If You Love This Planet, Dr. Helen Caldicott

Archive for November, 2009

Bruce Blair on the continuing U.S./Russian nuclear war danger; Loretta Napoleoni on Europe’s lead in renewable energy and on nuclear proliferation

Monday, November 30th, 2009


The danger of U.S./Russian nuclear war continues; over 4,000 missiles remain on hair-trigger alert.  (Image:  SGI Quarterly)

Over 4,000 U.S. and Russian missiles remain on hair-trigger alert. (Image: SGI Quarterly)

The first half of this week’s episode is a critically important discussion with Dr. Bruce Blair, president and founder of the World Security Institute. In conjunction with its affiliate Center for Defense Information, the non-profit Institute promotes independent research and journalism on global affairs. Dr. Blair, a U.S. Minuteman nuclear missile launch officer in the 1970’s, is now President Obama’s nuclear weapons advisor. Dr. Caldicott’s interview with
Dr. Blair was recorded in 2005 as part of a series for Pacifica Radio titled The New Nuclear Danger, based on Dr. Caldicott’s book The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military-Industrial Complex. Dr. Blair presents shocking and still-current information about the continuing danger of accidental nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, with weapons on hair-trigger alert.
Dr. Blair cofounded the Global Zero campaign to eliminate the world’s 24,000 nuclear weapons.

At the start of the interview, Dr. Caldicott asks Dr. Blair about his experience as a Minuteman launch officer in the 1970s. Dr. Blair describes the strength of the weapons he was responsible for, their vast killing capacity, his emotional state during that time, false alarms he heard about, and the time his missile silo came close to launching its weapons. Dr. Blair provides an overview of the present hair-trigger alert status of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, and what it means for world security. He outlines the steps followed by government officials when a possible attack is perceived, in a chain of command leading to the president, who has a short window of time to decide whether to launch the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Dr. Caldicott is quite surprised how little time is allotted for such a momentous decision. She notes how few people know about the present situation with the U.S. and Russia each targeting each other with 2,000 nuclear weapons, ready to be fired by accident or design. Detonating as few as 500 nuclear weapons could cause nuclear winter and the end of all life on earth, as discussed in Dr. Caldicott’s interview with Professor Alan Robock.

Bruce Blair

Bruce Blair

Dr. Caldicott asks Dr. Blair what is different between the 1970’s and now in the readiness of the U.S. and Russia to fight nuclear war. His startling answer indicates the high danger that remains, and points to the deterioration of the Russian early warning and command and control systems. Dr. Blair next describes the little-known dangers of terrorists hacking into the nuclear control systems in several different ways. Dr. Caldicott is flabbergasted at what she learns about these hazards. Dr. Blair mentions a secret Pentagon study that found an electronic “back door” to the Trident submarine launch controls. Read Dr. Blair’s 2003 column, Hair-Trigger Missiles Risk Catastrophic Terrorism.

Dr. Caldicott asks if the U.S. maintains a policy for a preemptive nuclear war against Russia, and in his response Dr. Blair describes the frightening brinksmanship and spying that continues between the two superpowers. They ponder why there is no real oversight of the U.S. nuclear establishment, who continue to hold the world hostage to nuclear Armageddon. Near the end of the interview, Dr. Blair assesses the “misguided path of increasing danger” that the U.S. pursues with a military that thinks of more and more ways to use U.S. weapons.

For more information on the issues presented in this program, watch Blair’s May 12, 2009 speech “Obama, Canada and the global movement to abolish nuclear weapons.”. Read Dr. Blair’s article De-alerting Strategic Forces, and Blair et al.’s article for Scientific American Who’s Got the Button? Taking Nuclear Weapons off Hair-Trigger Alert.
Read Dr. Caldicott’s book The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military-Industrial Complex and the report Reframing Nuclear De-Alert: Decreasing the Operational Readiness of U.S. and Russian Nuclear Arsenals. Read the blog entry De-Alert Dammit!!! about how Obama is postponing or relinquishing his commitment to de-alert nuclear weapons, also discussed in the article Obama Asks UN De-Alerting Resolution to Wait. Visit Zero Nuke’s page Steps toward Abolition:
and sign Physicians for Social Responsibility’s petition to urge Obama to de-alert weapons. Also read Resetting the Nuclear Disarmament Agenda, Mikhail Gorbachev’s October 5, 2009 speech at the United Nations.

