Akash Gura Goredo

In our colonised minds, we tend to look at our past colonisers (France and England, but strangely not Holland) and the current main cultural coloniser imposing its worldview unto the ROW: the US) with rosy tinted glasses, through which everything was god-gifted to them. But the current level of comfort and safety they enjoy is the product of perpetual testing and retesting, trial and error, often fatal, which gradually causes changes for the better. Need examples?

First: would you ever suspect baby-care products to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing)? Well, US courts have held that a Johnson & Johnson baby powder applied to various areas of the body for decades has caused a number of incurable cancers, thereby justifying the pay-out of hundreds of millions as compensation to uninformed, but doomed, users.

Second, apparently unrelated to the above: London’s T-charge (read: toxicity due to lethal air-polluting emissions) on diesel-fuelled vehicles since last year and in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions’ scandal and independent reports demonstrating the direct link between particulate pollution and cardiopulmonary conditions, is causing a surge in the availability of highly-depreciated luxury SUV’s and station wagon cars (as a aside, just prepare for a wave of premium-priced “reconditioned” luxury cars to grace our docks in coming months).

Third, still seemingly unrelated to the above: France has banned Cytotec, a famous anti-ulcer medication because it was observed that it was being abused in… obstetrics – a very ‘effective’ means of inducing delivery, but also of back-alley abortions. So French authorities were pushing for this ban in a bid to provide women with safer ways of managing their fertility. In France again, the debate over the threat of a pesticide (glyphosate) is threatening to run Macron’s majority aground. Around the world, the (now Bayer-owned) multinational Monsanto is notorious for opening the Pandora’s box of dumping its genetically modified crops and seeds in developing countries, and the backlash in various forms is pushing back over safety concerns: the basic principle of precaution is materialising the saying that prevention is better than cure. Dans le doute, abstiens-toi!

But in fact, all of the above are indeed related. The world is moving fast and is taking stock of what works and what doesn’t. In the latter case, countries are making amends so as to increase the safety of the people. They vote for governments who draft and vote for legislation that is enforced through various institutions and means, may they be courts, taxes or regulations. But why are Dodoland’s authorities deaf-and-blind to these developments? Do we have the decision-makers possessing sufficient integrity to implement bans over these potential health hazards? Or, is it not time for our democracy to actually entrench people’s voice and power by allowing class action lawsuits, whereby people can file a case even if they have no locus standi but for the common benefit of the public at large?

References Johnson & Johnson latest:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/05/johnson-johnson-falls-on-report-about-possible-baby-powder-documents.html

London’s T-charge: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/emissions-surcharge Volkswagen: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/15/diesel-emissions-test-scandal-causes-38000-early-deaths-year-study

Cytotec: https://www.francetvinfo.fr/sante/medicament/le-cytotec-sera-retire-du-marche-en-2018_2426895.html

Glyphosate: http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2018/03/15/stephane-foucart-et-stephane-horel-recompenses-par-le-prix-europeen-du-journalisme-d-enquete_5271575_3244.html