Day: January 5, 2007

EU outpaces United States on Chemical safety

Dog bites man news o’ the day!

ScienceDaily: European Union Outpaces United States On Chemical Safety

In the 1970s and ’80s, the United States effectively set many global product standards for consumer and environmental protection. Today, Europe is playing this role, while U.S. government and industry oppose the resulting standards in Europe and in international arenas.

The size of the European market (more than 485 million citizens) will push manufacturers in the United States and Asia to meet European standards and will increase the availability of “green” products globally, contend the authors. Additionally, the new toxic risk information generated by REACH may allow environmental advocates in the United States and elsewhere to focus their efforts with specific, supportable data.

Amen to that, you can either lead, or be forced to follow. EU policies are far from perfect, and as vulnerable to politics, hypocrisy and competing interests as any other “country’s” policies. But, you can never fault them for lack of effort, and they do not seem to have suffered from any consequences to using the precautionary principle.

When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

Not so hard to grasp. But here’s the precautionary principle the US of A uses. I propose calling it the plutocracy-protectionary principleTM.

When a proposed regulation raises threats of harm to the short term shareholder returns of an industry, precautionary measures to oppose this regulation must be taken even if cause and effect relationships are clearly established, or if scientific research has shown the opposite effect to the industry claim being made.