Successful International Campaigns on Cancer Prevention: Asbestos Case Study

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1 Successful International Campaigns on Cancer Prevention: Asbestos Case Study by Laurie Kazan-Allen To safeguard the asbestos cash cow, the global asbestos lobby engaged in a high-profile, multilingual propaganda campaign which relied on: the use of hired gun scientists to produce proasbestos scientific research, including attacks on the viability and safety of asbestos-free alternatives; the widespread dissemination of industry junk science to international agencies and reputable academic journals; the suppression of adverse findings by medical or scientific researchers; physical and verbal attacks on individuals and groups critical of the industry. The aims and purposes of the early asbestos campaigners included: assisting the asbestos-injured obtain recognition and compensation for their conditions; spreading awareness of the asbestos hazard; introducing legislation to minimize hazardous exposures to workers and the public; limiting and/or banning national asbestos use. 1

2 Australia Japan Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Ban Asbestos Network Japan (BANJAN) Asbestos Diseases Society of Victoria Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia Inc. Japan Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related Gippsland Asbestos Related Diseases Support Inc. Disease Victims and their Families Queensland Asbestos Related Diseases Support Society Netherlands Inc. Dutch Asbestos Victims Committee Belgium New Zealand National Association of Belgian Asbestos Victims (ABEVA) Asbestos Diseases Association of New Zealand Brazil Switzerland Associação Brasileira dos Expostos ao Amianto (ABREA); Verein für Asbestopfer und Angehörige branches in Osasco, Rio de Janeiro, Simões Filho, Vale do Caova, comité d'orientation et de défense des victimes de Paraíba, São José dos Pinhais, Minaçu, São Caetano do l'amiante Sul and Poções. United Kingdom Canada Clydeside Action on Asbestos Ban Asbestos Canada Clydebank Asbestos Victims Group Asbestos Victims Association of Quebec Sheffield and Rotherham Asbestos Support Group Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group Chile Merseyside and District Asbestos Support Group Association of Asbestos Victims (ACHVA) Cheshire Asbestos Victims Support Group France Bradford Asbestos Victims Support Group Association Nationale de Defense des Victimes de l Amiante Barrow Asbestos-Related Disease Support (ANDEVA): 20 branches throughout France Barking and Dagenham Asbestos Victims Support Group Ban Asbestos France Hampshire Asbestos Support and Awareness Group Hong Kong Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims in Hong Ridings Asbestos Support & Awareness Group Kong Northeast Asbestos Support and Awareness Group India The Asbestos Victims Group for NW Ireland Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational Accident Victims Justice for Asbestos Victims in Northern Ireland (ANROAV) USA Ban Asbestos Network of India Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Italy White Lung Association The Italian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (AEA): Libby Asbestos Victim's Support branches in Casale Monferrato, Monfalcone and Padua A study of national movements has revealed a common pattern: 1. concerned individuals and organizations begin the asbestos debate; a coalition is sometimes formalized; the victims group becomes the driving force of a wider campaign; 2. influential organizations or social groups declare their support; 3. media coverage helps to raise public awareness but is often short-lived; new ways have to be found to retain media interest; 4. political pressure on the government proves irresistible and legislation is adopted. According to Boris Shoshenko, Chair of the International Chrysotile Alliance of Trade Unions, the groups which profit from the unfair war on chrysotile include: Trade union centres of some Western European countries where chrysotile substitute production is based BWI is raising its profile being in the frontline of (the) anti-chrysotile campaign... It is a fight with annual revenue of billions of euros at stake. On the one side of it giants of industry with huge resources, best PR technologies money can buy, with support of environmental and trade union movement blinded by propaganda. On the other side scientific research data and proven arguments, hundreds of thousands of jobs, a possibility of millions of people in poor countries to have a roof over their heads and drinking water. 2

3 3

4 In a ROCA Press Release on March 11, 2008, the threat posed by the chrysotile veto to the Convention s survival was highlighted: Industry interference and political sabotage by a handful of countries, led by Canada, are strangling the Rotterdam Convention Because of this interference, no new listing of a hazardous product under the Convention has been possible for the past four years and the groups are concerned that progress at meetings planned for this year will likewise be blocked 4

5 Asbestos Symposia at ILO Congress ILO and WHO Action Toward the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases (ILO) Asbestos A Global Disaster (ISSA) Asbestos: International Trade Union Campaign on Eliminating Asbestos Use and Preventing Asbestos Disease (BWI) 5

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