New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 167

new internationalist
issue 167 - January 1987

BRIEFLY...

ENVIRONMENT

Thirst quenchin', nature-fouling Pepsi
Pepsi-Cola has been ordered by the Philippines National Pollution Control Commission to close down 11 of its 12 plants in the country for violations of anti-pollution laws. Commissioner Tria in a letter to the soft drinks giant complained that Pepsi's factories had been discharging untreated or inadequately treated waste water, polluting rivers and creeks. Although the company had repeatedly agreed to comply with water quality standards. according to the Commissioner their record was nothing but a 'litany of broken promises'.

From New Straits Times, Malaysia, 14.8.86

FOOD

Pig swill
One hundred and fifty thousand tons of butter are destined for the animal troughs if the European Community Commission has its way. Butter originally bought by the West German government at $3.50 - 4.00 per kg is now to be sold at $0.25 per kg to the animal feed industry. The price covers just one quarter of storage costs. The direct cost to German taxpayers will be about $200 million. Meanwhile EEC stocks of powdered milk have risen to 750 million tons, worth $1,600 million. The storage of this alone costs European taxpayers more than $500 million a year.

From Consumer Currents. No.91

NUCLEAR-FREE PACIFIC

Rainbow Warrior's legacy
Aotearoa (NZ) is funding a string of worthwhile anti-nuclear and development projects in the South Pacific from the six-and-a half million dollars (US) compensation paid by the French government for the Rainbow Warrior sabotage. The projects include:

· A study of the effects of a nuclear winter on the country

· Help for the Polynesian trust fund to promote understanding of the historical and contemporary links in the region

· Upgrading of the Government's seismological observatory station in the Cook Islands, to allow it to communicate more quickly with Wellington on French nuclear detonations at Moruroa

· A booklet on the background to the country's antinuclear stance

· Help with the Pacific trust fund, to increase the presence of the country in the region.

But all this still seems insignificant when set alongside the murder of the Greenpeace photographer.

From Gemini News

ENVIRONMENT

Panama dries up
'The Panama Canal is slowly drying up because of the destruction of tropical rain-forests in the hills that overlook this famous waterway,' reports The Observer of London. 'Experts estimate that in less than 15 years, if the tree felling continues, only the smallest ships will be able to take the shortcut and avoid having to round Cape Horn.'

The canal needs more than two billion gallons of water on an average day because each passing ship takes 52 million gallons from the locks to the ocean. Water is supplied by two lakes which are silting up. It is the old story of hungry peasants ravaging their environment. Trees are cut down in the hills surrounding the lakes; without substantial roots the soil on the mountain sides is washed away. Wealthy farmers own the lowlands, so the peasants clear the mountain sides to garner one or two crops. Heavy tropical rain creates ravines and gullies that quickly ruin their steep fields. The vicious spiral quickens as they are forced on to clear more vegetation, whilst the lakes are the unwilling recipients of torrents of mud.

HEALTH

Of feminism and smoking
The rise in death rates from female lung cancer over the past two decades has been particularly steep in English-speaking countries, reports the World Health Organization. Lung cancer is replacing breast cancer as the number one cause of cancer deaths among women of industrialized countries. Death rates, adjusted for age, increased by 200 per cent in Australia, Ireland, Aotearoa (NZ) and the United Kingdom; and by 300 per cent in Canada, Denmark and the US. The likely reason for this, according to the experts, is the increasing liberation of women no longer concerned about social constraints.

Which country is top of the charts for women's lung cancer fatalities? Scotland, with 38 deaths per 100,000 women.

From WHO Press Release. 26.9.86

ETHICAL DRUGS

Testing frauds
The race is on for new drugs to treat the complaints of the old. It is a lucrative market and patients might well not worry about or even recognize side-effects. Nevertheless sometimes things go beyond the pale. Scientists deliberately falsified research test results to win approval for a new arthritis drug, it was disclosed this past October in Washington DC. The fake data was detected by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials in reports on Suprol, a painkiller for arthritis, marketed by Johnson and Johnson. The drug is widely available in the US and the UK.

A leaked memo from the head of the FDA team which reviews applications for licenses on arthritis drugs commented about the Suprol application 'I would be remiss if I did not comment on the quality of the data in this (application). It has been plagued from beginning to end with bad data. Some of it was deliberate falsification. Much of it has been the result of poor workmanship.' This was shortly before the FDA approved Suprol and two years after the drug had been approved in the UK. And the data submitted to the British, senior sources say, was exactly the same.

A petition to withdraw the drug has been made by the Washington based Health Research Group following reports of kidney damage in 270 patients who have taken the drug in the US. Serious adverse effects reported in the UK during 1985, when 50,000 prescriptions were issued, include ten patients suffering severe side effects and one having died.

From The Guardian, 4.10.86

TANZANIA

In Nyerere's footsteps
Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Mwinyi might provide an entry in the Guinness Book of Records, according to a report from the feature service, Newslink Africa (11.8.86). He recently received a $300 a year pay rise bringing his annual salary to about $1,750. Mwinyi also gets $23,350 annually for state expenses - thanks to another rise of $20,000. These were the first increases in wages and allowances for the Tanzanian president since 1962. He is still one of the world's lowest-paid heads of state.

RACISM

School murder
Denied by the police, unreported in the conventional press, violent racism is alive and well and living in Britain's inner cities. Latest casualty is 13-year-old Ahrned Iqbal Ullahr, stabbed to death in a Manchester school playground. He was trying to protect a fellow Bangladeshi boy from bullying by white students at the time. Stabbed in the stomach, Ahmed died in a police car on the way to the hospital. It took 45 minutes before an ambulance arrived. Police have ruled out any racial motives for the murder while the Bangladeshi community association have commented: 'Never before has the hatred felt by a young white boy against a Bangladeshi boy been so extreme as to lead to a killing in a school playground.'

From the Asian Times, Issue 190, London

'The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. He
frees himself and shows the way to others. Freedom and slavery are mental states.'

Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi Indian Leader, in 'Non violence in Peace and War', 1948

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