SATISFACTION AT LAST
The risk to be a father to a stillborn or deformed baby is four times higher for men in the Norwegian Navy serving on vessels that are involved in electronic warfare as compared to other men. This was shown in a study published last Tuesday. Out of all men serving on the torpedo boat Kvikk during the 1990s, 50 out of the 62 men that responded to a questionnaire became a parent. They got in total 114 children, of which 87 were conceived during their service on board this vessel. Among these children, 8 children were born with malformed bones and muscles or heart and brain deformations, while 6 were stillborn. This is a fourfold doubling of what occurs in a normal population. After a 15 years' long and stubborn struggle against the Norwegian Navy and authorities, the deformed childrens' parents finally proved to be right. The authorities denied all along that there was a connexion. Certain Norwegian scientists were put on the investigation of the complaints, but they concluded there was no case, because all these congenital deformations were not unusual and statistically normal for a population!
First it was the Koreans and now the Norwegians that were to found to be too inventive in their research. In EMF research we have lived a long time with this type of research. When is somebody ever going to expose these "scientists"? It should not be very hard, because it is all so transparent.
"When is somebody ever going to expose these "scientists"? It should not be very hard, because it is all so transparent."
We're working on it... the problem is that the brain wash has been so massive for years...so it is very hard to break it. Here is an example: Until I convinced a student to enter into the radiation issue and gave her an idea to study a cancer cluster (42 cases) near cellular and radio antennas in Yassif, an arab village in Israel, she was excited about it but eventually the study was killed before it even started:
1) her tutor told her that it is "impossible" to do a thesis about it, maximum a project (=no scientific article) and that anyway the cancer is probably from marriage inside the family...and he pushed her to change the subject.
2) the head of Epidemiology department told her that it is very hard to do and that she would have to choose one type of cancer (because non-ionizing radiation "cannot" possibly cause several types....only cigarettes, chemicals and ionizing radiation have this priviledge...) Study killed. She gave up.
Hi Sianette: In response to this Norwegian report you've sent along:
"RADIATION DAMAGE IN NORWEGIAN CHILDREN – SATISFACTION AT LAST The risk to be a father to a stillborn or deformed baby is four times higher for men in the Norwegian Navy serving on vessels that are involved in electronic surveillance as compared to other men. This was shown in a study published last Tuesday. Out of all men serving on the torpedo boat Kvikk during the
1990s, 50 out of the 62 men that responded to a questionnaire became a parent. They got in total 114 children, of which 87 were conceived during their service on board this vessel. Among these children, 8 children were born with malformed bones and muscles or heart and lung deformations, while 6 were stillborn. This is a fourfold doubling of what occurs in a normal population. After a 15 years' long and stubborn struggle against the Norwegian Navy and authorities, the deformed childrens' parents finally proved to be right. The authorities denied all along that there was a connexion. Certain Norwegian scientists were put on the investigation of the complaints, but they concluded there was no case, because all these congenital deformations were not unusual and statistically normal for a population!"
Here is more on the same theme, that is arrogance and cheating in science. I've sent it on to Klaus for general release. Imelda
Hi Klaus: Without a hint of irony at the blatant hypocricies and contradictions exposed by doing so, today's THE IRISH TIMES juxtaposes the following:
A lengthy rebut by its weekly science correspondent, Professor William Reville, of those who proclaim the radiation fallout from the nuclear accident at Chernobyl caused devastating and longterm health effects to the local population;
An editorial strongly supporting the Irish Government's efforts to get England's nuclear Sellafield plant closed down due mainly to the possible health dangers it poses to Irish citizens!
Both are pasted in both.
In "CHERNOBYL THE GOOD NEWS" Professor Reville robustly defends the integrity of his fellow scientists who drafted "Chernobyl's Legacy - Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts". He appears aghast that Adi Roche (Executive Director, Chernobyl Children's Project, Cork and co-producer of the award-winning film CHERNOBYL HEART. See her December
28, 05 letter to THE IRISH TIMES below) would insinuate "that the Chernobyl Report data was presented selectively in order to downplay the gravity of the situation" as "This would amount to falsification - a mortal sin in science. Why would hundreds of scientists conspire to do this? Indeed, how could they do this, since the true story would certainly leak out? The idea is preposterous and such charges reflect badly on those who make them."
Ah, so, we non-scientists, flawed mortals that we are, must be sternly reminded that ALL scientists, being more gods than mortals, never stoop to gain!
