MAC: Mines and Communities

Asbestos: International protest to WHO falls on death ears

Published by MAC on 2012-12-11
Source: RightOn Canada (2012-12-03)

In just four months time, parties to the Rotterdam Convention (on control of hazardous exports) meet to decide on whether trade of chrysotile asbestos should be globally restricted. 

In a last-ditch attempt to sway the verdict against such a decision, Russia and Ukraine hosted an "international scientific conference" on the issue at the end of November 2012.

Scandalously,  the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), made a presentation at the conference, even though it is a member of the World Health Organisation.

A petition to the WHO's Director General - signed by some 130 organisations and inviduals from all over the world - failed to prevent the WHO paying lip-service to continued propagation of the world's deadliest mined material.

For recent article on MAC, see:

http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=11994&l=1

 

Disturbing developments at the World Health Organization

RightOn Canada

3 December 2102

WHO scientific agency collaborating with asbestos lobby

The global asbestos lobby, led by the governments of Russia and Ukraine, is going all out in its efforts to prevent the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam Convention.

The Convention's expert scientific committee has repeatedly called for chrysotile asbestos to be put on the Convention's list of hazardous substances, which would then require that "prior, informed consent" be obtained before asbestos could be exported to another country and would require that minimum safety precautions be followed.

On Nov. 21 and 22, 2012, certain Ukrainian and Russian institutes and academies held an "international scientific conference on chrysotile asbestos to examine all scientific data" in Kiev, Ukraine.

The purpose of the conference was to oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention by claiming that the science has not been established to show that chrysotile asbestos is hazardous.

Scientists from various countries who are longtime propagandists for the asbestos industry and who promote continued use of chrysotile asbestos made presentations at the conference.

At the end of the conference, a resolution was passed by the conference  participants saying that the science is not clear as to whether chrysotile asbestos causes cancer and therefore chrysotile asbestos should not be listed as a hazardous substance at the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, which takes place in Geneva in April/May 2013.

The WHO has called for the recommendation of the Rotterdam Convention's expert scientific committee to list chrysotile asbestos to be approved. It is extremely disturbing that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is a WHO organization, attended the Kiev conference and made a presentation.

The conference was not a bona fide, reputable conference, but an initiative by the asbestos industry and its scientific and political allies to subvert the Rotterdam Convention. By attending, IARC gave a veneer of legitimacy to an  initiative to subvert global public health protections and brought shame on the reputation of IARC.

[Below] is a letter that was sent to WHO Director General, Margaret Chan, calling on her to cancel IARC's decision to take part in this propaganda exercise, aimed at sabotaging the Rotterdam Convention and destroying the basic human right of "prior informed consent".

No answer has yet been received from WHO Director General Margaret Chan.


Urgent message to World Health Organization: Stop collaborating with the asbestos lobby

19 November 2012

To: Margaret Chan, Director General
World Health Organization
Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Margaret Chan:

We are appalled to learn that a representative of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is apparently scheduled to participate in a conference, Chrysotile Asbestos: Risk Assessment and Management, to be held in Kiev, Ukraine November 21 and 22. We are addressing this urgent matter to you as the international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The conference has been organised by institutes of the Ukraine and Russia. As you know, these institutes were discontinued from the redesignation as WHO collaborating centres by your decision a few years ago, because of their promotion of continued use of chrysotile asbestos and conflicts of interest endangering WHO's credibility.

These institutes criticize WHO and IARC positions and deny the clear, independent, reputable science regarding harm caused by chrysotile asbestos. We have concerns that these institutes, especially the Russian institute, are trying to use IARC's reputation to distort scientific evidence already established among the world public health community).

We believe that the purpose of this conference is to promote the continued use of chrysotile asbestos. Scientists who have been financed by and linked to the asbestos industry for many years and who promote continued use of chrysotile asbestos will be making presentations at the conference.

The aim of this conference is to sabotage the efforts of the World Health Organization to end use of chrysotile asbestos and to sabotage the recommendation of the Rotterdam Convention's expert scientific committee to list chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance, which will be put forward at the upcoming 2013 Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention.

Recognizing the destructive impact of the global tobacco lobby in subverting the work of the WHO and public health agencies to protect people from being harmed by tobacco products, the WHO and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control forbid the participation of the tobacco industry, participation of government agencies working in conjunction with the tobacco industry, and participation of scientists working with and for the tobacco industry, in meetings concerning health protection against tobacco harm.

The WHO rightfully decided it was obliged to adopt this policy forbidding collaboration with the tobacco industry because of the conflict of interest of the tobacco industry and because of the long, sordid history of subversion of public health policy by the tobacco industry and its governmental and scientific allies.

