An analogy

It is as if they had made a law to improve protection from cows but forgot about BSE. The new law covers all kinds of risk, and harmonises cow husbandry across the European Union. Now things will change drastically in backward countries where children herd cows and where bulls live in fields the public might wander in. Now all Eurocows must be dehorned; fences, gates and milking machinery must conform to Euro standards; all milk must be pasteurised, the most modern hygeine practices adopted everywhere. And so on. "Obviously", cries the European Commission, "This is a huge improvement!"
But the new law recognises that when cows reach the end of their productive lives they still have some value, and so it allows industry to add their bodies to the food chain, or spread bits of them on the fields as fertiliser. Almost inconceivable! now that we know how tiny, how dangerous, and how indestructible the agents of BSE/CJD are. The experts are no longer saying: "BSE cannot cross the species barrier - there is no evidence of danger to consumers."
But that is what MAFF used to say, and just like them, radiation protection officials ignore warnings and discount evidence that their model is wrong. They say that the effects of ingesting artificial radio-isotopes from deregulated practices and materials will be minimal; the risks "acceptable".
In fact they guess at the magnitude of these effects on the basis of flawed studies of external radiation.
They pretend that man-made radioactivity is no different from the radioactivity which life on Earth evolved with,
and they assign radio-isotopes to categories of "radiotoxicity" on the basis of their physical characteristics, not their biological behaviour and effects.
Worst and most arrogant of all, they leave undone the research which would identify the most dangerous isotopes and just how they cause genetic damage.

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This page was last updated 14 May 2001 [format only]