People should avoid using Wi-Fi wherever possible because of the risks it may pose to health, the German government has said.
Its surprise ruling - the most damning made by any government on the fast-growing technology - will shake the industry and British ministers, and vindicates the questions that The Independent on Sunday has been raising over the past four months.
And Germany's official radiation protection body also advises its citizens to use landlines instead of mobile phones, and warns of "electrosmog" from a wide range of other everyday products, from baby monitors to electric blankets.
The German government's ruling - which contrasts sharply with the unquestioning promotion of the technology by British officials - was made in response to a series of questions by Green members of the Bundestag, Germany's parliament.
The Environment Ministry recommended that people should keep their exposure to radiation from Wi-Fi "as low as possible" by choosing "conventional wired connections". It added that it is "actively informing people about possibilities for reducing personal exposure".
Its actions will provide vital support for Sir William Stewart, Britain's official health protection watchdog, who has produced two reports calling for caution in using mobile phones and who has also called for a review of the use of Wi-Fi in schools. His warnings have so far been ignored by ministers and even played down by the Health Protection Agency, which he chairs.
By contrast the agency's German equivalent - the Federal Office for Radiation Protection - is leading the calls for caution.
Florian Emrich, for the office, says Wi-Fi should be avoided "because people receive exposures from many sources and because it is a new technology and all the research into its health effects has not yet been carried out".
Are Your Cell Phone and Laptop Bad for Your Health? By Stan Cox AlterNet
Tuesday 31 July 2007
In the wee hours of July 14, a 45-year-old Australian named John Patterson climbed into a tank and drove it through the streets of Sydney, knocking down six cell-phone towers and an electrical substation along the way. Patterson, a former telecommunications worker, reportedly had mapped out the locations of the towers, which he claimed were harming his health.
In recent years, protesters in England and Northern Ireland have brought down cell towers by sawing, removing bolts, and pulling with tow trucks and ropes. In one such case, locals bought the structure and sold off pieces of it as souvenirs to help with funding of future protests. In attempts to fend off objections to towers in Germany, some churches have taken to disguising them as giant crucifixes.
Opposition to towers usually finds more socially acceptable outlets, and protests are being heard more often than ever in meetings of city councils, planning commissions, and other government bodies. This summer alone, citizen efforts to block cell towers have sprouted in, among a host of other places, including California, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, North Dakota and north of the border in Ontario and British Columbia. Transmitters are already banned from the roofs of schools in many districts.
For years, towers have been even less welcome in the United Kingdom, where this summer has seen disputes across the country.
Most opponents cite not only aesthetics but also concerns over potential health effects of electromagnetic (EM) fields generated by the towers. Once ridiculed as crackpots and Luddites, they're starting to get backup from the scientific community.
It's not just cell phones they're worried about. The Tottenham area of London is considering the suspension of all wireless technology in its schools. Last year, Fred Gilbert, a respected scientist and president of Lakehead University in Ontario, banned wireless internet on his campus. And resident groups in San Francisco are currently battling Earthlink and Google over a proposed city-wide Wi-Fi system.
Picking Up Some Interference?
For decades, concerns have been raised about the health effects of "extremely low frequency" fields that are produced by electrical equipment or power lines. People living close to large power lines or working next to heavy electrical equipment are spending a lot of time in electromagnetic fields generated by those sources. Others of us can be exposed briefly to very strong fields each day.
But in the past decade, suspicion has spread to cell phones and other wireless technologies, which operate at frequencies that are millions to tens of millions higher but at low power and "pulsed."
Then there's your cell phone, laptop, or other wireless device, which not only receives but also sends pulsed signals at high frequencies. Because it's usually very close to your head (or lap) when in use, the fields experienced by your body are stronger than those from a cell tower down the street.
A growing number of scientists, along with a diverse collection of technology critics, are pointing out that our bodies constantly generate electrical pulses as part of their normal functioning. They maintain that incoming radiation from modern technology may be fouling those signals.
But with hundreds of billions in sales at stake, the communications industry (and more than a few scientists) insist that radio-frequency radiation can't have biological effects unless it's intense enough to heat your flesh or organs, in the way a microwave oven cooks meat.
It's also turning out that when scientific studies are funded by industry, the results a lot less likely to show that EM fields are a health hazard.
Low Frequency, More Frequent Disease?
Before the digital revolution, a long line of epidemiological studies compared people who were exposed to strong low-frequency fields - people living in the shadow of power lines, for example, or long-time military radar operators - to similar but unexposed groups.
One solid outcome of that research was to show that rates of childhood leukemia are associated with low-frequency EM exposure; as a result, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled that type of energy as a possible carcinogen, just as they might label a chemical compound.
Other studies have found increased incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly called ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), higher rates of breast cancer among both men and women, and immune-system dysfunction in occupations with high exposure.
Five years ago, the California Public Utilities Commission asked three epidemiologists in the state Department of Health Services to review and evaluate the scientific literature on health effects of low-frequency EM fields.
The epidemiologists, who had expertise in physics, medicine, and genetics, agreed in their report that they were "inclined to believe that EMFs can cause some degree of increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease, and miscarriage" and were open to the possibility that they raise the risks of adult leukemia and suicide. They did not see associations with other cancer types, heart disease, or Alzheimer's disease.
Epidemiological and animal studies have not been unanimous in finding negative health effects from low-frequency EM fields, so the electric-utility industry continues to emphasize that no cause-and-effect link has been proven.
Now the most intense debate is focused on radio-frequency fields. As soon as cell phones came into common usage, there was widespread concern that holding an electronic device against the side of your head many hours a month for the rest of your life might be harmful, and researchers went to work looking for links to health problems, often zeroing in on the possibility of brain tumors.
Until recently, cell phones had not been widely used over enough years to evaluate effects on cancers that take a long time to develop. A number of researchers failed to find an effect during those years, but now that the phones have been widely available for more than a decade, some studies are relating brain-tumor rates to long-term phone use.
Some lab studies have found short-term harm as well. Treatment with cell-phone frequencies has disrupted thyroid-gland functioning in lab rats, for example. And at Lund University in Sweden, rats were exposed to cell-phone EM fields of varying strengths for two hours; 50 days later, exposed rats showed significant brain damage relative to non-exposed controls.
The authors were blunt in their assessment: "We chose 12-26-week-old rats because they are comparable with human teenagers - notably frequent users of mobile phones - with respect to age. The situation of the growing brain might deserve special concern from society because biologic and maturational processes are particularly vulnerable during the growth process."
Even more recently, health concerns have been raised about the antenna masts that serve cell phones and other wireless devices. EM fields at, say, a couple of blocks from a tower are not as strong as those from a wireless device held close to the body; nevertheless many city-dwellers are now continuously bathed in emissions that will only grow in their coverage and intensity.