A few paragraphs later, he returns to this theme of the absolute, indeed non-veniality, of science: ". . . If these groups are right, the integrity of science has been destroyed. But I can assure you that the integrity of science is intact. Few harmful agents are as well understood scientifically as radiation."
That last sentence, "Few harmful agents are as well understood scientifically as radiation", penned by Professor William Reville, public awareness of science officer at UCC, is not a mirage!
So, one might naively ask, if scientists already know everything they need to know about all aspects of radiation (and that includes of course knowledge of all adverse health effects of ionising and non-ionising radiation, plus the health effects of new technologies that people have not previously been exposed to) why is the WHO conducting ongoing research into the possible ill-effects of RF/MWs and other technologies?; why is COST's ("European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research") main objective this: ". . . to obtain a better understanding of possible health impacts of emerging technologies, especially related to communication and information technologies that may result in exposure to electromagnetic fields"?; why are so many environmental doctors and other environmental specialists deeply concerned at the ever-increasing number of people who are becoming EHS (electrohypersensitive)?
Even COST, in its role as a Pan European scientific body,appears a tad humbler toward claiming omniscience in this field (radiation-effects) than Professor Reville. It lists among its secondary objectives: "providing of a scientific evaluation of the available data for use by various decision makers involved in risk management of electromagnetic a basis for risk communication efforts related to emerging technologies, electromagnetic fields and possible health risks and data on electromagnetic field exposures related to emerging technologies on a European level."
And what is the Irish Government's Sellafield fuss about (see editorial below) when the radiation fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear accident has been scientifically decreed to be no big deal?
Let's return once more to a statement that jumps off the page (at least for me) in Professor Reville's article: "... falsification - a mortal sin in science. Why would hundreds of scientists conspire to do this?"
Apart from this CHERNOBYL report, why have scientists been blacklisted--and in many cases, their careers derailed--when their research results threaten powerful industries?
And the murky role of industry lobbyists in manipulating the direction of scientific research within the EU was revealed in another article in THE IRISH TIMES, last Monday: "WATERING DOWN OF EU REGULATIONS ON CHEMICALS PROVES POWER OF LOBBYISTS." I have pasted this in below the radiation-related articles.
One might wonder what Professor Reville thought of these going-ons among his esteemed scientific confreres at ACC (American Chemistry Council).
Your earlier postings on Chernobyl can be accessed at:
(31.12.05) Chernobyl, WHO and Utteridge's mice: Is there a connetion?
(10.12.05) PLAYING DOWN THE EFFECTS OF CHERNOBYL
Imelda, Cork, Ireland
THE IRISH TIMES, THU, JAN 19, 06
"CHERNOBYL--THE GOOD NEWS
A recent column by Prof William Reville on the Chernobyl Report provoked an angry response. He answers his critics
My column of December 1st 2005 summarised the report Chernobyl's Legacy - Health, Environmental and Socio- Economic Impacts, which was released by the Chernobyl Forum in September 2005. The report detailed the assessment by hundreds of scientists, health experts and economists of the impact of the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl. The experts who compiled the report were drawn from eight specialised agencies of the United Nations, as well as the governments of Belarus, Russian Federation and the Ukraine. There was considerable public reaction to my article.
The report declares that up to 4,000 people may eventually die because of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl accident, but, as of mid-2005, fewer than 60 deaths can be directly attributed to Chernobyl radiation, and most of these were rescue workers who were highly exposed to radiation shortly after the explosion and who died within months of the accident. Approximately 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mostly in children and adolescents, are attributed to radiation exposure. At least nine children died of thyroid cancer, but 99 per cent of cases were successfully treated. Otherwise, the experts found no evidence of increased incidence of cancers among affected residents.
The report is also reassuring about environmental impact. A 30-kilometre area surrounding the reactor is heavily contaminated and remains closed, and some forests and lakes have also been closed off, but otherwise radiation levels have returned to acceptable levels. Although five million people live in areas classified as contaminated, the majority received only very low doses of radiation, comparable to natural background radiation in many parts of the world. There is no evidence of decreased fertility or an increase in congenital malformations that can be attributed to radiation.
The report highlights a distressing level of "paralysing fatalism" among residents of affected areas. The people have a grossly exaggerated perception of the effects of the radiation to which they have been exposed and now attribute all ill-health to the radiation. The fatalism leads to drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex and unemployment.
