In Review: Sickening State
Reviewed by Stephanie Grylls
A baby innocently enters the world unaware that it has been the victim of a quiet assault from toxins since conception. Exposed in vitro as a result of its mother’s contact with polluted water and clothing, as well as cleaning and healthcare products, an infant is then subjected to more chemicals contained in its mother’s breast milk. In the US, a child has a one-in-three chance of developing a chronic childhood disease, such as birth defects, cancer or neurological problems. Since World War II, the inci- dence of childhood disease, along with fertility problems and premature births, termed the new “pediatric morbidity,” has been on a steady incline. It threatens the health of children today and possibly the survival of our species.
In Poisoned for Profit, Philip and Alice Shabecoff present an impeccably researched parallel between the proliferation of environmental toxins and the dramatic increase in chronic childhood disease in the US. Philip clearly relies on his 14-year tenure as The New York Times’ environmental correspondent, while his wife is also an accomplished freelance writer...
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Dead Trees Review - Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Poisoned for Profit: How Toxins are Making Our Children Chronically Ill
Poisoned for Profit: How Toxins are Making Our Children Chronically Ill, Philip and Alice Shabecoff, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010
Have you wondered why there seems to be an epidemic of serious childhood illnesses, like cancer, asthma and birth defects, in America? It has a lot to do with the huge increase, over the past 50 years, of toxic chemicals dumped into the environment. This book gives the details.
There are a number of towns all over the country, ranging from Dickson, Tennessee, to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to Toms River, New Jersey, suffering much higher than normal numbers of severe childhood illnesses. Each town just happens to also contain a large industrial plant that handles lots of toxic chemicals. Are the illnesses all "isolated instances" or "just one of those things?"
The authors say that the CEOs of the major chemical companies are not evil people who deliberately want to poison innocent children, but profit is most important. It is very hard to prove, absolutely, that a particular case of asthma or cancer, for instance, was caused by chemicals from a particular industrial plant, though the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong. The chemical companies use that uncertainty to delay the paying of any fines or cleanup costs.
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Ekos-Squared Review: Poisoned for Profit: A must read
February 10, 2011
Our creative readers: We are very fortunate at Ekos-Squared – some of our regular readers are prominent and highly accomplished. In the past we’ve published poems and art by poet Sharon Auberle and reports from Willie Fontenot, a legendary Louisiana fighter for safe and sustainable communities.
Philip and Alice Shabecoff
Alice Shabecoff: Today’s featured reader is Alice Shabecoff, a journalist who writes about family, consumer and environmental health issues. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the International Herald Tribune, and many other top news outlets. She is co-author with her husband Philip Shabecoff of a must-read: Poisoned for Profit: How Toxins Are Making Our Children Chronically Ill. (Chelsea Green, paperback in 2010). We recommend it highly not only because it highlights the links between industrial pollution and illness but because it tells the story of real families in real communities – and what they endure. The book’s stories are personal and chilling – while parents and pediatricians struggle to fight illness, one child at a time, the industry conspires, along with scientists-for-hire, lawyers and PR firms and even government, to obscure the truth about the toxic chemicals that pervade our communities, homes and lives.
Poisoned for Profit is especially relevant given the shift in Congress and in many states to strip away environmental and product safety regulations and to promote inherently toxic technologies including coal and nuclear power. In the guise of promoting jobs, the real beneficiaries of the would be deregulation are the very corporate polluters that Poisoned for Profit describes.
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Poisoned for Profit – “Background” Levels of Chemicals and Their Effect on Our Kids
Steve Jensen's Blog
August 28, 2010
“The toxification of the environment – the introduction of poisons into our habitat by industrial and commercial activity – has been a fact of modern life for decades. But this plague of pollution is so insidious, like the slowly heating pot of water that boils the unsuspecting frog that its true dimensions have crept up on us largely unheeded. So has its impact on the health of our children.
This startling paragraph opens an equally startling new book by husband and wife Philip and Alice Shabecoff, titled “Poisoned for Profit – How Toxins Are Making Our Children Chronically Ill.” The Shabecoffs cast their book as a crime story and adopt the “voice of a prosecutor presenting a case to a jury” in pointing the finger at those responsible for the poisoning of our children. The Shabecoffs conclude that those responsible parties include not only the industries who make the toxic products and dump them into the environment, but also the government officials who not only fail to stop such conduct, but often cooperate in the crime. The authors also point at scientists who “see no evil” because they are employed by industry or otherwise self-delusional, and at all the rest of us who sit by passively and allow these crimes to continue, without doing anything about it.
How did the crimes occur? In myriad ways, at many places, by a large variety of culprits. The authors write that “The health and well-being of children anyplace and everyplace in this country are under a like assault from a vast and largely uncontrolled array of hazardous, human-created substances in the environment.” One of the “criminals” “prosecuted” in the book is familiar to the readers of this blog – Monsanto – the maker of 99 percent of all of the PCBs ever used in the United States. The book documents Monsanto’s crimes against children not only as the maker of the environmentally ubiquitous PCBs, but also as the developer of “recombinant bovine growth hormone” or “rBGH” a hormone injected into cows to increase milk production.
