Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Public Health and Safety_Biotech Worker Made Ill from Unsafe Biotech Laboratories at Univ of Chicago


University of Chicago Microbiologist Infected From Possible Lab Accident

on 12 September 2011, 5:17 PM


http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/09/university-of-chicago-microbiologist.html?ref=hp
 
Another laboratory-acquired infection may have occurred in a University of Chicago building where 2 years ago a researcher contracted plague and later died. Late last month, a researcher who worked in the same general lab area was hospitalized with a skin infection caused by a common bacterium being studied in her lab.


The researcher became infected with Bacillus cereus, which can cause food-borne infections, while working on a project headed by microbiologist Olaf Schneewind, according to the university. She was hospitalized on 27 August; after receiving surgery and antibiotics, she was released. In her lab, where B. cereus was studied in biosafety-level 2 conditions (on the lower end of four biosafety levels), the university suspended research to decontaminate the area as a precautionary measure (it was expected to open later this week).

The researcher was likely exposed through an open wound. The university is still investigating whether she acquired the infection in the lab, said University of Chicago Medical Center spokesperson Lorna Wong. B. cereus is not contagious as long as standard procedures such as good hand-washing hygiene are followed, but family members and co-workers were screened for infection risk and some were offered precautionary antibiotics.

Two years ago, a researcher who worked in the same area in the Cummings Life Science Center, geneticist Malcolm Casadaban, a co-principal investigator with Schneewind, died after becoming infected with a weakened strain of the Yersinia pestis bacterium that was not thought to infect healthy adults. According to a report in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, Casadaban may have become sick because he had hemochromatosis, or an overload of iron in the body. The Y. pestis strain had been weakened by making it less able to acquire iron, and the excess iron in Casadaban's body might have allowed it to be become more virulent, the MMWR report says.

That report said Casadaban, who was known to use gloves inconsistently, may have become infected through dermal exposure—possibly the same exposure route as the researcher infected with B. cereus. The university said that Chicago's public health department has visited the campus and reviewed the lab's safety procedures.

Neither case involved a select agent—a pathogen on CDC's list of potential agents in a biological attack. (Although Y. pestis is on the list, the strain Casadaban studied was excluded.) But Schneewind also directs the Great Lakes Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research, a consortium funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to study select agents and natural threats. The center does some of its work at a major biosafety level-3 lab on the campus of Argonne National Laboratory, one of a dozen such regional biocontainment labs built partly with NIAID funding after the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Schneewind did not respond to an e-mail this morning seeking comment.
_________________________________________________________________


Not all infections are bacteria. Fungi and viruses can also infect wounds.


Transparancy Lacking on Human Clinical Trials in America

 Commission builds database of scientific trials

Written by John Donnelly on August 30, 2011 

 One basic issue in today’s federally funded research involving human subjects around the world: There’s no single database.

Dr. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, noted the absence of a database during the second day of meetings, which are examining the current oversight of human subjects research.

Gutmann said that the Commission started a study of all federally funded research and found no central electronic collection of them. “We know about ClinicalTrials.gov, but it is not at all comprehensive,” she said.

The issue arose during a presentation by Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., former chief of Clinical Center Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, who talked about current efforts under way by the federal government to consider revisions to U.S. regulations for human subjects protection. Emanuel agreed with Gutmann about the need for such a database.

“I’ve been saying for the last 15 years it is a scandal that neither the head of the FDA or NIH can report how many people are on clinical trials, or how many people have had an adverse event, or had died” in connection to a trial, Emanuel said.

Later in today’s meeting, Dr. Jeremy Sugarman, a Senior Advisor to the Commission and the Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine at Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, and Michelle Groman, a Senior Policy & Research Analyst at the Commission, reported that the Commission was getting closer to creating a single database of federally funded research.

Sugarman said the Commission had canvassed 18 federal agencies that conduct a scientific research and had received detailed responses from 17 of them, including the NIH and FDA. The 18th agency, the Department of Defense, has been able to give only “aggregate” information of its studies, saying that its method of collecting data did not allow for more specific information on research projects.

Sugarman said the Commission will hire a statistician to analyze the material.

Gutmann said the Commission will wait to see the outcome before deciding next steps. “It seems we have to see first how good a database we can get,” she said.

Vice Chair James W. Wagner, President of Emory University, said the database “has the potential to be an incredible contribution” in better understanding the scope of the research and spotlighting future trends.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Protests against Dangerous Biolab in Boston

WILPF Boston is active in the Stop the Bioterror Lab Coalition anchored by Safety Net Roxbury and composed of several groups and concerned individuals. The Boston University Level 4 Lab would be the 5th or 6th known level 4 lab in the US. These labs are intended to research the most deadly microorganisms known for which there are no cures. Unfortunately, most of the agents listed in the Request for Proposal are known to be of interest for Bioweapons purposes. They are not organisms that are on the public health agenda for Boston or the United States in general. This raises concern of research serving a dangerous purpose in that any supposed defensive research also serves possible offensive applications. For more information on the Bioweapons treaty of 1975, its shortcomings and efforts to strengthen it, see the WILPF UN Reaching Critical Will project page. The BU Biolab is to be housed in a building nearing completion on Albany Street but the lab cannot become operational until it receives a license from the State. Because of community opposition and legal challenges in State and Federal courts, this NIH funded initiative does not have the final go ahead. However, it has received powerful support from both Massachusetts Senators and several representatives. A number of nearby communities including Cambridge, Newton, Arlington, Brookline and Somerville have passed resolutions opposing the placing of this lab in a densely populated urban community because of safety concerns.For more information on the current opposition to the BU Biolab, visit the Stop the Bioterror Lab Coalition web site.