The report recommends that, for these millions, still classified as victims, the first priority should be to encourage self-reliance in order to normalise their lives as soon as possible. They should be educated to understand the minimal risks they are facing and to shed their fatalistic outlook.
However, up to 200,000 people remain severely affected by the accident - poor people who live in the few severely contaminated areas, people who were resettled but never settled down in the new environment or found a job, and the thyroid cancer sufferers. These people need substantial help to rebuild their lives.
In a letter to The Irish Times (December 8th, 2005) Patrick Crowley MB accused me of playing down the medical impact of Chernobyl. He said he witnessed very many congenital birth deformities when he visited the area in 1994 and points to the 21,000 liquidators who have died since 1986. In a subsequent letter to The Irish Times (December 28th, 2005) Adi Roche points out that it was clear to her on a recent visit to Chernobyl that "cancers and genetic related diseases" are greatly increased. In the meantime a couple of letters welcoming the Chernobyl Report have also been published.
Personal impressions of the incidence of disease on a national scale are unreliable. Only scientifically based surveys can produce reliable data. Such data was carefully analysed by the experts on The Chernobyl Forum. When they conflict, the personal impressions of a few should carry little or no weight compared with the results of careful surveys.
Roche hints that the Chernobyl Report data was presented selectively in order to downplay the gravity of the situation. This would amount to falsification - a mortal sin in science. Why would hundreds of scientists conspire to do this? Indeed, how could they do this, since the true story would certainly leak out? The idea is preposterous and such charges reflect badly on those who make them.
And as for the 21,000 deaths among the liquidators since 1986, this is just about the number that would have died from natural causes in this group of 200,000 people anyway had the Chernobyl accident never happened.
I have spoken to people, with varied backgrounds, who read my article on the Chernobyl Report - accountants, civil engineers, bankers, technicians and scientists familiar with radiation. With the exception of the latter group, nobody believed the Chernobyl Report. People assume that radiation from Chernobyl has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and interpret the report as a "whitewash" on behalf of the nuclear industry. It is not unlikely that my personal poll would be replicated in a nationwide survey of public opinion.
It is alarming that amateur opinion in the specialised area of health and radiation would take such strong precedence in the public mind over the considered study of hundreds of scientists. If these groups are right, the integrity of science has been destroyed.
But I can assure you that the integrity of science is intact. Few harmful agents are as well understood scientifically as radiation. The Chernobyl Report authoritatively confirms that the health effects of Chernobyl are far less than originally feared. Is this not good news? Should this not encourage the people of Chernobyl to face the future with hope and optimism? Who does it serve to encourage people to believe they are seriously radiation-damaged, when in fact they are not?
Economic and social help to the people of Chernobyl is of limited use when so many believe their health is irreparably damaged. Telling the truth would lift this awful gloom.
• William Reville is associate professor of biochemistry and public awareness of science officer at UCC - http://understandingscience.ucc.ie
© The Irish Times
THE IRISH TIMES, THU, JAN 19, 06
"There is no doubt that the legal opinion delivered yesterday by the European Union's Advocate General amounts to a significant setback for the Government's campaign to have Britain's Sellafield nuclear reprocessing complex closed.
The Advocate General, whose opinions almost invariably presage rulings by the European Court of Justice, has found that the appropriate legal forum for pursuing this issue of dispute between Ireland and Britain is the court, and not via the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, the option pursued by the Government.
If the Advocate General's opinion is indeed upheld by the court, then the Government will have been put in its place. After all, as it well knows, the issue of nuclear safety is clearly within the EU's remit. Indeed, this may explain why former environment minister Martin Cullen took such a highly publicised case over Sellafield to the independent Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2002.
It did not get very far in The Hague either. The first case, taken under the Ospar Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment, produced a verdict that Ireland's demand for the release of commercially sensitive information on the Mox plant at Sellafield did not fall within the scope of the convention. The outcome of the second case, taken under the Law of the Sea Convention, was even more discouraging. In its preliminary ruling, the Hague tribunal rejected Ireland's demand for an end to radioactive discharges from the Mox plant because the Government had not established that they were of sufficient magnitude to cause "an urgent and serious risk of irreparable harm" to the marine environment of the Irish Sea.
