Action Alert

Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!

The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.

TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.

Please take five minutes and complete the survey. To find out more about these trade agreements, go to

Go PVC-free this back-to-school season

Posted August 8, 2011 by Katie Rojas-Jahn   

Food and HealthHealthy LegacyHealth

CHEJ Back-to-School Guide You’ve gotten rid of BPA from baby bottles and out of water bottles, but did you know another unnecessary toxic plastic may be hiding in your children’s school supplies?

Your child’s innocent-looking pencil case or three-ring binder could contain chemicals linked to learning disabilities, obesity and asthma. That’s because many school supplies are manufactured using polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the most hazardous plastic for our health and environment.

This plastic can contain a toxic stew of phthalates, lead, cadmium and organotins—making it a recipe for disaster. As a result, some of these chemicals, like phthalates, are building up in our bodies. To the developing body of a child, even a small exposure to these toxic chemicals can be dangerous. A new 2011 study found PVC is the most widely used hazardous plastic in the world. This toxic plastic is being used in more forms than ever for your kids, from notebooks to art supplies to backpacks.

From its manufacture to disposal, PVC releases hazardous chemicals like dioxins and phthalates that are harmful to your children’s health. When incinerated (at disposal), PVC releases dioxin a potent toxic chemical linked to several harmful health effects, including cancer. Dioxin then builds up in the food chain (especially in the fatty tissue of animals) and in turn an estimated 90 percent of our exposure to dioxin is through food consumption.

The good news is there are safer and cost-effective alternatives. The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) has just released their fourth-annual 2011 Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies.

The guide features a listing of the most common school supplies made out of PVC and safer PVC-free alternatives in over 35 product categories, from laptops to lunchboxes and everything in between. Parents around the country will find this useful for safer, healthier alternatives to PVC for their children.

Buying a PVC-free product also means that you are exerting your consumer buying-power in the right direction, toward companies that manufacture products safer for our kids’ health.

Find safer products for your kids. Download the new Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies.

Download the guide here.
Download the wallet-sized version here.

The Healthy Legacy Coalition is co-releasing the Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies with CHEJ. Healthy Legacy is a diverse public health coalition of 34 member groups that works to phase out the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy is a co-founding member of the coalition.


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