This week in Geneva, delegates to a conference of the parties to the Rotterdam Convention are again discussing whether chrysotile asbestos should be put on the list of hazardous substances.
One hot topic is sure to be Canada, which until 2012 was a major exporter of chrysotile — the most common form of asbestos — and opposed its inclusion on the hazardous list. However, Ottawa has recently and dramatically changed its tune.
“When it comes to asbestos, the scientific evidence is clear,” Science Minister Kirsty Duncan said in an April 21 statement, just days before the conference got underway. “Irrefutable evidence has led us to take concrete action to swiftly ban asbestos and to support the listing of chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention.”
The listing of asbestos would mean countries that export it would have to get prior informed consent from importing countries, which could block or set conditions on such imports. But perhaps an even hotter topic at the conference is the case of Robert Moore, who is being sued in Britain on allegations he spied on members of the anti-asbestos movement for four years.
Moore attended the last meeting of the Rotterdam Convention, in 2015, under false pretences. As his case unfolds in the High Court of Justice in London, details about who he might have been working for are coming to light.
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