RE: greenyes-d Digest V99 #346
Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:06:53 -0500

Brian is right in his interpretation of the WTO's objective in eliminating
production preference or any other kind in trade. He may disingenious
describing it as an end run - its a frontal attack. Earth Justice published
a report recently that describes the issue in greater detail - see below.
Those of us who fancy ourselves advocates for the public interest should
be fully apprised that the policies of "trade liberalism" being advanced by the
standing crop of "free traders" are venal and tailored to the profit interests
of multinational corporations. As over-the-top as it sounds, the actions of
the WTO and its proposals serve effectively to give centralized aggregations
of capital (i.e. multinationals) huge advantages over "home-grown" businesses,
and carte blanc to rape natural resources from developing countries like never

Making a trade preference for recycled paper illegal is just the tiniest tip of
the ice-berg. For those not yet initiated into this struggle, I refer you to

-Larry Martin

The WTO's dismissal of the 'Precautionary Principle' put numerous other
public health protections at risk, according to a second study
released Thursday by the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, which was once
part of the Sierra Club.

In 'Trading Away Public Health,' the group said US pesticide safeguards for
children, which required that extra protection be built into
US pesticide standards where the scientific evidence was incomplete, could
be challenged easily challenged under existing trade rules.

''This extra protection is not based on definitive scientific evidence of
harm from the particular pesticide, but rather on the lack of studies
deemed necessary to decide whether the pesticide residues will be harmful
to children,'' said Earthjustice.

'Trading Away Public Health' said the WTO further undermines restrictions
designed to prevent toxic effects of certain production
processes, since it prohibited discrimination between products based on how
they were produced.

Under current WTO rules, ''if the physical attributes of two products are
the same, the one produced in a manner that depletes natural
resources or pollutes the air and water must be treated the same as the one
that does not cause such pollution,'' said Earthjustice.

Under such trade rules, the US government - on behalf of the American
Electronics Association - in early 1999 said it would challenge
the EU's proposed programme to minimize the environmental risks from toxic
chemicals produced when electronic and electrical
equipment, such as computers, are made.

The EU programme would phase out the use of certain toxic chemicals,
mandate 70 percent of computer material be recycled or reused,
and require electronic manufacturers be held responsible for the costs of
recycling and disposal of waste at the end of the product's
useful life.

By prohibiting products to be discriminated against how they were produced,
the WTO had ''erected obstacles to toxics bans and
standards and thereby threatens to stymie pollution prevention and public
health protection strategies,'' said Earthjustice.

Reducing import tariffs on chemical products was high on the list of
President Bill Clinton's priorities at the upcoming trade talks at the
end of this month.

But like forest protection advocates who worry that lower tariffs on wood
products will fuel harmful logging, 'When Trade is Toxic'
warned that lower prices on chemicals would increase demand which, in turn,
would increase worldwide consumption of dangerous

''Greater consumption of chemicals worldwide, means more chemicals ending
up in the environment, in our food and in our bodies,'' it

While not all chemicals were hazardous, trade liberalisation would be
sought for a number of substances which environmentalists
considered harmful to health and the environment.

Some of these chemicals, such as tetraethyl lead and asbestos, were banned
in developed countries and were ''exported from countries
like the United States and Canada to developing countries where they are
responsible for much death, birth defects, cancer and other
forms of dysfunction and disease,'' said 'When Trade is Toxic.'

The report also warned that the WTO may override international
environmental agreements that regulate trade in toxics, including the
Basel Convention ban on exporting hazardous wastes from industrialised
nations to developing countries and the treaty on Persistent
Organic Pollutants (POPs).

While any WTO challenge of any multilateral environmental agreement had not
been forthcoming, 'When Trade is Toxic' said powerful
industry could sway use the trade body to fight treaties which threatened
their bottom line.

According to report, both the International Chamber of Commerce and the
International Council on Metals and the Environment, an
industry association, have said they may challenge the Basel Convention, or
its individual provisions, under the WTO as a trade barrier. on 11/16/99 11:57:56 AM


Subject: RE: greenyes-d Digest V99 #346

Subject: Re: FSC-certified paper

As I understand it, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is proposing to "end
discrimination of Production and Processing Methods" at their upcoming
ministerial in Seattle (11/29 - 12/03). Part of this agreement would make
environmental labeling, such as the FSC certification, a non tariff barrier
to trade, in effect illegal. To the WTO a piece of paper is a piece of
paper. Any distinguishing of it as to what it is made from and how could be
considered a trade barrier. I fully support the consumers right to know
about the products we consume, but fear that the WTO is attempting and end
round run to eliminate this. Any thoughts on this?

Brian Fuller
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Solid Waste Program
(541) 686-7838 Ext. 225

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