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A Sepulcher of Profit

Man-made toxins and disease: one of the fundamental environmental justice stories of our times

In the autumn of 2011, life on earth continues to be assaulted by and exposed to a wide variety of man-made toxins. The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 languishes before an inept and hostile Congress. The act, an overhaul of the ancient Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, would both protect Americans and allow the United States to join three important international treaties based around the Stockholm Convention of Persistent Organic Pollutants signed by 174 nations. According to the Healthy Families Coalition, the passage of this act would allow the United States to lead international efforts rather than stand by while allies and trading partners make important decisions.

Why is this act languishing and why is Congress hostile? One can assume that it is an economic decision based on conservative politics that promote profit for the few above all other principles.

Next June it will be 50 years since Rachael Carson wrote and published Silent Spring. This authoritative book linked the creation of poisons and pesticides to widespread animal mortality. Carson accused the chemical industry and public officials of creating an abomination of disinformation and the public of a lack of critical thinking. This deadly mix of poisons for profit and the gaming of the systems by industry and public officials has only gotten worse.

In more recent years other books and studies have backed up what Carson called irresponsible economic and public policies. In 1996, Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival?, written by a team of authors led by Dr. Theo Colborn, introduced us to some of the terrible consequences of our chemically infused society. Colborn is an environmental health analyst known for her work in endocrine disruption. Our Stolen Future is essentially a detective story detailing how man-made chemicals in our environment are causing catastrophic human health effects. Consequences include endocrine disruption, birth defects, reduced disease resistance, diminished fertility, and compromised intelligence and behavior. This book shook society when it was first published, and if you have not heard of it, you should check it out online:

More recently, in Poisoned for Profit: How Toxins Are Making Our Children Chronically Ill, former New York Times chief environmental reporter Philip Shabekoff and his wife, the widely accomplished family and consumer activist Alice Shabekoff, investigate and chronicle how our economic policies have submerged our planet in a thickening haze of toxic soup. It tells how most of these poisons that have been made for profit come into our bodies via little studied exposure routes. It tells us that today in the United States one in three children are born sick. Most of these children will endure lifelong consequences of disease.

The book comprehensively describes the health effects of exposure to industrially “produced for profit” toxics. Like Our Stolen Future, the book details health consequences that include a widening array of birth defects, cancers, asthma, obesity, diabetes, mental and behavioral abnormalities, and other serious illnesses.

The author’s research shows that the blood of newborns contain traces of nearly 300 synthetic chemicals. Milk from virtually every mother on the planet contains high levels of dozens of man-made poisons. Breast milk by almost all accounts is superior to other infant food, but the increase of toxins in breast milk is alarming. Other researchers have estimated that each human on the planet may contain traces of at least 700 human made toxins.

According to the National Cancer Institute, half of all men and women living today will have cancer at sometime in their lives. One-eighth of all women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. These diseases are strongly linked to man-made toxins and environmental exposures.

Poisoned for Profit describes how these toxic products enjoy a complicated and dense web of legal protections. It details how private sector money has purchased highly paid lobbyists, scientists for hire, politicians, and policy makers to trick the public, often working secretly and behind the scenes, and almost always providing no accountability. It shows how legal and marketing strategies of gaming of the regulatory and safety systems has allowed the modern plague of profitable poisons.

Unless you are tuned in, you don’t hear much about this. Instead we hear the loud shouts that there is too much regulation and that environmental and other regulations hurt growth, hurt the economy, hurt jobs, and hurt our future. Most regulatory agencies are on the chopping block. This is just one of the ways that our political leaders are feeding the hidden hands that underpin and undermine our economic health.

Rachael Carson focused a great deal on the consequences of pesticides on both human health and on the lives of birds and insects. Her work is considered one of the founding points of modern environmentalism. Unfortunately, in the decades since, industry has established new ground, created new products, and has continued almost unchallenged in developing a toxic legacy that we may not be able to escape. Critical environmental thinking today brings into focus the dual challenges of climate change and the ever-increasing loss of biological diversity that underpins life on earth. Whether or not humans can survive either or both is the scientific, ecological, economic, and social challenge of our and the next generations.