But whatever about the relatively minor impact on the Irish Sea, it is unquestionable that the reprocessing - even the storage - of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel at Sellafield poses a continuing threat to Ireland. This arises not just because of the danger of accidents (of which there have been far too many), but also because the plant itself is a potential terrorist target. However, although it is clearly in our national interest that it should be closed, it is not within our competence to achieve this. Closure is even less likely now, given that the British government's latest energy review will probably recommend more nuclear power stations - ostensibly because they would help to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions blamed for causing climate change; indeed, this argument has become the principal argument of the nuclear lobby.
Yesterday, Fine Gael TD and MEP Gay Mitchell called for an end to the legal "posturing" over Sellafield and suggested that Ireland and Britain "behave like good neighbours" and seek to establish a bilateral agency to oversee environmental and nuclear safety issues. After all, it is not as if the Government comes to this issue with clean hands: the raft of legal actions by the European Commission speaks volumes about Ireland's failure to implement adequate measures to protect its own environment.
© The Irish Times
THE IRISH TIMES, DEC 28, 05
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
"EFFECTS OF CHERNOBYL, 20 YEARS ON
Madam, - With increasing fuel prices the debate has reopened on the safety of nuclear power, relevant in light of the approaching 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. Misinformation and deliberate distortion of the facts have caused much confusion to the debate. While the September 2005 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Chernobyl says few have died, it has done nothing to enhance our learning and knowledge about the scale of the tragedy as it adds further confusion by trying to find logical and finite answers while missing the whole human and environmental trauma.
This report has further added unwitting support for the governments of the affected region's policy declaring the Chernobyl disaster officially over. The IAEA report adds legitimacy to the governments' policies of repopulation of previously evacuated areas and re-cultivation of lands within radioactive zones. The IAEA reinvention report on the consequences of the disaster will be used to support the building of a nuclear power station 25 miles from the exploded reactor on the territory of Belarus.
The IAEA report should also be greeted with some suspicion when you consider an agreement, signed in
1959, between the WHO and the IAEA, which hinders the WHO in its freedom to produce material regarding the consequences of Chernobyl without the agreement of the IAEA. The primary objective of the IAEA is the promotion of nuclear power plants in the world. Article III of the agreement states: "The IAEA and the WHO recognise that they may find it necessary to apply certain limitations for the safeguarding of confidential information furnished to them."
Personally having spent much of October and November
2005 in Ukraine and Belarus there is conclusive observable evidence within communities, old and young, of increases in cancer and genetic related illnesses since the Chernobyl disaster.
Listening and observing filmmakers and journalists ask the same questions time after time I am convinced that they are asking the wrong questions. They ask: "How many people died? How many will die? Is this or that cancer or illness definitely caused by radiation? What is Chernobyl? How much radiation were you exposed to? Why do you all look so healthy? Show me the evidence." These are questions with often non-specific answers or answers that do not satisfy the required neat logic.
We seek absolutes in a situation where there can be no absolutes, no definitive answers, for we ask the wrong questions. People expect to see something grotesque and distorted and are almost disappointed when people and things appear normal - the media are perplexed. But such expectations distract from the true effects, with no realisation that any dose of radiation is an overdose.
If we continue to seek only logical, rational answers we will constantly be diverted from the true picture - a picture of human and ecological fragility, a picture showing us how delicately balanced the relationship between man and nature is. I now believe that as long as we try and place Chernobyl within our existing understanding of catastrophes, understanding it will continue to allude us. Our experiences from other disasters are clearly inadequate because we are facing a realm of the unknown not previously experienced, requiring a new understanding, a new bravery, and a new kind of courage. - Yours, etc,
ADI ROCHE, Executive Director, Chernobyl Children's Project, Cork.
THE IRISH TIMES, MON, JAN 16, 06
"WATERING DOWN OF EU REGULATIONS ON CHEMICALS PROVES POWER OF LOBBYISTS
Special interest group lobbyists are an increasing - and effective - force behind the scenes in Brussels. Samuel Loewenberg examines their (not always benign) role.
Lobbyists are an accepted part of the landscape in many political cultures, notably the United States. But the work they do at the heart of the European Union, and the extent of it, has so far escaped the sort of attention and scrutiny that regularly erupts in Washington.
This unelected group and the largely unaccountable way in which it operates has now become a substantial force in Brussels. The number of lobbyists in the city tops 15,000, according to estimates from government watchdogs.
