Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Towards a criminal repetition from the Canadian Government?

Rotterdam Convention:

Towards a criminal repetition from the Canadian Government?

Between 27th and 31st October, members of the Rotterdam convention will meet in Rome and will – even if that sounds incredible - ask again the following question: should asbestos be included in the list of hazardous products? The question has to be raised again because Canada has so far opposed a veto to the inclusion of asbestos!

The Rotterdam convention is an important tool for the protection of human health and environment; the convention promotes control of trade of hazardous industrial chemicals and pesticides when they are listed in the convention. When an industrial chemicals or pesticide is included in the Annex III, Parties have the right to use the procedure «Prior Informed Consent», to control the import of hazardous industrial chemicals and pesticides in their countries. The purpose is not to ban the product but to enable the importing country to be informed about the hazards of these products.

Implemented in February 2004, the convention has among other products included 22 pesticides and asbestos … but only the amphibole varieties, «forgetting» the chrysotile asbestos which represents more than 90% of the world asbestos production – it is the type of asbestos produced by the Québec mines; Canada remains the first exporter of asbestos, even if asbestos is hardly used anymore on its territory.

This year, like in 2004 and 2006, the inclusion of (chrysotile) asbestos – the major industrial killer of our planet – will again be discussed. The fact that a product killing more than 200 000 persons every year, banned by more than thirty countries, whose replacement is recommended by the International Labour Organization and World Health Organization, cannot be included in the Rotterdam convention is a genuine public health scandal.

The main culprit for this catastrophy is Canada, even if it received help from other asbestos producers (China, Russia, …). The purpose of the Canadian government is simple : protect the asbestos mine industry in Québec (around 500 jobs are at stake) even if that goes against public health or even moral standards. In complete connivance with the Asbestos Institute (renamed in 2003 «Chrysotile Institute», the cousin of the infamous [French] «comité permanent amiante » and also a source of propaganda, backed by the government), the Canadian government non only forces developing countries to use asbestos but tries to tamper information on hazards and prevention that could damage trade.

Ottawa has yet to indicate the position it will defend during the 2008 meeting. In 2004 and 2006, Canada has cynically opposed its veto to the inclusion of chrysotile on the list of hazardous substances. Today the position of the Canadian government is unbearable. Within Canada numerous voices have denounced the irresponsability of the government. Not only all forms of asbestos must be included in the list of hazardous substances, but the use of asbestos must be banned worldwide, like it is today in Europe.

Recall that the Canadian government went as far as pushing a formal complaint in front of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the French decision of banning asbestos. This complaint was rejected in September 2000 and the appeal in march 2001.

Contacts : François Desriaux, Michel Parigot, Marc Hindry

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