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Thousands respond to ARC campaign against toxins

December 21 2005:

Thousands of faith representatives all over Europe have sent letters to MEPs asking that the REACH legislation – requiring testing of all chemicals on sale today – should be passed in the European Parliament.

This was largely in response to an initiative by ARC, WWF and the World Council of Churches, with a programme including liturgies about toxic forces, letter-writing and active campaigning.

Around a quarter of MEPs replied – many more than expected - with a significant number understanding that they needed to consider the theological arguments being raised, and trying to do so.

In Britain a package was sent out to faith communities. It contained both liturgical materials on REACH as well as some practical suggestions about reducing the impact of toxic chemicals, and it was distributed to every Diocese Environment Officer in the Church of England.

On November 1 – the first day of the month of reflection on toxins, ARC organised a special service in collaboration with St. James Church in Piccadilly, London where people from all sides of the debate were invited to attend.

Moving the campaign forward

We have started quite a chain reaction and hope to expand on this work in two directions.

First we hope that churches around Europe continue to keep up the pressure to ensure that the debates on REACH are heard and that they will lead to the legislation’s adoption in Brussels next year.

"We hope that churches will look beyond REACH to the existing problem of toxins in our environment."
Second, we hope that churches will look beyond REACH to the existing problem of toxins in our environment. Even with a successful outcome in Brussels it will take several years for this legislation to actually have a positive impact on our environment and even now there are many chemicals that have been let loose on the world, and are beginning to have an effect on human and animal health.

ARC believes we need to alert communities to act on two fronts, one as consumers choosing what to buy, and two as people who want to make sure the voice of the faith communities is heard by those making decisions about whether we tackle or ignore the pollutants caused by our daily living.

Until now, European rules mean that chemicals registered before 1981 do not have to be assessed for safety or toxicity. These constitute some 90 percent of the chemicals on sale in Europe today. It is likely that some chemicals are extremely toxic, causing cancer, abnormalities of the endocrine system, and damage to wildlife and plants. Without any legally enforced testing, we cannot be sure which ones these are.

The proposed legislation has met strong opposition from sections of the chemical industry, who have suggested that it will result in high prices and job losses. And that they are capable of self-monitoring. However, in the long term, WWF and other environmental lobbyists have suggested that its introduction will bring in considerable savings, in healthcare, and in a healthier natural environment.

Publicity

We had positive publicity from many faith groups as well as religious publications and internet sites, including the: Church of Sweden; the Christian Ecology Link; Operation Eden, (a multi-faith environment programme set up by the Church of England’s Liverpool Diocese); Eco Congregation; Ekklesia; Syndesmos, (the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth); A ROCHA; the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN); Benedictine communities throughout the world, and some Liberal and Progressive Jewish synagogues - who used the materials in their Sabbats.

For more information about REACH link here.

For information about WWF action on REACH link here.

For the full liturgy link here.

For the shorter Rainbow Covenant link here.

Anybody interested in supporting REACH is recommended to write to their MEP and to their MP.

If you would like to contact ARC about any of these issues, email John Smith at johns@arcworld.org.

In addition any faith communities wishing to be kept informed about this campaign should contact ARC at info@arcworld.org. We will add their details to our distribution list for REACH updates.



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December 21 2005:
Thousands respond to ARC campaign against toxins
Thousands of faith representatives all over Europe sent letters to MEPs last month about their concerns that the REACH legislation – requiring testing of all chemicals – should be passed in the European Parliament. Now the campaign needs even more support.