Last year, the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia closed off the top two floors of its 17-story business school for a time because five employees working on its upper floors had been diagnosed with brain tumors in a single month, and seven since 1999. Cell phone towers had been placed on the building's roof a decade earlier and, although there was no proven link between them and the tumors, university officials were taking no chances.
Data on the health effects of cell or W-Fi towers are still sparse and inconsistent. Their opponents point to statistically rigorous studies like one in Austria finding that headaches and difficulty with concentration were more common among people exposed to stronger fields from cell towers. All sides seem to agree on the need for more research with solid data and robust statistical design.
San Francisco, one of the world's most technology-happy cities, is home to more than 2400 cell-phone antennas, and many of those transmitters are due to be replaced with more powerful models that can better handle text messaging and photographs, and possibly a new generation of even higher-frequency phones.
Now there's hot-and-heavy debate over plans to add 2200 more towers for a city-wide Earthlink/Google Wi-Fi network. On July 31, the city's Board of Supervisors considered an appeal by the San Francisco Neighborhood Antenna-Free Union (SNAFU) that the network proposal be put through an environmental review - a step that up to now has not been required for such telecommunications projects.
In support of the appeal, Magda Havas, professor of environmental and resource studies at Trent University in Ontario submitted an analysis of radio-frequency effects found in more than 50 human, animal, and cellular-level studies published in scientific journals.
Havas has specialized in investigating the effects of both low- and high-frequency EM radiation. She says most of the research in the field is properly done, but that alone won't guarantee that all studies will give similar results. "Natural variability in biological populations is the norm," she said.
And, she says, informative research takes time and focus: "For example, studies that consider all kinds of brain tumors in people who've only used cell phones for, say, five years don't show an association. But those studies that consider only tumors on the same side of the head where the phone is held and include only people who've used a phone for ten years or more give the same answer very consistently: there's an increased risk of tumors." In other research, wireless frequencies have been associated with higher rates of miscarriage, testicular cancer, and low sperm counts.
Direct current from a battery can be used to encourage healing of broken bones. EM fields of various frequencies have also been shown to reduce tissue damage from heart attacks, help heal wounds, reduce pain, improve sleep, and relieve depression and anxiety. If they are biologically active enough to promote health, are they also active enough to degrade it?
At the 2006 meeting of the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety in Benevento, Italy, 42 scientists from 16 countries signed a resolution arguing for much stricter regulation of EM fields from wireless communication.
Four years earlier, in Freiburger, Germany, a group of physicians had signed a statement also calling for tighter regulation of wireless communication and a prohibition on use of wireless devices by children. In the years since, more than 3000 doctors have signed the so-called "Freiburger Appeal" and documents modeled on it.
But in this country, industry has pushed for and gotten exemption from strict regulation, most notably through the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Libby Kelley, director of the Council on Wireless Technology Impacts in Novato, California says, "The technology always comes first, the scientific and environmental questions later. EM trails chemicals by about 10 years, but I hope we'll catch up."
Kelley says a major problem is that the Telecommunications Act does not permit state or local governments to block the siting of towers based on health concerns: "We'll go to hearings and try to bring up health issues, and officials will tell us, 'We can't talk about that. We could get sued in federal court!'"
Industry officials are correct when they say the scientific literature contains many studies that did not find power lines or telecommunication devices to have significant health effects. But when, as often happens, a range of studies give some positive and some negative results, industry people usually make statements like, "Technology A has not been proven to cause disease B."
Michael Kundi, professor at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria and an EM researcher, has issued a warning about distortions of the concept of cause-and-effect, particularly when a scientific study concludes that "there is no evidence for a causal relationship" between environmental factors and human health. Noting that science is rarely able to prove that A did or did not "cause" B, he wrote that such statements can be "readily misused by interested parties to claim that exposure is not associated with adverse health effects."
Scientists and groups concerned about current standards for EM fields have criticized the World Health Organization (WHO) and other for downplaying the risks. And some emphasize the risk of financial influence when such intense interest is being shown by huge utilities and a global communications industry that's expected to sell $250 billion worth of wireless handsets per year by 2011 (that's just for the instruments, not counting monthly bills). Microwave News cited Belgian reports in late 2006 that two industry groups - the GSM Association and Mobile Manufacturers Forum - accounted for more than 40 percent of the budget for WHO's EM fields project in 2005-06.
When a US National Academy of Sciences committee was formed earlier this year to look into health effects of wireless communication devices, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Sage Associates wrote a letter to the Academy charging that the appointment of two of the committee's six members was improper under federal conflict-of-interest laws.
One of the committee members, Leeka Kheifets, a professor of epidemiology in UCLA's School of Public Health, has, says the letter, "spent the majority of the past 20 years working in various capacities with the Electric Power Research Institute, the research arm of the electric power industry."
The other, Bernard Veyret, senior scientist at the University of Bordeaux in France, "is on the consulting board of Bouygues Telecom (one of 3 French mobile phone providers), has contracts with Alcatel and other providers, and has received research funding from Electricite de France, the operator of the French electricity grid." The NAS committee will be holding a workshop this month and will issue a report sometime after that.
A paper published in January in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that when studies of cell phone use and health problems were funded by industry, they were much less likely to find a statistically significant relationship than were publicly funded studies.
The authors categorized the titles of the papers they surveyed as either negative (as in "Cellular phones have no effect on sleep patterns"), or neutral (e.g., "Sleep patterns of adolescents using cellular phones"), or positive, (e.g., "Cellular phones disrupt sleep"). Fully 42 percent of the privately funded studies had negative titles and none had positive ones. In public or nonprofit studies, titles were 18 percent negative and 46 percent positive.
Alluding to previous studies in the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries, the authors concluded, "Our findings add to the existing evidence that single-source sponsorship is associated with outcomes that favor the sponsors' products."
By email, I asked Dr. John Moulder, a senior editor of the journal Radiation Research, for his reaction to the study. Moulder, who is Professor and Director of Radiation Biology in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Wisconsin, did not think the analysis was adequate to conclusively demonstrate industry influence and told me that in his capacity as an editor, "I have not noted such an effect, but I have not systematically looked for one either. I am certainly aware that an industry bias exists in other areas of medicine, such as reporting of clinical trails."
Moulder was lead author on a 2005 paper concluding that the scientific literature to that point showed "a lack of convincing evidence for a causal association between cancer and exposure to the RF [radio-frequency] energy used for mobile telecommunications."
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has questioned Moulder's objectivity because he has served as a consultant to electric-power and telecommunications firms and groups. Moulder told me, "I have not done any consulting for the electric power and telecommunications industry in years, and when I was doing consulting for these industries, the journals for which I served as an editor or reviewer were made aware of it."
