Monthly Archives: July 2008

Marketing Before Medicine: Drug Companies Gamble with Our Health

Melody PetersenEvery five minutes, another American dies from taking their prescription medicine – as prescribed. Kids as young as preschoolers are taking powerful prescription drugs, like Ritalin and antipsychotics, whose safety has never been tested in children. And doctors are on the take, feted at junkets costing thousands of dollars, paid tens of thousands to sign their names to articles written by drug company marketers, and pressured to give the newest, least tested drugs to their patients instead of cheaper, safer and effective older ones. They’ve also created new illnesses out of common human conditions – like shyness or heartburn – so they can push more drugs into the marketplace.

odm_jacketToday, CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Melody Petersen about her book, Our Daily Meds. The book’s subtitle says it all: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs.

CWR Headlines:

Malaria drugs cheaper thanks to Clinton Foundation effort with some drug companies
New law bans Burmese gem imports
Pax World settles with SEC for violating its own social screening rules
US Army to cut its carbon “bootprint”

Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant: Shareholder Activists Promote Corporate Transparency

Sanford Lewis

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” Shareholder activists have long promoted transparency in corporate reporting. Now, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) acknowledges its rules governing company disclosures aren’t good enough. So FASB is proposing new rules. Today, we speak with Corporate Watchdog Radio co-founder Sanford Lewis about his shareholder activism promoting better corporate disclosure on environmental and human health risks. Lewis, who serves as general counsel for the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN), identifies several strengths — as well as some disconcerting weaknesses — in the proposed rules. IEHN has issued an action alert outlining these strengths and weaknesses to guide submissions during the public comment period ending August 8.

Investor Environmental Health Network

SocialFunds article with interview transcript

Video excerpt of CWR interview with Sanford Lewis

IEHN Action Alert on FASB Rulemaking

FASB Exposure Draft on “Disclosure of Certain Loss Contingencies”

CWR Headlines:

US Chamber of Commerce Wants to Curb Shareholder Activism
European Shareholder Activists Go After Executive Pay
World Bank Critical of Its Own Environmental Impact

CWR ViewPoint:  read.

Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, comments on toxics in cosmetics. Malkan points out that companies are allowed to label products ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ and still use harmful synthetics. Her award-winning book, Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry (New Society, 2007), tells the inside story of the campaign’s five-year effort to hold the beauty industry accountable to women’s health.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

The Community-Building Power of Wind

Juhl Wind Development

When it comes to renewable energy, wind is taking the lead–at least at this stage of technological development. But what’s the best model for developing it? Should we follow the centralized utility model with big wind farms set up in a few places — offshore Massachusetts or the state of Texas — and then send the juice over wires to power homes and businesses far away? That’s the dominant model in the US. Or should we follow the community-owned wind power model, where the people using the power have a financial stake in it, too? Maybe a healthy mix of both would be best. Today, CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Dan Juhl of Juhl Wind Development, which is helping communities around the country develop locally owned wind power cooperatives. The company has developed about 140 megawatts — or several hundred million dollars worth — of community-based wind projects. Francesca met him at the Sustainable Energy Summit at the University of Massachusetts in June. And Rheannon speaks with journalist Elizabeth Kolbert. Her recent New Yorker article, “The Island in the Wind,” profiles the Danish island of Samso, known internationally as the “renewable energy island” because residents get most of their power from windmills they cooperatively own.

Juhl Wind Development

Community-Based Energy Development

Dan Juhl interview transcript on SocialFunds: “It Takes a Village to Raise a Turbine: Making the Case for Community-Owned Windpower”

Sustainable Energy Summit

Complete interview with Dan Juhl

Elizabeth Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert: “The Island in the Wind”

CWR Headlines:

The US can achieve 20 percent energy from wind by 2030 with help from GE and T. Boone Pickens
Updates: —European parliament votes to include aviation emissions in Emissions Trading Scheme
EPA report links climate change to human health risks, but Bush blocks GHG emissions regulation under Clean Air Act

New Generations in Sustainability

Tim Cohen-Mitchell

Each generation reinvents the world inherited from the previous generation. A new generation is inheriting a wounded planet and a dysfunctional economy. Youthful energy seeks to heal our world and revitalize our economy using new strategies and adapting existing tools. Today, we focus on new generations in sustainability. First, we hear from Tim Cohen-Mitchell of the Young Entrepreneurs Society in Orange, Massachusetts, from a presentation he made at the recent Pioneer Valley Sustainable Investing Summit that Corporate Watchdog Radio helped organize. Then, CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Jeremy Daw about the BioTour, an initiative brainstormed by an enterprising group of 20-somethings at Burning Man, an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The BioTour is about to embark on a journey across the US in a biofuel bus to raise awareness on sustainability.

Young Entrepreneurs Society

Tim Cohen-Mitchell’s complete presentation and Q&A


Burning Man

CWR Headlines:

WWF to G8: “Your Climate Solution is ‘Pathetic’”
Senate May Subpoena White House for Ignoring EPA Carbon Warnings
Toyota Responds to Report on Labor Abuses on Prius Production Line

CWR ViewPoint:  read (thanks to our partner CSRwire for posting the text of CWR commentaries)

Robin Giampa tells about Timberland’s trendsetting use of social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube to advance its corporate sustainability initiatives.

EarthkeepersTimberland’s Earthkeepers

Francesca and Bill ain’t exactly spring chickens, but we’ve got a lot of youthful energy, so we’re joining this trend in linking social networking with corporate sustainability by launching CWR pages on Facebook and MySpace this week. Thanks to our new intern, Tom Hartmann-Boyce, an international affairs student at Skidmore, for getting those pages up and running. Check out our website for links to these pages, and join us there as “friends.”

CWR’s MySpace page

CWR’s Facebook page

The Myth of Clean Coal

Don't Get BurnedLeslie Lowe

Utilities and coal companies are pushing to open over a hundred new coal-fired power plants in the US. But activists, investors, communities, consumers, and scientists are pointing to financial, regulatory, environmental, and social risks that far outweigh the potential benefits of coal. And they are pulling back the veil from the myth of clean coal, exposing that king coal is a naked emperor. Carbon capture and storage, the key to coal’s “clean” claims, has years of technical and economic hurdles to cross. Leslie Lowe, director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibilty’s Energy & Environment Program, speaks with us today about the risks of committing to a future of new coal plants.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

ICCR Report: Don’t Get Burned: The Risks of Investing in New Coal-Fired Generating Facilities

New York City Comptroller letter asking Department of Energy to review tax-exempt status of bonds for new coal plants

CWR Headlines:

Airlines Flying to and From Europe Will Have to Pay for Emissions
Coal plants get thumbs upand thumbs down
Leading Climate Scientist calls Coal and Oil CEO’s Criminals
Clean coal gets a boost from the US Dept of Energy

James Hansen Congressional testimony: Global Warming Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near

CWR ViewPoint:  read (Thanks to our partner CSRwire for posting text of CWR commentaries.)

Yochi Zakai

Yochi Zakai of Co-op America points out that clean coal is dirtier than it’s cracked up to be. He comments on the recent Georgia court ruling against a new coal plant proposed by Dynegy, and Co-op America’s ongoing activism aimed at that company and others in the industry.

Co-op America “Stop the Coal Rush” Campaign