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[GreenYes] Plastics News
The following is an editorial from this week's Plastics News commenting on the Bill Moyers' documentary, Trade Secrets.  While it does not speak all too kindly of Moyers, it is quite important to note that it also takes the chemical industry to task for its shortcomings.

I mention this because it is very unique for a trade magazine to be relatively even handed in its political statements as well as news coverage. You should know that PN often gets attacked with veiled threats of retaliation from the plastics industry for other such examples, its unwavering support for bottle bills being one.  

It would seem to well serve the recycling community to subscribe to PN in order to not only receive useful information about plastics and recycling but also to provide the magazine with a broader base of readers to sustain its editorial independence. Subscriptions are $64/yr to PN, Box 07938, Detroit MI 48207.


April 30, 2001
Bill Moyers, ACC mishandle `Trade
          Secrets´
          PLASTICS NEWS OPINION
           
          The recent Bill Moyers documentary Trade Secrets outlines what it
          claims is a pattern of vinyl chloride industry coverups of workers
          getting sick and dying from exposure factories.

          It´s a powerful tale. And it brought a swift response from industry,
          claiming Moyers omitted key facts.

          Anyone with Internet access can look for themselves: Moyers puts
          the documents on the Web at www.pbs.org/tradesecrets. Industry
          responds at www.abouttradesecrets.org.

          Here´s our two cents. Moyers did not present an even-handed
          version of events. But the industry, in its response, engages in
          troubling distortions.

          The documentary itself is one-sided because industry members are
          not given a chance to respond during the 90-minute report. Instead,
          they are relegated to sharing a 30-minute discussion after.

          Moyers accuses the industry of conspiring to keep secret a study by
          Italian researcher Cesare Maltoni showing that vinyl chloride
          exposure caused liver cancer. But U.S. industry argues that Maltoni
          did not want to share the early data, so the companies entered a
          confidentiality agreement that allowed them to see preliminary
          results -- viewers should have been made aware of this.

          In other areas, like phthalates, Moyers´ treatment is misleadingly
          brief. He says that one phthalate, DEHP, was found in 1980 to be
          carcinogenic in animals. Industry met several times behind closed
          doors with the Environmental Protection Agency, and the EPA
          decided to take no action, Moyers says.

          But the debate is much more complex. A panel of government
          scientists last year, for example, raised concerns about some
          medical uses for DEHP, but said in most cases people are not
          getting anywhere close to harmful levels. And the panel noted that
          DEHP use in medical products carries benefits.

          On the other hand, we also feel that the industry offered some
          misleading versions of events. Take the Italian study on liver cancer.
          The American Chemistry Council claims U.S. government officials
          were told of that very important study in July 1973.

          But ACC neglects to mention that the director of the National
          Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. Marcus Key, said
          quite clearly that industry did not talk about the link with liver cancer
          in the July 1973 meeting.

          Key told Congress in an August 1974 hearing: "I would like to
          re-emphasize that no information about liver cancer was given. If
          there had been, I think we would have taken an entirely different
          course of action in view of the widespread use of this material."

          ACC also was taken to task by the group Environmental Defense for
          telling Moyers that information about chemical testing has been
          disclosed. It has not, which is why ACC is partnering with ED to
          release the information.

          It´s troubling if the public comes away from Moyers´ documentary
          thinking that U.S. chemicals policy is determined chiefly by default,
          by a spineless government that lets industry do what it wants. That´s
          simplistic.

          But it´s also going to be very difficult for the public to trust the
          chemical industry until executives and trade association leaders are
          able to own up to past mistakes honestly.

_____________________________________________
Peter Anderson
RECYCLEWORLDS CONSULTING
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 231-1100/Fax (608) 233-0011
email: anderson@recycleworlds.org
web: www.recycleworlds.org





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