Photovoltaic installation in Amareleja, Portugal

Photovoltaic installation in Amareleja, Portugal

In the second half of the program, Dr. Caldicott speaks with Loretta Napoleoni. During a trip to Spain in 2009 to brief Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on the medical and environmental risks of nuclear power,
Dr. Caldicott conducted an interview with Napoleoni, the bestselling author of Terror Incorporated and Insurgent Iraq. Napoleoni was a Fulbright Scholar at Johns Hopkins University and a Rotary scholar at the London School of Economics. She is an expert on the financing of terrorism and advises several governments on counter-terrorism. Her work appears regularly in many journals and publications, including several European newspapers. She lectures regularly.

Dr. Caldicott has Napoleoni provide an overview of her 2009 lecture in Madrid about the economic problems of the world. Napoleoni discusses unemployment in Spain, President Zapatero’s progressive commitment to green power, and the opportunity for Spain to lead Europe in transitioning to a renewable energy economy. Napoleoni says that with a sensible plan of economic conversion, many workers in Spain can be trained to work in the green sector. Spain’s laudable goal is to obtain 43% of its energy from renewables by 2012. Napoleoni addresses the huge expansion in solar energy in Spain, Portugal and Greece, and the expanding role of wind power in Europe.

Loretta Napoleoni

Loretta Napoleoni

Dr. Caldicott and Napoleoni next look at nuclear power in Europe, including the skyrocketing costs of constructing new plants and maintaining old ones, radioactive waste, the near-meltdown at a Sweden reactor three years ago, how Italy receives 40-50% of its power from French nuclear plants, and Dr. Winfrid Eisenberg’s study finding that children living near German nuclear reactors have higher incidences of cancer and leukemia. They examine the problem of nuclear weapons proliferation that results whenever countries buy the technology for nuclear power. Napoleoni provides some shocking information about North Korean/U.S. negotiations regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions. She points to the need for a new paradigm for international policy involving total denuclearization, and how the U.S. should lead such a foreign policy revolution. They also explore the role of women, U.S. weapons sales to terrorist groups, and Australian uranium mining. Dr. Caldicott and Napoleoni agree on the absolute need to stand for the “utopian” goal of world disarmament if the earth is to survive.

For more information on some of the topics discussed with Napoleoni, read the Wikipedia article Renewable energy in Spain, watch the two-minute Reuters news clip Portugal, home of the biggest solar plant in the world and see the report The Nuclear Renaissance: Nuclear weapons proliferation and terrorism. Listen to Dr. Caldicott’s interview with Dave Sweeney about Australian uranium mining, and her interview with
Dr. Winfrid Eisenberg about cancer near nuclear reactors
. Read the article Nuclear Scare: How Close Did Sweden Come to Disaster?

After a musical break, Dr. Caldicott reads from the chapter entitled “The Manufacture of Consent” in her new book If You Love This Planet. She covers the influence of transnational corporations and the history of corporate propaganda. Dr. Caldicott’s research for this chapter is based on the work of Australian sociologist Alex Carey. Hear a two-part radio program, Alex Carey: Corporations and Propaganda, based on Carey’s writings.