The vanishing of the bees

In August 2010 a Buffalo-based not-for-profit hosted a seminar at Alfred State College focused on colony collapse disorder, a disease affecting commercial honeybees. CCD, as it is known, has swept across the planet and has resulted in the death and destruction of up to 80 percent of commercial honeybee colonies. According to the USDA, the US has been hard hit. These pollinators service 90 percent of our plant-based food crops, and the services are worth approximately $15 billion annually.

The New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NYSAWG) partnered with Alfred, the Penn State University Center for Pollinator Research, and the USDA Agricultural Research Services Honey Bee Pollination Lab in Tucson and invited Western New York beekeepers, honeymakers, and others interested to come and hear the most recent findings regarding why the bees are vanishing.

Judy Einach, executive director of NYSAWG, told us that Western New York agriculture reflects the national statistics. Agriculture is still one of the most significant areas of regional wealth and the impact of honeybees and pollinator services is an issue here as it is elsewhere. In 2007, New York’s 36,350 farms had combined sales of $4.4 billion.

The conference focused on updating attendees on current scientific knowledge about CCD. The main message is that widespread man-made toxins are underlying the decline in health and ultimate disappearance of domesticated bee colonies.

This is controversial because the creation and use of these toxins have become the backbone of agriculture worldwide. The manufacture of just about every product on earth is dependent on the use of man-made chemicals. Industry and government regulators do just about anything they can to justify the use of chemicals. The US is a leading nation in the manufacture and approval of chemical poisons, sometimes hiding behind a curtain of industry-justified “proprietary ingredients” that do not bear up under scientific and public scrutiny. Sometimes these chemicals hide behind the misleading label “inert ingredients.” You would think that inert ingredients mean “safe.” They are anything but.

Penn State researcher Mary Anne Frasier and her team has scrutinized of the impact of these toxins on honeybees. “These bees are testing for multiple chemicals, and we are just learning that the many and often complicated biological interactions that are stimulated by these toxins are seriously impacting the health of individual bees and colonies.”

“For instance, we are finding that it is not just the active ingredients that cause damage.” The other ingredients, or “inerts,” are not as well studied. Inerts can include solvents, preservatives, and other substances and can be highly toxic.

“The inerts and the combinations of the ingredients, and in combination with other toxins pose significant dangers,” said Frasier. “Multiple exposures to combinations of both active and inactive ingredients and other chemicals that bees are exposed to may be a central reason behind CCD.”

I asked about other sources of these chemicals. “They are everywhere,” she said.

Indeed they are. We live in a world saturated with man-made toxins. Water, soils, cultivated plants and wild plants, even the air is full of toxins. These man-made toxins affect the biology of all living things, including beneficial insects and other pollinators, birds, fish, plants and on up the food chain to humans. The honeybees are but a shocking harbinger of the kind of biological effects that life on the planet is experiencing. Just read Silent Spring, Our Stolen Future, and Poisoned by Profit.

Rust never sleeps

Agriculture is just the tip of the iceberg. Virtually every product produced and consumed comes with a toxic legacy that we are only beginning to understand. This endless list of products includes cleaners, cosmetics, clothing, furniture, soaps, paints, paper, plastics, medicines, clothing, dyes, foods of all sorts, and especially the systems that we employ to produce products—energy, transportation, storage, marketing, and our waste and disposal systems. All come wrapped up in a toxic load that bodies absorb.

The air we breathe, the food that we eat, the waters that we drink, the land that we live on, and the buildings that we live and work in are virtual fountains of man-made toxins. Regulatory systems have become feeble, institutionalized foxes guarding the henhouse. Consumer, banking, health, and environmental overseers are a vanishing species, just like the honeybees.

The assault on these even moderately responsive regulatory institutions continues to be championed by industry mouthpieces. Pundits, public officials, and politicians are often backed up by cash and well funded “think tanks” producing perfunctory talking points. They have vowed not to stop until there are no regulatory rules left in the United States. Writing in the conservative National Review in late July, Jim Lacey pontificates that bureaucrats for whom no one voted make decisions for which no one is holding them accountable, and that the resultant costs to business exceeds the national debt in the form of hidden taxes.

Regulatory agencies have lost the power and will to protect the public’s greater interest. Instead they standby as guardian over the industries economic interests. US environmental regulators almost always act on behalf of industry, espousing the “what’s best for the economy” argument. This is a bitter and often convoluted argument that has its political genesis in the growing economic divide between the haves and the have-nots.

