply through the fat of fish and other animals.

Vietnam says as many as 4 million of its citizens were exposed to the herbicide and as many as 3 million have suffered illnesses caused by it.

But the US government says Vietnamese are too quick to blame Agent Orange for birth defects that can be caused by malnutrition or other environmental factors.

“Scientists around the world have done a lot of research on dioxin and its possible health effects,” said Michael Michalak, the US ambassador in Hanoi. “There is disagreement as to what’s real and what isn’t, about what the possible connections are.”

© 2010 Associated Press”


(Quelle: CommonDreams.)

Nigeria: Ölmultis fackeln Erdgas ab – Regierung schaut zu

Dienstag, Juni 22nd, 2010

“Nigeria: Gas Flaring, Another Threat

STATISTICS about gas flaring in Nigeria and its impact on the environment are staggering. Just like with oil spills, governments have set deadlines for oil companies to stop the damage to lives and the environment to no results.

In November 2005, a judgement by the Federal High Court of Nigeria ordered that gas flaring must stop in a Niger Delta community as it violates guaranteed constitutional rights to life and dignity. Justice C. V. Nwokorie ruled in Benin City that ‘the damaging and wasteful practice of flaring cannot lawfully continue.’ The illegality continues.

Nigeria, according to studies, is the world’s worst gas flarer. Estimates suggest that of the 3.5 billion cubic feet (100,000,000 m³) of associated gas produced annually, 2.5 billion cubic feet (70,000,000 m³), or about 70 per cent is wasted by flaring.

This equals about 25 per cent of the UK’s total natural gas consumption, and 40 per cent of Africa’s gas consumption in 2001. Gas flaring costs Nigeria about $2.5 billion a year, with the waste reportedly enough to meet the electricity needs of the entire African continent.

The reason for this economically and environmentally costly practice is that it is expensive to separate commercially viable associated gas from the oil. Companies operating in Nigeria prefer to extract natural gas from deposits where it is isolated.

Gas flaring contributes greatly to climate change.

The Niger Delta’s low-lying plains are also quite vulnerable. Along with gas re-injection, another alternative solution to burning the excess material is to use the gas as an energy source. It is much cheaper to burn the gas and pay the puny penalty government imposes.

Large amounts of methane accompanied by the other major greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide are released from flaring. While flaring has been minimised globally, in Nigeria the volume of associated gas flared, is directly linked to the amount of oil produced.

It is established that poisonous chemicals from gas flares have harmful effects on health.

By-products of flaring include nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, like benzene, toluene, xylene and hydrogen sulphide, as well as carcinogens, like benzapyrene and dioxin.

They cause respiratory problems already reported in many children in the Niger Delta. These chemicals can aggravate asthma, cause breathing difficulties and pain, as well as chronic bronchitis. Benzene is well researched as being a causative agent for leukaemia and other blood-related diseases.

A study by Climate Justice estimates that exposure to benzene would result in eight new cases of cancer yearly in Bayelsa State alone.

Gas flares are often located close to local communities. Many of these communities claim that nearby flares cause acid rain which corrodes their corrugated iron roofs.

They resort to asbestos-based material, which is stronger in repelling acid rain deterioration, but this affects their health adversely as asbestos exposure increases the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

Almost no vegetation can grow in the area directly surrounding the flare due to the tremendous heat it produces.

It is incredible that with these known damages from gas flaring, government pays only lip service to stopping it. Nigeria must see gas flaring as threatening as oil spills and deal with it expeditiously.”


USA: Haben die Agent Orange-Opfer des Vietnam-Kriegs vor Gericht eine Chance?

Mittwoch, Juni 16th, 2010

“Private panel to push $300 million cleanup of Agent Orange sites

Places contaminated by herbicide linked to illnesses in Vietnam and U.S. to be targeted in 10-year effort

By Jason Grotto, Tribune reporter

A prominent panel of private citizens, scientists and policymakers from the U.S. and Vietnam is set to unveil a plan Wednesday aimed at turning the page on a 40-year-old controversy over the health and environmental impact of Agent Orange and other herbicides used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

The 10-year, $300 million plan calls for cleaning up more than two dozen sites scattered throughout South Vietnam that remain contaminated by dioxin-tainted herbicides once stored at former U.S. military installations. It also would expand health care and other services for people suffering from disabilities and other ailments linked to dioxin.

Building on recent scientific studies and small-scale efforts at cooperation between the two governments, the plan seeks greater financial and technical support from the U.S. government as well as private foundations and humanitarian groups. While many private groups have signed on to the plan, its drafters are hoping the federal government will shoulder the bulk of the costs.

‘This has been a contentious political issue for some time now,’ said Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and a co-chairman of the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin. ‘We hope this report will defuse the politics and put the focus on solving this problem. It’s in our strategic and moral interests to finally put this behind us.’

As envisioned, the plan would be carried out in three phases. The first would last three years and cost $100 million, focusing on completing remediation in Da Nang, where a small contingent of U.S. and Vietnamese scientists have been working to clean up one of the largest contaminated sites. Once complete, the effort would be replicated at other highly contaminated sites.

The first phase would also include joint research between the two countries to evaluate the extent to which forests were damaged by the herbicides, eventually leading to greater support for Vietnamese efforts to reforest areas that were heavily impacted.

Finally, it would assist the Vietnamese in improving that nation’s health care system by creating a nationwide survey of disabled people as well as a birth defects registry to better target resources – without delving into contentious debates about whether the disabilities were cause by Agent Orange. The effort would also assist Vietnam to train health workers, screen expectant mothers and monitor child development.

‘The stage we’re at now, if you stand back, is that we have a plan that crystallizes this problem so that it doesn’t seem so vast and unsolvable,’ said Susan Berresford, who helped establish the Dialogue Group in 2007 as president of the Ford Foundation, which has supported scientific studies and humanitarian efforts in Vietnam since the late 1990s.

In December, the Tribune published a five-part series on the legacy of Agent Orange. Since then, the newspaper has documented the costs to U.S. taxpayers, who pay nearly $2 billion annually in disability compensation for U.S. veterans exposed to the herbicides. Another $20 million a year goes toward compensating about 1,200 children of veterans who suffer from spina bifida and other birth defects, according to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Between 1961 and 1971, the military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides across South Vietnam and along the borders of Cambodia and Laos. The chemicals were used to defoliate dense jungles and to destroy enemy crops.

Although some scientists remain skeptical that Agent Orange directly causes diseases and birth defects, hundreds of independent studies completed since the war ended have found strong evidence that people exposed to the chemicals are at greater risk of contracting illnesses.”

(Quelle: Chicago Tribune.)



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