Under The Microscope

Click here to subscribe to the print edition. [image, unknown] new internationalist 147[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown] May 1985[image, unknown] Click here to search the mega index.

CONSUMER POWER [image, unknown] ACTION and worth reading

Under the microscope
Many groups are researching specific issues raised in this magazine,
from controlling the use of pesticides to fighting the expansion of nuclear power.
Below are some intemational and national groups who could use our help.

Some of these are also linked into the worldwide networks. The list concentrates on Australia, Canada, New Zealand. the UK and US because that is where we have most of our readers. But it’s by no means comprehensive. For groups working elsewhere and on other issues please write to IOCU (address bottom right corner) or to your national mainstream consumer organisation.

[image, unknown]

Australian consumers’ Association,
57 Carrington Road. Marrickyule NSW 2204.
In addition to regular magazine Choice, ACA produces an ‘inside information’ quarterly Consuming Interest. Other publications include A Pain in the Bellyon junk food.

Friends of the Earth
366 Smith Street,
Victoria 3066.
Work on nuclear testing and uranium mining.

310 Angas Street, Adelaide 5000.

Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing
22 Renaissance Arcade, Adelaide SA 5000.
Aims to inform doctors and public about dangerous drug marketing.


Center for Science in the Public Interest.
1755 S Street NW, Washington DC 20009.
Works on health and impact of technology on society.

Center for Study of Responsive Law,
P0 Box 19367, Washington DC 20036.
Headquarters of Ralph Nader’s organisation which includes groups working on health, auto safety, corporate accountability etc.

Earthscan Washington Bureau,
1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW,
Washington DC 20036.
Produces excellent background materials on issues like tropical rainforests, water and sanitation, and renewable energy.

Friends of the Earth
1045 Sansome Street,
San Francisco, California CA 94111.
Campaigns on renewable energy, and is currently co-ordinating the ‘Dirty Dozen’ campaign (see PAN below).

1611 Connecticut Avenue, Washington DC 20009.

Inter Faith Committee on Corporate Responsibility,
Room 846, 475 Riverside Drive, New York City, NY 10004.
Publishes The Corporate Examiner and other business-related studies.

Multinational Monitor,
published by Corporate Accountability Research Group
1346 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Room 411, Washington DC 2003.
‘Multinational Monitor’ is invaluable reading for consumer activists.


3 Endsleigh Street,
London WC1 ODD.
Not a campaigning organisation but produces excellent background materials on tropical rai nforests, new and renewable energy, water and sanitation etc.

Campaign for Lead Free Air (CLEAR),
2 Northdown Street, London Ni 9BG

Freedom of Information Campaign.
2 Northdown Street,
London Ni 9BG.
Tussling with Britain’s secretive governmental habits.

Friends of the Earth
377 City Road, London ECi.
Working on nuclear waste disposal, acid rain, pesticide residues and for increased use of public transport. Tropical rainforest campaign.

36 Graham Street, London Ni.
Working on lead-free petrol, toxic wastes, nuclear waste disposal, nuclear testing, seal clubbing and whales. Greenpeace groups in othercountries also work on these issues.

Rational Health Campaign
c/o Oxfam, 274 Banbury Road.
Oxford 0X2 7DZ.
Ties in with Health Action Internationals work (see Worldwide Networks). Also War on Want. 467 Caledonian Road, London N7.

Tower Hamlets Intemational Solidarity,
Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, London E2.
Runs a Bangladesh Solidarity Campaign to support the new drug policy there. Booklet ‘Drug Pushers’ about how the drug companies distort health priorities whether in East London or Bangladesh.


Friends of the Earth
Suite 53, 54-53 Queen Street, Ottawa KIP 5C5.
Working on renewable energy.

427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1 X7

Pollution Probe
12 Madison Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2S1.
Campaigns on hazardous wastes, acid rain, food addictives etc.


Friends of the Earth
P0 Box 39-065, Auckland West
Works on lead-free petrol and alternative energy.