The same long, sordid history of subversion of public health policy and the same problem of conflict of interest applies to the asbestos lobby.

We call on you to immediately cancel the participation of IARC in this sham scientific conference, which brings together governmental agencies and scientists that collaborate with the asbestos industry and which aims to promote the interests of the asbestos industry and defeat public health efforts around the world to prevent further deaths from asbestos-related diseases.

We are also disturbed by the fact that IARC is collaborating with scientists who are the Russian asbestos industry's strongest defenders and who deny the independent, reputable science on harm caused by chrysotile asbestos in a study, Historical cohort study of cancer mortality following exposure to chrysotile asbestos at the Uralasbest plant in Asbest, Russian Federation.

We would like to know how this study is being funded and whether the IARC Ethics Committee has approved this involvement of IARC. Given the indistinguishability between the government and the asbestos industry in Russia, we believe there is cause for serious concern about associating IARC's name with studies that appear to us to be influenced and controlled by the asbestos industry.

We request your immediate reply on these urgent concerns, which, in our view, put the reputation, integrity and credibility of IARC at risk.

Sincerely,

FROM:
• Dr Domyung Paek, Seoul National University, South Korea • Dr Richard Lemen, Assistant Surgeon General (Retired), USA

SIGNED BY:

KATHLEEN RUFF, Director, RightOnCanada.ca, Canada; Senior Human Rights Adviser, Rideau Institute; recipient National Public Health Hero Award
2011 of the Canadian Public Health Association

JAGDISH PATEL, People's Training & Research Centre, India

HONG CHAN, Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, Hong Kong

GOPAL KRISHNA, Convener, Toxic Watch Alliance, New Delhi, India

ASIAN BAN ASBESTOS NETWORK (ABAN), Coordinator, Sugio Furoya

FIONA MURIE, Director, Health Safety & Construction, Building Workers International, Switzerland

OLGA SPERANSKAYA, Co-Chair, International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN)

UGO LAPOINTE, Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine!, Québec, Canada

INTERNATIONAL BAN ASBESTOS SECRETARIAT, UK

MANVAR RAGHUNATH, Occupational Health & Safety Centre (OHSC), Ahmeldabad, India

PRAHAD MALVADKAR, Coordinator, Occupational Health & Safety Centre (OHSC), Mumbai, India

BOB STEPHENSON, Coordinator, North East Asbestos Support & Advice Group (NASAG), Middlesbrough & Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

POINTER BOB, Barrow Trades Union Council, UK

BAN ASBESTOS NETWORK JAPAN (BANJAN), Coordinator, Sugio Furoya

JOHN McCLEAN, National Health & Safety Officer, General Municipal & Boilermakers Union, UK

DENNIS DOODY, National Executive Member, UCATT - Union of Construction Allied Trades & Technicians, UK

MICK HOLDER , CMIOSH, FRSPH, UK

SADHANA PRASAD, MD, FRCP(C), FACP, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada

ANROEV - Asian Network For The Rights Of Occupational & Environmental Victims

OEHNI - Occupational & Environmental Health Network Of India

TRACEY FORD, AREA FUND - Asbestos Related Research & Advocacy Fund, Canada

GUADALUPE AGUILAR MADRID, PhD, Unidad de Investigacian en salud en el Trabajo, Mexico

HILDA PALMER, National Secretary, Hazards Campaign, UK

FACK - FAMILIES AGAINST CORPORATE KILLERS, UK

LUIS TORRE, Physician-researcher in mesothelioma biology, National Institute of Health, Mexico City

AURORA McATHEY, Founding Member, Voices of Asbestos Victims, Canada

LOUISE VANDELAC, PhD, Professor, Department of Sociology; Director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences, Université du Québec, Montréal, Québec, Canada;

Chercheure CINBIOSE et TITNT UQAM et Pôle risques MRSH, Université de Caen, France

UCATT UNION OF CONSTRUCTION ALLIED TRADES & TECHNICIANS, UK

HEIDI Von PALLESKE, Founding Member Voices of Asbestos Victims, Coburg, Canada

MADHUMITA DUTTA, Member of Occupational & Environmental Network, India

MARY DOHERTY, MD, Vancouver, BC, Canada

JOSETTE WIER, MD, Smithers, BC, Canada

STACY CATTRAN, Co-Founder - "A Walk to Remember Victims of Asbestos", Sarnia

LEAH NIELSON, Co-Founder - "A Walk to Remember Victims of Asbestos", Sarnia

ASBESTOS DISEASE AWARENESS ORGANISATION, Linda Reinstein, President, USA

BARRY CASTLEMAN, ScD., Environmental Consultant, USA

NOEL COLINA, Institute for Occupational Health & safety Development (IOHSAD), Philippines

