Tuesday, April 12, 2016


With the Almighty God  granting us grace and access to the top echelons of academia, diplomacy, industry, and governance, the LivingScience Foundation is excited at our coming very first public outing – the 1st National Conference on Environment and Health scheduled for May 17 and 18, 2016 at the Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State.
Issues of environment and health are extremely complex and intertwined.  And they respond very poorly to isolated compartmentalized treatments such as they have been receiving to date in Nigeria. Even though the picture is far more “pathetic” than that of a little David challenging the giant Goliath, we nevertheless are determined we just can’t keep watching the status quo continuing!  Hence our convening this Conference.
 (In any case, the God of David is still in charge of the universe.)
We try to explain the gravity and complexity of the situation using an easy-to-grasp example: Mercury poisoning.
Mercury in all its chemical forms is known be to an extremely toxic and persistent chemical affecting mainly the brain and nervous system.  Emission of minute quantities of mercury from fossil coals is one major reason (in addition to climate change concerns) for the intense campaign against the coal industry in the US and elsewhere.  Mercury is so feared among professionals that a broken mercury thermometer requires (in developed countries) specialized de-contamination procedures.
Not surprisingly, the release of mercury into the atmosphere is very strictly monitored and regulated by global bodies – mainly to prevent inevitable transfers across national boundaries. At a landmark convention in 2013, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) decided to ban (effective 2020) the presence of mercury in several products, including drugs, cosmetics, even dental amalgam.
However, after much intensive debates and arguments, one vital product was left off the list of proscribed items – Vaccines.  Although virtually all developed countries have proscribed the addition of mercury to vaccines (particularly those used for babies) in their countries, these same folks argued that mercury should continue to be added to the vaccines administered to babies in the developing and under-developed countries!  They argue that it is only such mercury-laden vaccine that would be cheap enough for mass distribution in such resource-impaired countries. Moreover, mercury in vaccines don’t cross national boundaries and so remains the problem of the country using it!
The amazing fact is that the vast majority of Nigerians, including the highly educated, are totally oblivious of this development, and what it means for ALL of us in Nigeria!  By our continuing to use so-called multi-dose (cheaper) vaccines produced abroad, but proscribed for use there, we are shouting from the roof-top that the lives of our children, and consequently our future, is inferior to those of children from the developed nations!  Vaccines so affected include Tetanus Toxoid, Hepatitis B, and Influenza.
As usual, the world celebrated the annual World Autism Day with fanfare on April 2; and the regular official lines is that save for possible link with environmental and genetic factors, no one knows the real cause of this extremely pathetic spectrum of disease.  But with facts and figures demonstrated by people like Senator Kennedy, Trace Amounts, etc no reasonable objective person can miss the link between autism and mercury in vaccine.  See for instance, a recent article published in Egypt demonstrating this link. In the words of Boyd Haley, “I think that the biological case against Thimerosal is so dramatically overwhelming anymore that only a very foolish or a very dishonest person with the credentials to understand this research would say that Thimerosal wasn’t most likely the case of autism.”
            However, this mercury palaver is just one pathetic story in our environmental-health situation in Nigeria.  The same story as above can be repeated on several other agents, ranging from lead to pesticides, from microwave radiation in the GSM industry to ionizing radiation in medical practices, from the petrochemical industry to mining of solid minerals! The bottom line is that environmental-health issues are peculiar to each local community, and of considerably grave consequences.  And they respond to the same solution – stakeholders across a broad spectrum of disciplines, need to come together and spurred by both a sense of patriotism and of self-preservation, must exchange and holistically evaluate relevant data that abound disjointedly in their particular disciplines.
This is what the 1st LSF National Conference on Environment and Health by the grace of God is spearheading.
This initiative is entirely without any government or foreign funding. Thanks to strategic supports from the Redeemer’s University and several dedicated academicians not part of LSF. The registration fee is rock-bottom cheap, to promote extensive grassroot participation including from PG students, artisans groups, etc .  You can support by exhibiting relevant products at the Conference, advertising in the Conference programme, or simply by standing with the initiative as a Sponsor in any of three categories available.  Kindly visit http://conferences.lsfnigeria.org  for details.

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