Dow shall not be forgotten!

12 May 2004 - The Dow Chemical Company, the world's largest manufacturer of chemicals, with annual sales exceeding USD30 billion will be facing shareholder questions on its environmental and health performance at its annual shareholders meeting on 13 May 2004 in Midland, Michigan in the USA. The questions will focus on the ongoing Bhopal disaster, Agent Orange in Vietnam, asbestos and dioxin contamination in Midland, Michigan. Dow is one of the largest producers of insecticides (Dursban), herbicides (Clincher) and fungicides, and has produced some of the most dangerous pesticides known to man, including DDT, Dursban, and 2,4,5-T, the active ingredient of Agent Orange.

We will not forget, and we will not allow Dow to forget, that twenty years ago a deadly gas leaked from the Union Carbide's pesticide factory in Bhopal, India killing more than 8,000 people within three days and over 20,000 people have died to date as a result of their exposure. An estimated 150,000 people continue to suffer from long lasting effects of gas exposure, which include diminished vision, cancer, and respiratory, neurological and gynecological disorders. Despite acquiring Union Carbide,

Dow Chemical has refused to address Union Carbide's pending liabilities in Bhopal that include medical and economic rehabilitation of victims, clean up of toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater, and provision of safe drinking water.

Dow's bad performance record is long and not only includes the Bhopal disaster, but also includes the more than 19 million gallons of herbicidal agents that was dropped on the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

More than 30 years after the spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam by U.S. troops during the war, it is estimated that the Agent Orange gas poisoned at least one million Vietnamese. Dow Chemical was the key manufacturer of chemical warfare agents Napalm and Agent Orange.

And closer to home, in 2002, Greenpeace investigations showed that the facility in South Africa, owned by the American company Dow Agro-Sciences, was pumping out toxic and cancer causing chemicals. The facility produces Dursban, a pesticide and deadly neurotoxin banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). An open toxic waste discharge pipe was discovered at a Dow facility in South Africa in September 2002.

The chemical industry in South Africa has been allowed to get away with murder. A global move towards greater corporate accountability has shown that these companies can no longer hide, shareholder activism is increasing and will lead to the downfall of these companies, and most importantly civil society will no longer remain silent. A sterling example of this are the two activists from Bhopal, who against all odds, have campaigned against Dow chemicals. In recognition of their work, Rashida Bee, who has lost six family members to cancer since the leak, and her colleague, Champa Devi Shukla, received the coveted Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco last month and are currently touring the United States. They plan to attend the Dow shareholder meeting on 13 May 2004 to make their voices heard. It is time that Dow accepts its moral and legal responsibility for the world's worst industrial disaster.


For more information contact Ferrial Adam 033-342-5662 or 084-484-3387