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CANSA CEO supports call for export ban – Asbestos double standards condemned

This article was originally published on page 17 of Zululand Observer on February 5, 2010

On the eve of World Cancer Day (4 February) South Africa joined scientists from 28 countries in condemn Quebec’s asbestos export policy.

More than 100 scientists have challenged Premier Jean Charest, currently on a trade mission to India, to stop Quebec’s export of asbestos to the developing world.

In a letter, the scientists note that Quebec uses virtually none of the asbestos it mines; is spending millions of dollars to remove all forms of asbestos from its schools and buildings; and that its own health experts oppose the govemment’s asbestos policy and have shown that in Quebec itself, it has been impossible to use any asbestos safely.

The letter is signed by US cancer expert, Dr Devra Davis, and by Sue Janse van Rensburg, Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).

“Quebec itself is experiencing an appalling epidemic of asbestos-related disease,” said Janse van Rensburg, an ex-Zululander. “Yet it is exporting asbestos to developing countries where there are far less protections than in Quebec. This is simply indefensible.”

SA example
“South Africa used to export asbestos, but has now banned it,” said Dr Davis. If a country facing enormous economic hardships, like South Africa, can ban asbestos, then why can’t Quebec?” The scientists criticized Charest for funding industry misinformation and turning a deaf ear to his own health experts.

“Independent scientists in Quebec and in India are being vilified and threatened by the asbestos industry,” said Dr Davis, noting that the asbestos industry in India has notified a number of scientists that legal action will be taken against them if they do not retract their published articles concerning the threat to health posed by chrysotile asbestos.

“We call on Premier Charest to categorically condemn such threats to independent science by vested interests. We ask him to give his unequivocal support to his government’s own health scientists. We ask him to act honourably and end Quebec’s export of this deadly product”.

Dave Savides -Zululand Observer

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