Dr. Mark Diesendorf on the disastrous economics of nuclear power and the need for sustainable energy

Monday, November 23rd, 2009


Dr. Mark Diesendorfs latest book

Dr. Mark Diesendorf's latest book

Dr. Mark Diesendorf is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales in Australia. He teaches and consults in the fields of renewable energy and transport, by which government, business and other organisations can achieve ecologically sustainable and socially just development. In this episode, Dr. Diesendorf discusses with Dr. Caldicott the disastrous
economics of the nuclear industry and its campaign for subsidies. Dr. Caldicott first asks Dr. Diesendorf to talk about nuclear power and CO2 emissions. He explains in detail how fossil fuel is used at all steps of the nuclear fuel cycle, except for operation of the plant, debunking the propaganda that nuclear power is a solution to global warming. They talk about studies of energy use by the uranium industry, deaths induced by exposure to uranium in mine workers, and the importance of remediation of uranium tailings, in other words, putting them back in the ground.

Dr. Diesendorf and Dr. Caldicott next look at the enormous and increasing costs of maintaining old nuclear reactors and building new ones. See the Union of Concerned Scientists’ article Nuclear Economics 101: The Industry Gets a Failing Grade. Read the article Designs for New UK Nuclear Reactors are Unsafe, Claims Watchdog: Major setback for energy plans as report finds flaws in US and French models. Diesendorf stresses how wrong it is to supply nuclear-power technology to countries around the world, laying the basis for more and more nuclear-weapons states who threaten each other. He talks about how even a limited nuclear war, such as one between India and Pakistan, would have devastating effects on the world’s agriculture and might even induce a nuclear winter. Listen to Dr. Caldicott’s 2008 interview with nuclear-winter expert Professor Alan Robock. In discussing the costs of nuclear power, Diesendorf notes that it will cost over $100 billion just to decommission England’s nuclear reactors. He points to detailed studies on the economics of building new nuclear power plants in the U.S., including a 2009 study by Craig Severance. Read two articles on the Severence study, The Staggering Cost of New Nuclear Power and Warning to Taxpayers, Investors: Nukes May Become Troubled Assets. Check out the Severance study, Business Risks and Costs of New Nuclear Power. Read Accident Casts Fresh Doubt on Nuclear Safety about the November 21 incident at the Three Mile Island plant in the U.S. which forced the evacuation of 150 workers and exposed 20 people to radiation, and about plans for a new reactor in Maryland.

Dr. Mark Diesendorf

Dr. Mark Diesendorf

Dr. Caldicott asks Dr. Diesendorf about the unresolved and possibly worthless concept of carbon capture and storage. He explains how we now have other, proven technologies to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions which should be used instead of carbon capture. He says his book, Climate Action: A Campaign Manual for Greenhouse Solutions, covers these possibilities. Dr. Caldicott says that Professor James Hansen of NASA stresses that the world must immediately stop burning coal, the most concentrated form of CO2 emissions. Listen to
Dr. Caldicott’s 2008 interview with Professor Hansen
. Dr. Diesendorf and Dr. Caldicott agree that eliminating coal emissions is absolutely critical to stabilizing the world climate. Yet, Dr. Caldicott says, the Australian prime minister and federal government are subsidizing coal production. She is not optimistic about the forthcoming Copenhagen conference, where she expects most politicians to make weak proposals, essentially doing the bidding of polluting industries.

Dr. Diesendorf refers to Dr. Arjun Makhijani’s book, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, which can be downloaded for free. Dr. Makhijani, an engineer, found that renewable and safe energy can meet all the world’s energy needs without the need for carbon- or nuclear-based power. Listen to Dr. Caldicott’s 2008 interviews with Dr. Makhijani here and here. See the new report by Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, Evaluating the Feasibility of a Large-Scale Wind, Water, and Sun Energy Infrastructure. Dr. Diesendorf elaborates on the immense growth in wind and solar power, and the new developments in geothermal energy. While the nuclear energy falsely promotes itself as safe, green and a solution to global warming, the coal industry is also engaging in major deception. Read Greenwash: Why ‘Clean Coal’ is the Ultimate Climate Change Oxymoron. President Obama has received over $250,000 from the nuclear energy industry throughout his career, and he and his Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu endorse nuclear power. President Obama also supports coal. Read RFK Jr. Blasts Obama as ‘Indentured Servant’ to Coal Industry.