Despite Monsanto’s determined investment of millions of dollars into a lobbying and public relations campaign to convince consumers and government that rBGH milk is completely safe, several countries in Europe have banned the hormone. Meanwhile, in the United States, Monsanto has actually filed lawsuits to prevent dairy farmers from accurately labeling their milk as “rBGH free” on the basis that such a label suggests that “rBGH” is harmful. Worse yet, Monsanto has won some of these suits. Meanwhile, our children continue to drink milk tainted by a hormone that has never been shown to be safe. To the contrary, we do know that rBGH milk contains elevated levels of insulin growth factor hormone, which could cause children who drink it to become more susceptible to cancer.
But what about Monsanto’s PCBs? How do they affect children? The book documents that PCBs have been well-established to cause brain damage in children exposed in the womb and early childhood. “The equivalent of a single drop in 118 bathtubs of a mixture of chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can cause a lowering of IQ and a rise in attention deficit disorder in a child exposed in the womb.” Unfortunately, developing brains in young children are highly susceptible to the effects of neurotoxins such as PCBs. When the brain pathways and connections that multiply so quickly in early childhood are interrupted, slowed, or halted by a chemical exposure, too often the child will never have a second chance to create those critical connections. Thus, the damage is permanent.
So how do the Shabecoffs suggest that this problem be fixed? They call for strengthening the laws governing the manufacture, use, and sale of chemicals, along with strong enforcement of such new laws. They call for “eliminat[ing] the common corporate practice of settling lawsuits with a denial of guilt, and, in essence, blackmailing families into silence.” More radically, the authors also suggest reforming the entire concept of corporate existence – including by discarding the notion that corporations should have the same (or better) legal rights as people.
The authors urge that, ultimately, our children cannot be protected from chemical assault unless and until we all commit to a grass-roots effort to force change in industry and government conduct. I believe they are right.
What do you think?
Read the original review here...
Drinking Dry the Sea
August 12, 2010
Consider the environmental woes that confront us. Consider drinking dry the sea. They feel about the same.
Global warming, overfishing, deforestation, uncontrolled release of genetically modified material, nuclear waste.
So cut it down, make it manageable. Choose a single issue – say the release of toxic chemicals into our air, soil, water and our bodies. Reduce it further; only look the effects on human health – in fact, just look at the effect on the health of children.
Even this, perhaps, is more than we can bear.
Poisoned for Profit by Philip and Alice Shabecoff (Chelsea Green, 2010) tours the landscape and history of post-war America’s poisoning of its population, particularly its children.
How can it be? How can a nation that has attained so much and claims such moral high ground in human rights and social values simultaneously pump out poisons that have sent American rates of birth defects, childhood cancer, asthma and diabetes on an ever-rising trajectory?
Laying out their case in the form of an indictment, the Shabecoffs present the evidence, naming names – at least some of them. General Electric, Monsanto, Dow, Dupont. Poisoned for Profit details the manufacturing processes of each of these companies create the poisons that now infest the nation’s human environment.
Detailed reporting reopens old wounds for anyone who has witnessed or been affected by modern toxification. How the industrial feedstock chemicals get into our air and water, invade our bodies, how the bodies of children are so much more susceptible than those of their parents.
The Shabecoffs show how, worse still, the corporations responsible for this pollution – the Dows and Monsantos – knew early on what the likely effects of their activities would be. How those same corporations act – singly and in industry-wide concert – to shift the blame for their poisons onto the victims themselves, to obfuscate issues, distort science and economics and use cohorts of attorneys and war chests of cash to pervert the justice system – all with the single goal of corporate profit. This is the sea that must be drunk dry, if we as a species are to thrive.
To the PR staff at General Electric or Dupont, childhood illnesses due to environmental poisons (not theirs, they’ll stress, maybe someone else’s), is an “unintended by-product” of this late industrial age. As social commentator Joan Dickenson pointed out, there are no “by-products.” There are only products. Whether the corporation intends them or not, cancers and birth defects are products of the corporation, just as much as Teflon or a quarterly dividend.
Poisoned for Profit shows how state and federal agencies tasked with protecting health and the environment are manacled by the same cohort of attorneys, plus lobbyists, plus trade associations. The politicians of the legislative and executive branches, who should intervene on behalf of citizens – children in this case – are trapped, perhaps too willingly, by the need for constant infusions of campaign cash, of a magnitude multinational chemical companies can afford but sick children cannot.
To hold this ocean – or even, say, the Gulf of Mexico – in one’s mouth seems impossible. Perhaps it is, but parents, their communities, dedicated environmentalists and journalists like Phil and Alice Shabecoff are draining this ocean every day.
The appendices to Poisoned for Profit provide helpful information for protecting yourself and your family, beginning from the moment you plan your family and working outward through your home diet and community. It’s difficult and painstaking and it shouldn’t fall to parents to go to such lengths to protect their children from corporations that would poison them, but it’s the only way to drink the ocean dry.
Read the whole article here.
Philip Shabecoff, former chief environmental correspondent for the New York Times, and Alice Shabecoff, former executive director of the National Consumers League, contend that there is a link between corporate pollution and the high percentage of the children being born with or developing health problems.
With indisputable data, the Shabecoffs reveal that the children of baby boomers ― the first to be raised in a truly "toxified world" ― have higher rates of birth defects, asthma, cancer, autism and a frightening range of other neurological illnesses from ADHD to mental retardation, and other serious chronic illnesses compared to previous generations.
They reveal that one out of two pregnancies fails to come to term or results in a less than healthy child and that premature births and infertility are on the rise as this generation matures.
You can watch a BookTV event with the authors, read Alice's new blog postings on MomsRising.org, and browse information on the victims and perpetrators of toxic pollution at PoisonedProfits.com.