http://boston.wilpf.org/node/20
http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/152905

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Enemy of EPA_Whistleblower Marsha Coleman

High Price Of Blowing The Whistle On EPA



Marsha Coleman blew the whistle on the U. S. government colluding and protecting corporate misdoings in South Africa where men were knowingly killed by an occupational disease caused by vanadium poisoning.

http://www.npr.org/2011/09/06/140214594/high-price-of-blowing-the-whistle-on-epa





Laboratory Safety Lacking in California


One dead in chemical blast at Menlo Park firm

Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sept. 3, 2011
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/09/02/BAL21KVRFL.DTL&tsp=1


A body is brought out and another person injured after an explosion at 4:15pm atMenlo Science and Technology Park in Menlo Park, Ca., on Friday, September 2, 2011. Fire chief Harold Schapelhouman said that the explosion may have occured while transferring methane from one tank to another during an experiment.  (Photo by Liz Hafalia)

The explosion at Membrane Technology & Research Inc. at 1360 Willow Road was reported at 4:07 p.m. Firefighters evacuated 23 other employees from the company's building.  One other injured worker was sent by ambulance to the hospital with a shattered eardrum.









Thursday, August 18, 2011

Concerns for Public Health and Safety and Social Implications of Synthetic Biology



See link below for video testimonies:

http://www.tvworldwide.com/events/bioethics/100708/globe_show/default_go_archive.cfm?gsid=1380&type=flv&test=0&live=0


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Video Purposely Ignores Public Health and Safety Issues in Synthetic Biology


Here is a rather propagandized video which is written to advocate for synthetic biology while leaving out many critical issues.  The most blatant omission is the public health and safety issues surrounding synthetic biology.  The world of biology doesn’t behave like a sky scraper like these engineers believe.  But rather, biology is dynamic with some predictable and many unpredictable ramifications of life including, growth, competition, reproduction, cancer and aposptosis.  The potential of increase human disease or environmental havoc that this advanced technology can cause is significant  Synthetic biology is also being used for germ warfare.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dangers with Nanoparticles Must Be Monitored

ACOEM Issues Guidance Document for Occupational Exposure to Nanomaterials

July 5, 2011


Little is known about the effects of nanoparticles on the human body. That, coupled with the growing research data indicating adverse health effects on animals, has prompted the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine to offer recommendations on exposure monitoring, controls, and medical surveillance.


Research on animals indicates nanoparticles can cause adverse pulmonary effects, including pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis, as well as cardiovascular problems. There are also studies demonstrating movement of nanoparticles from the nasal cavity to the brain via the olfactory nerve tract.


"Prevention or reduction of exposure, using the hierarchy of controls seems prudent," according to the guidance document. "Engineering controls, such as source enclosure, local exhaust ventilation and HEPA filtration should substantially reduce or completely eliminate exposures."

The organization also recommends employee training in safe work practices as well as the use of respirators certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for workers potentially exposed to nanoparticles. "NIOSH also indicates that it is prudent to consider the use of protective clothing and gloves to minimize dermal exposure, although there are no scientific data from which to select the most effective protective equipment," the document notes.

In terms of assessing workers' exposure to nanoparticles, ACOEM says there is no clear metric yet. The document says some authors advocate a control banding, which is an instrument that uses categories or bands of health hazards which are combined with exposure potentials or exposure scenarios to determine desired levels of control.

NIOSH recommends a program of hazard surveillance that includes identifying the nature of nanoparticles used, types of exposure assessment, measures to control exposures, characterizing the potentially exposed workers by job title, tasks and area, and documenting this information including changes over time.

ACOEM endorses NIOSH's recommendation for medical surveillance of workers potentially exposed to nanoparticles. It notes that there is insufficient scientific and medical evidence to recommend specific medical screening. However, it notes that if the nanoparticles are composed of a chemical or bulk material for which medical screening recommendations exist, those screening techniques should be used for workers exposed to engineered nanoparticles.

ACOEM says it supports the proper labeling of products containing nanomaterials, as well as the use of voluntary exposure registries by companies, especially when there is an indication that controls are insufficient to prevent all exposure. The organization also says more research is needed.

"Needed information is lacking regarding the appropriate exposure metric, regarding exposure data from workplace settings, and regarding toxicity data, including dose-response information and information regarding absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion," ACOEM says. "There is also a need for techniques and equipment to permit practical and appropriate exposure monitoring in workplaces."

http://www.riskandinsurance.com/story.jsp?storyId=533339679

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Bug! No...It's a DRONE!

The way the world is fighting wars and collecting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance has entered into a new era of sophistication. The drone, the unmanned aircraft, is making it happen.

But what is impacting the new drone technology is size. Because size matters. And when it comes to the drone world, the smaller the size…the better.

And drones are getting smaller and smaller, changing the way governments can spy and kill. Drones the size of birds and insects are on the move. Well…up in the air …is a better way to say it.

Drone prototypes are being designed to replicate the flight of the mechanics of a moth, hawk and other natural beasts of the air are in government labs. These killing and spying machines are designed to camouflage into the background. They are able to “hide in plain sight.”

Some drones just spy. Others are programmed to spy and kill. More airforce personnel are being trained as joysticks and computer pilots now compared to traditional pilots. The Pentagon is estimated to have 7000 aerial drones currently. Congress has been asked for $5 billion for drone research and development for next year.

Currently spy balloons that hover 15,000 feet above can transmit video 20 miles away.

The smallest drone currently in use is a 3 foot long Raven “which troops in Afghanistan toss by hand like a model airplane to peer over the next hill.” There are 4,800 Ravens in operation, but some are getting lost and marked as AWOL.  This has implemented some serious search and rescue missions to find lost drones, some without success.