Dr. Caldicott closes by encouraging readers to buy Dr. Diesendorf’s book Climate Action to inform themselves about solutions to the energy challenges the world faces. To check out articles by Dr. Mark Diesendorf, read Can nuclear energy reduce CO2 emissions and Muzzling the greenhouse debate and How to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% and Sustainable energy has a powerful future and and The base-load fallacy. Also see his 2007 book Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy. For more on the hazards of nuclear power and why it is not a solution to global warming, read Dr. Caldicott’s books Nuclear Power is Not the Answer and Nuclear Madness. Also check out this website’s Reports page which has several reports under “Nuclear Power” on the dangers of nuclear energy and the nuclear industry’s propaganda around climate change (scroll down the page almost halfway).

Linda Gunter on the culture, politics and grave dangers of nuclear power in France and worldwide

Monday, November 16th, 2009


On the program this week, Linda Gunter from Beyond Nuclear joins
Dr. Caldicott for an in-depth discussion about the culture, politics and grave dangers of nuclear power. Today’s exploration focuses on nuclear energy in France and the rest of Europe, but also looks at the situation in the U.S. Gunter specializes in media and development, the nuclear fuel chain, human rights and the myths surrounding the French nuclear power program. In
2001, she and her husband Paul Gunter co-authored the landmark report, Licensed to Kill: How the nuclear power industry destroys endangered marine wildlife and ocean habitat to save money, exposing the high toll taken on animal life due to the routine operation of coastal nuclear reactors.

Linda Gunter

Linda Gunter

Dr. Caldicott first asks Gunter to comment on the oft-repeated notion that since France receives 80% of its electricity from nuclear power, it must be a safe form of energy. In responding, Gunter discusses the huge amount of nuclear waste generated by the French plants, the country’s lack of energy independence, the problems with the hundreds of uranium mines that supply Frances, and how one company, Areva, owns 90% of the 57 French plants. In all of the U.S., there are a total of 104 nuclear reactors, so the concentration of nuclear plants in France, and the expanded potential for catastrophe, is quite pronounced. Gunter recounts her trip to abandoned uranium mine sites in France last year, and the shocking conditions she encountered. She explains how biased all science around nuclear power is in France because of the collaboration between government and Areva. She mentions an independent French laboratory that has helped prove the hazards of nuclear tailings from French plants “recycled” for parking lots in France. This same laboratory will be doing an objective study of the health effects of nuclear power in France, endorsed by Beyond Nuclear. Gunter notes how the Left in Europe, surprisingly, is pro-nuclear power and quite uninformed about the true dangers of radiation.

Gunter and Dr. Caldicott next discuss the state of European media and the nuclear power issue. Gunter refers to a book, How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth, by Hervé Kempf, environmental editor of Le Monde. Read an excerpt here. Gunter then describes the various locations around the world where the French nuclear high-level waste is secretly dumped, before talking about the nuclear-weapons-proliferation risk of nuclear reactors, which contain the building blocks of a nuclear weapon. Read the 2005 article France’s Nuclear Waste Heads to Russia. See the Beyond Nuclear page about French nuclear power which has several links. Also read Beyond Nuclear’s new pamphlet, Nuclear Power in France: setting the record straight. Read the November 19 article Nuclear Power’s Megafraud, about the lies propounded by the president of Westinghouse Electric to build support for building new U.S. reactors. Westinghouse also plays a role in the French nuclear power industry.

Gunter elucidates the high incidence of disease near certain waste reprocess-ing sites on the French coast. Gunter mentions a study by Dr. Jean-Francois Viel of leukemia clusters among youth, which the French government denied. See Childhood leukemia incidence in the vicinity of La Hague nuclear-waste reprocessing facility (France) (free preview; pay to read the full study). She explains the aggressive and underhanded tactics used if anyone challenges the nuclear conglomerate in France. Gunter talks about how the radioactive waste at La Hague affects the oceans and food chains. See the Wikipedia entry on La Hague. Read the November 20 article Report Says Nuclear Plants Are Poisoning Our Water about the startling increasing in radioactive elements in Canadian water. And see the new Sierra Club report, Tritium on Tap: Keep Radioactive Tritium Out of Our Drinking Water.