A year ago, Microwave News also reported that approximately one-half of all studies looking into possible damage to DNA by communication-frequency EM fields found no effect. But three-fourths of those negative studies were industry- or military-funded; indeed, only 3 of 35 industry or military papers found an effect, whereas 32 of 37 publicly funded studies found effects.
Magda Havas sees a shortage of public money in the US for research on EM health effects as one of the chief factors leading to lack of a rigorous public policy, telling me, "Much of the research here ends up being funded directly or indirectly by industry. That affects both the design and the interpretation of studies." As for research done directly by company scientists, "It's the same as in any industry. They can decide what information to make public. They are free to downplay harmful effects and release information that's beneficial to their product."
Meanwhile, at Trent University where Havas works, students using laptops are exposed to radio-frequency levels that exceed international guidelines. Of that, she says, "For people who've been fully informed and decide to take the risk, that's their choice. But what about those who have no choice, who have a cell-phone tower outside their bedroom window?
"It's the equivalent of secondhand smoke. We took a long time to get the political will to establish smoke-free environments, and we now know we should have done it sooner. How long will it take to react to secondhand radiation?"
NEW YORK CITY MUST STOP SPRAYING TOXIC PESTICIDES IMMEDIATELY!
The No Spray Coalition is appalled by Mayor Bloomberg's decision to renew mass-spraying of dangerous pesticides in the Bronx and Queens. Furthermore, we condemn the New York City government's advice to residents and visitors that they personally use insect repellants containing DEET on themselves and their children. DEET is especially dangerous for children and should NEVER be used; it is associated with numerous infant deaths.
The No Spray Coalition is also deeply troubled by NYC's reckless spraying of Anvil 10 + 10 to kill mosquitoes.
"After years of litigation to stop this reckless spraying of pesticides which has contributed to skyrocketing increases in cancer and asthma, and now the collapse of bee colonies in the New York area, I am outraged that the Bloomberg Administration is renewing its mindless criminal poisoning of the people and environment of our City," said Howard Brandstein, coordinator of SOS-FOOD and a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit brought seven years ago by the No Spray Coalition and other organizations against Rudolph Giuliani and the New York City government.
That lawsuit ended in April 2007, when NYC signed a settlement agreement acknowledging, among other stipulations, that pesticides:
- may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose - cause adverse health effects - kill mosquitoes' natural predators (such as dragonflies) - increase mosquitoes' resistance to the sprays, and - are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.
The Department of Health contravenes that settlement by now stating that "there are no significant risks of adverse impact to human health associated with the proper use of this product," said No Spray Coalition coordinator Mitchel Cohen. "This is simply not true," Cohen said, claiming that the spraying puts many New York City residents and visitors at grave risk.
"These kind of ignorant and lying politicians and bureaucrats apparently have no problem destroying our health in order to 'save' us from the so-called West Nile virus," Howard Brandstein added. "Clearly, the spraying jeopardizes a thousand times more people than the disease."
The pesticide the City is spraying -- "Anvil 10 + 10" -- belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.
Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin -- a synthetic toxin, made in the laboratory -- as well as benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls "inert ingredients.")
Thousands of New Yorkers were severely sickened by the spraying in 1999 and 2000. A number of members of the No Spray Coalition, including several of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, died from pesticide-related illnesses.
Many suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MC or Asthma caused or exacerbated by the spraying. "The City administration must be made to understand that pesticides are extremely dangerous to human health as well as to the natural environment, and have long-term consequences," Cohen said.
The No Spray Coalition strongly urges the City to stop pesticide spraying immediately, reconsider its entire approach, and seek alternative, safe means to control mosquitoes. There are natural, safe ways for each person to ward off mosquitoes. The City should not be poisoning the entire population.
*********************************************************** 2. FROM JENNIFER JAGER,* Treasuer, No Spray Coalition
Mitchel Cohen, who coordinates the No Spray Coalition, was asked how he survives financially. "Well, I'm independently poor," he joked. In reality, Mitchel is going through some very rough times financially and needs our help.
Unlike most not-for-profit organizations, none of us involved in the No Spray Coalition receives a salary for our environmental and activist work. We set it up that way intentionally. That way, all funds donated to the No Spray Coalition go directly into getting the issue of pesticides into the public consciousness.
So when Mitchel sent out a private appeal recently for funds to enable him to reprint his two poetry books -- "The Permanent Carnival" and "One-Eyed Cat Takes Flight" (both with beautiful cover paintings by artist/activist Haideen Anderson) -- I thought that members and supporters of our activist work might be interested in helping him out. In exchange, he'll send you one (or both) of his poetry books, which he sells on the streets and subways of New York City for $14 apiece.
Brooklyn NoSprayer Meg Feeley read the manuscript of "The Permanent Carnival" before it was published. "I fell in love with some of these, especially the lead poem, The Permanent Carnival. Gorgeous, want to almost only have that one," she wrote. "Really strong, free and lovely. Important, too, the chronicle of a time when it was (properly) dangerous and yet possible to invent one's life in the context of a political understanding. I will take another look when I can, but I really wanted to let you know that in a world with an awful lot of books, I think this one's important to get out there ... "
Brown University Professor and historian Paul Buhle, writing from Providence, Rhode Island, had this to say:
"I had 4 hours to read it on the train home and I read every poem twice...some of them three times....I am eager to review it for someplace. The poems are splendid and a true representation of your menschlikhe self."
Mitchel's hard work and creativity have enabled us to challenge and reshape the dominant paradigm when it comes to pesticides. He was instrumental in shepherding the No Spray Coalition's lawsuit through the labyrinth of lies and denial, on a shoestring. (By the way, under federal rules the No Spray Coalition doesn't get a cent of the settlement; the $80,000 the City agreed to pay goes to five other grassroots environmental groups that we selected for the great work they are doing.)
So, I am urging you to send directly to Mitchel a sizable "thank you," in the form of much-needed funds. If you can afford $100 or more, that's great and very welcome. But even if you can only afford $25, or $10, those add up and will go a long way. For those who have more funds available, please chip in for those who don't, in appreciation of Mitchel's dedication and hard work -- and receive one (or both) of Mitchel's poetry books in exchange. (Mitchel says he'll gladly send you a copy of either of the books regardless of the amount you send him -- something about "from each according to their ability to each according to their needs.") This will allow him to continue to survive in New York, publish his poems, and move forward with the environmental and activist work that is so important to all of us!
Thank you, Jennifer Jager
* I want to make clear that, for legal reasons, I am writing in my capacity as an environmental and social justice activist, not formally as treasurer of the No Spray Coalition. The funds you send to Mitchel as a result of this appeal will not go to the No Spray Coalition, but to him privately.