Lately, the Raven drone is getting some serious competition in the lab. Recreating flight that mimics insect's “flapping wing” technology is now the hot item in drone research and development. Smaller drones, the size of moths and hummingbirds are in development. These small inventions will be big advancements in the world of stealth and spying.

But the data interpretation from drones still lags behind. Currently the Air Force must process almost 1, 500 hours of video per day which requires round-the-clock techno analysis command. It takes about 19 analysts per drone to interpret the current data stream.

More sophisticated video photography capturing wider footage is estimated to take 2000 analysts to process the data feeds from a drone.

The next time you see a hummingbird, dragonfly, moth or raven, take a closer look. It just might be a drone on a mission or one that has gone AWOL.

Reference:
War Evolves With Drones, Some Tiny as Bugs
NYT June 19, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/20/world/20drones.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Genetically Engineered Cows Produce Human Milk_No Safety Studies for Children

Genetically modified cows have been engineered to produce a human lysozyme in their milk.  This milk is headed for commercial futures, intended for children.  The American public will have no choice of consumption or understandings of the milk's bad health effects since genetically engineered foods are not mandated to be labeled .  Adequate safety studies are not provided to the public.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/geneticmodification/8423536/Genetically-modified-cows-produce-human-milk.html

Workers are Injured and Then TAXED

Injured workers face many challenges. The pain of being injured and the need to recover from the injury are already a lot to deal with. Financial uncertainty is also a factor, as many workers experience the anxiety of not knowing how they'll be able to cover all of their bills without a regular paycheck.

Workers' compensation and Social Security disability benefits are supposed to ease that financial strain. But those benefits don't always stretch as far as an injured worker really needs them to. For that reason, a recent decision by the U.S. Tax Court on whether workers' compensation benefits can be excluded from taxable income is of significant concern.

The court held that certain workers' compensation benefits were taxable as Social Security benefits under section 86(d)(3) of the tax code.

For rest of story see:   Read more: http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/legal/tax/taxability.php#ixzz1P1h6NzJ7

Historical Footage of rDNA Research City Council Hearings in Cambridge, MA

Sprouts, organic farming and many unanswered questions

Government officials point to an organic farm as the source of German deadly E.coli despite the fact that all laboratory tests from the farm's food was negative for the E.coli. 

Epidemilogical evidence was used instead to pinpoint the specific farm as the source of the deadly bacteria from contaminated sprouts.

But the question remains, how did the farm become contaiminated in the first place.  Why isn't there any evidence of the E.coli present now?  Was it a natural contamination or was the E.coli purposely used to contaminate organic food crops?

759 people suffered serious complications from kidney failure from the outbreak.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110610/ap_on_he_me/eu_contaminated_vegetables?om_rid=NR04UT&om_mid=_BN8nRmB8bpM5uO

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sell out of Academia_Pfizer Buys Academia (part 3)

Pfizer (the biggest drug dealer in the world) again announces a pay off to infiltrate into publically funded academic labs in an effort to develop their pipeline for profit-making drug. Tax payer- funded academic research laboratories all over the country are being mixed in the pot for profit making deals for industry.

Who comes out the winner? Not taxpayers who pay out billions of dollars for little return.

Conflicts of interests and loss of patent rights within academic research make these academic-industrial complex deals stink for the public. While the public pays out billions of dollars, they get little in return and little focus into public health issues and public safety issues.

Pfizer has spent millions of dollars setting up collaborations in California and New York in labs that are taxpayer funded. Now Pfizer announces another $100 million dollar collaborations over the next five years with eight leading universities and research institutes in Massachusetts. It’s a lucrative investment for Pfizer who is making billions of dollars off the taxpayers back.

Public funding to academic laboratories that collaborate with money making companies should be withdrawn and given to laboratories that do research focused for the public good. In these hard hit economic times, it only makes sense. It will create more jobs which is something we need now.

The list of academic labs that have conflicts of interest with money-making schemes with rich pharma, persist to grow. These labs continue to take public funding while doing for profit research. They are in essence are double dipping into funds for research when other good scientist go without funding.

Here is only a partial list of academic institutes which do “for profit scientific research” for Pfizer and where public funding should be reconsidered for reallocation to other academic centers that focus research for the public’s welfare:

Boston University, Harvard University, Tufts University and University of Massachusetts Medical School., MIT, University of California San Francisco, Rockefeller University, New York University Langone Medical Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, Columbia University Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Weill Cornell Medical College.

http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/pfizer-announces-100-million-research-collaboration-with-academic-scientists/33678

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Healthcare Services and the Disabled

Occupational Health Nurses Undermine Worker Health

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH NURSING AND THE

QUEST FOR PROFESSIONAL AUTHORITY

authors: ELAINE DRAPER, JOSEPH LADOU & DAN J. TENNENHOUSE

NEW SOLUTIONS, Vol. 21(1) 57-88, 2011

ABSTRACT

Occupational health nurses provide most of the in-plant health care services in U.S. industry but have dubious credentials to provide care for many of the injuries and illnesses they encounter. The nurses work directly for the employer in an atmosphere designed to control employer costs and employee benefits. Their loyalty to the company and limited autonomy make it unlikely that they will represent the workers’ interests. They generally embrace any expansion of their roles within the company. However, employers and government have made no serious effort to determine whether nurses can adequately take on these new functions and advance occupational health. A nurse-directed model carries the risk that nurses who are not knowledgeable
enough about the law, or are overly committed to reducing costs, may overdelegate responsibilities, thereby aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of nursing. This overreaching is part of an ill-conceived effort to establish nursing as a profession with the greater independence, expertise, and control over training that longstanding professions such as medicine and law have achieved. An extensive literature devoted to the approval and acceptance of occupational health nursing exists, yet constructive criticism of occupational health nursing is almost nonexistent. Occupational health and safety is much too important to be largely relegated to an inadequately defined semi-profession, striving to attain higher professional status and control while lacking the expertise, power, professional standards, and autonomy required of a profession.

