The Poison Papers featured in this article by Daniel Ross on the new TSCA
Poison Papers News
On a recent trip through Hawai’i as a guest of Hawai‘i Seed, Jonathan Latham, Director of the Project, talked at the University of Hawai’i.
Industrial agriculture is logically dependent on infringing on the quality of life, often catastrophically, of diverse creatures. The islands comprising Hawai’i exhibit those harms perhaps more than anywhere else on earth. Using new revelations of the Poison Papers (www.poisonpapers.org) as examples of how regulators fail to protect us I discuss the true extent of those toxic impacts. Even without revelations such as the Poison Papers however, we already know enough to stop supporting industrial agriculture, yet governments continue to do so, showering them with subsidies and other incentives. The reasons they decide wrongly are in part about economics and in part about scientific corruption; but here I point to an underlying conceptual flaw in our collective cultural understanding of life itself. Critiquing our standard, but illogical, modern interpretation of the nature of life is an overlooked key to understanding the the tragic and disastrous policies and practices prevailing in agriculture. But immediately obvious too is that the misunderstanding of life pervades much more broadly–into the justice system, into education, and into healthcare, to name just a few of those domains.
In this lecture Dr. Jonathan Latham, Director of the Bioscience Resource Project, talks about the importance of the 20,000-document Poison Papers collection and how it exposes problems with both the internal culture of the EPA and its legal framework that prevent precautionary decision-making, even when the science clearly points to danger. The documents known as the Poison Papers were collected over a period of 40 years by Carol Van Strum, Diane Hebert, Eric Coppolino, and Peter von Stackelberg, who served as custodians of the documents, gathering, storing, scanning, and distributing them. The Park Foundation, The Bioscience Resource Project, Center for Media and Democracy, and the late Rosalind Peterson helped fund this endeavor.
A panel discussion with the people who brought the three new chemical industry documents collections to the UCSF library explored what the documents mean for public health and the perils they faced in making these documents public. Professor Stanton Glantz, who began the library with the first collection of internal tobacco industry documents and explained how the documents have been used to inform litigation, documentaries and public policy decisions. University Librarian and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Information Management Chris Shaffer gave an overview of the Industry Documents Library and introduced the panel. Panelists included Dr. Jonathan Latham, Director of the Bioscience Resource Project, and Gary Ruskin, Co-founder and Co-Director of U.S. Right to Know. The panel was moderated by Dr. Tracey Woodruff, Professor and Director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment and Co-Director of the UCSF Environmental Health Initiative, which has supported the development of the Chemical Industry Documents library.
On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet series, we’ll have a conversation with Dr. Jonathan Latham, the director of the Poison Papers, a vast trove of chemical industry and regulatory agency documents and correspondence stretching back to the 1920s.
The papers show that both industry and regulators understood the extraordinary toxicity of many chemical products and worked together to conceal this information from the public and the press.