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  • Registering Some Problems With REACH

    October 11, 2006 1:24 PM

    The Wall Street Journal reports today that U.S. and European
    firms were unsuccessful in an attempt to make the proposed chemicals policy in
    Europe more affordable during committee consideration of the bill in the EU
    Parliament. But even if business had succeeded in reducing paperwork
    costs, the policy would still have adverse effects around the world.

    The program, known as REACH—for the registration,
    authorization, and evaluation of chemicals—would require companies to register chemicals
    they produce, import, or use. The paperwork
    alone will be expensive, but the program is also likely to produce expensive
    bans and other regulations on many chemicals.

    Industry has continually tried to make REACH a more
    reasonable program, but unfortunately they are fighting a losing battle.
    The problem is that REACH is fundamentally flawed and thus, cannot be fixed.

    First, REACH attempts to address unknown/yet-to-be
    discovered, low-level chemical risks, while other laws already sufficiently
    address higher priority, identified risks, according to EU Commission
    studies. As a result, it's unlikely that
    REACH will produce any substantial benefits because the public exposures it
    addresses are insignificant and undetectable. However, REACH will likely lead to unjustified bans of valuable products—which
    could prove dangerous. In the past,
    similarly misguided bans have produced devastating impacts. The prime example is bans around the world on
    the pesticide DDT, which have contributed to millions of deaths from malaria for
    the last several decades.

  • Pesticide Bans No Minor Mistake

    October 5, 2006 3:20 PM

    Tina's
    Rosenberg's article in today's New York
    Times
    addresses the devastating impact that misguided bans of the pesticide
    DDT have had on people in developing nations. The New York Times presents
    the DDT issue as simply a serious policy mistake. But it's not simply a single mistake—it's
    part of a dangerous effort by environmental activists around the world to
    deprive people of various life-saving technologies. The DDT case alone should discredit these
    groups, yet they continue to have a harmful influence on public policy.

    Despite
    the problems DDT bans have caused, environmental activists have successfully
    advanced a worldwide ban on DDT under the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
    (known as the POPs Treaty). The
    treaty has been ratified in enough nations for it to take effect, and the
    United States Senate plans to ratify it soon. It allows for only limited use of DDT on a temporary basis, and it creates
    serious regulatory hurdles that limit access in nations where people are dying
    in droves. The POPs treaty will also ban
    many other substances that might be useful in developing nations. In addition, international negotiators have
    set up a process to ban even more substances in the future under the POPs
    treaty.

  • X PRIZE launches another prize – mapping genes

    October 5, 2006 12:26 PM

    The foundation that gave a huge prize for launching a private spaceship
    yesterday announced a
    multi-million dollar prize
    for fast-track technology to map human genomes.

    The X PRIZE Foundation said it would be offering a $10
    million prize to researchers who devise the technology “that can successfully
    map 100 human genomes in 10 days.”

    In its press release the foundation said it was trying to
    stimulate faster advances in genomics for preventative medicine and procedures.
    “Only after we have access to affordable and fast genome sequencing will we be
    able to take advantage of the countless benefits.”

    Here's to the newest X PRIZE — using private funds to
    finance private research and innovation.

  • New study shows promise, but not cure

    September 28, 2006 11:43 AM

    A new study just
    published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows mixed results in dealing
    with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes — the most severe type of
    diabetes that requires close monitoring of blood sugar, multiple insulin
    injections during the day, and a careful balancing of food.

    In the study islets, which are cells
    in the pancreas that produce insulin, were transplanted into 36 patients with
    Type 1 diabetes. Results showed that the
    transplanted cells provided insulin independence for up to two years for some
    patients, but a majority needed insulin again at two years. The islets also
    helped in controlling blood sugar levels.

    The cells are taken from the pancreas of dead donors, and in
    2001 only 400 were available, while there are 2 million people with juvenile
    diabetes
    . Thus, researchers are
    looking to the potential of stem cell research.

  • Of Mice and Men

    September 27, 2006 3:47 PM

    A new study shows that mice that drink moderate amounts of wine everyday suffer from less memory loss and brain cell death. A huge body of evidence has shown that moderate alcohol consumption helps keep people heart-healthy, and CEI had sued for that positive information to appear on alcoholic beverage labels. Now moderate drinking seems to “slow Alzheimer's-like diseases.”

    The happy mice were given Cabernet Sauvignon wine (really!), ethanol, or plain water— their equivalent of two glasses a day. The ones who did best on mazes were the red wine drinkers. Maybe they thought some Zinfandel was at the end of it.

  • Rachel Carson Lied, Millions Died

    September 22, 2006 9:51 AM

    We were all happy to see the World Health Organization
    finally take steps to embrace wider anti-malarial
    deployment of DDT
    , but our friend Steve Milloy reminds us it's hardly a moment to
    break out the champagne
    :

    Overlooked in all the hoopla over the announcement,
    however, is the terrible toll in human lives (tens of millions dead — mostly
    pregnant women and children under the age of 5), illness (billions sickened)
    and poverty (more than $1 trillion dollars in lost GDP in sub-Saharan Africa alone) caused by the tragic, decades-long ban.

    Much of this human catastrophe was preventable, so why
    did it happen? Who is responsible? Should the individuals and activist groups
    who caused the DDT ban be held accountable in some way?

    Yes, Steve, they
    should
    .

  • Lockyer: SUVs Don't Kill People, Car Companies Kill People

    September 21, 2006 10:37 AM

    California's attorney
    general has sued carmakers DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Ford and
    subsidiaries of Honda, Nissan and Toyota for global
    warming impacts
    on the state. Interesting that the state isn't trying to
    hold individual car owners — the ones who actually drive and produce the
    emissions at issue — liable for the alleged damage.

    This suit seems rather reminiscent of the lawsuits first filed
    by U.S. cities against gun
    manufacturers
    in the late 1990s. Critics at the time pointed out, of
    course, that it's the people who actually shoot the guns who should be held
    liable for any damage caused by them. Congress was sufficiently alarmed by the
    prospects, however, to pass the Protection
    of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act
    , shielding firearms manufacturers from such
    extended liability claims. Perhaps the House and Senate should put their heads together
    on a Freedom to Traffic in Automobiles Act.

  • DDT to the Rescue

    September 18, 2006 10:27 AM

    In an extraordinarily good development, the World Health Organization has officially called for greater use of DDT around the world in order to combat malaria, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives. CEI people and our friends have written widely on the issue of DDT and malaria over the past several years, and it's a relief to finally see some movement in the right direction. It's never too late to exorcise the ghost of Rachel Carson from international health policy.

  • A typology for risk assessment?

    September 14, 2006 10:03 AM

    New research
    may help to explain why the term “risk” shouldn't automatically be applied to
    new technologies, such as biotechnology. According to a University of Sussex research study, new technologies
    should be evaluated on a continuum of categories — including risk, uncertainty,
    ambiguity, and ignorance.

    The article in Food Navigator about the new study also
    quotes extensively from a
    speech
    I gave this summer to the Institute of Food Technologists attacking
    the use of the precautionary principle applied to biotechnology.

    Greg Conko has written extensively on this topic here and here and elsewhere,
    as has Fred Smith here and here
    and lots of other
    places
    .

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