While it has been argued that unregulated economic development and growth is in the public’s greater interest, it is also argued that unregulated growth is unsustainable. Why aren’t we having this public discussion?

In many countries, regulators act on what is known as the “precautionary principle.” If a product is possibly dangerous, or human health effects are predicted or potential, the product is not given a green light until the danger has been proven to be remediated by the manufacturer. Many pesticides and other chemicals in use in the US are banned in other countries.

In the US the regulatory process is exactly the opposite. The manufacturer always offers its own conclusions that a product is safe. Opponents such as consumer groups and other watchdogs must prove that the product is dangerous. Consumer groups rarely have the financial resources to go against a well funded industry. For us it is buy and maybe die. Buy first.

Following in a long line of regulatory decisions, in June of this year the EPA approved the use of a new pesticide to treat “nuisance” insects. The active ingredient of the product, Dinotefuran, is a broad-based insect killer that has long been linked to CCD. Industry scientists say the product is safe and industry profiteers say that the product is good for the economy. Growing scientific evidence, outside of industry science, is showing that this toxic is a problem for honeybees. Despite that potential economic impact on food production, it now legally used in at least seven Northeast states. Add this to a long list of killer pesticides, miticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and other toxins approved by the EPA and used by agriculture that industry and regulators want you to oxymoronically consider “safe.”

The decline of this accountability in the name of profits and economic growth is continuous and off the radar of most people. Our culture has become the enabler that allows the gaming of the system, and the proliferation of poisoned products. How do you argue that unlimited economic growth based on unregulated profit is the best course for humanities future considering the abuses? How do you say that to the one in three children born today with lifelong disease associated with profitable, manmade chemicals? How do you tell that to your mother or sister with breast cancer? How do you tell that to your father or grandfather with prostate cancer?

In our food

Virtually every bit of food that we eat is infiltrated by pesticides, preservatives, flavor-enhancers, dyes, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, hormones, artificial vitamins, other medicines, and other manmade toxins. Recently the FDA confirmed that 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US go to animal agriculture. We consume this. For years scientists have warned that an overuse of antibiotics is creating superbugs that make us sick even unto death. These superbugs are getting harder to treat.

Fruits and vegetables—fresh, canned, packaged, or otherwise brought to you—are full of chemicals from the growth cycle, the distribution cycle, and the display and preservation cycles. The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) has a website,, which goes into this in excruciating detail. The site reveals that 888 million pounds of pesticides are applied in the US each year. That average out to three pounds per person. An average American child gets five servings of pesticides in their food and water each day.

According to PAN, detectable pesticides and residue are found on and in much of our organic harvest. These chemicals arrive by air, dust, water, and cross-pollination from nearby genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Some organics are better than others, but the mass-produced organic fruits and vegetables that we buy in big supermarkets are additionally contaminated by water source contaminants, preservation processes, storage and distribution infrastructure, and packaging. Various cooking processes create toxic combinations involving cookware, heat sources, and various room contaminants. Non-organic food including meats and other packaged and canned goods are exposed to or infused with a wide variety of toxins. This includes all of the above and antibiotics, preservatives, hormones, and a wide array of other toxins. When we eat them, they become us.

A recent study published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry finds that a single glass of milk, including organic milk, contains 200 or more manmade chemicals. These include medicinal residues such as painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, lipid regulators, anti-elliptics, beta-blockers, antibiotics, hormones, and perceptible quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins, and other substances including radioactive materials. These are all linked to cancer. One powerful growth hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor One (IGF-1) is considered a fuel cell for any cancer. IGF-1 is particularly linked to breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

In addition, our food system is exposed to or helps release toxics throughout the life cycle of the product. Transporting, storing, handling, and disposing of food and packaging, releases other contamination into the environment. These toxins find their way into our blood and bodies.

Late last year Wikileaks released diplomatic cables from the Bush administration era revealing that the US government drew up ways to retaliate economically against European nations’ precautionary measures that ban Monsanto GMO crops.

