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Latest Messages:

June 1, 2006 CSE Newsletter

Previous Messages:

May 16, 2006 CSE Newsletter

November 24, 2005 CSE Newsletter

September 22, 2005 Newsletter

March 15, 2003 Newsletter

You can find CSE archives of past newsletters on their website.



June 1, 2006 CSE Newsletter

An e-bulletin from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India, to our network of friends and professionals interested in environmental issues.


- Join the online national rainwater harvesting database
- Leapfrog Factor : Sneak preview
- Cover Story: Pesticide free farming
- Editorial : Want to be fried?
- CSE launches Green Educators Network
- Gobar Times: Why Indian fisher folk are starving
- News: Malaria outbreak in Assam mirred in corruption, mismanagement
- Analysis: Uttaranchal's drought declaration lacks logic
- Feature: Why the mafia controls the waste industry
- Sign up for DTE online for only US$9.99/year



Rainwater harvesting database


We need your help to create a public online database of urban rainwater harvesting systems (URWH) implemented across the country over the past few years. We want to find out how many people are harvesting rain, where and how they are doing it, and what the impact is. If you have an Urban rainwater harvesting project in your house, colony, office or institution, if you have helped others to build a system, or if you are involved in protecting a lake or water body, we want to know.

For more information>>


The Leapfrog factor : Sneak Preview


Discover how polluted Asia can reinvent itself by leapfrogging to clean vehicle technology and fuels. The book stirs the debate on the dilemmas and dynamics of Asia and sets the agenda for action and progress in our cities. It challenges the current mobility paradigm that hard sells cars as a lifestyle of wealth and freedom. The book also captures the drama and politics of the fight for clean air in Delhi.


Rs. 590/USD 35 Inclusive of shipping


Cover Story: Pesticide free farming


The future of pest management doesn't have pesticides because they don't make economic sense. This is the lesson coming from Andhra Pradesh, where about 12,000 farmers across 23,000 acres have reaped the benefits of not using pesticides in the past year. Non-pesticidal crop management has not only helped them bring down the cost of cultivation but also improved the quality and quantity of yield in some places.

Read the in-depth report (subscription required)>>


Editorial: Want to be fried?


By Sunita Narain

I first learnt about SLAPP when we released a study about pesticides in colas. PepsiCo had filed a defamation case against us in the Delhi High Court and our lawyer, fresh out of law school in Bangalore, jumped as he read through the company's petition saying this was a classic SLAPP case. We were bemused, knowing nothing about such legal intricacies. SLAPP, he explained, was an acronym in the US for 'strategic lawsuits against public participation'. These are libel or defamation cases filed by corporations against individuals and institutions, supposedly to defend their honour and business. The intention was to use the legal system to threaten, intimidate and silence.

But how, we asked. The companies who file SLAPP cases rarely win in court, but achieve their real objective to discourage others from speaking out. The defendants, who are invariably individuals, spend huge amount of time and money running to courts fighting the case. This harassment discourages others from petitioning government on public issues. An environmental activist in West Virginia was sued for us $200,000 for criticising a coal-mining company for polluting the local river. Cattle-ranchers filed a million dollar case against television celebrity Oprah Winfrey for hosting a show on mad cow disease and discussing dangers of eating contaminated beef. The list runs in thousands.

The most (in)famous of these cases was filed by junk food giant McDonalds against two activists in Britain, who had in 1990 distributed a six-page leaflet on 'what was wrong with McDonald's'. The company accused them of defaming it because they had said that it contributes to cardiac diseases, cancer and diabetes. The company won the case in 1997 and it has become a precedent for corporate libel cases, commonly known as McLibel. Such cases particularly target individuals and media organisations so that the messenger is shot, along with the message.

But why should we be interested? The fact is that we are catching up with the world. Just in case you have missed this buzz, let me bring you to date.

Y S Mohana Kumar is a doctor practising in a nondescript village called Padre in Kerala. Unknown, till he noticed that people in his village were more diseased and deformed than most and started asking questions. One thing led to another and researchers - from different institutions - confirmed and reconfirmed the presence of residues of endosulfan, a pesticide, in blood, soil and water samples from the village. In 2003, Mohana Kumar received a legal notice from the lawyers of the Pesticide Association of India threatening legal action if he did not apologise and withdraw his statements immediately. His crime? Writing a letter in this magazine on these findings against the government-appointed O P Dubey committee, which had absolved the pesticide of the deadly ailments of people in Padre.

For the record, Down To Earth followed up investigations against the Dubey committee and found to its horror evidence of how data was fudged; how scientists were coerced and how industry influenced the findings of the committee. The committee's proceedings were challenged and investigations reopened by the government. Mohana Kumar was right but that clearly was not the point.

Madhumita Dutta is not a doctor, but an environmental activist who recently received legal summons to appear before a court in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh. Her crime is that she researched and published, with others, an investigation on acute pesticide poisoning in the district. The case filed by the pesticide industry association Crop Care Federation even implicates the designer of the publication and is aimed at harassing and warning others to desist or be destroyed.

Umendra Dutt runs an NGO in Punjab called Kheti Virasat Mission, which works on various farmer-related issues, including pesticide use. He has been sued for Rs 5 crore by United Phosphorous Limited, a leading pesticide manufacturer. His crime: discussing in public, health studies on pesticide exposure and how it could act as a trigger to diseases, and even lead to congenital malformations and genetic disorders. All clearly well-established in scientific studies across the world.

But it does not stop there. The company has also filed a case against the media giant, Bennett and Coleman, the publishers of the Times of India . Their crime is similar: publishing a report quoting Dutt in their daily newspaper, Mumbai Mirror . The defamation case has been filed by the company alleging that the statements in the article will 'disparage our client's reputation' in the trade across the world. This is particularly intriguing, because the article does not mention the company at all, only pesticides and their health impacts.

