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DON'T DOWNPLAY PERILS OF DIOXIN

A 2,000-page report published by the Environmental Protection Agency concludes that dioxin levels in the fatty tissues of Americans who consume meat, fish, eggs and dairy products pose significant health risks.

These risks include elevated incidence of cancer, disruption of the immune and hormonal systems, sexual abnormalities and stunted fetal growth.Dioxins are released by industrial processes, settle in soil and waterways, and accumulate in animal tissues. The conclusions are based on an exhaustive three-year review of dozens of medical studies.

Meat industry and allied government agencies are already working to subvert the report's startling conclusions and to reduce their economic fallout. The National Cattlemen's Association, following the lead of the tobacco industry, complained of insufficient evidence.

Earlier this year, EPA Assistant Administrator Lynn Goldman assured reporters that "the benefits (presumably the cholesterol and saturated fat in meat) of a balanced nutritional diet far outweigh the risk of dioxin."

During the past two decades, hardly a month has passed without disclosure of another report linking consumption of animal fat and meat with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, immune disorders and other chronic diseases that each year maim and kill 1.5 million Americans. How many reports will it take before Americans turn to a plant-based diet? How many deaths?

Alex Hershaft

Salt Lake City