Please send your check to:
Mitchel Cohen 2652 Cropsey Avenue, #7H Brooklyn, New York 11214 (718) 449-0037
SOME OTHER COMMENTS ON THE PERMANENT CARNIVAL AND MITCHEL'S POEMS ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have had the most beautiful hour just now, reading your poems, communing with you, old friend. You are still, always, a triumph of joy and compassion and clarity. The title poem, The Permanent Carnival, especially, evokes the delight and pain of our lives, revives my memory. I'm going to use your work as a model for mine. I got back from the east coast and read your book of poetry ... I loved it! Absolutely inspiring. ... I keep it by my desk now, enjoying the humor and language. ...Thanks for all your great writing. - Mark Rudd, Albuquerque, New Mexico
* * *
I like the poem that you sent -- especially the images of broken cells and our silent partners. Sometime we should exchange our writings, my short stories and your poems. - Deeadra Brown, Jackson Heights, Queens
* * * I Bought a copy of "The Permanent Carnival" from you when you were selling them in front of the Barnes & Noble on 7th Ave in Brooklyn, and I wanted to let you know that enjoyed the book. "Plowing the Snow" was my favorite poem. - Michael Y, of Brooklyn
* * * I heard you [read your poems] on Bob Fass' show on WBAI last Thurs., and thought the program was terrific. - Gloria Bletter, New York
* * * We were listening when you were on WUSB radio (Mort Mecklosky's show) about a week ago. Mitch, it's so good to hear from you!!!!!! The poetry and songs on the radio were really fantastic. Sound a lot like my own thoughts in many ways. I was looking for a Newsday photo of you, me and Ron Kovic that I have somewhere. I'll send it when I find it. It's here SOMEWHERE!!!!! Carry on the good work. - Feliz, Port Jefferson, Long Island, NY
* * * I really enjoyed the poems in The Permanent Carnival. Warm, intelligent, lively, colorful, passionate.. Good reading! Bravo. And the cover is gorgeous. - Hazel Rowley, Cambridge MA
* * * I have been meaning to e-mail you since "The Permanent Carnival Poems" arrived in my mailbox. It was the day of the huge storm that left us without electrical power for 6 days. I couldn't wait to read the poems the evening that they arrived. In the midst of transformers blowing up, and trees falling, I was tucked away with a candle in my office reading "The Permanent Carnival", "Nuclear Family", "Waitress From Another Country", and others. I have yet to read all of them. They are like a bag of "carnival cookies" (my favorite as a kid) that I would savor and only eat a few at a time. - Debi, Olympia WA
* * * Now I see why Saint Nicholas wears red...I greatly appreciated the book you sent me, especially the poem about your father (a perfect little gem that deserves inclusion in an important anthology). I also really liked your spoof on Howl, although in the next edition I suggest you change "gonadal streets" to something else (but two syllables only in the adjective). How about "broker's streets" (when I was working third shift at law firms in the financial district I truly did drag myself through the broker's streets at dawn). - Dennis King, NYC
* * * Thank you Mitch for putting history and emotions together; thank you for telling about yourself and about your feelings, those feelings that make us be ourselves and, once exposed, permit others to reveal their own, and share. - Maurice Bazin, Florianopolis, Brazil
* * * I am reading some of the poems in your Permanent Carnival as I feel like it, the latest one revolved around that waitress from another country.... I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are still activists who REALLY care for the body. - Donia Mili, NY State
You can also hear Mitchel Cohen's environmental activist reports every week over the internet on "Steal This Radio", via TribecaRadio.net. Click on http://www.tribecaradio.net/blog/categories/stealThisRadio/ At your convenience select one of the Steal This Radio shows archived there, and click on the arrow in the upper righthand corner. Lots of great commentary, interviews, music and poetry in every show!
******************************************* 3. From Democracy Now – FM RADIO LICENSES AVAILABLE TO COMMUNITY GROUPS, BUT NOT FOR LONG
A once in a generation opportunity, hundreds of Full Power FM radio licenses are available to community groups across the country. You only have two months to prepare your application, you and your community group can do this - if you act now!
********************************************* 4. LETTERS against the Spraying
PESTICIDES & THE STUDIES Even tiny amounts of pesticides kill fish, horseshoe crabs (which, in addition to being the oldest creatures on the planet, are indispensable for scientific research), butterflies, bees, birds, dragonflies, frogs, and lobsters, as well as mosquitoes and unwanted critters. The labels on Malathion, Pyrethroids, and piperonyl butoxide (a so-called synergist and a carcinogen) all warn against spraying over or near bodies of water.
Pesticides are especially dangerous for brain and nerve development in young children, and for elderly people. Bicycles and Wheelchairs pick up pesticides on their wheels and bring them into the apartment or house. Children touch the sprays and put their fingers into their mouths.
In April 2007, the City agreed to settle a 7-year-old lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani's massive and indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides brought under the Clean Water Act by the No Spray Coalition, Beyond Pesticides, Disabled in Action, and Save Organic Standards - New York, and a handful of individual plaintiffs. In addition to winning $80,000 for a number of local grassroots environmental and wildlife protection groups, as part of the settlement agreement the City admitted that: "Pesticides may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose, ... cause adverse health effects, ... kill mos quitoes' natural predators, ... increase mosquito resistance to the sprays, ... and are not presently approved for direct application to waterways."
The following seven categories of published studies speak directly to this grave issue, which is one of extraordinary environmental INjustice.