Baywood Publishing Co., Inc.
doi: 10.2190/NS.21.1.i
http://baywood.com/


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Deadly E. Coli Strain Kills throughout German_Source Unknown

A highly lethal strain of E. Coli that kills victims by inflicting acute kidney falure has hit Germany.  At least 1500 people have succumbed to serous illness from the biological agent with at least 16 people already dead. 

It is serious.  It is a mystery.

The E. Coli strain has been found to secrete a more potent form of a shiga toxin.  The E. Coli will cling to a person's intestinal wall and release massive amounts of shiga poisons to make people sick, causing amongst other things, sezures and stroke. 

But this new strain of E. Coli also appears to have other behavior that makes it highly unusual, one of which is making it difficult to detect by conventional means. 

E.Coli is a standard microbe used in biological research, both in biomedical and agricultural genetic research. This German strain of E. Coli could have undergone natural or made-made genetic changes to make it more potent.



One of the other main mysteries to this killer strain, is that public health officials cannot trace its source.  They assume it comes from raw vegetables and warn the public from eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuces.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/world/europe/02ecoli.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

Monday, May 23, 2011

Deadly New Emerging Illness in Children_Nodding Disease

Leadership, Power and Women

Leadership, Power and Women

Becky A. McClain

November 21, 2009

I find it ironic that in a crowded room full of women who had been lured to a talk entitled “Stepping into Power: How to Get it and How to Use It”, the lone person dozing off at the event was the only man in attendance.

Sponsored by a professional women networking group called the Lower Connecticut Valley Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the public event last Wednesday held in Old Saybrook’s Acton Library featured Dr. Nancy Hutson, a 25 year career Pfizer executive who had retired in 2006.

Hutson’s talk was advertized to discuss the subject of POWER – getting it and how to use it in the context of her experience as a woman during her career climb from a bench scientist to Senior Vice President in the male-dominated pharmaceutical organization at Pfizer Inc.

I was intrigued, not only because of the topic of power and how it relates to working women, but also, because of the past history of Pfizer and their use of power.

You see, Pfizer has not displayed the best reputation for getting and using power. In fact, Pfizer’s reputation has become seriously tarnished this past decade both locally and internationally. Their role in the imminent domain take over of New London homes, and subsequently bugging out of New London after their 10 year tax incentive deal expired, their role in public health and safety violations accompanied with research building explosions causing serious injuries, their role in unethical clinical trials resulting in deaths of Nigerian children, and finally, their egregious behavior in criminal fraud against the government for promotion of off-labeled use of their drugs are some of Pfizer’s most recent notorious acts, costing the company billions of dollars in criminal fines and settlements.

So how was Hutson going to deliver her topic on the use of power in light of what some could allege was a grand collection of abuse of power from Pfizer during her tenure?

But Hutson was slick to avoid such topics, as any savvy executive would.

And in the end her talk was disappointingly empty. Not only in her uncanny assertion that Pfizer’s bad reputation resulted from healthcare reform, baby boomers and bad economy, but also for her bland subject matter relating to power, women and the her workplace experiences.

One would think that a woman who has climbed the corporate ladder of success at Pfizer from bench scientist to Senior Vice President in charge of 4500 Groton scientists would have SOME gripping stories to share, stories containing her trials and tribulations of being a woman within the highly charged political terrain of a male dominated pharmaceutical industry.

But Hutson’s worst experience shared with us was the time her supervisor performed email tasks while she was trying to have a discussion with him. Apparently her supervisor was not being completely “present” with her, making her feel discounted.

It was then when I turned to my side and noticed my husband beginning to nod off. And as I dug my elbow into his side to make him “be present”, I realized that Hutson did not even bother to tell us how she resolved the dilemma of having such a multi-tasking un-present supervisor.

Matter a fact, Hutson gave us very little insights about the true struggles women face in the workplace, like harassment, discrimination, glass ceilings, managing work and family, and unequal pay scales.

Instead she gave us an ordinary package of self-help steps to leadership, wrapped in jargon, ringing of mundane familiarity, …“Develop relationships”, “be present”, “manage your energy”, “practice leadership”, “have defined purpose, mission and goals”. Abracadabra. You’ve got power.

And of course, not a whisper of ethics. Hutson’s experience with ethics at Pfizer apparently had little connection in defining her steps in how to get power and use it.

Despite Hutson’s cookbook and carefully constructed talk, what was apparent, however, was at the conclusion of her presentation, you could not help but like Nancy Hutson.

And that’s because Hutson fits the part.

Nancy Hutson fits the part of our present day executives, people who look and act intelligent, self assured, but down to earth, and who have the ability to develop relationships because of their knack for the art of massaging communication. They are the type of person you seemingly could trust with any personal issue, a person that one would love to share a cup of coffee and perhaps become friends.

But in reality, many corporate execs who have “stepped into power” have often watched unethical practices unfold in their businesses. And while “practicing leadership”, standing composed and smiling, carefully managing their energy and their speech, they do nothing, as well as, say nothing about these unethical practices.

You see, good executives deliver for their corporations, reporting to the bottom line. And that is exactly what Hutson told us on Wednesday. One of her opening statements was that her career role shifted from bench science to politics and the bottom line. Hutson went on to say that those who deliver for corporations are rewarded by power, title and money.