Gunter refers to the KiKK study on cancer and leukemia incidence among children living near German nuclear plants. This investigation was led by
Dr. Winfrid Eisenberg, Dr. Caldicott’s guest on October 19. Gunter and Dr. Caldicott next consider the fallout from Chernobyl which has affected most of Europe, and the French government’s bald-faced lie that the fallout stopped at the French border. As Dr. Caldicott notes, one accident at Chernobyl contaminated a whole continent. Gunter and Dr. Caldicott probe the level of ignorance of nuclear dangers in Europe and the U.S., and what it will take to reach the public with accurate information. Dr. Caldicott notes that if there was one nuclear reactor accident in the US, it could contaminate the whole of America, particularly with certain wind conditions. She also says that if the second World War were fought in Europe today, it would make the entire continent completely uninhabitable because of the large number of nuclear reactors, each of which would melt down when bombed. And Dr. Caldicott states that a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia would melt down all of the world’s 440 nuclear power reactors, which, aside from the decisive destruction from a nuclear winter, would make the entire planet unfit for life.

Chernobyl fallout map (nuclearfreeplanet.org)

Chernobyl fallout map (nuclearfreeplanet.org)

Dr. Caldicott and Gunter look at the psychology around possessing nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and whether the problem is gender-based or not. Gunter is asked about the particular problems associated with boiling-water nuclear power plants, of which there are 32 in the U.S. These reactors are particularly vulnerable to terrorist attack, and Gunter explains why. In discussing the amount of radioactive waste in the boiling-water plants’ fuel pools, Dr. Caldicott refers to her book, Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer, in which she refers to a study led by Professor Frank von Hippel of Princeton University. Prof. von Hipple described the enormous risk of a meltdown in boiling water reactors, which would create a disaster far more catastrophic than Chernobyl, and how these plants are especially vulnerable to terrorists. Read the article, High-density storage of nuclear waste heightens terrorism risks. Read Prof. von Hippel’s report written with Robert Alvarez et al., Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States. All coastal nuclear power plants and some situated on major rivers will be quite vulnerable to a projected sea-level rise of up to 30 feet from global warming, not to mention an increase in extreme weather occurrences. Read Nuclear Power Can’t Be a Solution to Global Warming Precisely because of Global Warming. See a photo of California’s San Onofre plant which would easily be flooded by a 30-foot sea-level rise, risking a meltdown that would imperil San Diego and Los Angeles.

Gunter discusses why the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty cannot really safeguard against nuclear weapons proliferation as long as they promote nuclear power technology. Gunter says that the nuclear nations, led by the US, must disarm their nuclear weapons. The U.S. and Russia have 95% of the world’s arsenal, with 26,000 bombs. She and Dr. Caldicott talk about the continuing hair-trigger alert status of U.S. and Russian weapons (which also applies to India and Pakistan). Dr. Caldicott points to President Obama’s statement that he really needs public support to achieve his stated commitment to nuclear disarmament. She says that a new movement for nuclear disarmament, particularly in the U.S., must be generated now. Gunter reminds listeners that they can find a great deal of supplementary information relevant to today’s program on the Beyond Nuclear website. After the interview with Gunter, Dr. Caldicott reads from her newly revised and updated book, If You Love This Planet (W.W. Norton, September 2009) about radioactive waste, a major pollutant around the globe.

Crea Lintilhac on the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant’s threat to New England

Monday, November 9th, 2009


A 2005 fire at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant

A 2005 fire at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant (vermontdailybriefing.com)

This week Dr. Calidcott talks about the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor with Crea Lintilhac of the Lintilhac Foundation in Vermont. In 2005, the Lintilhac Foundation celebrated 30 years of charitable giving in the areas of renewable energy, clean water and social justice. Lintilhac holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching in Geology from the University of Vermont, and she received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Middlebury College in 1998. She also serves as an officer and trustee of several environmental advocacy boards in Vermont.