i. Centers for Disease Control study that found that all residents of the United States, including residents of New York City and State, now carry dangerously high levels of pesticides and their residues in our bodies, which may have onerous effects on our health. (Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Centers for Disease Control, 2005);
ii. U.S. Geological Study, which shows that a large percentage of waterways and streams throughout the United States, including those in New York City and State, has been found to contain environmentally destructive pesticides that may severely impact on animal and aquatic life. (U.S. Geological Survey: The Quality of Our Nation's Waters, Pesticides in the Nation's Streams and Ground Water, 1992-2001, http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/2005/1291/);
iii. Studies confirming that pesticides are both a trigger for asthma attacks and a root cause of asthma (Salam, et al: Early-life environmental risk factors for asthma findings from the children's health study. Environmental Health Perspectives 112(6):760-765.), and that asthma is epidemic throughout New York City;
iv. Cicero Swamp Study, showing that pesticides killed off the natural predators of mosquitoes and that mosquitoes came back much stronger after the spraying, because all of their natural predators (which have a longer reproductive cycle) were dead. These studies were done in New York state for mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and found a 15-fold increase in mosquitoes after repeated spraying, and that virtually all of the new generations of mosquitoes were pesticide-resistant. (Journal of the Am Mosquito Control Assoc, Dec; 13(4):315-25, 1997 Howard JJ, Oliver New York State Department of Health, SUNY-College ESF, Syracuse 13210, USA);
v. Studies that show that pesticides have cumulative, multigenerational, degenerative impacts on human health, especially on the development of children which may not be evident immediately and may only appear years or even decades later (The Multigenerational, Cumulative and Destructive Impacts of Pesticides on Human Health, Especially on the Physical, Emotional and Mental Development of Children and Future Generations. A Submission to The House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development by Physicians and Scientists for a Healthy World, February 2000; Guillette, Elizabeth, et al: Anthropological Approach to the Evaluation of Pre-school Children Exposed to Pesticides in Mexico. Environmental Health Perspective, Vol. 106, No.6, June 1998; Kaplan, Jonathan et al. Failing Health. Pesticides Use in California Schools. Report by Californians for Pesticide Reform, 2002, American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health; Ambient Air Pollution: Respiratory Hazards to Children, Pediatrics 91, 1993);
vi. Studies that show that pesticides make it easier for mosquitoes and other organisms to get and transmit West Nile Virus due to damage to their stomach lining caused by pesticides. (Haas, George. West Nile virus, spraying pesticides the wrong response. American Bird Conservancy, October 23, 2000); and,
vii. Studies that show that pyrethroid spraying is ineffective in reducing the number of the next generation of mosquitoes. (Efficacy of Resmethrin Aerosols Applied from the Road for Suppressing Culex Vectors of West Nile Virus, Michael R. Reddy, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, et. al., Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, Volume 6, Number 2, June 2006)
The use of toxic pesticides to control mosquitoes is a significant Environmental Justice issue; there have been no realistic environmental impact studies in the last few years on spraying in NYC; no studies in NYC of the pesticide-spraying's effects on human health and the natural environment; and no studies of cumulative impacts of different pesticides on the population.
If you live in NYC, were planning to visit but are now having second thoughts, or if you just want to express your opinion, please write to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html .
************************************* Mr. Mayor,
I was considering visiting your great city this coming September, but now have to reconsider my plans due to your spraying of toxic pesticides in Queens.
I am a cancer survivor and do my very best to limit my exposure to toxic chemicals. It is a shame I can't visit and spend my money in your city.
Thanks for your time.
This is an issue that resonates highly with me and my neighbors in north Flushing. I was diagnosed with a blood cancer and suspect that the malathion spraying in 1999 may have contributed to the illness.
The spraying was done without setting up a control group to monitor the effects and other environmental impacts of the spraying program. While West Nile virus is a health issue of concern, is the cure worse than the disease? There are many people in this area of Queens who may also have been negatively impacted.
This material is not as safe as the Health Department would have you believe. Note the caveat at the end of the PDF in section 15 "Other Information."
Another thing to consider is the fact that while the material is sprayed at night, when the sun comes up and starts to heat things up, the dew and freshly sprayed chemicals will evaporate into the air that is then breathed in by the people in the area sprayed. This population includes children, those with compromised immune systems, and just about everyone else.
************************************************ I tried to get photos the night they sprayed Flushing, but the night shots came out very blurry. Although bilingual flyers had been given out hours earlier about the spraying, they were vague and noted zipcodes sprayed between 8pm and 6am but not specific streets and times. So at 8:10 when I went to take the photos, Main Street was full of the usual heavy pedestrian traffic as always. Fruit stands still had uncovered fruits and vegetables; street peddlars were still on the streets selling the usual toys and trinkets. Macy's was full of shoppers and workers who would have to leave through streets that could possibly be sprayed. Crowds of people periodically emerged from the subways.
Luckily the spraying -- at that time -- was not along Main Street. We were on Roosevelt and Union, not as crowded as Main Street but still with many people walking around, when we heard a police car making a mumbled and unclear announcement, I thought they were pulling someone over for traffic. Then I saw the truck following them, shooting big clouds of Anvil into the air. I'd thought they would be spraying low but the cloud was shooting high up into the air.
We ran in the opposite direction to get away from the direct cloud then went back to get a photo of the truck as it was leaving. The photo is blurry but you can distinguish the cloud and that there are people on the street.
DayStar Chou Flushing, Queens NY
************************************************** No Spray Coalition PO Box 739 Peck Slip Station New York City, NY 10272
THE ROTTEN SIDE OF ORGANICS -- INTERVIEW WITH RONNIE CUMMINS
The Satya Interview with Ronnie Cummins
Many compassionate consumers believe that buying organic food is the only way to go. The label "organic" means refuge from pesticides, chemicals and the damaging practices of the commercial food industry. High-quality, mouth-watering, nutrient-rich produce -- all harvested fresh from the farm, right? We tend to assume organic food producers are all small farmers who combine ecologically sound farming practices with a political agenda to promote and develop local sustainable food systems. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) formed in 1998 after organic consumers criticized the U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed national regulations for organic certification of food. Today the OCA, a nonprofit public interest organization, strives for health, justice and sustainability, and takes on such crucial issues as food safety, industrial agriculture, corporate accountability and fair trade.
The OCA has been able to rally hundreds of thousands of consumers to pressure the USDA and organic companies to preserve strict organic standards. Kymberlie Adams Matthews had a chance to talk with OCA founder and National Director, Ronnie Cummins about uniting forces to challenge industrial agriculture, corporate globalization, and inspiring consumers to "Buy local, organic, and fair made."
KAM: Can you discuss the corporate takeover of the organic food market?
RC: Well the good news is there is a huge demand on the part of health conscious and environmentally conscious consumers for organic products. On the downside, right now there is a shortage of organic foods and ingredients in the marketplace. And unfortunately, corporations are noting this huge demand and are not only moving into the organic sector, but doing it in a way which is not helping American farmers and ranchers go organic. Instead, they are basically degrading organic standards, bending the rules and starting to outsource from slave labor and exploitive nations such as China for organic foods and ingredients.
KAM: What kind of impact is this having on our food?
RC: Well the most glaring example presently is the blatant disregard for organic standards in the dairy sector. Right now 40 percent of organic milk is coming from Horizon Organic and Aurora Organic, producers who are both practicing intensive confinement of farmed animals, allowing them no access to pasture. They are also regularly importing calves from industrial farms and simply calling them organic. These heifers have been weaned on blood, administered antibiotics, and fed slaughterhouse waste and GMO grains. Again, this is not helping thousands of humane family-scale farmers make the transition to organic. Instead they are changing the rules and allowing industrial agriculture to call it organic.
