New Internationalist

The Facts

Issue 129

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DUMPING [image, unknown] facts

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The FACTS

Dumping
By its very nature, dumping is a covert activity. No company is going
to produce neat statistics on its export of restricted substances. But there
are facts available on world trade which show underlying and worrying trends.

DUMPING IS:

• Selling goods banned elsewhere.

FOR EXAMPLE: Exporting TRIS-treated childrens’ nightwear after TRIS was found to be carcinogenic in the US.

• Selling goods casually which are highly restricted and controlled elsewhere.

FOR EXAMPLE: Prescription-only drugs sold on marketplace stalls in Indonesia.

• Selling goods in an environment for which they haven’t been designed and in conditions which came make them unsafe.

FOR EXAMPLE: Babyfoods promoted where water to dilute the powder is dirty, where illiterate parents cannot read the instructions and families are too poor to afford enough formula for regular and adequate feeds.

• Transferring polluting industries and/or unsafe manufacturing processes to countries where unions are weak and govemments acquiescent.

FOR EXAMPLE: Asbestos manufacture in South East Asia.

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CHEMICAL PRODUCTS - BEWARE !

Pesticides, drugs and industrial chemicals are all chemical products. Because of their toxicity, they are amongst the most dangerous products that can be offloaded onto unprotected consumers.

THE TEMPTATION to dump chemical products in the Third World is high because:

There are few or no controls over testing or registration of imports

There are few or no obligations to print appropriate warnings or advice on the labels.

There are few or no restrictions of supply, which might ensure responsible control through safe outlets.

The risks are greater because those working with the chemicals in the Third World are less aware of the dangerous consequences of spilling, breathing, handling or ingesting the products.

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FACT OF LIFE 1

[image, unknown] The export of chemical products from rich countries to the Third World rose from $5 billion in 1970 to $24 billion by 1978, an increase of 480%.
(Source: UNCTAD Handbook of International Trade and Development Statistics 1987)

The dumping of pharmaceuticals in the Third World can occur because:

Dangerous drugs are available without prescription from untrained pharmacy staff.

Drug labels, package inserts and adverts to doctors sometimes give no warnings on side-effects, optimal dosages vary.

Often there are no shelf-life restrictions.

Little or no testing is done on drug imports.

Drugs withdrawn in the West are often available.

Most causes of death go unrecorded. Sources of illness are difficult to find. So drug-induced problems are impossible to trace.

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FACT OF LIFE 2

During the 1970s drug sales in the Third World increased by 20% p.a.
(Source: UNCTC Transnational Corporations and the Pharmaceutical Industry 1979)

Testing Ground for new drugs
New medicines should be introduced where the research laboratories and/or the company headquarters are located. They should only be introduced where strict monitoring conditions are available to allow the side-effects on patients to be quickly identified. Such preconditions rule out most of the Third World.

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FACT OF LIFE 3

[image, unknown] The chief producers are US 34%, Japan 20%, West Germany 13%.

However, in 1980 of the 2452 new drugs introduced in the year only 4% were launched in the US and Canada; more than 40% were launched in the Third World.
(Source: The Food and Drug Letter 1981)

The dumping of pesticides in the Third World fields can occur because:

Lack of restrictions means pesticides can be sold even though they may be banned elsewhere.

The users are likely to be rural workers with an unjustified faith in Western technology, and perhaps unable to read warning and mixing instructions.

There are often few or no label warnings.

Little or no protective clothing, masks or gloves are worn.

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FACT OF LIFE 4

38% of international trade in pesticides was with the Third World (1978)

(Source: FAQ Trade Year Book 1979)

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FACT OF LIFE 5

Pesticide consumption in Africa increased by 500% between 1964 and 1974. Imports of pesticides into the Philippines increased by 500% between 1972 and 1978.

(Source: Poisons and Peripheral People: hazardous substances in the Third World', Cultural Survival Inc.)

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FACT OF LIFE 6

More than 30% of all pesticides exported from the US were not approved for use within the country. Approximately 20% of these had formerly been registered but were suspended or cancelled for most uses after dangers became apparent.

(Source: Better Regulation of Pesticide Exports and Pesticide
Residues in Imported Foods, US General Accounting Office, 1979)

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