Dr. Caldicott starts off by asking Lintilhac about the age of Vermont Yankee, recent problems at the plant, and where the state legislature stands. In her response, Lintilhac talks about how the plant is operating beyond capacity, and is in many ways “falling apart” as represented by fires at the site and the 2007 cooling tower collapse. Nuclear waste is another topic of this show, and Lintilhac and Dr. Caldicott explore the dangers of storing radioactive waste at Vermont Yankee and at the other 103 U.S. nuclear plants.
Dr. Caldicott remarks about her visit to the plant vicinity, when she saw the grade school across the street built by the nuclear utility that owns Vermont Yankee. Children, she notes, are far more sensitive to nuclear radiation, and nuclear plants constantly release toxic radiation in various forms. See links further down regarding the study led by Dr. Winfrid Eisenberg which found higher childhood cancer incidence near German nuclear plants.

Crea Lintilhac

Crea Lintilhac

Lintilhac underlines the serious danger of an accident or terrorist attack at the plant, which would have implications for not only Vermont but all of Massachusetts (whose border the plant sits on) and several neighboring states. She talks about how a major accident would destroy the Vermont economy. Next, Dr. Caldicott has Lintilhac talk about the role of spent fuel pools in a nuclear reactor. Lintilhac refers to a book by Barbara Moran, The Day We Lost the H-Bomb: Cold War, Hot Nukes, and the Worst Nuclear Weapons Disaster in History. She says Moran’s book illustrates why governments and the nuclear industry should not consider any technology, especially nuclear weapons and nuclear power, “fail safe.” Read how Hillary Clinton is expanding the role of nuclear power globally in India Ramps up Nuclear Power With Help From the United States. Dr. Caldicott asks what the Vermont legislature would do if there was a meltdown at Vermont Yankee, and the cooling pool busted, and winds carried the radiation away from the plant.

This episode also addresses how global warming and accompanying sea level rise is expected to flood many of the world’s coastal nuclear power plants (which rely on ocean water to cool their contents). See the Greenpeace report The impacts of climate change on nuclear power station sites. They both agree that nuclear power is contraindicated to help reduce global warming. See the article Confronting a False Myth of Nuclear Power: Nuclear Power Expansion is Not a Remedy for Climate Change. Also read Nuclear Power Can’t Be a Solution to Global Warming Precisely because of Global Warming.

Lintilhac explains why it will be impossible to safeguard nuclear waste for several thousand years while it continues to be radioactive and quite dangerous. Dr. Caldicott talks about the cynical work that anthropologists are now doing for the Department of Energy. At one point, Lintilhac mentions a German doctor who came to Vermont to advocate closing Vermont Yankee. This was Winfrid Eisenberg, M.D., Dr. Caldicott’s guest on the
October 19 program
. Read about the findings of Dr. Eisenberg’s study. Lintilhac points to successes in retraining workers from the automobile or other industries to work in renewable energy, and says that nuclear plant workers should also be transferred into sustainable energy technologies. She says that the Vermont government will soon vote on whether to extend the license for Vermont Yankee or not. Read Uncertainty grows on Vermont Yankee future. Dr. Caldicott closes by lauding Lintilhac as an example of a U.S. citizen who is using the democratic process to make change.

Citizens opposing the Vermont Yankee plant at a 2001 security hearing (AP Photo/Jon-Pierre Lasseigne)

Citizens opposing the Vermont Yankee plant at a 2001 security hearing (AP Photo/Jon-Pierre Lasseigne)

For more information on the tremendous hazards of nuclear energy, read Dr. Caldicott’s books Nuclear Power is
Not the Answer
and Nuclear Madness. See her article The medical and economic costs of nuclear power. Listen to the two-hour program Voices From Three-Mile Island: An Oral History of America’s Near Catastrophic Nuclear Accident / 30th Anniversary Release: A Two-Hour Oral History Documentary (nationally broadcast on public radio). See the websites of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service and Beyond Nuclear. For more information on the struggle to close Vermont Yankee, visit the websites of Safe Power Vermont, Nuclear Free Vermont and the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance. And be sure to read the inspiring report Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy.