And then there is the corporate takeover of organic food brands. This is a major trend, all the way from Unilever taking over Ben and Jerry's to General Mills taking over Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen. These transnationals deliberately conceal the names of the parent corporation on the label because they know those corporations have such a terrible reputation that consumers would be unlikely to want to buy the products. Also, for the most part, they do not list the country of origin on the label. So organic consumers continue to buy their products, while remaining in the dark about who produced them and where they were produced. For example, people who buy the top- selling soy milk Silk, don't know that Silk is actually owned by Dean Foods, the $10 billion dairy conglomerate notorious for bottom line business practices such as injecting their cows with bovine growth hormone and paying the lowest prices possible to dairy farmers. They also don't know that the soy beans in Silk are likely coming in from China and Brazil rather than the U.S. or North America.
What about the organic standards in China? Are they the same as here? There has been a lot of criticism that Chinese organic products are not really organic. But certainly the most incontestable fact about Chinese organics is that the workers are paid nearly nothing for their work. It is slave labor.
KAM: That's madness! What can we do about this?
RC: We are going to have to stop companies from outsourcing the organic foods and ingredients that they can buy here. One way to do that is to pressure companies to put the country of origin on their label. Congress actually passed a law three years ago -- after receiving a lot of pressure from consumers -- requiring country of origin labels.
Unfortunately, they turned around and listened to corporate agribusiness and never allocated the money for labeling enforcement. Then last fall in the waning days of the Congressional session, they passed a rider that would delay the country of origin labeling law for at least two more years.
How important is food safety to American consumers today?
Eighty percent of American consumers tell pollsters they are very concerned about food safety issues while the majority says they are more concerned than they were last year! It's understandable. We have alarming levels of food poisoning -- 87 million cases a year -- leading to thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations. And that's only the short-term damage. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the long-term damage -- the chronic sickness and illness derived from the cheap food and junk food paradigm.
There was a story in the London Times that reports high levels of benzene in soda pop! Nearly every day there is a story regarding mad cow disease, pesticide levels, and toxic chemicals; yet the federal government wants to restrict food labels. Two-thirds of organic consumers say food safety is the primary reason for paying a premium price for organic foods. The natural food and organic food market is growing enormously. Ten cents out of every grocery store dollar is now spent by consumers on products labeled either natural or organic.
KAM: I'm curious, what is the difference between "natural" and "organic"?
RC: "Natural" is mainly a marketing tool. It simply means that there are not supposed to be any artificial flavors, colors or preservatives in the product. But a lot of consumers are still learning about food safety and they believe that "natural" products, like organic products, are safer than foods that don't bear that label.
There has been a steady dynamic in the marketplace over the past ten years. Companies that market "natural" products are tending to move to "made with organic ingredients" and products marketed with "made with organic ingredients" move on to "95 or 100 percent organic." There is no doubt that within 5-10 years the majority of products in grocery stores are going to bear a label that says "natural" or "organic." And within 10 or 15 years most things will have an "organic" label on them.
KAM: But with the way things are going, what will the standards mean by then?
RC: Well, that is what we are facing right now. If we allow corporations to take over the organic sector and degrade organic standards, then most organic products will be coming from China and sold at Wal-Mart. And you will not be able to trust the label. We are going to have to get better organized than we are now, both in the marketplace and politically and make some fundamental changes in policies. For example, right now there are no subsidies helping American ranchers and farmers go organic. This is ridiculous given the huge demand. So we are going to have to stop the $20 billion annual subsidies going to industrial agriculture and intensive confinement farming and start subsidizing the transition to organic.
We also obviously need to subsidize farms being able to adopt renewable energy practices and to develop and expand local and regional markets. Studies indicate that 25 percent of greenhouse gasses in the U.S. are generated by industrial agriculture and long- distance food transportation. We need to switch over to sustainable practices if we are going to slow down and stop the climate chaos that is accelerating. To fund this we're also going to have to stop the administration's insane project for world domination and begin dismantling the military-industrial complex.
KAM: In terms of transportation and its effects on the environment, what is your take on local vs. organic produce?
RC: The Organic Consumers Association launched a long-term campaign last fall called Breaking the chains: Buy local, organic, and fair made. We believe it is time to raise the bar on organic standards. We need to recognize that the label USDA Organic is a good first step, but it is just the beginning. We have got to start reducing food miles and reducing the greenhouse gas pollution by creating a food system similar to what we had 60 years ago -- local and regional production for local and regional markets. Family sized farms need to become the norm again and not the exception. We also to need to think hard about things, like 80 percent of the world's grain is going to feed animals, not people, and begin eating lower on the food chain if we are going to survive.
KAM: Fair made, I like that. Will the campaign touch on labor practices on organic farms? People think organic means humane treatment of workers, but that is not always the case.
RC: Thirty years ago, the roots of the new organic movement came out of an anti-war, pro-civil rights, pro-justice movement. As the founders of the new wave of food coops in the late-1960s, we believed that organic meant justice as well as health and sustainability. Unfortunately, the federal organic standards that the USDA passed in 2002 did not incorporate the demands of groups like the Organic Consumers Association who said that social justice had to be criteria. So they passed a very narrow definition of "organic" that just included production methods in terms of pesticides, synthetic chemicals and the impact on the environment. They didn't take into consideration the treatment of small farmers or farm workers. So it has been left to us as consumers to exert pressure in the marketplace to make sure that organic means justice too.
We have seen a strong growth the last few years in the fair trade movement which is now a $600 million market globally. And finally the fair trade movement and the organic movement are starting to work together. We are involved in a long-term project with a number of organic companies and farm organizations to create a new Fair Trade or Fair Made label, which will be both certified fair trade and certified organic. We think this is necessary. Until we can get the USDA and the government to see things the way we do, we need to have our own label and be able to point out to consumers that the USDA label doesn't include social justice as a criteria.
KAM: What do you think is the main problem facing the organic movement today?
RC: Part of the overall problem is that our social change and progressive movement has been fragmented for the last 30 years. Perhaps this fragmentation or specialization was initially beneficial or necessary to understand and focus on all the issues and types of oppression in our particular sectors and organize our sectors, but it is time we start to bring it all together in a great synergy. The movements for health, justice and sustainability must work together in this age of Peak Oil, permanent war, and climate chaos.
If the organic community does not unite its forces with the anti-war movement, with the movements for environmentalism, social justice, animal rights, then we are not going to make any changes. As we say increased market share for organic and fairtrade products in the age of Armageddon and climate chaos is not going to count for very much.
We really have to stop thinking single issues and start thinking movement building. For this reason, every one of the OCA's campaigns is trying to reach out to other movements and show them that we are willing to work in a holistic way to raise consciousness over the full range of issues, and we are asking them to do the same.