Hutson surely delivered at this talk at the AAUW meeting. She was intelligent, articulate and friendly. She gave a well structured talk, avoiding Pfizer’s history of ethical troubles.

But a discussion about leadership and power, without involving ethics, sells cheap. It holds no real substance for the majority of professional women of Connecticut who want to succeed while making the world a better place. And ironically, it put the only man attending such a discussion, right to sleep.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Silicon Valley Injured Workers Unite

Why We Are Building a Global Movement to Challenge the Chip

Ted Smith

Features

OCTOBER - DECEMBER 2010

PUBLISHED BY ASIA MONITOR RESOURCE CENTRE LTD ☯ HONG KONG ☯ ISSUE 77 ☯ OCT 2010–DEC 2010

For more than four decades, people in Silicon Valley

in California, United States, have known that the manu-

facture of computer chips requires many toxic chemicals

and that workers have been getting sick from exposure

to those chemicals. At the same time, we’ve also known

that the electronics industry has built a ‘fi re wall’ against

unions and resisted efforts by workers to organize to pro-

tect their health, wages and working conditions. Lessons

learned in Silicon Valley need to be shared throughout

Asia since electronics manufacturing is now centred

there. Here are some key examples:

1. The right-to-know is essential! Information is

the best defense!

In Silicon Valley, as in Asia, electronics production

workers were not informed about the toxic hazards for

themselves and their families and since many were mi-

grant workers from rural areas, they had no way of know-

ing about these hazards. Early efforts in Silicon Valley

included documenting the chemical hazards, informing

workers through publications and a telephone ‘hotline’,

organizing victims into a support group called ‘Injured

Workers United’, and providing medical and legal sup-

port for affected workers. While electronics executives

were uniformly hostile to unions (people who tried

to organize unions were often fired and/or harassed),

organizing to protect workers’ health was more diffi cult

to suppress. While industry executives could complain

about the evils of unions, they found it more difficult to

discredit people coming together to organize for safer

working conditions.

2. The right to say no – The Campaign to end the

miscarriage of justice3

The growing awareness that toxic chemicals were

causing reproductive harm in the community gave rise to

a demand for additional health studies to assess the extent

of miscarriages and birth defects for electronics workers.

Three separate epidemiological studies all demonstrated

a high rate of miscarriages amongst semiconductor work-

ers, leading to the demand to ban the use of glycol ethers

and other reproductive toxins. Women began to demand

that they be provided a safe work place, particularly when

they were pregnant or contemplating pregnancy.









3. The right to act – Taking workers concerns

directly to the Semiconductor Industry

In 2002, after years of organizing in Silicon Valley

and other high-tech centres in the US, we organized an

international gathering to bring together people from

other parts of the world to share stories and strategies

and to form a common agenda. This is where we formed

the International Campaign for Responsible Technology

(ICRT).4 We were all energized to learn that we had much

in common and shared similar goals. We also realized

that we were facing the same opposition and denial

from industry offi cials who ignored and minimized the

concerns that we were witnessing. We decided to take

our unifi ed message directly to the source of the problem

– to the headquarters of the Semiconductor Industry As-

sociation (SIA), which is the trade association that acts

as the global lobby for the industry. We showed up as a

large group and confronted George Scalise, President of

the SIA, and made sure that he listened to the fi rst-hand

accounts from people from all around the world who

were suffering from cancer, birth defects, and abuses of

workers’ rights. We demanded that the industry protect

its workers wherever they are – in the US, Scotland, Tai-

wan, China, etc. But the industry is still a long way from

providing a safe workplace where workers can survive

with dignity and justice. These demands still need to be

acted upon all around.





4. Moving from reaction to precaution – why we

need to get ahead of the curve

One of the most difficult challenges of dealing

with the electronics industry is that it is both extremely

powerful and changes very rapidly. In little more than a

single generation, it has become one of the most domi-

nant economic engines on the planet and has developed

a wide variety of products that have become essential

to communications, defense as well as the consumer

economy. No wonder that governments compete for new

high-tech development and are uninterested in regulating

the ‘golden goose’ that sees itself as the gateway to the

future. Moreover, since it is still governed by ‘Moore’s

law’ (which proclaims that every 18 months each new

generation of technology will be twice as fast, twice as

small and twice as cheap),5 the industry changes so rap-

idly that by the time you fi gure out what the main chal-

lenges or hazards are, the technology has moved on to the

next generation and is creating new problems even before

the older ones have been understood or addressed.

If ever there was a poster child for the need for the

precautionary principle, the electronics industry presents

itself as Exhibit A! If we spend all of our effort trying to

clean up the messes created yesterday, we will never get

ahead of the curve. Likewise, if we always have to wait

for the ‘body count’ we will continue to be overwhelmed

by too many funerals. We need to develop better ways to

screen new materials before they are introduced into the

workplace and we need to establish increased bargaining

power to make sure that management listens to the con-

cerns of the workers rather than just give lip service.

to this most powerful industry. That’s why

it is essential that we build stronger links between our

various networks, especially the newly renamed (see Box,

p. 40) Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and

Environmental Victims (ANROEV),8 the European Work

Hazards Network (EWHN)9 and the National Council on

Occupational Safety and Health (COSH)10 in the U.S.

5. Forming worker-community-environmental

coalitions is necessary.

