- 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
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.
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.