, 2000

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JUNE 1, 1999  8:30 AM
Greenpeace Intl press desk, Holger Roenitz on +31 20 5249 545 - Greenpeace Intl Toxics campaign, Juan Lopez de Uralde on +31 20 5236 263
Milk, Chicken, Eggs - How Dioxin Is Contaminating Our Food Chain: Greenpeace Demands Immediate Implementation Of Zero Dioxin Policy
AMSTERDAM - June 1 - Following the scandal of dioxin contamination of chicken and eggs in Belgium, the environmental organization Greenpeace has called on governments to stop emissions of the highly toxic and carcinogenic substance.

"The only way to avoid this kind of scandals from happening again is to move quickly towards zero emissions of dioxins"' said Juan Lopez de Uralde, director of the Greenpeace International toxics campaign.

Dioxins are among the most potent "man made " toxic chemicals ever studied. Dioxins are produced as unintentional by-products from incineration of toxic and urban waste, the manufacture of chlorinated solvents and pesticides as well as from production and disposal of the plastic PVC. Human exposure to dioxin is primarily from food intake.

Environmental ministers from Europe agreed in July 1998 at the meeting of the regulatory body for ocean pollution in the North Atlantic (also known as the Oslo-Paris Commission or OSPAR) to eliminate the emission of persistent toxic chemicals such as dioxins. But implementation is lacking and governments have been dragging their feet on the issue.

The elimination of the super-poison dioxin is also a key issue in the negotiations for a global treaty to ban persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The next meeting for this United Nations treaty takes place in Geneva this September. "The newest scandal is proof that European countries need to take the responsibility for eliminating dioxin at source much more serious" demands de Uralde.

It is not the first time that dioxin finds its way into the food chain. Two years ago milk from European cows was contaminated with dioxin and had to be destroyed. The source of the contamination was traced to imported Brazilian citrus pulp for animal feed which had been mixed with industrial waste. So far, the European Commission, which has started to investigate the case, has refused to name the companies involved in the scandal.

"It is shocking how easily a super-poison finds its way into our food supply but it is even more shocking that the information about this new case of dioxin contamination was kept secret from the public for weeks!" stated de Uralde. "It is high time that governments take consumer protection more serious. A policy for phasing out waste incineration must be a first step towards dioxin elimination followed by product substitution and clean production.


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