Sunday, October 08, 2006

Poisoning Ourselves, Poisoning Others

LA Times: "U.S. Rules Allow the Sale of Products Others Ban."

"As the European Union and other nations have tightened their environmental standards, mostly in the last two years, manufacturers — here and around the world — are selling goods to American consumers that fail to meet other nations' stringent laws for toxic chemicals."

In some ways this could be seen as morbid payback. As I pointed out in "Slow Is Beautiful," U.S. manufacturers for years have sold goods outlawed in this country to nations abroad. From p. 61:

"...U.S. business’s practice of selling tons of medical devices, bad drugs, carcinogens, toxic agents, poisoned foods and other products banned or ousted from American markets. In 1972 400 Iraqis died and 5,000 were hospitalized after consuming wheat and barley coated with an organic mercury fungicide, whose use had been banned in the U.S. Egyptian farmers and more than 1,000 water buffalos died after being exposed to leptophos, a chemical pesticide never approved for domestic use by the Environmental Protection Agency but exported to at least 30 countries. Cancer will strike children from around the world who wore clothes treated with a carcinogenic fire retardant called Tris, forced off the U.S. market after public outcry and a Congressional investigation. A synthetic male hormone, found to stunt the growth of U.S. children, is nonetheless used in Brazil as an appetite stimulant for children. Baby pacifiers and teething rings have been exported to other countries after U.S. bans."

What does this have to do with "slowing down"? There's a DNA linkage between greed and fast. Making money often means beating the next guy to market, or making a decision on financial grounds only, ethics and legality be damned. See more in Chapter 4, "'Fast' and the Consumer Society."

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