Resolution for a Healthy Tomorrow approved by the 204th Annual Meeting (2003)

6/7/2003


Approved by the 204th Annual Meeting, June 6-7, 2003, Mount Holyoke College. Proposed by the Environmental Task Force of the Commission for Mission and Justice Ministries

WHEREAS, The 202nd Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ voted to approve a Resolution on the Environment and the Church, urging church members, congregations, lay and religious leaders and the Commission for Mission of Justice to be prayerful and mindful of our responsibility to care for the earth and act in ways that lead toward the healing of God’s creation; and
 
WHEREAS, In Leviticus Chap. 25, we as Christians are called to care for the land and to respond as faithful stewards by taking personal and collective actions to defend and heal the earth; and

WHEREAS, Asthma, developmental disabilities, childhood and adult cancer rates and other chronic disease and disorders have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. as toxic chemicals have proliferated in our air, water and land (The Consensus Statement of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, signed by hundreds of health experts and organizations, states “Scientific evidence increasingly indicates a relationship between a range of environmental factors and these diseases and conditions.”); and
 
WHEREAS, Children are among the most vulnerable in our society, particularly to the effects of toxins present in our environment (The CHE collaborative states, “The developing human fetus appears to be uniquely at risk of harm from environmental toxicants, and such damage can be profound and permanent.”); and

WHEREAS, Potential toxins were not usually tested for safety before use, the government usually takes action only after harm is proven and widespread, and certain levels of harm are accepted and allowed by government authorities, and citizen action is necessary to change government polices to better protect our health; and
 
WHEREAS, The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is a coalition of Massachusetts citizens, scientists, health professionals, workers, parents, cancer survivors and educators seeking to protect vulnerable populations such as children, the ill, elderly, economically disadvantaged, workers, and many of us who are exposed to dangerous toxins on a daily basis; and
 
WHEREAS, The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is working tirelessly to correct fundamental flaws in government policy that are damaging our health and our environment, causing real suffering and loss; and,
 
WHEREAS, The national Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ encourages local churches, Associations and Conferences to "engage in direct action for the integrity of creation";
 
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, That the 204th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ:
 
1. Requests that the Board of Directors join Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow on behalf of the
Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ as a member organization and requests that the Commission for Mission and Justice Ministries appoint a delegate/contact person to be a liaison to the Alliance Board of Directors as financing allows; and
 
2. Encourages local churches and their members to become educated about toxic threats to health and the environment, and to consider participating in the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow as advocates for children, health, the environment, and environmental justice.

Background information:
“Today the most serious diseases confronting children in the United States and in other industrially developed nations are a group of chronic conditions… Examples include asthma, for which incidence has more than doubled; childhood cancer, for which reported incidence of certain types has increased significantly; neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorders; and certain congenital
defects.”

“ We focus on lead poisoning, pediatric asthma, childhood cancer, and neurobehavioral disorders because these conditions are serious, common, and likely related at least in part to chemical pollutants in the environment. Moreover, all of these diseases are potentially preventable through public health efforts and pollution prevention.”

Referring in this quote only to outdoor, nonbiologic pollutants (i.e., not pollen) from sources amenable to abatement, “the panel estimated that 30% of acute exacerbations of childhood asthma (range 10-35%) are environmentally related.”
 
“The panel felt that no more than 10-20% of childhood cancers could be attributed solely to genetic predisposition, and that extragenetic factors, defined broadly, therefore caused or contributed to the genesis of the remaining 80-90%.” 
 
“ An expert committee convened by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) estimated in 2000 that 3% of neurobehavioral disorders in American children are caused directly by toxic environmental exposure and that another 25% are caused by interactions between environmental factors, defined broadly, and genetic susceptibility of individual children… Of the total 28% of neurobehavioral disorders thought by the NAS to be caused wholly or partly by environmental factors, we estimate that 10% (range 5-20%) are a least partly caused by toxic exposures, not including alcohol, tobacco, or drugs of abuse.”

— Quotes from: Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children: Estimates of Morbidity, Mortality, and Costs for Lead Poisoning, Asthma, Cancer, and Developmental Disabilities by Philip J. Landrigan, Clyde B. Schechter, Jeffrey M. Lipton, Marianne C. Fahs, and Joel Schwartz, Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 110, No. 7, July, 2002

“ Chronic diseases and disabilities have reached epidemic proportions in the United States, affecting more than 100 million men, women and children, which is more than one-third of our population. Asthma, autism, birth defects, cancers, developmental disabilities, diabetes, endometriosis, infertility, Parkinson’s disease and other diseases and disabilities are causing increased suffering and concern.”
 
“ Scientific evidence increasingly indicates a relationship between a range of environmental factors and these diseases and conditions. One important contributor may be increased exposure to the wide array of chemical substances that are used in modern industrial society, including diverse synthetic chemicals, compounds, metals and related elements such as lead, mercury and arsenic, as well as other pollutants in food, water, and air. Since World War II, more than 85,000 synthetic chemicals have been registered for use in the United States and another 2,000 are added each year, and few are adequately tested for their potential impacts on health. Other forms of pollution are increasing as well.”
 
“ The developing human fetus appears to be uniquely at risk of harm from environmental toxicants, and such damage can be profound and permanent.”

“ Many cases of some diseases and developmental disabilities could likely be prevented if exposure to contributory environmental factors before and after birth were lessened or eliminated. Where the weight of plausible scientific evidence shows that contaminants [toxic substances] are likely to contribute to increased disease, exposures should be reduced or eliminated.”
 
— Quotes from: Consensus Statement of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, which was signed by hundreds of health experts and organizations. See www.cheforhealth.org
 
For more information on the Campaign to Protect Child Health and the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, call 617-338-8131 or visit www.healthytomorrow.org
 


 



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