Early organizing efforts to expose the toxic underside

of electronics production in Silicon Valley was essential

in building awareness and piercing the ‘clean industry’

mythology, but it was the linkage to community and

environmental pollution that really got people mobilized

to make the industry more accountable. Even when the

local media began to cover the growing occupational ill-

nesses, most people still ignored it if they weren’t directly

and personally affected. But when the toxic chemicals

leaked into our groundwater (which is our drinking wa-

ter supply) and residents started giving birth to babies

with serious birth defects, the residents came together

to demand that the industry change its practices. And

often it was the workers in the lead, who were suffering

from ‘double exposure’ both on the job as well as in

the community. That’s when we started passing laws to

provide greater protections and established

the legal right-to-know about which toxic

chemicals were being used in which fac-

tory. We made the point that there was no

difference between occupational health

and environmental health – that people

were getting sick from exposure to the

same toxic chemicals, whether it was in

the workplace or in the community. It was

the combined power of the broad coalition

that was able to generate enough people

power to make changes.

Now that the industry has become

truly global, we need to further develop

our people’s networks to also become

truly global. More than ever, it’s true that

an injury to one is an injury to all – that’s

why the cancer cluster at Samsung affects

us all; and that’s why the rash of suicides at

Foxconn7 is a tragedy for all of us. And it is

only through our combined resources and

common strategies that we stand a chance

to bring accountability and sustainability

to this most powerful industry. That’s why

it is essential that we build stronger links between our

various networks, especially the newly renamed (see Box,

p. 40) Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and

Environmental Victims (ANROEV),8 the European Work

Hazards Network (EWHN)9 and the National Council on

Occupational Safety and Health (COSH)10 in the U.S.



Endnotes

See Eds. Ted Smith, David A. Sonnenfeld, David Naguib

Pellow, and Leslie A. Byster, Challenging the Chip:

Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global

Electronics Industry, Philadelphia: Temple University

Press, 2006.

http://dbacon.igc.org/Unions/04hitec2.htm

http://cdn.calisphere.org/data/13030/hf/kt2b69r7hf/fi les/

kt2b69r7hf.pdf

http://www.icrt.co/

http://www.ewhn-riga.org/conferencereport/presentations/

infomeetings/IM17%20Smith%20Challenging%20the%2

0chip%20info%20meeting%20slides.ppt

http://www.causes.com/causes/546307-samsung-account-

ability-campaign

http://www.ituc-csi.org/foxconn-suicides-governments-

and.html

www.anroav.org

http://www.ewhn.eu/favicon.ico

http://www.coshnetwork.org/sites/default/fi les/favicon.jpg





A delegation from the founding conference of International Campaign for Responsible

Technology in November 2002, visiting the National Semiconductor factory in Santa Clara,

California. Photo: Ted Smith



Endnotes

See Eds. Ted Smith, David A. Sonnenfeld, David Naguib

Pellow, and Leslie A. Byster, Challenging the Chip:



Genetically Engineered Food Toxin Found in Human Blood Samples

Discovery of Bt insecticide in human blood proves GMO toxin a threat to human health, study finds


by Jonathan Benson, staff writer http://www.naturalnews.com/032407_Bt_insecticide_GMOs.html

(NaturalNews) The biotechnology industry's house of cards appears to be crumbling, as a new study out of the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, recently found Bt toxin, a component of certain genetically-modified (GM) crops, in human blood samples for the first time. Set to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology the new study shreds the false notion that Bt is broken down by the digestive system, and instead shows that the toxin definitively persists in the bloodstream.

Industry mouthpieces have long alleged that Bt toxin, which is derived from a soil bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis, is harmless to humans. The built-in pesticide has been integrated into certain GM crops to ward off pests. Bt corn, for instance, has actually been designed to produce the toxin directly inside its kernels, which are later eaten by both livestock and humans (http://www.naturalnews.com/026426_G...).

In the recent study, researchers Aziz Aris and Samuel Leblanc evaluated 30 pregnant women and 39 non-pregnant women who had come to the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS) in Quebec, Can., for a tubectomy. Upon taking blood samples, researchers detected the Bt Cry1Ab toxin in a shocking 93 percent of maternal and 80 percent of fetal blood samples. And 69 percent of non-pregnant women tested positive for the toxin in their blood.

All women involved in the study had been consuming a typical Canadian diet which, like in the US, is riddled with GM materials and toxins. Conventional soy, corn, canola, and potato products, for example, are in many of the foods eaten in both the US and Canada, which explains why Bt toxin was highly prevalent in the women's blood samples.

And the fact that Bt toxin was detected even in unborn babies shows that the chemical is easily passed from mother to child, and that it persists far longer than the biotechnology industry claims it does. Clearly, the toxin is harmful both to pests and to humans. Earlier studies have already shown that Bt toxin and other pesticides end up contaminating and persisting in the environment, which makes it a major public health concern.

Sources for this story include:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/s...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Misuse of Public Funds for Scientific Research

Certain universities are misusing public funds for scientific research. These universities, funded by the tax-payers dime, are networking and conducting scientific research to develope and increase “for-profit” pharmaceutical pipelines.

Thus enters a new world of academic industrialization of science, a relationship that makes for a conflict of interest not benefiting the public. It is not in the public’s interest to fund such university labs. And why should we?


Pfizer Inc, the largest and wealthiest pharmaceutical giant is one company that is benefiting from such networking practices with publically-funded universities. Through Pfizer's Center for Therapeutic Innovation, Pfizer scientists are relocating onto university campuses and working with publically funded labs and scientists for the sole purpose to increase Pfizer’s drug development, pipeline and patent holdings.

University scientists that “double dip” into both private and public money to support “for profit” private enterprise are not working in the public's interests.  "Double dipping" is not ethical, is not efficient, and is not in the best interest for the public or for science. Public funding should be withdrawn from universities laboratories which network to support “for-profit” industry research.

