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07/2006 - The case of Retreaded Tires at the WTO: We reject Brazil becoming a garbage dump for the European Union!!!

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The case of Retreaded Tires at the WTO

We Reject Brazil Becoming a Garbage Dump For The European Union!!!

On January 20, 2006, the European Union (EU) petitioned the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish a Panel against Brazil to examine that country's position regarding restrictions on the importation of retreaded tires. The concerns of the EU were centered solely on commercial issues, in other words, on the lack of compatibility of these restrictions with the international dictates of commerce. Its argument centered primarily on some articles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the decision by a Mercosur Ad Hoc Arbitral Tribunal that permitted the entry of retreaded tires from Uruguay to Brazil.

The importation of used goods, including used and retreaded tires, is prohibited by Brazil since 1991. The commerce of hazardous wastes is regulated by the Basel Convention which states clearly that used tires are unwanted residues and recognizes, through its guidance manual, the difficulties found in disposing of these products. Retreaded tires cannot be retreaded again, making its lifecycle span shorter than the one of new tire. As such, we see the retreading and exportation of these products as a mere "make-up". The countries of the European Union (EU) have been dumping waste and used tires on Brazil by taking advantage of gaps in Brazilian law, and have done the same in other developing countries.

These tires present a serious danger to public health, as when stockpiled for disposal, they create the perfect breeding environment for the mosquito that carries dengue fever and also create a significant risk for the spread of yellow fever, malaria, and other related problems. Toxic emissions from other accepted methods of tire disposal, such as incineration or co-processing, raise health risks by contributing to the development of illnesses such as cancer, brain lesions, anemia, endocrine disorders, asthma and diabetes. In addition to this, due to their high degree of combustibility, those tires that are burned in open fields create serious problems through the emission of highly toxic gases. Due to the above, we assert that the method used in the disposing of used tires may represent a severe environmental toll for present and future generations.

The issue is further aggravated when we consider that the EU has passed legislation prohibiting the storage and disposal of used tires in landfills after July of 2006. This means that more than 80 million tires annually deposited at these European landfills must necessarily find another destination. Since restrictions are also in place regarding emissions from the incineration of solid waste, it is evident that the EU considers the exportation of retreaded tires as an adequate form of disposal and treatment. We cannot accept this type of behavior from a group of nations that for decades has espoused a rhetoric in favor of the protection of the environment, of public health and of the defense of human rights.

If the Dispute Settlement Body emits a final decision favorable to the EU, there is a great risk that Brazil will become a large garbage dump for the developed world, as it will be obligated to accept the entry of other used commodities. Decisions such as this would clearly and significantly weaken the multilateral environmental accords between countries such as the Basel Convention and the Stockholm Accord - on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) - vis-à-vis rules and dictates imposed by the WTO.

In relation to the behavior of the EU at the Panel, we denounce that up to the present moment, its first petition has neither been published nor distributed by any medium such that society can formulate opinions and ask questions as to the principle accusations. We also denounce the clear lack of transparency exhibited by the WTO by not providing access of all documents involved in the proceedings to civil society and by prohibiting the participation of civil society organizations in WTO case hearings.
We therefore ask the Environment and Commerce Ministers of the countries of the European Union to reconsider the positions they have adopted against Brazil and to recognize that environmental, human rights and public health issues should prevail over the commercial interests of a small number of corporations. The countries of the EU should assume its responsibilities and dedicate the appropriate resources and technologies towards the treatment and disposal of its waste products, which are a result of an unsustainable consumer society and production model. The European consumer today pays an extra percentage on the products he or she acquires which corresponds to the disposal of that product. They are being lied to as to where this percentage goes, as waste and used tires and other used commodities will now simply be shipped off to developing countries for them to deal with the problem.

The non-governmental organizations, social movements, consumers, and citizens of the world, subscribed below, are against the position of the EU at this arbitrary WTO Panel, and in defense of the interests of Brazil so that the environment, health and life win this dispute. We reject the notion that Brazil and other developing countries should become the garbage dump of the European Union!!!

Signed by:

