Friday, December 17, 2004

Better safe than sorry

The European Union is embracing the so-called "precautionary principle" in its regulation of chemicals as the Dec. 27 issue of The Nation outlines. (Sorry, this story is available online only to subscribers.) Until now the United States' wait-and-see approach has dominated regulation of the chemical industry and devastated many workers and consumers around the world. Now the EU is preparing to mandate a complete review of all chemicals used in industrial and consumer settings and ban or severely restrict those that don't make the cut.

Needless to say, the American chemical industry is practically apoplectic. But without the ability to purchase political clout in the EU (which outlaws the kind of political money which contaminates American politics), their only tool has been persuasion. It hasn't worked.

Even scarier--to the chemical industry, that is--is the possibility that the EU, with its newfound power, will essentially begin to set the standards for the world instead of the more pliant U.S. government.

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