These public funds should instead be reallocated to other universities that need monies to conduct scientific exploration directed toward the public's good. Many universities remain underfunded while others double dip into private and public funds. Reallocating public monies to well-deserving and well-qualified universities who need funding for scientific exploration will create additional jobs to many qualified scientists.
Don’t misunderstand the reasoning behind this strategy. The public is not demanding to stop scientific research. Rather the public demands reallocation of public money for the public good. Reallocating public monies to universities which are in need of money and conduct research in the public’s interest instead of private interest is a sound economic strategy. In our hard hit economic times, this strategy will create jobs. It also will expand the scientific base which is a more efficient use of public funds to enhance scientific exploration.

It’s budget crisis time. Now is the perfect time to take a closer look at how our public money is being misused by some members in the scientific community for private profiterring. In fact it is time to reevaluate public funding strategies to certain research universities and institutes who double dip into both private and public funds.

Below is a partial list of the universities that are currently networking with Pfizer and double dipping into research funding. These universities and laboratories should undergo reevaluation in their ability to obtain public funding for scientific research:

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Rockefeller University
New York University Langone Medical Center
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
The Mount Sinai Medical Center
Columbia University Medical Center
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshive University
Weill Cornell Medical College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


ref: http://www.bioendeavor.net/CommonData/NewsFiles/Pfizer.pdf





Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gulf Coast Shrimper "Disrupts the Peace" at BP

Diane Wilson, injured worker activist and environmental activist protests at BP annual meeting.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/apr/14/protesters-bp-agm



BP executives faced angry protesters as shareholders prepared to vote at its annual meeting in London, which is taking place a few days before the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.


Fishermen and women from the Gulf coast affected by the spill, some of whom had bought BP shares to allow them to attend the annual meeting, joined climate change activists and artists protesting against the oil company.

Institutional investors, angry at what they claim are excessive executive pay deals, urged shareholders to vote against the remuneration package.


http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2011/4/14/gulf_coast_fisherwoman_disrups_the_peace_at_bp_shareholder_meeting

Obama Is Disconnected

Is Obama disconnected?


I could not believe my ears what I heard recently on TV from a major news channel last Thursday, April 14th.

Barack Obama was caught making an offline statement that the White House is 30 years behind in its computer technology and that he was disappointed. Obama complained of having consistent computer problems and was troubled about it. He could not understand this since he was President.

We all know that the White House is not behind times. Rather, could it be more than likely that Obama is purposely being disconnected from technology and from information?

One of Obama’s major failings when he took office was that he did not clean house. Consequently, there remains many bad players still working in all his federal agencies and even perhaps in his white house staff.

If Obama wants to be reconnected….perhaps he should do a little house cleaning!






Thursday, April 14, 2011

CONNECTICUT: DEADLY SAFETY PROBLEMS AT YALE

Safety Problems Haunt Connecticut

Yale University Senior, Michele Dufault, 22-year old died Wednesday April 6, 2011 in a lab accident after her hair got caught into a lathe while working alone. 

Safety protections for workers in Connecticut are weak.



Worker's Memorial Day, April 28th. 
State Capitol at noon
Injured Workers Unite

For more:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703983104576263463180296504.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLE_Video_second

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Biological Research Laboratories Can Cause Dangerous and Lethal Human Infections

Researchers must be wary of infections


By Blythe Bernhard / St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The death of a scientist who caught the plague in a laboratory in 2009 shook the disease research community. It was the first such death of a researcher, and 50 years since the last known lab-acquired case of plague.


For the more than 500,000 people who work in laboratories in the United States, occupational health hazards can include infectious diseases spread by live viruses and bacteria.

There’s no state or national tracking system for lab-acquired infections, but one estimate says three of every 1,000 lab workers become infected each year. The most common infections include hepatitis, typhoid fever and tuberculosis, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“We’ve always told people they need to follow safety (precautions) even if what they think they’re working with is benign,” said Susan Cook, a safety officer at Washington University, where scientists work with cultures, including flu, pneumonia, salmonella and E. coli. “You don’t necessarily know what the person next to you is working with all the time.”
......

Basic lab protection includes gloves, coats and eye goggles. Biological safety cabinets keep fumes away from researchers if they need to mix agents.

Still, infections occur when workers breathe in or touch spores.

A student worker at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign somehow contracted cowpox last year in a campus lab that stores the virus. The skin virus presented as an infected cut, according to university officials, and the student recovered.

While all lab workers are offered precautionary vaccines, the student had declined, a university spokeswoman said.

In 2008, a lab worker at a Virginia university contracted vaccinia, the live virus contained in smallpox vaccine. The man in his 20s worked in a cancer research lab with mice that were infected with vaccinia virus. He recovered fully from an infection in his eye and ear.

For complete story:  http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20110324/NEWS0107/103240320/

Lethal Dangers in Biological Research Laboratories

Researcher Dies from Work-Related Exposure to a Weaken Form of the Plague Bacterium

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/305/14/1403.full

"Under certain environmental and host conditions, infection with attenuated bacteria might result in severe disease. Researchers always should adhere to recommended use of personal protective equipment. Unexpected acute illness in a laboratory worker should be reported to the institution and health-care providers so that the differential diagnosis can be expanded to include diseases occurring as a result of occupational exposures."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Scientists Lack Safety Rights

A recent Washington Examiner post says that"More than 500,000 work in laboratories across the United States, and scientists say it is vital to take steps to protect themselves from the diseases they are studying."  The article goes on to say that  it is estimated that 3 out of 1000 lab workers acquire work-related infections. 

The article, however, does not comment on the overwhelming number of scientists that get infected from work from a non-determined exposure and are consequently prevented to correlate it with their work environment due to a lack of scientist rights.

The problem is that scientists do not have the legal rights nor union rights to ensure a safe workplace or to protect the public from negligent release of bio agents.  The majority of injured scientists who fall ill from exposures at work are kicked to the curb with no avenue for directed medical care.  They become a countless statistic. 

