How Can We Lay Them to Rest?
Why is there still a “controversy” mentioned in any mainstream media article about MCS/ES?
Why are corporations getting their way so often despite causing harm?
Here are more articles that add to what I shared in Are There Any Doubts?
Many thanks to Colin Woodard and The Portland Press Herald for this enlightening series:
By Colin Woodard
THE SERIES DAY TO DAY
SUNDAY: For two years, public servant Patricia Aho has overseen Maine’s environmental protection. But whom does she really serve? Our seven-month investigation points to her former corporate clients.
MONDAY: Led by a former chemical industry lobbyist, the Maine DEP has stalled efforts to regulate substances that are potentially harmful to children and to the development of unborn fetuses.
TUESDAY: So-called “product stewardship” regulations – even recycling efforts with industry and bipartisan support – find staunch resistance at the Maine DEP, where a former corporate lobbyist has taken the helm.
HERE’S WHAT WE FOUND
A Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram investigation has found Patricia Aho, a former industrial and corporate lobbyist who became commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection in 2011, has scuttled programs and fought against laws that were opposed by many of her former clients in the chemical, drug, oil, and real estate development industries. Under Aho, the DEP has:
• Frozen the Kid Safe Products Act – a 2008 law to protect fetuses, babies and children from potentially damaging chemicals – by blocking efforts to bring more chemicals under the law’s jurisdiction, chemicals produced by Aho’s former lobbying clients.
• Reduced enforcement actions by 49 percent against large developers and landowners. Aho had unsuccessfully fought to weaken many of the laws at issue as the longtime lobbyist of the Maine Real Estate and Development Association.
• Fought to roll back recycling programs that are strongly opposed by former clients of Aho and a still-active lobbyist, Ann Robinson, the governor’s regulatory reform adviser.
• Oversaw a purge of information from the DEP’s website and a clampdown on its personnel, restricting their ability to communicate relevant information to lawmakers, the public, policy staff and one another.
Whose interests is Maine’s DEP commissioner serving?
“For two years, public servant Patricia Aho has overseen Maine’s environmental protection. But whom does she really serve? A seven-month investigation by the Telegram points to her former corporate clients.”
Efforts to reduce risks to kids run into a powerful foe
“A seven-month investigation of the DEP by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram found that the department staff is under pressure not to vigorously implement or enforce certain laws opposed by the commissioner’s former lobbying clients. Documents and interviews with current and former staff members reveal a pattern of deference to industrial interests once represented by Aho when she worked for Pierce Atwood, the state’s largest law and lobbying firm, including producers of chemicals and products likely to run afoul of the new chemical law.
Aho had fought to stop the Kid Safe Products Act from becoming law in 2008, when she was a lobbyist for AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals, the American Petroleum Institute and lead paint maker Millennium Holdings, lobbying disclosures show. Just weeks before being appointed to the DEP, Aho was working as the principal lobbyist for the American Chemistry Council, which also opposed the law and has sought to weaken it.”
(Excellent article except there is plenty of evidence to suggest that phthalates are causing other harm, so when they wrote that phthalates “appear to do no harm – unless you’re a male fetus”, they missed an important opportunity to educate.)
Maine leaders try and fail to dilute recycling’s success
‘Product stewardship’ regulations – even those with industry and bipartisan support – meet staunch resistance from, among others, a commissioner with former ties to corporate interests.
Note: There’s a lot of reading if you follow all the links in this post, much of it will be infuriating, depressing, shocking and saddening, but please do take the time to read the full articles available at the links (above and below). Perhaps go for long walks in nature or have some Harry Potter or other lighter reading to mix it up with.
Like they say, knowledge is power. If we don’t know what they are up to, we can’t stop them when they need to be stopped. When we are well informed and have no doubts, instead of becoming paralyzed and helpless, we become free to act for what is right!
Many thanks to Environmental Health News for the next report
(and all the other work they do)
Syngenta’s campaign to protect atrazine, discredit critics.
“To protect profits threatened by a lawsuit over its controversial herbicide atrazine, Syngenta Crop Protection launched an aggressive multi-million dollar campaign that included hiring a detective agency to investigate scientists on a federal advisory panel, looking into the personal life of a judge and commissioning a psychological profile of a leading scientist critical of atrazine.
The Switzerland-based pesticide manufacturer also routinely paid “third-party allies” to appear to be independent supporters, and kept a list of 130 people and groups it could recruit as experts without disclosing ties to the company.
Recently unsealed court documents reveal a corporate strategy to discredit critics and to strip plaintiffs from the class-action case. …
The new documents, along with an earlier tranche, open a window on the company’s strategy to defeat a lawsuit that could have effectively ended sales of atrazine in the United States.”
Read all about it:
Also, in case you missed it, The Chicago Tribune had an excellent series about flame retardants and industry interference:
Not to leave Monsanto out, here’s a show of how many people in office at the White House have also worked for Monsanto, which helps explain why RoundUp (among other things) and harmful GMO “foods” are being sold to everyone without our knowledge or consent.
There’s so much more, too much more like this… So many industry insiders find their ways into government offices where they write the laws and policies that support corporate interests instead of our health and the environment we depend on for life.
Like Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization said during her opening address at the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion on June 10th, 2013:
Research has documented these tactics well. They include front groups, lobbies, promises of self-regulation, lawsuits, and industry-funded research that confuses the evidence and keeps the public in doubt.
Tactics also include gifts, grants, and contributions to worthy causes that cast these industries as respectable corporate citizens in the eyes of politicians and the public. They include arguments that place the responsibility for harm to health on individuals, and portray government actions as interference in personal liberties and free choice.
This is formidable opposition. Market power readily translates into political power. Few governments prioritize health over big business.
As we learned from experience with the tobacco industry, a powerful corporation can sell the public just about anything.” …
I am deeply concerned by two recent trends.
The first relates to trade agreements. Governments introducing measures to protect the health of their citizens are being taken to court, and challenged in litigation.
This is dangerous.
The second is efforts by industry to shape the public health policies and strategies that affect their products.
When industry is involved in policy-making, rest assured that the most effective control measures will be downplayed or left out entirely.
This, too, is well documented, and dangerous.
In the view of WHO, the formulation of health policies must be protected from distortion by commercial or vested interests.
So, what can we do?
It’s up to all of us.
Here’s a great video from the Story of Stuff
the Ecocide toolkit
If you have other helpful resources for inspiring and empowering us to make the changes we need for a safer, healthier future for all, please share them here too!