Karl Tupper on the harmful and far-reaching effects of pesticides

Monday, November 2nd, 2009


Karl Tupper (left) with the Drift Catcher, which measures airborne concentrations of damaging pesticides (Photo:  CNET)

Karl Tupper (upper left) with the Drift Catcher, which measures airborne concentrations of damaging pesticides (Photo: CNET)

On If You Love this Planet this week, Dr. Caldicott delves into the environmental and human effects of pesticides with Karl Tupper, Staff Scientist with the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), and Coordinator of their Environmental Monitoring Program. People living or working near industrial agriculture – particularly in rural areas – will be very interested in hearing this episode. Read the October 23 news article Pesticide Endosulfan Ruled “Highly Toxic” which quotes Tupper.

Near the start of the show, Tupper talks about pesticide drift, in which agricultural chemicals drift from fields where they are sprayed into neighboring communities where they can cause harmful health effects. He describes the air sampling program launched by PANNA (see photo of sampling device above). Dr. Caldicott remarks upon the enormous number of pesticides used in food production, and how toxic they are. She asks Tupper to define persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Tupper explains the consequences of the widespread use of POPs around the world, and which pesticides are banned in the U.S. but still in use in other countries. He recounts efforts to ban endosulfan. Tupper mentions the website, whatsonmyfood.org, where visitors can research the pesticide content of different foods. Learn about the work of the Organic Consumers Association on behalf of foods grown without toxic chemicals. Read a 1989 article about the nutritional superiority of organically grown foods. And see the website of Chemical Body Burden, which reports on the chemicals, including pesticides, contaminating our bodies.

Karl Tupper

Karl Tupper

Dr. Caldicott shifts the conversation to the herbicide atrazine, used widely by U.S. corn growers but banned by the European Union. Tupper talks about the adverse effects of atrazine on people and on the environment, and how atrazine has been found in most U.S. tap water. Read the August New York Times article Debating How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass. And visit the NRDC page on atrazine which includes a link to their 33-page report, Poisoning the Well. Also read the Center for Biological Diversity’s August 27 press release New Research: Herbicide Atrazine Linked to Cancer, Birth Defects, Endocrine Disruption, and Endangered Species Impacts.

Tupper refers to the work of U.C. Berkeley research scientist Tyrone Hayes in studying atrazine’s castrating effects on male amphibians. Read The Story of Syngenta & Tyrone Hayes at UC Berkeley: The Price of Research and Male Frogs Losing Their Macho. Visit atrazinelovers.com, Hayes’s website. Also read the class-action complaint document filed in Holiday Shores v. Syngenta. This lawsuit was brought by a water district in Illinois against Syngenta, the Swiss company that makes atrazine. Dr. Caldicott remarks about the frightening power of chemical companies. See the November 13 Mother Jones magazine article Obama’s Pesticide-Pushing Nominee: The president taps an exec from the pesticide lobby—which slammed Michelle Obama’s organic garden—for a top agriculture post.

The episode next looks at the Stockholm Convention, a treaty to outlaw POPs including endosulfan. Tupper explains the significance of the treaty, and which countries are supporting and resisting the ban. Dr. Caldicott next asks Tupper about the current efforts by pesticide companies to discredit the writings of Rachel Carson, considered the grandmother of the movement to ban harmful chemicals. Read Rachel Carson, Mass Murderer? The creation of an anti-environmental myth and Rachel Carson’s birthday bashing: The right has revved up its claim that the environmental pioneer who criticized DDT was responsible for the spread of malaria that killed millions. The facts say otherwise.

After concluding the interview with Tupper, Dr. Caldicott reads from the toxic pollution chapter of her book If You Love This Planet, a revised and updated edition of which was published in September by WW Norton. She covers pesticides and agriculture, relevant to today’s program, and also reads about plastic and bottled water.