In our water

Virtually all drinking water on the planet is at risk or is presently contaminated due to manmade toxins. A bill has passed through the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives with the Orwellian title “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011.” This bill promises to eliminate all federal oversight regarding the Clean Water Act, one of America’s landmark environmental laws. Under this new bill, states could be the decision-makers and could allow. “in the interests of business and cost benefits,” contamination that we have not seen since the early 1970s.

Water is contaminated in many ways including industry, agriculture, urban sewers and runoff, rural sewers and runoff, airborne pollutants (including particulate matter from power plants) and numerous other point sources and non-point sources. Groundwater from wells, bottled water, or water from public drinking sources are not necessarily clean or safe.

The New York Times published an article last year “Millions in U.S. Drink Contaminated Water” which said that 20 percent of the nations water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act in the last five years. It says that while regulators are informed, more than 49 million people have been exposed to illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic, agricultural chemicals, radioactive substances, and bacteria from sewerage.

According to WNYEWG, America’s drinking water is contaminated by at least 300 known toxins. While this group lists the Buffalo water supply as the 15th safest big city supply in the US, Buffalo’s water was implicated in a portion of the study that suggested that the city’s drinking water had unacceptable levels of hexavalent chromium, the contaminant that made Erin Brockovich famous. In this part of the study, Buffalo’s water ranked 25th most contaminated out of 31 cities tested.

Contamination from hydraulic fracturing is a frightening new threat. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Department of Conservation have declared that hydrofracking can occur in New York State, except for certain watersheds. Oil and gas drilling processes use up to 700 ingredients (many of them “prprietary” and thus secret) in water injected into the ground to create fractures for gas release. The secret ingredients include known carcinogens and heavy metals including pesticides, bacteriacides, lubricants, and radiation. It was revealed last winter that the City of Buffalo Sewer Authority Treatment facility has permitted dumping of fracking fluids into Lake Erie without knowing exactly what they contain. We know they contain the above listed ingredients, but we do not know the exact proprietary formulations. And we will not. New York State has declared that proprietary formulas can remain secret.

The Great Lakes contain about 84 percent of North America’s fresh surface water and 21 percent of all of the fresh water found on earth. They are surrounded by vast agricultural operations and huge urban/industrial areas. Surface runoff, sewers, and air deposition contaminate the Great Lakes waters and watersheds. Groundwater-pumped from underground aquifers is contaminated by surface agricultural practices, runoff from urban areas, winter treated roadways, oil and gas extraction techniques, landfills, sewer systems, and multiple other sources.

In our medicines and cosmetics

We are becoming increasingly aware that growing numbers of pharmaceuticals and drugs are contaminating our drinking water. Medicines and drugs of all types including anti-depressants, estrogen, anxiety medications, antibiotics, and heart medicines are produced and consumed in increasing numbers each year. According to a report released by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, more than 3.4 billion prescriptions were written in 2006, representing a 60 percent increase since 1990. These numbers have only increased since 2006. Drugs enter our drinking water when people either excrete them or dispose of them by flushing them down the drain. Water treatment plants are not designed to remove these types of contaminants. The US Environmental Protection Agency does not require water utilities to test for these chemicals. The federal government has not set safety limits for drugs in drinking water.

A recent DEA effort to ask citizens to turn in their unused drugs was largely reported as an effort to control illegal street use of the drugs. But the DEA also indicated that one purpose of the event was to eliminate inappropriate disposal of unused drugs by flushing them down the toilet, which is a disposal strategy encouraged by many pharmaceutical companies and other drug dealers wishing to hide the evidence.

If you wash food and dishes with soap and water, it could contain a variety of substances including antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, a pesticide. Triclosan is found in hundreds of consumer products including some soaps, lotions, toothpastes, children’s toys, and clothing. Triclosan is a known endocrine disrupter that blocks or mimics hormone functions in the human body. Triclosan was revealed by an Associated Press investigation in 2008 to be one of the most detected chemicals in US waterways. Ninety-six percent of triclosan from consumer products is disposed of in residential drains. This chemical is not completely removed in wastewater treatment. When the wastewater is released to the environment, some of the triclosan is converted into chloroform and various forms of dioxins.

