Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

14 April 2011

Third Paris Appeal International Congress: "Women and Children First"

This article was written by the NGO, Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), April 14, 2011. 

It is with the phrase, "women and children first", that Professor Dominique Belpomme, initiator of the first Paris Appeal Congress on the theme of children and the environment, concluded the two-day conference which brought together scientists, physicians, representatives of civil society, and politicians from 12-13 April 2011, as a prelude to a three-day intensive course in environmental medicine for health professionals.

This is confirmation of the need for a new approach to environmental health. The Third Paris Appeal International Congress on Children's Health and the Environment confirmed the extent of changes necessary to deal with the new health risks associated with environmental exposures, bringing together leading experts known for their in-depth analysis of the problematic subject of health-environment.

Leading research scientists confirm the urgency for change. Whether it is researchers such as Ana Soto, who has long studied the effects of bisphenol A on animal health, or Professor Patrick Fenichel, a specialist in hormone-dependent cancers, or Prof. Morando Soffritti, who studied the effects of electromagnetic fields on health, to name a few, the scientists present were able to share with the audience the results of their research. Like David Gee, a prominent representative of the European Environment Agency, who submitted a brilliant analysis pointing out that "the absence of evidence of adverse effects does not mean proof of absence of adverse effects." Finally, Professor Philippe Grandjean, internationally renowned researcher, who was able to demonstrate, through the example of mercury, a recognized neurotoxin, that "the proper functioning of the brain is not only necessary for the individual but also for society," based on years of in-depth analysis of the issue.

Regarding the role of doctors, civil society and politicians, Corinne Lepage, former Minister and Member of the European Parliament, has meanwhile stressed that environmental health issues are not a technical (scientific) choice but rather involve political and legal responsibility, emphasizing that the tragedy of Fukushima is "the failure of a system based on a culture of probabilistic risk." Finally, the medical and civil societies are two essential components for a new approach. Dr. Genevieve Barber of the Labor Union of General Medicine has highlighted the importance of the fact that the medical community itself does not participate in denial of the environmental effects on public health. As for the NGOs present, whether Future Generations (formerly MDRGF), the Environment-Health Network (RES), the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), or ASEF or Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) – which came to present its work and particularly Project Nesting - all have shown the role played by civil society in terms of warning and relaying information about environmental health.

ARTAC, initiator of the Paris Appeal in 2004, can rejoice in the organization and quality of this event , which confirms and opens wide prospects for cooperation between the different actors who are determined to make environmental health a reality for people, especially pregnant women and children, who are the most vulnerable among us. WECF thanks ARTAC for having been able to participate, as was the case in two previous major conference events in Paris.

To know more about ARTAC, see http://www.artac.info/  . Find WECF and Project Nesting on http://www.projetnesting.fr/

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