1. Amigos da Terra - Amazônia Brasileira
2. Assembléia Permanente das Entidades em Defesa do Meio Ambiente (APEDEMA-RJ)
3. Associação Brasileira de Defesa dos Moradores e Usuários Intranqüilos com Equipamentos de Telecomunicação celular (ABRADECEL)
4. Associação Brasileira do Ministério Público do Meio Ambiente (ABRAMPA)
5. Associação Brasileira dos Expostos ao Amianto (ABREA)
6. Associação Cunhambebe da Ilha Anchieta
7. Associação das Vítimas do Césio 137 (AVCésio)
8. Associação de Combate aos POPs (ACPO)
9. Associação de Consciência à Prevenção Ocupacional (ACPO)
10. Associação de Defesa do Meio Ambiente de Araucária (AMAR)
11. Associação de Proteção ao Meio Ambiente de Cianorte (APROMAC)
12. Associação dos Geógrafos Brasileiros de Niterói (AGB-Niterói)
13. Associação Ibioca Nossa Casa na Terra
14. Associação Eco Vital
15. Associação Global de Desenvolvimento Sustentado
16. Associação Parcel - Santos
17. Associação Protetora da Diversidade das Espécies (PROESP) - Campinas
18. Associação Terra Laranjeiras (ATLA)
19. Bicuda Ecológica
20. Brasil Sustentável e Democtrático/FASE
21. Caa-Oby Folha Verde
22. Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT)
23. Centro de Estudos Ambientais (CEA)
24. Conectas Direitos Humanos
25. Ecoa-Ecologia e Ação - Mato Grosso do Sul
27. Federação de Órgãos de Assistência Social e Educacional (FASE)
28. Fórum Brasileiro de ONGs, Movimentos Sociais para o Desenvolvimento e Meio Ambiente (FBOMS)
29. Fórum Carajás
30. Fórum Juvenil da Agenda 21 - Santos
31. Fórum Nacional das Entidades Civis de Defesa do Consumidor
32. Fundação CEBRAC
33. Fundação Pró-Defesa Ambiental
34. Greenpeace Brasil
35. Grupo de Defesa Ecológica da Bacia do Rio Piracicaba (GRUDE)
36. GT Ambiente da Associação dos Geógrafos Brasileiros do Rio de Janeiro
37. IGTN Brasil
38. Instituto Ambiental Ponto Azul
39. Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor (IDEC)
40. Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV)
41. Instituto de Estudos de Direito e Cidadania (IEDC)
42. Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental Louveira (IPAL)
43. Instituto Eqüit
44. Instituto Gaúcho de Estudos Ambientais / Ingá
45. Instituto o Direito por um Planeta Verde
46. Instituto Observatório Brasil
47. Instituto Sócioambiental (ISA)
48. Instituto Terramar
49. Justiça Global - Brasil
50. Movimentos dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra (MST)
51. Núcleo de Amigos da Terra - Brasil
52. Observatório Social
53. Projeto MIRA-SERRA - Brasil
54. Rede Brasileira Pela Integração dos Povos (REBRIP)
55. Rede Brasiliera de Justiça Ambiental
56. Rede de ONGs da Mata Atlântica - RMA
57. Rede Pantanal de ONGs e Movimentos Sociais
58. Rede Virtual-Cidadã pelo Banimento do Amianto para a América Latina
59. Repórter Brasil
60. Rep. das ONGs do Centro-Oeste no CONAMA
61. Sindicato dos Sociologos do Estado de São Paulo (SINSESP)
62. S.O.S Manancial
63. Terra de Direitos - Brasil
64. Verdejar Proteção Ambiental e Humanismo
65. Vitae Civilis Instituto para o Desenvolvimento, Meio Ambiente e Paz
66. WWF Brasil

Other countries:

68. African front for the Protection of Nature and Man ( FADENAH)
69. AerztInnen für eine gesunde Umwelt (Doctors for the Environment Austria) - Austria
70. AGENDA - Tanzania
71. Agrupación Vecinos de Villa Allende Contra la Cremación e Incineración de Residuos Peligrosos - Argentina
72. Alianza Global Anti-Incineración/ Alianza Global para Alternativas a la Incineración (GAYA)
73. Amigos de la Tierra (CERDET) - Bolívia
74. Amigos de la Tierra (CEIBA) - Guatemala
75. Amigos de la Tierra (REDES) - Uruguai
76. Arizona Toxics Information - EUA
77. Armenian women for Health and Healthy Environmrnt (AWHHE) - Armênia
78. Asociación Argentina de Médicos por el Medio Ambiente (AAMMA-ISDE) - Argentina
79. Associação do Consumidor de Bens e Serviços (ACOBES) - Guiné-Bissau
80. Basel Action Network - USA
81. Cameroon Pesticides Action Network (CAPANET) - Camarões
82. Canadian Environmental Law Association - Canadá
83. Center for Policy Analysis on TRade and Health (CPATH) - USA
84. Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED) - Nepal
85. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) - Argentina
86. CEREAL - México
87. Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU) - Equador
88. Communities Against Toxics - Reino Unido
89. Concern for Development Initiatives in Africa (ForDIA) - Tanzania
90. Corporate Accountability Desk-The Other Media - India
91. Earth Economics
92. ECO SITIO - Argentina
93. Ecological Society of "Ruzgar" - Azerbaijan Republic
94. Ecologistas en Acción -Espanha
95. Ecosphere
96. Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) - Bangladesh
97. Environmental Health Fund
98. Forum for Justice - Nepal
99. Foundation for GAIA - UK
100. Foundation to Support Civil Initiatives - Tadjiquistão
101. Fundación Aguaclara - Venezuela
102. General Union of Non-Governmental Environmental Organizations GUN-GEO - Palestina
103. Greenpeace México
104. GroundWork - África do Sul
105. iLima Kenya - Quênia
106. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) - USA
107. Island Sustainability Alliance C.I. Inc ("ISACI") - Ilhas Cook
108. Justica Ambiental - Mozambique
109. MDRGF - França
110. Mother Earth Foundation - Filipinas
111. Non Inciniration citizens - Japan
112. PAN Mali
113. Pesticide Action Network Philippines
114. Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR Kenya) - Quênia
115. Planet Earth - EUA
116. Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas en México (RAPAM)
117. Red Internacional de Eliminación de Contaminantes Orgánicos Persistentes (IPEN)
118. Rede de Ação em Pesticidas e suas Alternativas da América Latina (RAPAL) - Uruguai
119. Regional Coordination of RAP-AL - Colombia
120. Romeo Quijano - President of Pesticide Action Network - Filipinas
121. Stay-Green Foundation (SGF) - Gambia
122. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) - Paquistão
123. The National Association of Professional Environmentalists
124. The National Consumer and Environmental Alliance of Togo - Togo
125. Toxics Link - India
126. Uganda Environmental Education Foundation - Uganda
127. World Information Transfer, Inc. - EUA
128. WWF Europa

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