Environmental Hazards and the Burden of Proof

Number: 1975-08


WHEREAS, the hazardous environmental and human health effects of many pollutants and commercially-manufactured chemical substances cannot be proven because they do not become manifest for several years or even decades following introduction into the environment; and

WHEREAS, thousands of chemical substances are manufactured commercially and used each year without publicly reviewed pre-market testing of their acute and subacute toxic effects; and

WHEREAS, thousands of tons of pollutants discharged into the environment each year are unregulated because their suspected hazards to humans and the environment cannot be proven immediately; and

WHEREAS, the unchecked manufacture, use and/or discharge of such suspected substances exposes plants, animals, and humans to long-term, serious risks which include cancer, birth defects, and tumors;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation, in annual convention assembled March 14-16, 1975, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hereby urgently recommends as a national policy that publicly supervised testing of all chemical substances be required prior to their commercial manufacture and introduction into the environment; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, where evidence of an unreasonable risk to human health and/or the environment is found to be presented by the manufacture, use, and/or discharge of such substances, their manufacture, use and/or discharge be prohibited or adequately restricted until their safety is proven; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the burden of proof of safety shall rest with the manufacturers, users, or dischargers of such substances.