For example right now I have been participating in a series of national conference calls with the Climate Crisis Coalition. It is very good to see that the climate crisis leaders understand that 25 percent of global greenhouse gasses are coming from industrial agriculture and long-distance food transportation, and that we are not going to stabilize the climate unless we convert global and U.S. agriculture production to local and regional production. So they are willing to help us as we lobby to change the farm bill and the yearly agriculture appropriations.
KAM: It is so true. All of the movements are linked.
RC: It doesn't do any good to buy local, organic and fair made if you then hop on an airplane or jump into a gas-guzzling car without thinking . We have to take on the climate crisis issue together -- this is the number one issue in the world. If we don't stop this, there isn't going to be any food period -- much less organic food for the future generations. The same thing with the anti-war movement. We have to start talking about solutions to permanent war. Not just bring the troops home from this particular war. The reason we are in Iraq, the reason we are probably going to start a war in Iran shortly, is because of oil. We are going to keep having these wars until we have energy independence -- until we convert our economy into something that is renewable and sustainable. And we are not going to do this with the organic community, the environmental community, the animal rights community and the anti-war communities working on our different issues in isolation. We have to create synergy between them all.
KAM: How did you get involved in the organic food movement?
RC: I grew up in Texas. In the 1960s I got involved in the civil rights movement and in the anti-war movement. And part of what all the participants in those movements understood at the time was that we had to create one big movement to deal with all the interrelated issues. Food and coops were a strategic part of what we called the New Left and the counter-culture. Many consumer food cooperatives and the new wave of the organic movement came out of the anti-war movement.
Frances Moore Lappe laid it out for a lot of us in Diet For a Small Planet, "The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth." In other words, what you do with your knife and fork has a lot to do with world peace and justice.
Erin Bishop decided she wanted to be a vegetarian when she was 10. It wasn't until after enrolling at Tulane University, however, that she discovered how fortunate she had been.
"You can't be a vegetarian in New Orleans," Bishop says. "I had bagels every day. It was horrible."
Things got better after she moved out of the dorm and into her own apartment. Her mom, a from-scratch cook, never indulged Bishop's vegetarianism, so she has been cooking for herself for a long time.
Now that she's back in the Bay Area, Bishop shops at the Danville farmers market every Saturday. "This is the best place to be," she says.
Signature dish: She created the samosa recipe just for this column. The granola recipe is one she's been playing with for years.
Why vegetarianism?: Mostly for health reasons (her family has a history of high cholesterol), but also for moral reasons. Reading PETA's Web site sealed the deal.
Birthday cake: Bishop gave up eggs and dairy for Lent, so, to celebrate her 23rd birthday, she made a batch of vegan cupcakes. To her surprise, the four kids that she baby-sits, most of them picky eaters, happily ate them all up.
Going vegan: While she says it's been easy to go vegan, and that she has more energy than she used to, Bishop is glad that Lent is over. She's even thinking she might celebrate with some sushi.
Shopping: Aside from the farmers market, Bishop gets most of her groceries from Whole Foods in Walnut Creek and Open Sesame in Lafayette.
On grains: "I love lentils," Bishop adds. "I get most of my protein from beans and grains." Quinoa and brown rice are on the A-list.
Favorite veggies: "I'm huge on butternut squash," Bishop says. She also loves kale, arugula and sweet potatoes. What doesn't she like? Raw spinach.
Staying ahead: "It takes 40 minutes to cook brown rice, so I'll do a big batch," she says. One night she'll have brown rice with roasted vegetables another night a burrito or maybe a rice salad.
Breakfast. Homemade granola with soy yogurt or a fruit smoothie with Whole Foods protein powder.
Kids food: The kids she baby-sits survive mainly on hot dogs, pasta, or mac and cheese. They also love McDonald's, but Bishop says they just care about the toys in their Happy Meals.
Food philosophy: "I don't have an agenda, but it's important to be aware of what you're putting in your body and what you're supporting with your dollars that go to food."
1 mango, preferably the small, sweet ataulfo variety (sometimes called Champagne)
1 large navel orange
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
2 tablespoons mint, roughly chopped
• Peel and cut the mango into a small dice. Place in a small mixing bowl. Cut off the bottom and top of the orange, lay it flat and remove the peel, including the pith, by making curved cuts with a sharp knife. Use a paring knife to section the orange, leaving behind the membranes. Chop the orange into a small dice. Add the orange, minced red onion and mint to the mango. Lightly mix. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Per 1/4-cup serving: 20 calories, 1 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 0 sodium, 1 g fiber. Calories from fat: 0 percent.
-- Times analysis
SWEET BAKED SAMOSAS
Makes about 20
5 cups unbleached white flour
11/4 cups water
1 cup canola oil, plus more for brushing
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups peeled butternut squash, peeled and cut into small dice
1 small sweet potato, about 2 cups, peeled and cut into small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
3/4 cup frozen or canned green peas
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Mango-Orange Chutney (see recipe)
1. Place flour in large bowl. Add the water and oil and stir until mixture becomes crumbly. Place dough on a floured work surface. Knead dough until becomes smooth and elastic. Add more flour if dough is too sticky or a little more water if it is too dry. Let the dough rest in a bowl while you make the samosa filling.
2. In a medium sauce pan, bring the butternut squash to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, and then add the sweet potatoes. Boil the butternut squash and sweet potatoes for an additional 10 minutes.
3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until soft. Add the sweet potatoes and butternut squash, peas, curry powder, and salt and pepper. Remove samosa filling from heat.
4. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a narrow rectangle about 41/2-inches wide. Put the dough through a pasta press until it is Þ-inch thick. If you do not have a pasta press, you can roll the dough out by hand. Cut the dough into 4-inch squares.
5. Place a square of dough so that a corner is pointing toward you. Fill the dough with a heaping tablespoon of the samosa filling. Use a brush or your index finger to moisten the edge of the dough with water. Seal the samosa and use a fork to decorate the edges.
6. Place samosas on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with canola oil. Bake 20-25 minutes or until samosas are lightly browned. Serve warm with Mango-Orange Chutney.
Per samosa (not including chutney): 230 calories, 4 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 2 g fiber. Calories from fat: 43 percent.
-- Times analysis
Makes about 10 cups
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole almonds
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup orange zest, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup agave nectar (or 1/4 cup honey for a non-vegan version)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried figs, chopped
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, coconut, sunflower seeds, flax seed, orange zest (if using), salt and cinnamon. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.
2. Combine the vegetable oil and agave nectar or honey and juice in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from heat and add the orange juice and vanilla extract.
3. Quickly pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix just until the oats are coated. Evenly spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Gently stir the granola two or three times. Add the chopped dried fruit to the cooked granola. Granola can be stored for about two weeks in an airtight container.
Per cup: 490 calories, 11 g protein, 59 g carbohydrates, 25 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 8 g fiber. Calories from fat: 47 percent.
