The United Nations’ Unscientific War on Biotechnology

The United Nations’ Unscientific War on Biotechnology

Many of us can recall when it was hazardous for tourists to drink tap water in much of Europe. Although times have changed and most Europeans (and tourists) now take clean drinking water for granted, an estimated 120 million people -- one person in seven -- on the continent do not have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, according to a recent analysis by the United Nations Economic Commission on Europe (UNECE). This makes them vulnerable to water-related infections, such as cholera, dysentery, E. coli, viral hepatitis A and typhoid.

To remedy this situation, UNECE produced the 1999 Protocol on Water and Health, which is intended "to protect human health and well being by better water management, including the protection of water ecosystems, and by preventing, controlling and reducing water-related diseases." But like other U.N. agencies, UNECE seems to think that articulating goals in vague language is tantamount to achieving them. For example, the water protocol requires ratifying parties "to establish national and local targets for the quality of drinking water and the quality of discharges, as well as for the performance of water supply and waste-water treatment," to "reduce outbreaks and the incidence of water-related diseases," and to "link social and economic development to the protection of natural ecosystems."

However, the protocol provides no road map for how to get from here to there; and still worse, other U.N. policies and programs actively and aggressively prevent the development and use of important tools that could help to meet the goals of the water protocol.

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