Mandatory Disclosure of Environmental Hazards

Industrial production can lead to pollution of the environment without the knowledge of those who are affected. For example, unsustainable agricultural methods can cause long-term harm to the soil and land, adversely impacting the local community without their consent or knowledge. Mandatory disclosure by industries of environmental hazards they cause provides the information and transparency needed to enforce environmental policies, and for governments, individuals, and corporations to take appropriate action. In a globalized world, this will especially benefit developing countries that are currently most negatively affected by a “race to the bottom” of corporations based in developed countries relocating polluting factories to the places with the least enforcement of environmental legislation. Greater abundance is created by providing the greater public access to information regarding possible environmental hazards.

People in all communities need food and water in order to survive. Mandatory disclosure of industrial information allows the public greater access to knowledge regarding possible hazards in what they eat or drink, including the presence of chemicals or additives that may negatively affect their health and well-being. Mandatory disclosure refers to both pre-and post-sale of the food, meaning that not only should food items be properly labeled at the time of purchase, but if new information emerges regarding contamination of food that has already been purchased, that should be made known via broadcast media, press releases, and other methods of communication. Water that people drink should also be clearly marked with information about possible toxins and pollutants in order to preserve their health.

Transparency regarding possible environmental dangers should also address air pollution and its impacts on health, so that citizens can take precautions or exert pressure for change, and for civic and governmental actions to be taken to reduce pollution. This involves participation in collective economic and political decision-making in order to regulate industries. Mandatory disclosure also affects people’s ability to live meaningful livelihoods. While polluting industries provide employment (at the cost of the health both to employees and other people living in the vicinity), truly meaningful livelihoods provide benefits to people while minimizing environmental costs and paying for unavoidable damages. There is thus a lot of scope for creating more meaningful livelihoods by reducing pollution, which is not possible without good information.

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