rn: Canada: WTO villain


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

This is a "Beware of poison presents" message I'm afraid... Beware of Canada
wanting to sell CANDU nuclear reactors to Turkey (with its earthquakes!
can't really call it selling actually, for we "loan" countries the money so
they will prop up our rotten nuclear industry).

Beware the US selling cigarettes with tactics that are not allowed in the
US... (eg. rn posting of 27/12/98 on "Fumo luoco") Beware Canada using the
WTO to try to foist asbestos on people elsewhere in the world. Lots more
examples like this, I'm afraid. One of the best presents we can give our
sisters and brothers in other countries is to work to prevent our
governments from getting away with giving out these poison "presents". 

all the best, Jan
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 09:48:51 -0600
From: Community Outreach Center <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Canada, Asbestos and the WTO

From: Community Outreach Center <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Asbestos and WTO

Hi Friends,

I am sending to you a presentation on asbestos that Barry Castleman made at
the ngo Health and Environment Day in Seattle. [Note from Jan: I can send
you the presentation on request.]  It is a very disturbing
account about how Canada is trying to use the WTO to allow them to export
asbestos to developing countries. Barry is the leading researcher in
originally exposing the hazards of asbestos. He would like to get this
information out to as many people as possible in Canada. I did an interview
with Barry while I was in Seattle which will shortly air on our radio
program Making the Links CFCR 90.5  FM. Could you please circulate this to
all of your lists and particularly those involved in health and safety
issues. If we can expose this manoeuver, and put public pressure on, we
could force the government to back off this attempt to target third world
countries with a deadly product and role back national bans on asbestos
use. Thank you,  Don Kossick.
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 18:51:34 -0400
From: •••@••.••• (Joan Russow)
Subject: Canada and the WTO

Piece printed in the Times Colonist, Victoria, Canada Tuesday, December 14, 1999

By Joan Russow

At the WTO in Seattle, Canada was revealed to be one of the WTO Villains.
and NOW we have the Uvic Frankenspuds

Canada has already received global condemnation as one of the world's major
suppliers of Frakenfoods;unfortunately there has not been sufficient
opposition inside Canada. Rather than continuing to fund University
research in the development of more genetically engineered foods and crops,
the federal governemnt must institute a fair and just transition and
conversion program to organically grown food for the farmers and
communities already affected by the blight of Genetically engineered foods
and crops.

Opposition for trade agreements in Canada has mounted in part because of
the Ethyl case where Canada was obliged to compensate the Ethyl Corporation
after Canada had refused to accept, for environmental reasons, the
additive MMT. . Rather than use other multinational international
environmental agreements to counter Ethyl's claim, Canada caved into  to
the decision by the NAFTA panel. Outrage arose in Canada that foreign
corporations should have this right in Canada. The opposition has been
fueled by nationalism demanding Canada's sovereign rights to set standards
and regulations be respected; in some cases even when Canada's standards
are below international standards.  Unfortunately, this case has obscured
the fact that Canada acts to undermine higher standards and regulations
related to hormone treated beef, and  genetically engineered foods and
crops by Europe, and to set aside the banning of  asbestos in France. One
is left with the question of whether Canada agreed to pay Ethyl      in
order to be able to justify its using the WTO to further its industries of
hormone treated beef, GE foods and crops and asbestos all of  which have
been demonstrated to be harmful to human health and the environment.

On Sunday, November 28 , 130 opponents of genetically engineered foods and
crops  from 20 countries met and called for a ban on genetically engineered
processes, foods and crops and animals. This resolution, including a call
for the end of the patenting of life forms, for the criminalization of
biopiracy, along with other demands  was subsequently presented to an
informational session plenary meeting of about 600 participants and was
read by Maxime Waters a US congresswoman who has undertaken to put the
resolution on the floor of congress.

At the same  informational session plenary meeting,  there was a
presentation of the WTO Asbestos Case and its Health and Trade
implications. The presenter referred to the challenge by Canada to France's
complete ban on all uses of all types of asbestos. The case was greeted
with calls of "shame Canada". The presenter noted that the real targets of
the case are the developing countries and that Canada has in reality no
expectation of resuming significant exports of asbestos to France or to
most of the other developed countries but is worried about the impact of
the ban on its sales of asbestos to the developing world.

For too long the Canadian government has proclaimed that it has obligations
and commitments under vested economic agreements and institutions such as
the WTO. Rarely does the Canadian government acknowledge that it has
obligations and commitments under international public trust law.

Two significant principles from public trust international agreements were
agreed to under the Rio Declaration from UNCED: the precautionary principle
- where there is a threat to the environment the lack of full scientific
certainty shall not be used to justify postponing measures to prevent the
threat. The other principle is the "non-transference of harmful substances"
where states made a commitment to prevent the transfer to other states of
substances or activities that are harmful to human health or the

In the cases of hormone treated beef, of GE foods, crops and animals, and
of asbestos, there is sufficient existing scientific evidence to invoke the
precautionary principle thus justifying  the call for banning.  Genetically
engineered foods and crops and asbestos have been proved to be harmful to
human health and environment and their continued production and transfer to
other states  contravenes principles of international public trust law.

We are now living in the wake of negligence from years of institutional
collusion among governments, financial institutions, corporations, academic
establishments and the military--- a disregard for the public trust : the
violation of human rights, including civil and political rights and labour
rights, the denial of social justice, the degradation of the environment,
and the escalation of war and conflict.

What is needed is not  the tinkering with but the dismantling of the WTO
and the immediate implementation of years of international agreements
related to protecting the environment, guaranteeing human rights, including
labour rights, ensuring social justice and preventing war and conflict.
These agreements, in contrast to the vested interest economic agreements
and institutions such as WTO, NAFTA, APEC, GATT further the public trust.

1999 is the culmination of the decade devoted to the furtherance of
international law. The WTO should be dismantled and member states of the
United Nations  called upon to discharge obligations incurred under
conventions, treaties and covenants, to act on  commitments made through
Conference action plans, and to fulfill expectations created through
General Assembly Resolutions; so that there will be no victims or villains.

Joan Russow (Ph.D)
Federal leader of the Green Party of Canada

1 250 598-0071