ICI in attack on chemical curbs

ICI and other British chemical producers have attacked proposed safety and environmental legislation from the United Nations, warning that the drawbacks for consumers and users may outweigh any benefits.

Dr Ian Carney, from the group safety, health and environment department at ICI's headquarters in London, says: "Creeping categorisation of chemicals can lead to controls which ignore the individual characteristics of those chemicals."

Dr Carney, through the Chemicals Industry Association, has been lobbying Brussels to prevent chemicals being lumped together in certain categories, rather than being treated on a case-by-case basis as at present.

The CIA fears the implications for British industry could be enormous. Alongside worries about unjustifiable bans on trade in certain chemicals, with the consequent loss of jobs and profits, it says consumers will also suffer as a consequence.

The origin of its concern is the so-called precautionary principle, adopted at the Rio Summit in 1992, to which Britain was a signatory. This states: "In order to protect the environment ... where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."

The first fruits of the principle have been seen, in the shape of a new grouping of chemicals labelled persistent organic pollutants (or Pops). A dozen chemicals have been placed in this group. Most of them are extremely toxic, but among them is the insecticide DDT.

Elizabeth Surkovic, at the CIA, said many Third World countries still relied on DDT as an effective means of controlling malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes.

The CIA believes the solution is to continue to apply the existing procedure and assess every chemical individually.

Ms Surkovic is worried that the new category of Pops will lead to the eventual banning of whole series of chemicals that, while potentially hazardous, can also bring significant benefits.

The United Nations Environmental Programme, which drafts and implements the rules, retorts that such concerns are exaggerated.

James Willis, director of chemicals at Unep, said there were effective alternatives to DDT that did not have the same level of toxicity.

He also rebuffed claims that the precautionary principle could lead to an overly rigid approach. "We are still working out the framework for applying the precautionary principle."

He said that UN meetings scheduled for February would consider the issue.

Environmental activists and campaigners believe that current proposals are inadequate.

Roger Lilley, of the industry and pollution group at Friends of the Earth, said: "Case-by-case analysis clearly favours the chemical industry and places the onus on the regulator to prove the toxicity of any chemical. We believe the chemical industry should take responsibility and prove the toxicity of chemicals."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk