Rachel E grrrach at
Sat Dec 18 19:29:18 MST 1999

This posting was on a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome email listing: written by
Greenpeace. Tis pretty amazing

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 04:47:16 GMT
DOW: STEALING OUR FUTURE  by Charlie Cray, Greenpeace Toxics Campaign

On May 15 of this year the Dow Chemical Company will celebrate its 100th
anniversary. Dow's spin doctors have come up with a new slogan to mark
event: "Proud of Our Past, Committed to Our Future." The slogan
strongly with the title of a recent book on dioxin and other endocrine
disruptors, "Our Stolen Future," written by Theo Colborn, a wildlife
specialist who has studied the  effects of dioxin in the Great Lakes,
Dow is headquartered.

How Dow could possibly be proud of its past is an issue that comes
immediately to mind. Those of us who don't share the profits from $20
billion/year in revenues may be less selective in our memories than the
corporate spindoctors who invented this slogan.

Go to the Herbert H. Dow museum in Midland and you can see an exhibit
shows how Dow grew from humble entrepreneurial beginnings in Midland,
Michigan where Herbert Dow began making bromine and chlorine from local
brine deposits to today when the company operates in 157 countries
the world. "Your products have affected everyone in the world," the
says. Indeed! Right now there isn't a person on the planet that doesn't
carry dioxin in their bodily tissues.  In any case, it would take a
case of Vietnamnesia to be proud of a past when Dow-made Napalm was
on innocent villagers who burned to death in horrible agony. It's also
difficult to imagine how Dow could be proud that it and other
of Agent Orange left a generation of Veterans with a littany of
or that their children and grandchildren may now be suffering from
reproductive disorders, immune system deficiencies, and spina bifida. Is
company proud that it squeezed a few more years of profit out of
the day they had to stop making the components of Agent Orange (2,4,5-T
2,4- D) while people were being poisoned? Do sealed court settlements
make a
bitter fog out of the memories utility workers have of the illnesses
they got from spraying 2,4,5-T in right-of-ways? Are Midland employees
supposed to be proud of fact that Dow still makes 2,4-D (the other half
Agent Orange), one of the most commonly-used herbicides on the market,
to be contaminated with dioxin and to cause cancer in pets?  Is the
proud of how Styrofoam and Saran Wrap (Dow brand products) now litter
landscape? Is the company proud that it has had a long history of
because of defective products such as Sarabond, a mortar additive which
Wall Street Journal reported (3/21/89) was being blamed for weakening
reinforced structures and causing facades to peel away and bricks to
to the street below. "As plaintiffs' lawyers see it," the Journal
"the case is about a company unwilling to turn away from a product that
knew to be troubled but to which it had committed considerable
resources." A
reccurent theme with Dow products over the past century.

Does the company feel at all embarrassed about "Informed Consent," the
which tells the tragic story of the Swansons (she a victim of Dow
silicone implants and he a Dow Corning executive famous for his work on
developing a company ethics program)? There are so many of these Dow
it's no wonder Dow hired its own historian for this important
It's likely the resulting book will forget many victims, such as the
of Costa Rican banana workers who were sterilized by working with Dow's
worm killer. Dow tried to block them from suing the company in the U.S.
courts at the same time that corporate lobbyists were leaving literature
touting "product stewardship" (along with hefty PAC checks?) with some
the same Congressmen they would later go back to for help passing tort
"reform" legislation.

It's hard to imagine that the book will reveal the cigarette science
Dow-funded studies intended to deny the global sperm countdown referred
in "Our Stolen Future" and continuously confirmed by recent studies. How
many of the people poisoned by Dursban (chlorpyrifos) and incapable of
living normal lives because of their sensitivity to most types of
will be interviewed for the authorized corporate biography?

