“There’s no problem with the ban of DBCP [dibromochloropropane] within the United States. In fact, it was the best thing that could have happened to us. You can’t sell it here anymore but you can still sell it anywhere else. Our big market has always been exports anyway.” (Executive, AMVAC Corporation)
A couple of years ago I came across a book in a garage sale called ‘Circle of Poison’. Published in 1981 it documents a trail of intriguing scandal regarding the export of banned pesticides from industrial countries to the third world. Products banned in the US saw the sellers simply exporting the separate ingredients to be assembled offshore for sale to unsuspecting customers oblivious to the products’ banned status. Many of these products were then duly sprayed on produce that would be returned to the country of the original banning. ‘Banning problem solved’ as it were. One of the authors David Weir describes how he came upon this scheme. Following a ban in the US of cyclamates, he discovered the ingredient in a packet of Kool-Aid he purchased whilst in Afghanistan. This began his trail of inquiries back in the 1970s which eventually led to an article in the US magazine, Mother Jones in 1979 entitled ‘The Corporate Crime of the Century’ and eventually to the book Circle of Poison. It was found that not only were toxic ingredients being exported, but defective medical devices, lethal drugs, known carcinogens, contaminated foods and other products deemed unsafe for American consumption as well. For instance, Lomotil, an effective prescription-only anti-diarrhea medicine sold in the U.S., fatal in amounts just slightly over the recommended doses, was sold over the counter in Sudan, advertised as a product that was used by astronauts during the Gemini and Apollo space flights and also recommended for use by children as young as 12 months.
Another item was Depo Provera, a birth control injection. This was banned in the United States because it caused malignant tumors in beagles and monkeys, yet is sold by the Upjohn Co. in 70 other countries, where it is widely used in U.S.-sponsored population control programs. As a child I recall quite clearly a discussion I heard my mother having about this product. This would have been the 1960s and she described how our family GP had declined to offer it to her because it was found to cause tumours in rats. I have googled this and find it is still being used here in NZ. A NZ site called familydoctor.co.nz states: There is no strong link with breast cancer for Depo Provera, however, in one study some Beagle bitches who were given huge doses of the drug did develop breast cancer. These results are not believed to be relevant for human beings. Now this alone would be enough for me personally to decline the product. A further search revealed this from multinationalmonitor.org (written in 1985) … In the United States, because of possible safety problems Depo-Provera has never been approved for use as a contraceptive – in spite of intense efforts by Upjohn for almost 25 years to get such approval. Current law prohibits the export of drugs banned or unapproved for use in the U.S. to other countries. Upjohn gets around that restriction by producing the drug in Belgium and Canada – two of about 80 countries where Depo-Provera is registered or approved as a contraceptive.
It is imperative we research thoroughly for ourselves because potential side effects, 50 years on, are clearly still not being broadcast. Just reading the packet is no longer (or has it ever been?) a safe precaution. NZ investigative journalist Ian Wishart notes in his book ‘The God Factor’ that the public need to realize Governments and corporations are getting smarter and more subtle … not something we are told by the media, understandably, since they are also corporately owned.
I found ‘Circle of Poison’ around the same time as I was becoming aware of the dangers of chemical sprays particularly the herbicide Roundup. (If you’re unfamiliar with the independent research on Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, visit the Glyphosate page on this site. Now banned in many nations, Glyphosate is linked to many diseases including birth defects). Thirty five years on professionals in their respective fields… Medical Doctors, Scientists and Agricultural experts, are still tirelessly campaigning to raise public awareness of the various toxic substances sold quite legally in our shops. It is by all appearances, a real David and Goliath scenario. At some point we have to ask ourselves, just what is going on here? Why do their protests fall on deaf ears? The people protesting are not just Joe Bloggs up the road with an opinion, they are qualified professionals. Dr Meriel Watts from the Pananz (Pesticide Action Network) website and professionals from the Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility site (http://www.psgr.org.nz) write extensively on the dangers of certain officially approved chemicals and herbicides used in NZ. These products continue to endanger our wildlife, bees, animals and humans alike. Just recently (Oct 2014) two of Auckland’s water supply lakes have been closed for four months because the herbicide metsulfuron-methyl has been found in them. The Auckland City Council recently announced that they plan to drop 1080 on the Hunua Ranges, the source of their water supply, and at the time of writing this, the Greymouth Star reports that the West Coast Regional Council has admitted they have a $500,00 investment in a new factory that is considering the manufacture of 1080 near Christchurch. 1080 is a metabolic poison that is extremely toxic to all air-breathing organisms. In most countries it is banned outright or severely restricted because of its lethality and its indiscriminate killing power. For further information on 1080 (NZ uses about 90% of the world’s production!) read here: http://ban1080.co.nz/1080-facts/
The following clip of the late Dr Peter Scanlon gives important information about food that is contaminated with 1080.
It is not rocket science to decide against poisoning our future (and that includes ourselves, our children and our environment). This officially condoned behaviour is reckless at best.
Circle of Poison is a must read I’ve concluded, mainly because it provides the context from which the blatant disregard for the consequences of poisoning our planet springs. A mentality that condones the dumping of banned chemicals onto third world nations alone is beyond reasoning, let alone poisoning our own habitat. Again the root cause of this can be found by following the familiar money trail.
Returning to pesticides, although Circle of Poison is decades old now it appears things have not changed too much. A quick google on pesticide use in the developing world will bring up many articles regarding poisoning of people. For example in India … “the deaths of 23 primary schoolchildren in Bihar, northern India, highlight the potentially devastating consequences of incorrect pesticide storage”. Imagine here in NZ if 23 of our local kids were poisoned in this way, what outcry there would be, and yet these children are just statistics on a page, from a country the West assumes is worth little more than a dumping ground. This mentality dates right back to the much revered (in some places at least) Cecil Rhodes and his plans regarding the lands he claimed as his own ….
“We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories” (Cecil Rhodes, ‘founder’ of Rhodesia)
The Environmental Justice Foundation on pesticide poisoning states that … Across all agricultural sectors, an estimated 1 to 5 million cases of pesticide poisoning occur every year, resulting in 20,000 reported deaths among agricultural workers and at least 1 million requiring hospitalisation….While developing countries account for less than 30% of global pesticide consumption, the bulk of pesticide poisonings occur in a developing world scenario, including an estimated 99% of pesticide-induced deaths.
The blatant disregard for safety is nothing short of criminal. In closing, concerning NZ’s sale of Depo Provera I will be researching this further and posting an update in the near future.
SITE GUIDE: For further articles on chemicals in our environment or any other topic go to ‘Categories’ on the left hand side of the page, use the search box at the top right of the page, or the tag cloud on the right.
Award Winning Documentary JPS Films
This award winning doco will enlighten you on the myriad causes of cancer in our environment … the many carcinogens present in our care products, food, air and water.
You can contribute to the funding of this documentary by visiting its source at Vimeo. (Click on right hand bottom of the screen).
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11341878 http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1979/11/corporate-crime-century http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11340002
News & Updates on Chemicals:
The Council Assets meeting reveals more of the usual ‘pay it forward’ rhetoric that’s been going on for nine years already … aka save money now and forward the expense to a future generation..Links to article HERE