[image, unknown] Worldwide networks

These are loose coalitions of organizations like Britain’s War on Want or the Inter Faith Committee on Corporate Responsibility in the US who share their research or campaigns on particular subjects. They also band together as a network to put their cases to international bodies like the United Nations. At the national level the groups in the network welcome more members.

Consumer Interpol - set up in 1981 as an ‘early warning’ system to alert members of hazardous products dumped in their country - such as toxic wastes, dangerous toys or substandard contraceptive devices. It has 50 correspondents in 30 countries and produces quarterly Consumer Interpol Focus. Other publications include a press kit Underhand but over the counter detailing dumping case studies and giving the background to the UN’s blacklist of products banned, withdrawn or restricted in the West.

Health Action International (HAI) started in early 1980s with groups including Gonoshastya Kendra (People’s Health Centre) in Bangladesh. HAI campaigns for the rational, safe and economic use of drugs worldwide following the World Health Organization’s action programme on essential drugs. Publishes HAI News bimonthly and other publications include Prescription for Change, a guide to how to set about changing health policies and Fourty-Four Problem Drugs, a resource kit.

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) - began in 1982 with groups from Brazil, Malaysia and the West among the founders, PAN aims to end the widespread and often inappropriate use of pesticides. Now it is organising the ‘Dirt Dozen’ campaign, to be launches on World Environment Day in June, to end the use and abuse of pesticides and to encourage alternative forms of pest control.

Action Groups to Halt Advertising and Sponsorship (AGHAST) - this newly launched campaign is producing a series of publications countering tobacco industry arguments, and drawing up an anti-smoking action programme for consumer groups to use at local and national levels.

You can reach tour national contact for these networks, and their publications, by writing to the International Organization of Consumer Unions, Emmastraat 9, 2595 EG, The Hague, Holland or IOCU, PO Box 1045, Penang, Malaysia.

Worth reading on... CONSUMER POWER

Why not start by going back to square one and looking at two great classics of analysis on our economic world? They are The Affluent Society and New Industrial State both by J.K. Galbraith, Pelican books 1957 and 1967. Despite their age, they are more relevant than ever to an understanding of the pressure on consumers and the marketplace today. A bonus is the elegant writing and sardonic humour not usual in economics.

For a brief overview of the consumer movement in the US, you might well try Pretenders to the Throne by Lucy Creigliton, Lexington Books 1976. She puts Nader’s work into perspective and concludes by asking some very hard questions. Having both brevity and a similar perspective to the New Internationalist means the book has a lot going for it.

North America has spawned a profusion of dull tomes which live in a fairytale world of perfect competition. consumers concerned with the cheapest price and highest quality, and taking a neutral attitude towards corporate responsibility. An example or one, marginally better than most is Consumensm-Search for the Consumer Interest eds. D.A. Aaker & G. S. Day, The Free Press, 1978. It pulls together 43 different contributions.

Social Limits to Growth by Fred Hirsch, Roudedge & Kegan Paul 1977, is a dense but important work. The promise and practice of economic growth is dismantled by Hirsch, who shows many reasons why individual affluence doesn’t make for an affluent society. For a less rarified view, Consumers’ Guide to the Protection of the Environment by Jonathan Hollimcm, Pan/Ballantine 1971 is useful. Unfortunately it is out of print but the publication has a lot of empirical information on issues like packaging and waste disposal, product information on what to buy, and just what lies behind a product or process being sold.

On a lighter note. Generating Power: A Guide to Consumer Organizing by Wayne Ellwood is a fine ‘how to’ guide on organising effective consumer campaigns written in a popular language with generous use of graphics and cartoons. It includes profiles on the international campaigning networks on babyfoods, pesticides and pharmaceuticals; a bonus is the beautiful design. Published by the International Organization of Consumers' Unions, available from Central office. Emmastraat 9, 2595 EG. The Hague. Netherlands, price $6.50.

Previous page.
Choose another issue of NI.
Go to the contents page.
Go to the NI home page.
Next page.

Subscribe   Ethical Shop