And what about the Dow legacy in the Great Lakes? Is Dow still proud
they attempted to block an EPA study from coming out in the early 1980s
which revealed that the Tittabawassee River was one of the most dioxin
contaminated places on earth? Does Dow forget its attempt to divert the
dioxin debate away from its operations to volcanoes and forest fires
the "Trace Chemistries Theory of Fire")? Does Dow forget that shortly
it began publicizing this thesis, scientists from Indiana University
sediment cores in Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay and confirmed that
"emission of
dioxins and furans has increased greatly since 1940" when large-scale
organochlorine production -- and the incineration of wastes from that
production -- began in Midland. (Jean Czuczwa and Ronald Hites,
"Environmental Fate of Combustion-Generated Polychlorinated Dioxins and
Furans," Environ. Sci. Technol, 1984, 18, 444-450.) Does Dow forget that
was shipping its dioxin-generating waste to a cement kiln in nearby
(brown trout fishing capital of the lakes), the same year (1986) the
Fish and Wildlife Service found a dead bald eagle egg in the same area
1065 parts per trillion TCDD (dioxin) equivalents -- the highest value
recorded in wildlife samples in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Instead of continuing to deny that dioxin causes cancer and other
or that their chlorine-based operations are a major source of dioxin,
company is now trying to buy itself time with a new tactic. Dow claims
has set ambitious environmental goals for the future -- including 90%
reduction from its major plants in the next ten years. How it intends to
this without phasing out various chlorinated organic production lines
remains unclear (unless you don't count the dioxins captured in
control devices and buried in landfills, salt domes and other
leaky reservoirs). Does Dow seriously believe anyone trusts this figure,
given that it has yet to produce a baseline figure to measure its
by? Does Dow forget that the Chemical Manufacturers Association's own
is "Don't Trust Us, Track Us"? Will Dow apply the principles of
Care" and "product stewardship" to the dioxin that's been spread
globally or
that's created in accidental fires involving PVC products made from
Dow-manufactured vinyl chloride?

Does Dow forget the "blob" -- the huge dry-cleaning fluid
(perchloroethylene) spill which spread from its Sarnia plant across the
bottom of the St. Clair River in 1986? Can Dow forget that ten years
later a
Norwegian tanker spilled over 500 barrels of the same Dow-manufactured
chemical into a commercial fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico? Or forget
that Dow's Plaquemine, Louisiana plant poisoned the groundwater with
amounts of vinyl chloride and related chemicals? Perhaps Dow has
Morrissonville, the poor African-American community which settled by the
Mississippi long before Dow muscled its way in and forced them
because of the pollution.

Does Dow think the people in Freeland, Michigan forget the toxic train
derailment in 1989 which forced them to evacuate their homes in the
of the night?

Will the official Dow biography be a chlorinated whitewash or will it be
printed on totally-chlorine-free (TCF) paper, given that scientists at
Radian, now a Dow subsidiary, once conducted a study with the EPA which
suggested that TCF processes have less impact on the environment? Why
doesn't Dow think of such great things when it can profit by them -- Dow
makes a chelating agent - - Versene -- which can be used in TCF
Why did Dow suggest that a proposed US EPA study of alternatives to
(proposed after the IJC made its famous recommendation) was an "attempt
ban an element on the periodic table" when it was already beginning to
invest in alternatives to chlorine-based pesticides and PVC plastics?

Why did Dow give up its aqueous cleaning business when the alternatives
"perc" and other chlorinated compounds are rapidly gaining market share
because they outperform "perc" once one accounts for Superfund
occupational exposure costs and other long-term costs of doing business

Whose future is Dow committed to? Its employees? Then why does Dow lobby
OSHA "reform" (Wash. Post 7/24/95) and disguise the cutbacks in its
American Workforce as part of a "global restructuring" strategy?
Multinational Monitor (10/95) asked why an agent of Dow Chemical had
undertaken talks with managers of the infamous Shenyang Xinsheng
Works, described as a forced labor prison camp. Is this in the interest
Dow's workforce here?

If Dow is such a big promoter of Responsible Care ("Don't Trust Us,
Us") and other programs it suggests are intended to protect human health
the environment, then why did Dow (via the Chemical Manufacturers
Association) sue the US EPA to prevent it from adding chemicals to the
Toxics Release Inventory -- the principle tool that the public and NGOs
in the U.S. to track the company's progress on waste reduction. If Dow
to operate in an open and responsible manner then why was Dow and its
affiliates (e.g DowElanco) listed as supporting more corporate front
than any other single company in Essential Information's report, "Masks

As early as 1972, Carl A. Gerstacker, then the Chairman of Dow Chemical
Company, confided to the White House Conference on the Industrial World
Ahead that he dreamed of buying "an island owned by no nation" and on
truly neutral ground" he would locate the world headquarters of Dow so
"we could then really operate on the U.S. as U.S. citizens, in Japan as
Japanese citizens, and in Brazil as Brazilians rather than being
governed in
prime by the laws of the United States." Isn't it obvious that "Citizen
wants to enjoy the rights that the doctrine of corporate personhood
the company, without the responsibilities that the rest of us have to
up the tab for?

Dow may continue to deliver hefty profits to the company's
shareholders, who for that reason may be proud of Dow's past and
to its future. The rest of us are left with the challenge of figuring
how we can rightfully take back our own stolen future.

Charlie Cray
Greenpeace US Toxics Campaign
847 W. Jackson Blvd., 7th floor
Chicago, IL 60607
Ph: (312) 563-6060 x218
Fax: (312) 563-6099
Note new e-mail address: Charlie.Cray at Charlie Cray

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