No federal agency, including OSHA has any real jurisdiction over the majority of biotech labs to protect the worker or the public.

The lack of rights to workers is a major problem.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/2011/03/scientists-say-laboratory-workers-must-be-diligent




Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Lack of Public Safety in Nanotechnology

Researcher Proves that Nanoparticles Bioaccumulate in Organisms

Public health and safety implications are implicated in the new nanotech field. In a new research study, it has been documented that nanoparticles that are released in the environment can be subsequently ingested by other organisms (worms) and bioaccumulate into the tissues.


This causes serious concern for the health and wellbeing of the public. Bioaccumulation of nanoparticles could be the cause of new illness, disease and cancer. Some believe that Morgellon’s sufferers have acquired their horrible illness from some nano-experiment gone wrong which was released in environment.

Scientists working with advanced technologies such as genetic engineering, embryonic stem cell technologies, nanotechnology and synthetic biology have unfettered regulatory freedom to research on these dangerous technologies without any adequate oversight or proper biocontainment constraints to protect the public.

A lack of freedom of speech and protections for scientists who speak out on these public health and safety issues, enhance the problem in keeping the public safe.

Referrences:
1. http://www.kentucky.com/2011/03/07/1660801/uk-researchers-findings-raise.html
2. http://www.blip.tv/file/4712025
3. http://watchdogonscience.blogspot.com/2010/07/morgellonsnew-emerging-diseasebut-how.html



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Public Tax Money Goes to Private Interests for Controversial Stem Cell

California Residents Overtaxed with Money Going to Scientific Private Interests and Not Public Interests.

California taxpayers have spent $135 million in recent years building state-of-the-art research facilities on four private campuses for stem cell research — an expense some critics have questioned in the face of California’s budget crisis.




Thursday, February 10, 2011

Unsafe Biotech Laboratories in U.S._Biotech Worker Infected with Cow Pox.

 A laboratory worker was found infected with Cow Pox from an exposure while working in an unsafe biotech laboratory in the United States.  The worker was not working direclty with the virus but became infected because of a lack of biocontainment and decontamination issues.  The laboratory worker became infected in July 2010.  "The investigation revealed cowpox virus stocks in the laboratory's freezer but no known or intentional use of cowpox in the patient's laboratory in the previous 5 years,"  However, environmental swabbing indicated that virus was found on several surfaces in the laboratory and freezer room. Cowpox infections are transmissible.

http://promedmail.oracle.com/pls/otn/pm?an=20110209.0444

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Injured Workers Denied Healthcare Sue Walmart


http://workers-compensation.blogspot.com/2011/01/rico-consequences-of-managing-health.html


FRIDAY, JANUARY 28, 2011

The RICO Consequences of Managing Health Care in Workers Compensation


It is one thing to provide workers' compensation coverage to injured employers and it is another issue how involved an employer can be in managing medical care. That right was never addressed by the crafters of the workers' compensation system almost a century ago.


That dilemma is now being addressed by a Federal Judge in Colorado where a class action lawsuit pending against Wal-Mart for micro-managing and restricting medical care to injured workers. Brooks Magratten, Esq, has addressed these issues in a recently authored article. "Class Action Attacks Wal-Mart Health Care Model." 25 No. 13 WJEMP 1 (Jan. 25, 2011). The landmark action has the potential to expand workers compensation medical care into the umbrella of a national universal medical care system.

The plaintiffs in the pending action, all former and present Wal-Mart employees, are seeking treble damages against the mega-corporation, with an aggregate market value of $108.8 Billion, for interfering with medical care. Judge Robert Blackburn has denied Wal-Mart's motion to dismiss, now setting the stage for a definitive test of the workers' compensation medical system nationally.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

OBAMA LAND AND REGULATORY STRATEGY

In this Executive Order, the President requires Federal agencies to design cost-effective, evidence-based regulations that are compatible with economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness. It outlines following guiding principles:



* Cost-effective and Cost-Justified: Consistent with law, Agencies must consider costs and benefits and choose the least burdensome path.

* Transparent: The regulatory process must be transparent and include public participation, with an opportunity for the public to comment.

* Coordinated and Simplified: Agencies must attempt to coordinate, simplify, and harmonize regulations to reduce costs and promote certainty for businesses and the public.

* Flexible: Agencies must consider approaches that maintain freedom of choice and flexibility, including disclosure of relevant information to the public.

* Science-driven: Regulations must be guided by objective scientific evidence.

* Necessary and Up-to-Date: Existing regulations must be reviewed to determine that they are still necessary and crafted effectively to solve current problems. If they are outdated, they must be changed or repealed.

Fact Sheet: The President’s Regulatory Strategy

http://www.ttkn.com/world/fact-sheet-the-presidents-regulatory-strategy-7818.html
 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Sell Out of Academia

Pfizer (the biggest drug dealer in the world) buys up academia—again (to make drugs and money off the public’s dime) Part 2:

 Pfizer infiltrates into universities using publically funded academic facilities and resources to make their drugs.  The drugs are sold at huge profits that gouge the public.  We pay no matter what.

An earlier blog pointed to the West Coast takeover of academia.  Now Pfizer buys up academia in New York.  The research hospitals that have sold out include:  Rockefeller University, New York University Langone Medical Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, Columbia University Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Good bye academic freedom.

I am a dissatisfied taxpayer.  Let'stop public funding these universities that make these contracts with Pfizer using our taxpayer funded resources.  Stop giving donations to these universities.  Fund your local hospitals instead.

http://www.thegovmonitor.com/world_news/united_states/new-york-hospitals-join-pfizer-global-centers-for-therapeutic-innovation-45340.html