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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Canada's asbestos habit: Defending death

PUTTING money ahead of lives, the federal government has again blackened this country’s name around the world by leading efforts aimed at suppressing warnings about the documented health risks of asbestos, a known carcinogen. At a United Nations summit in Switzerland this week, Canada and three other countries — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam — voted against listing chrysotile, or white, asbestos in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention on hazardous materials.

That listing would have compelled asbestos producers in countries such as Canada to warn importing nations of the health risks associated with the cancer-causing substance, permitting those states to block those imports. Because changes to the global agreement must be by consensus, Canada’s opposition, as it has many times in the past, killed the hopes of asbestos opponents to at least bring informed consent into the global asbestos trade.

The Conservative government’s argument that asbestos, safely handled, poses no danger to those using the deadly material reflects unconscionable hypocrisy.

Many health organizations and medical experts reject the notion that asbestos can be safely handled. Even if you accept that concept, however, Conservative politicians surely know that foreign workers in many large asbestos-importing countries, such as India where it’s used to make cement, often handle the material without adequate, if any, safety precautions.

Many Quebec provincial politicians, who also support the asbestos trade, as well as the industry itself, are equally guilty of putting economic interests ahead of any concern for human lives.

Canada’s staking of its banner on the side of ignorance and death this week is all the more shameful considering that two other long-time opponents of listing asbestos in Annex III, India and Ukraine, changed positions this year and supported its inclusion.

Heightening the hypocrisy of this country’s position is that asbestos is largely banned from use in Canada. Imagine, here in one of the most developed nations on Earth, where, one would think, the "safe handling" of white asbestos that Conservatives blithely champion must surely be possible, workers are mostly forbidden to touch the stuff.

For shame.


Chronicle Herald, Editorial, Fri, Jun 24

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