More and more, the Brussels "influence trade" is adopting the strategies and tactics learnt from US colleagues. By the end of last year, EU lobbying achieved its most dramatic success to date: scaling back a major piece of environmental legislation that was expected to have saved thousands of lives.
The European lobby has not only adopted Washington tactics, it has magnified them, developing a form of lobbying that spans all 25 member states of the European Union. One key factor in this new form of political pressure has been the might of American companies. In at least one case, the Bush administration, working in concert with American manufacturers, became intimately involved in the lobbying campaign.
The Irish Government has also been an important target for industry lobbyists.
There is no better example of the growing power of the Brussels lobby than its success in fighting the European Union's plans to regulate the chemical industry. When proposed regulations first began being drafted in 2001 by officials inside the Commission, the only body in the EU that can initiate legislation, the suggestions appeared to be among the most comprehensive and far-reaching rules ever to be imposed on an industry in Europe. The proposals far surpassed anything in the US or elsewhere across the world.
The legislative proposals, known as Reach, (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals), were designed to rein in an industry that for decades had placed chemicals on the market often, in the eyes of its critics, with little oversight.
Ninety-nine per cent of the most commonly used chemicals had little or no publicly available safety and environmental information, according to environmental groups and EU officials, who cite concerns of increased incidences of cancer, allergies, birth defects, and reduced fertility in recent decades.
If given legal force by being approved by both MEPs and the EU supreme ruling body, the European Council of heads of government, and then ratified in each member state, the regulations would for the first time mandate testing on a range of chemicals found in common consumer goods, from childrens' pyjamas to computers, televisions to household cleaners.
In its first incarnation, the Reach proposal required manufacturers to conduct extensive safety tests on 30,000 of its most commonly produced chemicals, most of which had been around for decades. Of those, at least 1,500 were expected to be severely restricted or even banned. The EU estimated the costs to industry would be €3.6 billion over a decade. The chemical industry initially said its costs would be more than double that. As the debate became more heated, the industry cost estimates multiplied.
The benefits of the legislation were expected to be dramatic, according to its proponents. According to European Commission estimates, Reach was expected to prevent more than 4,300 occupational cancer cases per year, and would bring savings in health benefits of €50 billion over a 30-year period.
"At present we are unwittingly testing chemicals on both living humans and animals," said then-European environment commissioner Margot Wallström to a conference of chemical company executives in Brussels in 2003. "It is high time to place the responsibility where it belongs - with industry."
Since then the European Union's stance has changed dramatically. In what some European commissioners have said is the largest lobbying effort in the modern history of the EU, European and US chemical manufacturers orchestrated a multi-levelled and multi-pronged pressure campaign that encompassed all the original 15 EU member states plus the 10 new ones, as well as countries outside the continent like Japan, Mexico, China, and the US.
In the last two months of 2005, the testing requirements have been cut back by about two thirds. Of the original 30,000 chemicals that would have undergone rigorous testing, since last November only about 12,000 are now covered. This means that thousands of potentially dangerous chemicals will now slip through the testing procedures, according to environmental groups like World Wildlife Fund and the European Environmental Bureau. The environmental groups expect further loopholes to be opened as the legislation is debated in the coming months.
THE AMERICAN CONNECTION has proved to be among the most significant in the lobby battle.
In the early days of Reach, US companies had not taken the EU particularly seriously. "People thought the proposal came out of nowhere. They were not accustomed to having events in Europe have such a great potential impact on their businesses," said Fred McEldowney, a former top lobbyist for US chemical companies, when he was interviewed for a US magazine in 2003.
How multinational chemical companies based in the US worked with the Bush administration to fight the EU chemicals regulations is a story that has not been fully told.
By its nature, lobbying is done behind closed doors. And in matters of influence and political pressure, it is almost impossible to say why a politician acted in a certain manner or why a piece of legislation changed. That's especially true in the EU, with its triple-layered decision making process, with each mandate having to go through the European Commission, parliament, and council. The chemicals legislation, which began five years ago, is still being modified and is not expected to be finished until the end of this year.
But occasionally the efforts of the lobby do come to light, as they did in a little-noticed report by a US Congressional subcommittee that was published in 2004. Drawing on secret diplomatic communiques and internal governmental memos, the report by the staff of US congressman Henry Waxman, the senior Democrat on Congressional investigations and the environment panels, revealed the multifaceted tactics and intricate strategies used by US chemical manufacturers like Dow and Dupont and the Bush administration to push its agenda across Europe.