There are a reported 12,000-plus ingredients used in cosmetics. Many of these ingredients have been linked to health issues. In a little over 70 years the FDA has decided to ban just 12. Like other toxics from the manufacturing sector, the cosmetic industry polices itself. Most ingredients are not listed and are obscured by claims of proprietary formulas. Yet we know that many shampoos and body washes contain sodium laureth sulfate, which has a byproduct, 1,4 dioxane, a known carcinogen that is suspected to also cause kidney, nerve, and respiratory problems. Many personal care products also contain formaldehyde, which is not regulated in the US. According to the National Cancer Institute, formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. According to Annie Leonard, producer of the documentary film The Story of Cosmetics, both of these substances have been found in dozens of brands including Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and Sesame Street Bubble Bath. Leonard also reports that many lipsticks contain lead, inlcuding some of the top-selling brand names: L’Oreal, Maybelline, and CoverGirl. Leonard says that lead, a known neurotoxin, has been found in every brand of kid’s face paints tested. Many sunscreens have the same hidden dangers. Over half contain oxybenzone, suspected as a hormone disrupter. This toxin readily penetrates the skin and has been found in the bodies of 97 percent of those tested by the Centers for Disease Control.

In garden and farming products

Monsanto’s over-the-counter Round-Up and Rodeo are widely used by homeowners and gardeners in urban and rural areas. Glyphosate is the active ingredient. This is an herbicide or plant killer. For years Monsanto has told us that Round-up, if “used correctly,” is perfectly safe. According to the ChemicalWatch Factsheet produced by Beyond Pesticides, Glyphosate is linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other acute human health effects. A report delivered before the European Parliament in Brussels last year by researchers from Brazil, the UK, and the US articulates links to low-level exposure of glyphosate with birth defects. Recent studies confirming these effects are upping the pressure on this common herbicide, but its use is growing.

Using it “correctly” is an oxymoron. It suggests minimum use and low exposures. Minimum use does not serve Monsanto’s bottom line well. These two products are widely used in agriculture and are incorporated into many GMO seed crops. Most if not all GMO seed crops have been developed to be resistant to chemicals such as glyphosate. This has lead to an expanded use of Round-up and other chemicals. According to the GMO Journal, which advocates for science-based sustainable agriculture and safe food practices, research indicates that since GMOs were introduced about a decade ago, agriculture has applied 318 million more pounds of pesticides than compared to the amount of pesticide likely to have been applied in the absence of GMO seeds. Increased applications have led to the creation of “superweeds.” These pest weeds are evolving as resistant to glyphosate and the other toxins.

Increased use means more exposure to workers, consumers, children, and the environment.

Our entire food supply has become dependent on factory farming methods that are not environmentally friendly. Chemical fertilizers, herbicides, miticides, and a wide variety of other applications and practices are commonplace on almost every farm and food operation on the planet. It is hard to isolate a tract of land and guarantee that the food products created there are uncontaminated. It will become more difficult to confirm organics as time goes on. The distribution, marketing, preservation, and packaging cycles introduce more toxics into the food and into the environment. Modern farming technology is even abandoning soil and instead moving toward more chemically fixated or even sterile growing media as a method of combating the pests that take advantage of the standard practices of industrial monocultures.

In everything else

A new study released by the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found that Americans have twice the amount of Bisphenol A, or BPA, in their bodies than do Canadians. The author of the study, Laura Vandenberg, thinks that it is because Canada has stronger anti-BPA regulations than the USA. The study also found that infants and adolescents have higher levels in their bodies than do adults. BPA is a manmade poison found in many plastics and resins including toys, baby bottles, water bottles, shower curtains, metal food cans, clothing, and a wide variety of other products. It is also a hormone-disrupting, cancer-causing, synthetic estrogen. It has been linked to heart disease and breast cancer.

Last summer a study by the WNYEWG revealed that it is found at high levels in cash register and ATM receipts. About 40 percent of the receipts from gas stations, banks, convenience stores, and post offices contained dangerous amounts of the poison. According to the report, the chemical leaches from the paper and transfers to the hands, skin, food, and mouth. It can also be directly absorbed through the skin. It can penetrate so far into the skin that it cannot be washed off. In 2010, Canada banned products that contain BPA, as have several other countries. But not the USA. California recently rejected a ban after an aggressive, industry-sponsored campaign against the prohibition.

