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June 2001 - Environmental Research Foundation

The chemical industry puts out about 1000 new chemicals each year and guess what? They are NOT tested for safety before they start showing up in your air, your food and your water. That’s why breast milk is so contaminated with industrial poisons that, if it were bottled and sold as a commercial product, it would be subject to ban by the U.S. Food and Drug Administartion (FDA) as “unfit for human consumption.” (Don’t get us wrong — breast milk is still the best way to nourish a baby — all of the alternatives are worse. Still, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?)

It doesn’t have to be this way. The chemical industry could become more civilized if “we the people” demanded it. The people really are still in charge of this country — though industry and the government spend billions each year to convince us all that resistance is futile. They offer us plenty of “bread and circuses” to keep our minds off the real deal, which is that modern industry is destroying the planet.

So what can you do about it? You can join a group (or start your own). People power! (To find out who’s active in your area, check the “organizations” section of our web site — www.rachel.org.)

Maria Pellerano

Here’s our story. Our group has been helping community activists fight toxic chemicals for 20 years. People call or send us E-mail saying, “They’re spraying a weed killer called Green-Zap on my kid’s ball field and they say it’s perfectly safe. Do you think it’s safe? Tell us the truth!” We look in our files and pull together the scientific and medical information on Green-Zap and we send back our answer.

We also publish a newsletter called Rachel’s Environment & Health News, which is available free on our web site — www.rachel.org — where you can also sign up to receive it free by E-mail. Like the name says, it’s about human health and the natural environment.

Over the years we’ve helped people put the keebosh on nuclear waste dumps, nuclear power plants, garbage incinerators, hazardous waste dumps, machines that burn rubber tires, pesticides, genetically-engineered crops, dry cleaning chemicals and other toxic solvents, coal ash dumps, strip mines, lead smelters, nuclear bomb factories, and a whole bunch of other bad ideas that local people wanted to fight.

What’s really amazing is that none of these bad ideas was needed in the first place. For every bad idea, there’s a better, cleaner way of doing the job. If people would just look at all the available alternatives, they could find the least-damaging way to get the job done. That simple idea — examine all the alternatives and select the least-harmful way — would radically change the way the U.S. does business, if it were adopted as Standard Operating Procedure for making decisions.

Peter Montague in Tijuana, Mexico: “Danger– Lead Contamination” 

But it’s not so easy because many corporations have all their investments lined up to do things the old way. They can’t stand the idea of looking at alternatives. For example they want to spray Green-Zap on the kids’ ball field because they make money selling Green-Zap, they make money spraying Green-Zap and there’s even money to be made when people get sick from Green-Zap. (Sorry to say this, but it’s true.)

Of course, local Moms could get together and pull the weeds from the ball field by hand to prevent their kids from getting sprayed with Green-Zap — a solution that the Moms at our local school adopted. But the Green-Zap salesmen go nuts with such a solution — “The economy will go to hell without Weed Killing Chemicals!” they cry. Of course it’s a lot of malarkey — we had a perfectly good economy before people started relying on toxic chemicals to kill weeds, and we’ll still have a perfectly good economy when this toxic fad has passed.

So let’s get organized to stop all this chemical madness. We should be able to choose which chemicals we want in our bodies — industry should not be allowed to commit “toxic trespass” into our bodies with their poisons. Just say No to pesticides in your cornflakes.

Kids are getting organized to oppose the madness. Check out www.ruckus.org Join in!

It’s your world, don’t leave it to the “experts.”

Peter Montague & Maria Pellerano Staff of Environmental Research Foundation More information on the Environmental Research Foundation is available at www.rachel.org.


Photos provided by David Atlas and Maayan Zach

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