At least four US federal agencies became involved in the lobbying effort, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of the US Trade Representative, and the departments of State and Commerce. The Waxman report cites a document from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the American manufacturers lobbying group, which said that "ACC rallied opposition to the draft proposal, including a major intervention by the US government . . . These efforts . . . brought about significant concessions in the draft."
The ACC declined or did not respond to numerous requests for a comment for this article. But there is no denying the chemical industry's clout with Republican officials. Since 2000, the chemical industry gave over €17.3 million ($21 million) in campaign contributions to elected officials, with nearly 80 per cent of the money going to Republicans. Nobody received more industry money than President Bush: €741,000 ($900,000) since 1999, according to the Waxman report.
The chemical industry first sought the Bush administration's aid in February 2001, one month after it had taken office. A US Department of Commerce document unearthed by the Waxman report said that US Commerce and Trade officials "have been actively meeting with the US chemicals industry to solicit their views and concerns . . . [ the US Department of] Commerce and USTR [ the US trade representative] have met with representatives from the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the American Plastics Council, ISAC 3, DuPont, and Dow to identify industry concerns. Officials from the US mission in Brussels have also met with a number of European and US chemical companies based in Europe to solicit their views on the strategy and its impact on their industry".
In the wake of this initiative, American lobbyists met American officials across Europe to figure out how to defeat the proposed EU regulations. According to the Waxman report, the US ambassador in Greece, Thomas J Miller, met Dow Chemical executives "to discuss how to engage the Greek government". According to an internal State Department cable, the embassy "advised them that they should activate their European industry colleagues" and "identified appropriate Greek government officials for industry contact and explained how best to approach them based on their political and philosophical orientation".
Another internal e-mail offered a strategy on how to take on powerful EU Commission members, like then-environment commissioner Wallström. "The only thing that will get the EU to stop is having the EU heavyweights come in and say that the Commission can't take this forward until a real cost-benefit analysis is done. But who will take on Wallström - the answer is only other ministers or heads of state. The USG [ US government] plans to send in our ambassadors to member states and Commission to make our case."
A key part of the strategy was to apply pressure not only within the EU, but worldwide with the result that the EU received opposition to the proposal not only from the US, which had threatened a trade war over Reach, but from Japan, Mexico, and a plethora of other key trading partners.
On April 4th, 2003, the US trade agency sent an e-mail to chemical lobbyists regarding EU member states that they needed "to get to . . . and neutralise". In particular, countries to be targeted were Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Netherlands, and Ireland. All have significant chemical and manufacturing industries.
The effects of the campaign were soon felt. In the autumn of 2003, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jaques Chirac, and German Chancellor Gerard Schröder wrote to the European Commission expressing their concerns that Reach would hobble European industry.
American chemical companies told The Irish Times they did not want to discuss their lobbying effort. "It's not the kind of information that we share openly," said Peter Paul Van de Wijs, Dow Chemical Company spokesman in its Swiss headquarters.
IRELAND ALSO PLAYED an important role in the scaling back of the proposed legislation. The fact that the arguments to cut back Reach came from American companies was not a factor, said one lobbyist who spoke to The Irish Times on condition of anonymity.
"Ireland is always very receptive to listening to industry and how its competitiveness will be affected by regulation. It doesn't matter where the company comes from, you won't get any nationalist protectionism," said the lobbyist, who works on behalf of an American chemical and manufacturing company.
Ireland, as well as EU member states like Poland and Spain, continues to be a key target of lobbying efforts by US companies like Dupont, Dow, Honeywell, and GE, according to the lobbyist. The standard argument is that too many new regulations will hurt the country's competitiveness. The chemical industry is one of Ireland's largest, and US investment in the Irish chemical industry is $10 billion.
One of the key changes in the lobbying battle occurred after the legislation was put under the jurisdiction of the EU's Competitiveness Council in 2004, which was then headed by Tánaiste Mary Harney, who at the time was minister for enterprise trade and employment.
This was particularly significant, says Éamonn Bates, an Irish-born lobbyist for the US chemical industry who is based in Brussels, because it reflected the increased mobilisation of the broader European manufacturing industry to get involved in the chemical legislation. "Bit by bit people started to realise this affected not just the chemical industry but them as well," he said. "The industry lobbying has coincided with a broader malaise in Europe."
