We Are All 'Lab Rats'

We Are All 'Lab Rats'
reprinted from
The People
May 1996

WE ARE ALL 'LAB RATS'

BY MICHAEL JAMES

Rachel Carson saw it coming. Her book SILENT SPRING, published in 1962, marked the start of the international environmental movement. She wrote, "For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death." The environmental group Greenpeace says life on earth is now "a massive experiment in toxicology, with the entire planet as a laboratory. And the first results are just coming in."

What are the results? One in three of us will probably develop cancer. Richard Nixon declared "war" on cancer in 1971 and since then the incidence rate has gone up 18 percent and the death rate has increased 7 percent. Only one in 20 women got breast cancer in 1960 and today the rate is one in eight. Melanoma is now epidemic with a 96-percent rate increase since 1980. Black Americans develop cancers 8 percent more often than whites and have a cancer death rate 35 percent higher. The American Hospital Association says that cancer will surpass heart disease as the leading cause of death by the year 2000.

Even the animals cannot escape. An Ohio University assistant professor of microbiology says that frogs and turtles are disappearing because their skin is highly permeable and, just like the fat cells of the human female breast, efficient at absorbing pesticides and other toxins in the environment. His research shows that, "There are no animals in the world that don't have measurable levels of DDT and dioxins," and that pesticides are "a significant nail in the coffin for amphibian populations."

We are all lab rats for the capitalist chemical companies. The World Health Organization estimates that perhaps 90 percent of all cancers stem from environmental pollution. Evidence is that duPont, for example, knew as early as 1974 that its CFCs (or chlorofluorocarbons) were depleting ozone, yet the company did not begin to phase out CFC production until 1988 when it had alternatives, called HFCs and HCFCs, ready for market. Greenpeace looks at the melanoma epidemic and concludes that "the preservation of life on earth is secondary to duPont's preservation of its exorbitant profits."

Bourgeois regulatory and health agencies are corporate lap dogs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), identified duPont as the No. 1 U.S. industrial polluter in 1989, and then awarded it a "President's Environment and Conservation Challenge Award" in 1991. The EPA during the Reagan administration was so malignant and corrupt that environmentalists said it would only regulate a toxic chemical after "counting dead bodies." The Reagan administration's EPA assistant administrator for pesticide and toxic substances, John A. Todhunter, even suggested the word "pesticides" be replaced by the more soothing "crop protection chemicals."

The profit motive itself is a deadly cancer, devouring the integrity of all it touches. Supress, Inc., an organization fighting for prevention rather than animal research seeking a cancer cure, says, "The medical/research/pharmaceutical/chemical empire is not in the least interested in prevention because it knows full well that it cannot make a red cent out of healthy people." The MULTINATIONAL MONITOR, founded by Ralph Nader, states that denial of the industrial origin of cancers has led to "public resignation toward the cancer slaughter."

Revolution, not resignation, is our only hope. Capitalists, drunk with arrogance and blinded by profit, cannot embrace prevention, ecology or even sanity. Marx wrote that, "Even a whole society, a nation, or even all societies together, are not the OWNERS of the globe. They are only its POSSESSORS, its users, and they have to hand it down to the coming generations in an improved condition, like the good fathers of families." Only an enlightened working class can liberate the means of production, build socialism and ensure survival of life on earth.