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The Pesticide Industry Protection and Dioxin-Ignoring Act

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Message John Jonik

  In a parallel universe, the U.S. Congress would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a  “Family Pesticide Prevention and Dioxin Control Act.”  

   No such luck in this dimension.   Instead, the FDA may soon be charged with administering ”The Pesticide Industry Protection and Dioxin-Ignoring Act”---or, as they call it, “The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.”

  This legislation, wrapped in all the customary wholesomeness and “for our protection” and “for the kids” rhetoric that can be mustered to camouflage the reality, may be one of the most noxious fruits to ever fall from the tree of institutionalized corporate corruption of our public medical, science, legal, and government system.

   Some critics of this act say that it serves the established cigarette makers, especially Philip Morris, by grandfathering in their legitimacy, by implying government approval of  “smoking”, and by protecting them from competition.   That may be.  But this act benefits the cigarette makers much more.   It protects them and their ingredient and adulterant suppliers, and their investors, from what could easily be the most spectacular PR disaster and liability situation in industrial history. 

   A path to understanding is to review the legislation while keeping in mind that tobacco, according to the General Accounting Office (now Govt Accountability Office), is the sixth most pesticide-intensive crop, that the GAO condemned lax government oversight of pesticide residues on tobacco, that there are over 400 pesticides registered by the U.S. for tobacco use, that many of these pesticides are chlorine chemicals and therefore sources of dioxin in cigarette smoke, and that even DDT finds its way into typical tobacco thanks to callously terminated checks of imported tobacco for that or any pesticides. 

  It helps to keep in mind that even the EPA has acknowledged that dioxin is “unlikely in nature” (i.e. not from tobacco plants), and that it is man-made---industry made---a by-product of industrial chlorine, and that dioxins are found in cigarette smoke. 

  And it is important to note that virtually every so-called “smoking-related” disease is identical to known effects of exposures to pesticides and dioxin, that many if not most of those diseases are unlikely or impossible to be caused by smoke from any plant, (even “sinful” tobacco), and that inhalation is the worst possible exposure route for dioxin because of the high efficiency of the lungs to bring it in to do its damages.

   A pesticide-sniffing dog going over this “Family Smoking” act would smell pesticide and chlorine industry input, and erasures, at every turn…if the dog survived.  

  The act says that “tobacco”---with no qualification---not adulterated tobacco, pesticide-contaminated tobacco, or dioxin-delivering cigarettes - is “the foremost preventable cause of premature death in America.”    However, no studies of tobacco itself are cited (or found anywhere, for that matter) to support that Tenet of Prohibitionist Faith.  The FDA, in spite of all the experts on hand, and in spite of universal distrust of the cigarette industry, chooses to believe  industry claims and implications that it just provides tobacco…as if it a mere middle-man between Mother Nature, or The Great Spirit, and smokers.  

  Once the FDA or anyone accepts that cigarettes are automatically tobacco or just tobacco, and that “tobacco kills”, the rest of the nature-scapegoating, blame-the-victims crusade can grind forward with relative ease.

  There are several sections about cracking down on those who dare to say, imply, or communicate by any means, that a cigarette has “reduced risks”.   The legislation contends that such claims or suggestions mislead and will dissuade people from, as they say, “cessation”.  Constitutional lawyers might have a few words to say about this censorship of what may well be absolutely true and valid speech.  A cigarette that contains no toxic and carcinogenic pesticide residues, no dioxin-forming chlorine (pesticides and chlorine-bleached paper), no burn accelerants, and no carcinogenic or co-carcinogenic non-tobacco additives, is by definition a reduced risk. 

  The few brands that are additive-free, natural, or organic would be barred from communicating that, and the act does not require warning labels about pesticides and dioxin.  Buying cigarettes would become Pesticide Roulette unless you had your own test kit…or in the unlikely case that cigarettes are labeled, when deserving, with the pesticides, dioxin, etc., information.  There are no prohibitions on that.

  This legislation ignores the fact that asbestos was removed from Kent filters years ago precisely to make for “reduced risk” cigarettes.  And it overlooks that, as we speak, states are requiring reduced risk, so-called “fire-safe” cigarettes… including labeling that convinces many that the products are fire-safe.  (“FSC” on labels does not mean “fire safe cigarette”. It stands for “Fire Standards Compliant”…referring to “speed bumps” in cigarette paper.  Even cigarette makers, fearing liabilities for fires and false claims, say the products are not fire safe.)

  The act repeatedly refers to unnamed “other components”, “other harmful components”, “additives”, and “potentially harmful constituents” and so forth.  That is the FDA’s way of including, but not specifying, the pesticides, chlorine, dioxins in the smoke, carcinogenic charcoal dust from some filters, ammonia, formaldehyde, and up to about 1400 different additives from which manufacturers concoct their secret recipes.   The FDA did not want to waste paper, or bore us with the details.

  There is wording about “..tar, nicotine, and other harmful components of tobacco products”.  But nicotine, though addictive, is not harmful.   Zealous anti-tobacco voices admit that.  Indeed, nicotine is the prime component of numerous U.S.-approved, patented, nicotine-delivery products from top pharmaceuticals.

  Besides that, though this law says that nicotine is “harmful”, the FDA cannot ban it in cigarettes. (If they did, there would be no “drug” product here for them to “regulate.”)  The FDA approves or ignores harmful things right and left, but this is a novelty---approving something they say is harmful.

  Perversely, this law gives the FDA power to lower nicotine levels, a trick long used by makers of “lite” cigarettes to induce people to smoke more and more to get that “satisfaction”.  The effect of this has been, and would be, to hit unwitting smokers with more and more pesticides and dioxin…not to mention the other stuff.  Not to mention the costs.

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Long time activist in areas relating to industrial toxics, media content and control, death penalty, Mumia Abu-Jamal, hemp prohibition, civil rights, insurance influence in public governing, religious influence in public governing, unsafe foods, (more...)
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