Environmental groups like Greenpeace say that the broad industrial opposition to the Reach legislation was due to scaremongering. They argue that costs to industry were wildly inflated, pointing to internal industry studies that suggest the testing requirements would not materially affect large chemical enterprises.
The most effective lobbying, nearly everybody agrees, has occurred in Germany where the new centre left/right grand coalition government has agreed to make Reach more industry friendly. This demonstrates the exceptional power of German industry, according to Maria Tydecks, a lobbyist who was involved in the debate.
"It's extraordinary in the sense that the German government will use its influence and its power to change the EU directive," said Tydecks, who heads the Berlin office of Apco, a Washington based lobbying firm. The German chemical industry is one of the most influential industries in the country, she says. "They have access to both parties [ in the government]," she says, the result of "long term networking."
Yet for all of the insider connections upon which lobbyists depend, it seems that, ironically, it is the greater democratisation of the Brussels process that has been particularly helpful to corporations.
The chemicals legislation was at its strongest when it was being drafted by the bureaucrats in the EU Commission. It was when the legislation reached the parliament, which has recently gained much more power, that the lobbyists made some of their greatest gains.
Further complicating matters were the 10 new members states, all of which now had a say in the legislation. Many of these countries depend on heavy industry, Poland is a case in point, and it is believed they were especially receptive to competitiveness arguments.
Environmentalists say that many of the health concerns that gave rise to the original, more robust proposals from the Commission, had become lost in the babble.
Throughout the parliament, key legislators reported being contacted by one or more lobbyists every day. For many of them, with only one or two staff members to support them, this was a deluge of information.
"Most of the EU and German parliamentarians I talked to told me it was the first time they got such massive lobbying," said Dr Andrea Paetz, a lobbyist for German chemical manufacturer Bayer, AG.
And on this occasion, it seems that the lobbying worked. Good for the lobbyists; less good perhaps for the consumers of Europe.
FREE FOR ALL: Lobbyists operate without oversight or restriction
Despite its reputation for wanting to regulate almost everything, the EU seems to have forgotten about lobbyists. Other than a requirement to write down one's name in order to gain access to EU buildings, lobbyists in Brussels operate without oversight or restriction.
By comparison, the US Congress requires lobbyists to file twice-a-year reports that list their clients, how much they are being paid, and what issues they are lobbying on.
No such regulations exist in Brussels. While the industry has a voluntary code of conduct, there are no mandatory regulations and self regulation does not seem to impress even the Commission. Vice president Siim Kallas has said the code is not comprehensive and does not provide much information on specific interests represented, nor how they are financed.
The organisation that represents EU lobbyists, the Society of European Public Affairs Professionals, is against mandatory disclosures, on the grounds that the voluntary code of conduct is sufficient. But the code offers plenty of leeway, such as the society's rule on "financial inducements". It states a lobbyist should "not offer to give, either directly or indirectly, any financial inducement to any official, member of staff or members of the EU institutions, except for normal business hospitality".
By that standard, much of the scandal that is now rocking Washington, including golfing vacations, free restaurant meals and box seats at sporting events, are all fine in Brussels.
One of Washington lobbyists' favourite tricks has made its debut in Brussels, and is already quite popular. It's the practice of front groups, by which a corporation faced with regulation, such as banning a toxic product, hires a public relations or lobbying firm to produce seemingly rational scientific arguments against the new rules.
Hence the Bromine Science and Environmental Forum and the Alliance for Consumer Fire Safety in Europe, organisations which tout their concern with science and the public interest. In fact, both are the creations of the international public relations firm Burson Martstellar, working on behalf of a consortium of manufactures of the chemical bromine. For years, the EU has been trying to limit the substance severely or ban it altogether as a flame retardant in household appliances because of its toxicity.
Another Washington favourite now evident in Brussels is the revolving door, the process by which lobbyists for an industry and members of government overseeing that industry, simply trade places. As well as having inside information, former officials also have established relationships with the people they will lobby.
The chemical industry lobby, known as the European Chemical Industry Council, embroiled in battles on the Reach chemical regulations, has taken advantage of this dynamic. Its director for Reach policy is Lena Perenius, who spent six years in the chemicals unit of the EU Commission's enterprise and industry division. Meanwhile, Uta Jensen Korte, a lobbyist for the chemical council, has now gone to work for the Commission.
Also taking advantage of the revolving door was Microsoft. After getting smacked in numerous regulatory tussles with the EU, the software giant hired Detlef Eckert, the former head of policy planning for the European directorate of information technology.
