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Ekos-Squared Review: Poisoned for Profit: A must read

February 10, 2011

Our creative readers: We are very fortunate at Ekos-Squared – some of our regular readers are prominent and highly accomplished. In the past we’ve published poems and art by poet Sharon Auberle and reports from Willie Fontenot, a legendary Louisiana fighter for safe and sustainable communities.

Philip and Alice Shabecoff


Alice Shabecoff: Today’s featured reader is Alice Shabecoff, a journalist who writes about family, consumer and environmental health issues. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the International Herald Tribune, and many other top news outlets. She is co-author with her husband Philip Shabecoff[1] of a must-read: Poisoned for Profit: How Toxins Are Making Our Children Chronically Ill. (Chelsea Green, paperback in 2010). We recommend it highly not only because it highlights the links between industrial pollution and illness but because it tells the story of real families in real communities – and what they endure. The book’s stories are personal and chilling – while parents and pediatricians struggle to fight illness, one child at a time, the industry conspires, along with scientists-for-hire, lawyers and PR firms and even government, to obscure the truth about the toxic chemicals that pervade our communities, homes and lives.

Poisoned for Profit is especially relevant given the shift in Congress and in many states to strip away environmental and product safety regulations and to promote inherently toxic technologies including coal and nuclear power. In the guise of promoting jobs, the real beneficiaries of the would be deregulation are the very corporate polluters that Poisoned for Profit describes.

The book, however, the disturbing provides both hope and solutions. It offers guidance to parents (including pregnant women and pregnancy planning couples) about protecting children and communities and describes where to go for more advice including websites, books, organizations and scientists ready to answer parents’ specific questions.  To learn more:

Here are some excerpts from reviewers:

Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MS, professor and chair, professor of pediatrics, and director, Children’s Environmental Health Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine: A sober and sobering account by two deeply experienced journalists. . . This is essential reading for all who care about children, families, and America’s future.”

Arlene Dijamco, MD (Pediatrician Cohasset, MA): “Rachel Carlson’s The Silent Spring was our first wake-up call in 1962.  Now, decades later, the number of toxins poured into our world has multiplied exponentially.  In Poisoned for Profits, journalists Philip and Alice Shabecoff detail an eye-opening account of the poisoning of our communities with synthetic chemicals and other poisons that have infiltrated our lives.  They do so with the finesse and experience of skilled reporters.

Poisoned for Profit reviews case after case of victims of corporate carelessness and deliberate neglect.  As each chapter of this “crime case” unfolds, the fog is slowly lifted. It is apparent by the end of the book the actions deemed criminal and the “perpetrators” and “co-conspirators” behind them.  We’ve heard this story before with the tobacco industry, but it seems to be a recurring nightmare.”

Mark Floegel, Greenpeace: Poisoned for Profit shows how state and federal agencies tasked with protecting health and the environment are manacled by the same cohort of attorneys, plus lobbyists, plus trade associations. The politicians of the legislative and executive branches, who should intervene on behalf of citizens – children in this case – are trapped, perhaps too willingly, by the need for constant infusions of campaign cash, of a magnitude multinational chemical companies can afford but sick children cannot.

The appendices to Poisoned for Profit provide helpful information for protecting yourself
and your family, beginning from the moment you plan your family and working outward
through your home diet and community. It’s difficult and painstaking and it shouldn’t
fall to parents to go to such lengths to protect their children from corporations that would poison them.”

[1] Philip Shabecoff was the chief environmental correspondent for The New York Times for fourteen of the thirty-two years he worked there as a reporter. After leaving the Times, he founded and published Greenwire, an online daily digest of environmental news. He has appeared on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Washington Week in Review, CNN News, C-Span, National Public Radio, and the BBC. His previous books include A Fierce Green Fire: A History of the American Environmental Movement.

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