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is a poison plastic from which many building and consumer products are made. It is classified as a known human carcinogen by the EPA. It is dangerous throughout its life cycle. PVC releases phthalates, which you can smell. (It’s that new car smell.) Phthalates are endocrine disrupters. PVC releases dioxins, which are among the most dangerous manmade substances on earth. PVC can be found in children’s toys, household products and furnishings, automobiles, and of course building products, including siding, fences, rails, doors, and windows. These toxins enter our bodies when we come in contact with them or when we breathe the air that they are released into. Recently the City of Buffalo has been discussing testing air for toxic particles released during recent industrial fires. The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and its executive director, Erin Heaney, have been doing great work revealing that unsafe levels of chemicals such as benzene were found in the air after an industrial fire in Black Rock, affecting residents and firefighters. When PVC burns, it releases both hydrochloric acid and dioxin.

It’s the economy, stupid!

Politics continues to play the biggest role in saturating the earth with manmade toxic chemicals. In the current frenetic atmosphere of American politics, it is sometimes difficult to see any hope through the myopic lens of anti-environmental, anti-regulatory, and antisocial behavior that is exhibited by our leadership.

The political philosophy and choices involving big profit and the endlessly expanding global economic plan has no room for precautionary principles or accountability other than the accountability of profit. The well-being of society is currently a free-market-driven concept that is controlled by a hidden hand that is mostly concerned with building consumers and not educating us about the downsides. And of course in our new American atmosphere big money controls most of the messaging.

Our culture is highly dependent on an economic system that is focused almost exclusively on growth. Global growth promotes market exploitation based on philosophical/political decisions and value judgments. The growth argument goes that the future depends on this sacrosanct value. This strategy promotes expanded energy markets and production, and the manufacture and sales of more mostly cheap, disposable, and toxic stuff. Much of this is manufactured in places other than the United States and consumed by growing populations worldwide that want more stuff. More natural resources are commoditized and used up as consumer markets are exploited. It does not necessarily reflect concerns for human well-being and health. Products from cars to computers are designed with planned obsolescence. It keeps the pressure on consumers to purchase more and more. Credit schemes and dissembling free market arguments are being dropped like atomic bombs on people and governing structures across the globe. This is done in the context of a growing inequality between the rich and poor. Polarizing social economic arguments plague our political campaigns and our media. It is getting worse. Most Americans don’t even understand fundamental climate change issues, never mind care about them. What are our strategies to deal with the external costs and the burdens of vanishing bees, vanishing biodiversity, an unhealthy environment, and sick humans? Has our system failed us?

There are no nuances here. People are desperate. They prefer to refer to the vested interests that have created our poisoned planet as the “job makers.” The exploitation is made invisible by deeply ingrained economic fears. Economic development is so vested in consumerism and consumerism is so vested in toxics that it is almost impossible to see a way out.

Critical thinking and resulting dissent have become vanishing skill sets. Media makes it simple by not going into details other than talking points created by the vested interests. Mostly these talking points are repeated over and over until they become truths in our disintegrating mindsets. Our society grows dumber, fatter, and sicker and more vulnerable.

Do we have to defer to the privatizers, the downsizers, and the deregulators? Accountability other than to profit is vanished with the bees. We are not protected from the poison for profit predators that are taking our lives and have compromised our future. Shouldn’t this be a fundamental issue of national security?

Why not a critical discussion on “limits” to growth. Isn’t it possible that the growth meme is not sustainable? Free market fundamentalists unequivocally say no. Sustainability theorists link economy with ethics and society and believe that the real bottom line is the environment. This suggests that as we operate within our economic policies, there are absolute limits to growth. These are conflicting social and scientific values that we in 2011 are failing to address.

In Western New York, citizen movements promoting local economy, local food, fair housing, neighborhood infrastructure such as parks and gardens, and the “faster, quicker, cheaper” movement to take over the development of the waterfront, and to generally speak out and up for a better future, offers a lot of hope. Now we must build on this and find ways to advocate for better control of poisons that are made for profit. Supporting the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 is a good start. Drop a line to your elected officials, local and national, and let them know that you expect them to vote for this.

Jay Burney is founder of the Learning Sustainability Campaign and Greenwatch. Greenwatch provides a forum for discussion of a promotion of community literacy about issues related to ecology, sustainability, and biodiversity. Visit Greenwatch on Facebook and look for future Greenwatch articles in this newspaper.

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