Multinational companies are also targeting member states. One US investment bank executive said his company had well-connected former high-level officials on retainer in almost every European country. "We can get access to anybody we want to," he said. "
© The Irish Times
Hi Klaus: Dr Patrick Crowley of the Irish Association of General Practitioners, in a letter published last Thursday (THE IRISH TIMES, Dec 08, 05), challenging the arguments of those recent correspondents who claimed that Chernobyl did not have devastating health consequences for the local population, states:
"As a practising doctor who writes death certificates regularly I am fully aware that the cause of death will not be written down as radiation. Instead a physical classification will appear: leukaemia, hydrocephalus, cardiac valve deformity, etc. So Prof Reville's source statistics are meaningless.What about the estimated 25,000 liquidators who have died since
1986 of various causes linked to radiation exposure, but again are not recorded as such."
And this is also what is happening in our situation.
I have included the complete text of Dr.Crowley's published letter below plus that of the earlier letters and article ("MENTAL ILL-HEALTH BECOMES CHERNOBLY'S BIGGEST PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM")which have led to his rebuttal.
You have also archived at http://omega.twoday.net/stories/358598/
earlier information I've sent you on this topic.
Best, Imelda, Cork
THE IRISH TIMES, THURS, DEC 08, 2005
PLAYING DOWN THE EFFECTS OF CHERNOBYL
Madam, - Prof William Reville's piece on Chernobyl
(Science Today, December 1st) is disturbing on a number of fronts. Firstly, it plays down the medical impact, classifying Chernobyl as a serious accident rather than a disaster, and having the UN's Chernobyl Forum go guarantor to these alleged scientific truths/facts.
Prof Reville writes that, as of mid-2005, fewer than
60 deaths can be directly attributed to radiation. What bunkum! In 1995 I travelled as a doctor to Minsk and Gomel, visited hospitals, orphanages, clinics, talked to physicians, surgeons, paediatricians, saw things with my own eyes and was filmed in what I called the "death wards". These are places in orphanages and clinics where children with congenital birth deformities are left barely attended, with no therapy, to the inevitable outcome -death. I probably saw 60 of those types of cases in that week alone.
As a practising doctor who writes death certificates regularly I am fully aware that the cause of death will not be written down as radiation. Instead a physical classification will appear: leukaemia, hydrocephalus, cardiac valve deformity, etc. So Prof Reville's source statistics are meaningless.What about the estimated 25,000 liquidators who have died since 1986 of various causes linked to radiation exposure, but again are not recorded as such.
If Chernobyl is presented as so much less important than a natural disaster such as the Asian tsunami or the Kashmir earthquake, one must ask who gains by playing it down. One answer is that governments do. In the age of 9/11, terrorists may attack nuclear plants and future Chernobyl-type disasters don't bear thinking about.
Honourable scientists know the reality. Albert Einstein knew that "the splitting of the atom has changed everything except our way of thinking, and thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe". - Yours, etc, PATRICK CROWLEY MB, Kilmoganny Health Centre, Kilmoganny, Co Kilkenny"
[Association of General Practitioners c/o Dr Pat Crowley, Kilmoganny, Co Kilkenny Tel: 051 648 007 Email: email@example.com Web: http://www.agp.ie
THE IRISH TIMES, THU, DEC 01, 05
"MENTAL ILL-HEALTH BECOMES CHERNOBLY'S BIGGEST PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE "MENTAL ILL-HEALTH BECOMES CHERNOBLY'S BIGGEST PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
[by] Prof William Reville
The greatest accident in the history of nuclear power occurred on April 26th, 1986, at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. A massive explosion released a large inventory of radioactivity to the atmosphere to be carried widely over Europe and deposited as fallout.
Nearly 20 years later an international team of more than 100 scientists has issued a report entitled Chernobyl's Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts (September, 2005). The group, called The Chernobyl Forum, is made up of eight specialised UN agencies including the International Atomic Energy Agency, World Health Organisation, UN Development Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation, UN Environment Programme, UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Scientific Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation, and the World Bank. The governments of Belarus, Russian Federation and Ukraine, the three most affected countries, were also involved.
The report concludes that although 4,000 people could eventually die as a result of exposure to radiation from the Chernobyl accident, as of mid-2005 fewer than 60 deaths can be directly attributed to radiation from