Boiling Frogs-Intel vs. the Village

"Boiling Frogs - Intel vs. the Village" recounts the story of Intel Rio Rancho's impact on the air and water in the Village of Corrales from the mid-1980s to the present day. Updates to this ongoing saga will be posted here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Nation of Lab Rats - Reversing the Politics of Pollution

Excepted from the December 14 edition of Crosswinds Weekly, Carolyn Raffensperger, "perhaps the most creative and insightful explorer of the relationships among our legal system, public policy, public health and the environment. Carolyn is an environmental lawyer and the executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, which is a vitally important national consortium of environmental organizations dedicated to the use of science in the public interest" (Kenny Ausubel)
The Foresight Principle
So, what is this precautionary principle? It's the foresight principle. It's the foreaction principle. It's the grandmother principle. It's the principle that says, "We are going to look out for future generations for their well-being and their sanity'...One version of the precautionary principle says, "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken, even if some cause-and-effect relationships have not been fully established scientifically.'...We know what these pesticides do to rats. Do we want to do this to our children? No. We know what we did by ignoring lead. We knew what would happen when we ignored asbestos. I could go on down the line. Heed early warnings ...
Reverse the Burden of Proof
Then let's reverse the burden of proof. Do you know what happened to places like Love Canal? Business and government would say, "oh, you're fine. There's no problem. It's not making you sick." The residents would say, "We've got a problem. This is not good for us. This is not good for our health. Business and government said, "Prove it. You prove that this is toxic. You prove that it's doing harm." Business didn't even test it. They didn't even test their chemicals when they said, "There's no evidence that it causes problems." So we need to reverse the burden of proof. I should not have the responsibility of proving that your chemical or genetically modified organism is causing me harm if you haven't even tested it. If you don't know, how come I have to know? Your ignorance is not my problem. But in many cases, it has turned out to be my problem.
What it means is giving the benefit of the doubt to human health and the environment. It means giving the benefit of the doubt to the child's brain that's in the mother's womb..."

Testimony given by Corrales resident Carol Merrill at the June 2003 Task Force meeting:
"Time and again, what I read was, 'No test data available.' I would like to know, seriously, why Intel is not required to offer proof, absolute proof, that the chemicals they are using are harmless. Why am I required to prove that they have harmed me and my family?" Boiling Frogs, pg. 274


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