41ghnlvwp9l_aa240_.jpg(Please welcome in the comments Mark Schapiro, author of “Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power — jh)

Firepups, if you only read one “environmental” book this year, choose Mark Schapiro’s “Exposed”.

If you only read one “health” book this year, read Mark Schapiro’s “Exposed”.

With this book, Mark Schapiro sets forth how American corporations have successfully denied Americans the very same health and safety protections EU residents now receive – from the very same American corporations.

In one chapter of his book Schapiro demonstrates how – in its handling of polluting chemicals – the United States is being left behind even by developing nations such as Mexico.

Hey – better living through chemistry deregulation, right?

Mark also describes how the anti-regulatory plank of the “free-market” religious cult I call the Washington Consensus may seriously injure the competitiveness of American exporters who do not adapt to rising global safety standards.

Mark illustrates how we have gone from global players in environmental protection to global paupers – and invites us to catch up with the EU in placing the health of our children and people ahead of the megacorps’ propaganda.

He does so in large part by pointing out the consumer protections the US megacorps claim are so ruinously expensive that Americans don’t deserve them are quite affordable when the US megacorps sell to EU consumers.

So in the Brave New World Order crafted by the US megacorps and their wholly-owned subsidiaries (aka US politicians) – EU consumers are worth the protections: American consumers aren’t.

Mark Schapiro lets us know how we are being shafted on a global scale by US industry.

In other words, Mark distills a complex subject down to the level even a Texas gooper could understand:

If the French can do it and make a profit, why can’t we?

A guilty confession here….uh..er…

I have a book fetish. Not that I have special books for airport stalls – or to rub on my…feet…(or anywhere else).

I just love books. And libraries, and book stores – and authors: the people who create the books that have defined and enriched my life. I’m awfully fond of certain publishing houses, too – but they don’t fit on the book shelves, so I haven’t tried to bring any home.

For years Santa Monica was blessed with Midnight Special, a progressive bookstore on their famous Promenade. The bookstore was just upstairs from Physicians For Social Responsibility-LA’s deathtrap basement offices in the same brick building that provided affordable space for Midnight Special.

I’d celebrate my survival of yet another PSR office visit or Board meeting with a visit to Midnight Special, where I’d snap up just about every enviro- or eco-book I saw.

At risk of disloyalty to my eco-tribe, I have another shameful admission: I’ve never completed many of the eco-books. They are all well-intentioned, but some were either poorly researched or just poorly written.

Mark Schapiro’s Exposed marks the opposite end of the spectrum. That’s no surprise – Mark’s prior work Circle of Poison: Pesticides and People in a Hungry World (with co-author David Weir) re-framed America’s exports of banned pesticides as imports of toxic foodstuffs onto American tables, and helped to drive public opinion and political efforts towards greater food safety.

In response to the book Circle of Poison: Pesticides and People in a Hungry World (Food First, 1981) by David Weir and Mark Schapiro, activists and experts from 17 countries gathered in Penang, Malaysia, in May 1982, to strategize how they might work together to halt global pesticide proliferation.[snip]

PAN was an early manifestation of what some now call the “globalization from below” movement. The 1982 founding meeting in Penang, Malaysia, focused on resisting the corporate globalization of the pesticide trade.

So Mark Schapiro and David Weir not only wrote a book – they started an enduring international movement. The NGO which grew out of the 1982 meeting in Panang – Pesticide Action Network – is thriving and still effective. The US PAN chapter (PAN North America, or PANNA) supported the LA Safe Schools Coalition in our effort to push the LA Unified School District to adopt a radical change in their pest management embracing the precautionary principle.

The PANNA activist who introduced me to Circle of Poison was still in diapers when Circle of Poison was published. Yet eighteen years after it was first issued, Circle of Poisons was one of the texts I and others relied on as we translated the abstract info about pesticide toxicity into palpable human stories for LAUSD administrators and School Board members. In 1999, the LAUSD passed the new policy (now a national model) – in no small part because of Mark Schapiro and David Weir’s diligent research and their gift in distilling their knowledge into powerful vignettes.

Circle of Poison is still relevant – and over a qurter of a century later, Mark’s new work promises to be every bit as influential and enduring.

Exposed has the power to spark a new global response – I can’t wait to see (and assist) the organizations and activists that will take up the fight to bring Americans the same protections EU citizens currently have from American corporations’ deliberate choice to dump toxic products on Americans here at home…

…while most of the same American megacorps reserve their safe products not for Americans, but for EU consumers.

Exposed is a powerful description of the lethal consequences of turning over public health and safety to megacorps and the megacorps’ purchased servants in industry, academia, and elected office.

Exposed also brings home to ordinary Americans the global consequences of the Bush/Clinton/Bush admins’ progressively deepening infatuation with and subservience to the religion of “free-market” ideology and regulatory antipathy…..

Over the very years in which physicians and public health experts have seen rates of infertility, developmental disorders, behavioral disorders, and malignancies soar to previously unknown levels in American children and the mothers and fathers who conceive them.

Mark Schapiro, thanks to the Center for Investigative Reporting for supporting your work, thanks to Chelsea Green for their work in publishing this (and so many other) socially conscious books, and most of all thanks to you for your work and for joining us today.

Firepups: as with all FDL Book Salons, this is an opportunity for the Lake to discuss Mr Schapiro’s work and ideas. Please keep all other topics you may wish to discuss at the Lake on other threads.