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Asbestos hazards

Interview with Fernanda Giannasi

I read an interview with Fernanda Giannasi, a Brazilian leader of the movement to ban asbestos. Brazil is the world’s fourth largest asbestos producer. It exports 35 percent of its annual production – around 200,000 tons – to more than 25 countries, including India, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador.

She says: “In Brazil, the compensation offered by the companies is roughly $1,500, $3,000 or $4,500, depending on the seriousness of the case. This is ridiculously low, but some victims accept it because of their desperate need for money, the need to address their disability and their distrust of the judicial system.”

Also, “In general, the multinationals are going to stop using asbestos in the next couple years because of global market demands and the shareholders’ concerns about future liabilities.” But “Meanwhile, the producer countries in the developing world, like Brazil, Zimbabwe and India, are going to take national control of the asbestos interests, transferring these interests to small companies – which in general are free from any social and legal controls.” You can read the whole interview here: http://multinationalmonitor.org/mm2003/03april/april03interviewsgiannasi.htm

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Medical news

Gene signatures?

Scientists recently found an 11-gene “signature” in cancer tumors that apparently predicts prognosis in at least 10 types of cancer. Mesothelioma is one of those types. The medical research community is excited because the findings may also change the process of development of new cancer therapies. Article here.