MICHAEL LEES, Founder Asbestos Exposure in Schools (AiS), UK

COLIN SOSKOLNE, Professor of Epidemiology, Dept of Public Health Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada; Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Australia; Immediate Past-President, Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Fellow, American College of Epidemiology; Fellow, Collegium Ramazzini, Italy

FERNAND TURCOTTE, MD., MPH., FRCP(C), Professor Emeritus of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, University of Laval, Québec, Canada

YEYONG CHOI, Director, Asian Citizens Centre for the Environment, South Korea

OMANA GEORGE, Asia Monitoring Resource Centre, Hong Kong

PAUL JOBIN, Associate Professor, University of Paris, Diderot, France

ARTHUR L. FRANK, MD, PhD, Professor of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia PA, USA

PIERRE DESHAIES, MD., MSc., CSPQ., FRCPC., Professeur de clinique, Département de médecine sociale et préventive, Faculté de médecine, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

LAURIE KAZAN-ALLEN, Co-ordinator - International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), UK

ERIC JONKHERRE, Co-ordinator ABEVA, Belgium PIERRE GOSSELIN, MD., MPH.,Professor adjunct de clinique, Dépt. de Méd Soc & Prév., Université Laval, Québec, Canada

TONY BRITLIN, Head of Trade Union Dept. Walker, Smith, Way law firm Chester, UK

WHYTE DAVID, Reader in Sociology, University of Liverpool, UK

VOICES OF CANADIAN ASBESTOS VICTIMS, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

ASIAN CITIZEN'S CENTRE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

JOHN R. KEYSERLINGK, MD., MSc., FRCS(C)., FACS, Director, Medicine & Surgical Oncology, Ville Marie Oncology Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

HAZARDS CAMPAIGN, UK

ROBIN RUDD, MD., London Lung Cancer Group, UK

MAVIS NYE, Member East Kent Cancer Network, UK

PAUL VANDENBROUKE, Dr., Bruxelles, Belgium

MARTIN WHITE, Senior Health & Safety Representative, RMT - Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers Union, UK

DOROTHY WIGMORE, MS., Worksafe Inc, Oakland, California, USA

THAILAND BAN ASBESTOS NETWORK

PRAJAPATT MANUBHAI, Activist, Ahmeldabad, India

GUPTA MOHIT, Activist, Delhi, India

MARK HOSKISSON, Secretary, Liverpool Trades Union Council, UK

RICHARD HAFFEY, Mystic Air Consultants, Gorton, USA

MERSEYSIDE ASBESTOS VICTIMS SUPPORT GROUP, Liverpool, UK

ABREA - BRAZILIAN ASBESTOS EXPOSED PEOPLES ASSOCIATION, Brazil

FERNANDO GIANNASI, Engineering Senior Labour Inspector of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Sao Paulo, Brazil & Coordinator, Virtual Citizen Network Asbestos in Latin America

GREATER MANCHESTER HAZARDS CENTRE, UK

RORY O'NEILL, Editor Hazards Magazine, UK; Professor, Occupational & Environmental Health Group, University of Stirling, Scotland

JEAN ZIGBY, MD, Family Physician, Palliative Care Specialist; President, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Canada

JAMES HUFF, PhD., Staff Scientist Chemical Carcinogenesis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Research, Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA

SUKI CHUNG, Labour Action Group, China

VITHAYA KULSOMBOON, Director of Health & Consumer Protection Programme, Chulalongkom University, Thailand; Coordinator, Thailand Ban Asbestos Network

ERIC NOTEBAERT, MD, MSc., Associate Professor of Medicine, Université de Montréal & Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

ASBESTOS DISEASE AWARENESS ORGANISATION, USA

KATHLEEN BURNS, PhD., Director Sciencecorps, Lexington, Mass., USA

YVONNE R.K.WATERMAN , PhD, LL.M, Waterman Legal Consultancy, The Netherlands

DAVID EGILMAN, PhD., MPH., Clinical Professor, Dept of Family Medicine, Brown University; Editor, International Journal of Occupational & Environmental Health, Attleboro, Mass., USA

HELEN CLAYSON, Dr., Cumbria Asbestos Related Support Group, UK

MORRIS GREENBERG, MB, FRCP, FFOM, Former HM Medical Inspector of Factories, UK

TERRY BRITTON, Bradford Asbestos Support Group, UK

YV BONNIER-VIGER, MD, MSc, MM, CMSQ, FRCPC, Medical Specialist in Public Health and Preventive Medicine; Director of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Québec; Président de l'Association des médecins spécialistes en santé communautaire du Québec, Canada

TUSHAR KANT JOSHI , FRCS., FFOM., Director, OEM Programme, Centre for Occupational & Environmental Health, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India; Former Occupational Health Consultant, WHO India; Fellow, Collegium Ramazzini; Visiting Professor, Occupational Health, Drexel University.

