What’s behind the rise in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s? Lifetime exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment such as fossil fuel pollution, as it turns out. This according to a new report from the Science and Environmental Health Network and Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility. Today, CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with the report’s lead author, Jill Stein, who heads the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities. Dr. Stein also ran for governor of the commonwealth in 2002 on the Green-Rainbow ticket, as well as Secretary of State in 2006.
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.
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.
2007 could have been called the Year of Shopping Dangerously. First there was the pet food scare, then toxic toothpaste, then a bevy of poisonous toys being recalled, one after another – containing lead, asbestos and other toxic materials. Many of the toxic products came from manufacturing outsourced to China. Do we have to choose between products that are cheap or products that are safe? Or is our regulatory system broke? With the US and China set to sign agreements soon to try to make Chinese exports meet U.S. standards, our interviewees today probe the deeper issues, and help us understand how much more it will take to end the flood of toxic products.
Cohost Sanford Lewis speaks with Melissa Brown of the Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASRIA) and Lauren Compere, an investor with Boston Common Asset Management, who discuss the failures of third party audits and the challenges of a multilayered China supply chain, and Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry, who says that toxic products are not just a China problem – in fact the United States has some of the weakest product toxicity regulations in the developed world. This episode of CWR produced with support of the Investor Environmental Health Network.
In the current corporate annual meeting season, shareowners have stepped up demands on companies to seek alternatives to toxic materials in their products. A shareholder resolution at Apple calls on the company to set an accelerated timetable for ending the use of certain toxic materials. But why has the Board of Directors, which includes Al Gore, unanimously recommended against the resolution? At DuPont shareholders are continuing their quest for the company to end the use of the so-called Teflon Chemical. Corporate Watchdog Radio cohost Sanford Lewis, who is counsel to the Investor Environmental Health Network, discusses these and other fights with Richard Liroff, Director of the Network. Other companies discussed include Chemlawn, Bed, Bath & Beyond, SC Johnson, CVS, Dow Chemical, Wal-Mart, Mohawk Carpet and others.
As goes the Chinese stock market, so may go US markets. But what happens when the volatility in China is of a different kind – consumer panic over product toxicity concerns? American companies selling products in Asia can suffer extremely volatile product sales due to “regulation by scandal.”
We speak with Melissa Brown, director of ASRIA — The Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia. Then, we talk with Stephen Davis regarding his book “The New Capitalists: How Citizen Investors Are Reshaping the Corporate Agenda.” He talks about how citizens, through their retirement savings, are beginning to reshape the agenda of mutual funds and corporations.
Cohosts Sanford Lewis, Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon
Whether it’s cosmetics, computers, mattresses, or “rubber” ducks, there are shocking chemical surprises in many of the products we once presumed were safe. We speak with Dr. John Warner, Director of the Center for Green Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell to learn about the strategies and opportunities for greening our chemical economy.
We also hear a financial perspective from Heather Langsner, Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, and a regional economic development approach, from Steve Taylor of Maine’s Environmental Health Strategy Center.