But how do I know this? Because two weeks ago, my colleague Chandra Bhushan, received a letter from an NGO called the Centre for Environment and Agrochemicals, which enclosed a copy of this legal notice. The letter told him that if he was to attend a forthcoming meeting being organised by Kheti Virasat Mission he "will be made a party (to the case against Kheti Virasat) and unnecessarily dragged into litigation". In simple language a simple threat: we will sue you if you dare to attend.

It does not stop there. We called to check more about the NGO and received another letter. The letterhead was the same, but the signatory had changed. Now Rajju Shroff, the owner of United Phosphorous Limited wrote, saying, "The industry has decided to take legal actions and expose all your activities." I am sure we will hear from them again.

In these modern David-and-Goliath tales, I can only hope (and pray) that there are many, many more Davids.

- Sunita Narain


Green Educators' Network


CSE's Environment Education Unit presents the Green Educators Network a forum to bring educators across the world together to collaborate and discuss environment matters. Membership of the network is free and open to University/College teachers of all backgrounds interested in the field of environment. Apart from regular updates and reviews on the latest books, films and other resources on environment, members can use the forum to showcase their own books and publications on the environment.


Gobar Times : Environment for beginners


With a coastline of 9,040 kilometers and a network of rivers crisscrossing every part of its land, its not surprising that India is the third largest fish producer in the world. Yes, fisher folk-living in Assam at the top of the map, or in Kerala right at the bottom--contribute enormously to our national income. So why are they still starving?


More in Down To Earth magazine


News: Malaria outbreak in Assam mirred in corruption, mismanagement

A malaria outbreak that has affected 20,000 in India's north-east has caused the region to rise in protest over the government's lax attitude towards the outbreak.


Analysis: Uttaranchal's drought declaration lacks logic

The government of Uttaranchal has declared most of it's districts drought hit and has responded with a Rs. 33 Crore (US$ 72,000) aid package. Experts warn that the declaration does not into account the ecological differences in this hilly region. With no measure for drought intensity, areas that are heavily dependent on rain are treated the same as those irrigated by river water.


Feature: Why the mafia controls the solid waste disposal business

In the very first episode of the hit HBO TV series "The Sopranos", mafia boss Tony Soprano utters a seemingly programmed response, "waste management consultant" to his therapist's inquiry: "What line of work are you in?". In fact, the mafia's control over waste disposal has deep historical roots. Cities such as New York, unable to handle their own waste, turned to "private players" like the famous mobster Carlo Gambino to take their garbage away.



Inside Down To Earth (subscription required)


To get a trial issue>>

Down To Earth subscribers - Refer your friends, family and colleagues to Down To Earth receive a complimentary copy of Down To Earth print AND one month access to Down To Earth online.


- Contract poultry farmers dealt a raw deal
- Sri Lankan government puts foreign aided NGO's under scrutiny.
- Leaders agree on an alternative trade pact for the Americas
- 17 units in Gujarat closed for discharging hazardous effluent
- Orissa draft rehabilitation and resettlement fails to impress
- India number two in Polio cases this year
- Avian flu his UK, strikes back in Pakistan


- Hunter-gatheres of Great Nicobar yield evolutionary clues
- Are subsoil carcinogens to blame for Punjab cancers?
- New approach to identifying those below poverty line
- When can we really expect the WTO Doha round to end?

Science and Technology>>

- Traditional house construction safer against next predicted quake.
- Controversial study suggests aluminium link with alzheimers


- Hemantha Withanage - What exactly is an environmentalist?


- Film: Health matters - A look at the Indian public health system


CSE is an independent, public interest organisation that was established in 1982 by Anil Agarwal, a pioneer of India's environmental movement. CSE's mandate is to research, communicate and promote sustainable development with equity, participation and democracy.
Contact CSE: http://www.cseindia.org/aboutus/feedback.htm
E-mail: < cse@cseindia.org>
Privacy policy: http://www.cseindia.org/misc/privacy.htm
Address: 41 Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi - 110062

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© Centre for Science and Environment


Front Page, Week Of:

4/16/05: Spectre to Introduce U.S. Asbestos Bill This Week

5/22/05: Individuals Injured by Asbestos Exposure Oppose Specter's Trust Fund Legislation

10/16/05: Victim's Organizations Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust Fund Legislation

11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose Jesus Pessora

12/18/05: Frist Introducing Asbestos Bill in January

12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter: Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION

Jim Fite's Alerts:

Asbestos Victim's Superfund Compensation Program

Asbestos Watch March 14, 2005 (Maryland chapter of the White Lung Association meetings)

Directorate of Safety, Health, and Environment (open letter)


Joe Oliver's Alerts:

Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.

If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.

Leonard Makowski's Alerts:

The White Lung Association stands in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)

WLA Alerts & News

S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing products - This bill is supported by the WLA.

Meet Mr. Asbestos

Proceedings of the Asbestos Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.

Australia Bans Asbestos!



Senator Specter Breaks Promise to Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community

Senate Judiciary Committee returns to Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases


World Trade Center Health:

In May 2003, the Global Environment & Technology Foundation developed the "Asbestos Strategies" report.

British Asbestos Newsletter:

The latest issue is Spring 2005


News from India:

The latest issue is January 4, 2007



December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day


Current Projects:

Asbestos Museum


Articles & Publications:

Occupational Respiratory Diseases: Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts

Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White Lung Association



In Memoria:

Paul Safchuck May 21, 2003

Dr. William Nicholson Dies at 70

Ray Sentes Brave Fighter For Asbestos Victims

For more information please contact info whitelung org.