Veggie Pride, festival of vegetarian and vegan pride
Our aims : To declare our pride at refusing to have animals killed for our consumption To refuse to rob sentient beings of their sole possessions, of their very flesh, of their very lives; to refuse to take part in a concentration camp system which turns their short lives into perpetual torment; to refuse to do all of this for the mere pleasure of the palate, for the satisfaction of a habit, of a tradition: To refuse to do such things should be just plain decency.
However, history does show how difficult it is, when barbarity is the social norm, to simply say No.
We wish to declare our pride at saying No.
To denounce vegephobia Instead, they want us to feel ashamed. Vegetarianism is concealed, ignored, mocked, marginalized and even defamed.
Vegetarianism challenges the legitimacy of the confinement and slaughter of billions of animals. Just by existing it breaks the law of silence. This is the reason behind vegephobic mockery and hatred.
Of course vegetarianism is tolerated when it is the harmless sort that claims to be no more than a private choice, a matter of distaste for meat or of concern for personal health or the environment. But woe betides us if we openly challenge the barbarous order!
At first we are laughed at. Caring about chickens and cows is supposed to be ridiculous. Laughing at a disturbing idea is a way to get rid of it without having to find logical arguments against it.
But if we do not give in, the laughter turns sour. At first they found us funny, now they call us monsters. We are traitors to the human species since we would limit its rights. We are unworthy parents for not teaching our children the joys of dead flesh. If we care for animals we must be Nazi sympathizers since Hitler too loved dogs. Our ideas are those of an intolerant cult since they are different from what others believe.
We are called terrorists; accused of worshipping nature or of breaking its laws. No argument is too farfetched when it comes to misrepresenting our ideas, putting us to shame and symbolically rejecting us from society.
We refuse to apologize for our compassion. We are proud to declare that we are vegetarians. We are no longer willing to feel shame for refusing to kill. We are here; we are well alive and thinking and will speak out.
To proclaim our existence All over the world we are millions of humans saying No to this carnage. Few civilizations have actually taken for granted that eating animals is justified. But when do you hear about those debates? Mentions of vegetarianism are systematically missing in textbooks and biographies.
"The man who eats meat or the hunter who agrees with the cruelties of Nature, upholds with every bite of meat or fish that might is right." - Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel prize in Literature.
By stepping forth we also prove that it is possible to live without meat. We live without eating cows or pigs, chicken or fish or prawns. And we are as alive and healthy as anyone else, despite those media-promoted "specialists" whose science consists of denying the facts. Neither vegetarianism nor Veganism (which rejects all animal products, including milk and eggs) has any particular negative effects on health - indeed; current studies tend to show the opposite!
There is no spell that says that to live one must kill. We are not obliged to do so, neither individually nor collectively. Animal husbandry does not provide food, since farm animals eat much more than their dead flesh can render. Despite this, massive public funding supports animal farming and fishing.
To defend our rights No rights are granted to the animals that are raised and killed for food; but we who stand on their side do have rights, in principle. We are determined to exercise our rights in full, because they are our rights, and because they are theirs - the only rights that they may today, indirectly, enjoy.
We have the right to receive decent meals at school, at work and wherever meals are served to groups of people. We have the right to raise our children without forcing upon them the products of the slaughterhouse.
We are not willing to have our taxes used to support the raising and killing and the fishing for the tastes of others.
We are no longer willing for our actions and our ideas to be systematically silenced. We no longer accept that the only public voices should be those of the corporations and intellectuals who defend the consumption of flesh.
We demand an open debate.
"We are the mirror of your guilty consciences and this mirror will no longer hide"
Faced with images of heaps upon heaps of animals "destroyed" for case of bird flu, BSE or foot-and-mouth disease, we alone felt no shame. We were not shameful for ourselves. But we felt shame for all others.
Above all, we were sad. However much we insist on asserting our pride in saying No to barbarity, this brings us no satisfaction. The animals are slaughtered by the billions. They are held to be dumb, their cries do not count. We shall speak out for them until the massacre halts.
We are animals and stand in solidarity with all animals!
• 2.30 pm : start of the demonstration We ask that the slogans, signs and streamers be exclusively centred on the vegetarianism or vegetarianism for the animals. The Veggie Pride being a demonstration of individuals expressing their pride to be vegetarians or vegans for the animals, we ask that no initials or name of organization be reproduced on the streamers and signs.
• 4 pm : Arrival at the « Fontaine des Innocents » (fountain of the innocent ones). End of the procession and installation of a "happening" symbolizing the ocean of suffering and death imposed daily on the animals.
• 4.30 pm - 5 pm : Happening. The demonstration and the happening will be declared in prefecture in accordance with the law.
• From 5.30 pm : Various activities.
• 7.30 pm : Start of the after-pride. A party will take place, further details will be given subsequently on our website. Possibility of accommodation or housing amongst inhabitants of Paris.
To come to the Veggie Pride :
The SNCF (the French Railway company) proposes worthwhile tariffs for the tickets taken two months in advance.
To know if a grouped departure is planned from your area, you can contact our regional delegates.
A small ads service is also at your disposal for your requests of car sharing, accommodation, etc. Do not hesitate to use it.
Sign the Manifesto of the Veggie Pride ! Independently of your participation in the Veggie Pride, we invite you to read the text of the Manifesto (see below) and, if you agree with it, to declare that by signing it.
I have agreed to spread the word about this. It's really easy -- they're looking for personal narratives.
If you want to participate, email me [firstname.lastname@example.org] directly and I'll send you the questions. Oh, if you have any questions, just email me about those, too!
Here's the description:
"My name is Ai Zhang. I am a doctoral student at the University of Maryland majoring in Public Relations. I am contacting you regarding a research project that I am currently doing, which is about the impact that lifestyle change (raw-food diet/lifestyle in particular) has brought into an individual's life.
Realizing the great benefits, both physical and psychological, that the raw-food-lifestyle has brought into an individual's life, I am determined to conduct this current research to publicize raw-food-lifestyle and call for a healthier approach to life. After reading Alissa Cohen's book "Living on Live food", I have become a true believer in the power of raw-food-living. I could not agree more to the philosophy that raw-food is more than a diet, but a lifestyle and a mentality to life.
Therefore, the impact on an individual's life that my study focuses on includes both the physical and psychological dimensions resulting from an individual's lifestyle change to the raw-food-living. This is the primary focus of my study. In other words, my research is to uncover and analyze the social implications of lifestyle change and raw-food lifestyle in particular.
However, to complete this study, I need to collect data so as to substantiate my argument and study. Your information will be kept confidential and your participation will remain anonymous. Last but not least, you effort to publicize and promote raw-food-lifestyle will be greatly appreciated."
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