ANNIE LUK, Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong

APOLINAR TOLENTINO, Building and Woodworkers International, Malaysia

JAN DOHERTY, Concerned Citizen, Canada

BABAJI SWAIN, Orissa Asbestos Union, India

ELIZEBIUS MASTER, KKNTC (trade union), India

LEELAMMA RAVI, KKNTC (trade union), India

SIU SIN MAN, Association for the Rights of Industrial Accidents Victims, Hong Kong

ADAM KAMINSKI, Building and Woodworkers International, Asia Pacific ALAN TANJUSAY, ALU (Associated Labor Unions), Philippines

ANUP SRIVASTAVA, Building and Woodworkers International, South Asia

CHAN KAM HONG, ARIAV (Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims), No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance

GEOFFREY WHEELER, Center for Vocational Building Technology, Thailand

HEUNGKYU LIM, BANKO, Asian Citizens' Center for Environment and Heath, South Korea

JAYABALAN THAMBYAPPA, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP), Malaysia

JI YOL JUNG, BANKO, Asbestos victim, South Korea MOHAMMAD HAMDAN BIN H DORHALLIM, Malaysia Trade Union Congress, (MTUC), Malaysia

MUCHAMAD DARISMAN, Indonesia Ban Asbestos Network (Ina-BAN), Indonesia

NADIA SANTY DE LEON, Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development, (IOHSD), Philippines

PHILLIP HAZELTON, APHEDA, Australia

RAMIN MEHRADAD, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran

SANJIV PANDITA, Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong

SUK-KYUN LEE, BANKO, Busan Committee, South Korea

TAKEHIKO MURAYAMA, PHD, Waseda University, Japan

JEAN VERRAVER, Retired Electrical Engineer, La Hulpe, Belgium

ASIAN NETWORK FOR THE RIGHTS OF OCCUPATIONAL & ENVIRONMENTAL VICTIMS
(ANROEV) China Network, China

RASMINA PAKPAHAN, Indonesia

ANNIE THÉBAUD-MONY, PhD, Directeur de recherche honoraire à l'Inserm, (Scientific Research Group on occupational Cancer), Université Paris 13, Bobigny, France

BAN ASBESTOS FRANCE ASSOCIATION

HENRI PÉZERAT, France

MARK HINDRY, Prof. University of Paris, Diderot, France

ANDEVA, Association nationale de defense des Victimes de l'amiante, France

GERARD R. SENO, National Executive Vice President and ALAN TANJUSAY, Policy Advocacy & Campaign Officer, ALU-TUCP - Associated Labour Unions Trades Union Congress, Philippines

PAT KINNERSLY. Author, "Hazards at Work - How to Fight Them", Romsey, Hants, UK

HARBINDER BAINS, Lawyer, Leigh Day solicitors, London, UK

JOHN WOODCOCK, MP, Member of Parliament for Barrow-in-Furness, UK

MICHAELA KEYSERLINGK, Labelle, Quebec, Canada

LINDSAY FRASER AM Assistant National Secretary, Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union, Sydney, Australia

SEAN MARSHALL, Industrial Officer, Commonwealth & Public Sector Union, Sydney, Australia

EDDY SABINO, UNITE union, Construction Branch, Liverpool, UK

STEVE TOMBS, Professor of Sociology, Liverpool John Moore's University, Liverpool, UK

MARIE HUGHES, Member MAVSG, Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group, Wrexham, NorthWales

CAROL DAWSON, Macmillan Lung Cancer Specialist, St Helens & Knowsley Hospital Trust, UK

VERA RIGBY, Member GMAVSG, Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, UK

ASBESTOS SUPPORT WEST MIDLANDS, Birmingham, UK

SASKATCHEWAN ASBESTOS DISEASE AWARENESS ORGANISATION, Canada

DERBYSHIRE ASBESTOS SUPPORT TEAM, Chesterfield, UK ASBESTOS VICTIMS SUPPORT GROUPS FORUM, Great Britain S

ARAG - SOUTH YORKSHIRE ASBESTOS VICTIMS SUPPORT GROUP, Rotherham, UK

NOTE: Titles and affiliations are given for identification purposes only.

Copies to:
Dr Christopher Wild, IARC Director
Dr. Eduardo Seleiro, IARC Ethics Committee Dr. Abha Saxena, WHO Research Ethics

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