Why safelife ?
safelife is a Non-Profit Association ruled by the French Law (1901).
It has been created in 2015 after a sequence of health security scandals involving daily goods such as food, baby bottles or toiletries.
The safelife Association has developed standards for goods producers. These standards are bases upon the Prevention Principle (PP), through allergens, endocrine disruptors and nanomaterials' exclusion lists.
safelife has been set on 3 observations :
Observation # 1 Chronic diseases are booming worldwide
Since the last 30 years, the epidemiological transition has been characterized by a longer lifetime associated with a fall in infectious diseases and an explosion of chronic, non-communicable diseases such as cancer (responsible of 30% of death in France*), cardiovascular disorders (responsible of 27.5% of death in France*) or Alzheimer's.
Scientific researches have observed connections between the exposome** and chronic diseases’ incidence. The exposome refers to the totality of human environmental (i.e. non-genetic) exposures from conception onwards, complementing the genome. Chronic diseases occur by altering the regulation of epigenetic expression, by direct effect on the genome, by oxidative stress or by a generalized disturbance of the immune system
*Sources Inserm 2008 (the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research)
**The exposome was first proposed in 2005 by cancer epidemiologist Christopher Paul Wild in an article entitled "Complementing the genome with an "exposome"
Observation # 2 Current labels do not provide the appropriate level of safety guarantee
Everyday products (including water, food, medicine ...) represent the major part of the exposome. No production guide or standard takes into account the exposome directly.
Although, environmental labels are those that integrate the best the exposome in France and in Europe, it is not their first objective. Therefore, these standards focus on the source of the ingredients involved and not on the end result.
Observation # 3 Consumers’ trust in everyday products is on the wane
Consumers’ trust in everyday products has been halved over the last 20 years as a result of health security scandals involving daily goods such as food, baby bottles or toiletries.
Consumers ask for transparent, relevant and honest information that integrates the exposome. Their consumption’s choice is a lever for efficient and rapid change waiting for stricter regulations.
A PREVENTIONARY MINDSET
The safelife Association develops quality standards for consumer goods manufacturers, their suppliers and their distributors.
These standards incorporate the most advanced scientific understanding of the health risks associated with exposome and are based on the prevention principle, which is an interpretation of the precautionary principle that favors change while prioritizing a relevant scientific approach.
PREVENTION, PRECAUTION, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE ?
THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINICPLE
In 1998, the Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle*1 summarizes the principle this way: "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically."
In some legal systems, as in the European Union’ environmental law, the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory requirement
What are the brakes?
As it stands, the precautionary principle can be a brake on change according to its possible interpretations - which is contrary to motivations that led to its constitutionality.
The scope of the precautionary principle is essentially undefined.
A precautionary principle that can be over-interpreted...
The precautionary principle must be based on scientific presumptions.
These presumptions have sometimes been false alarms (such as food sterilization by irradiation*2 or sweeteners’ toxic effects*3) or have prompted the political authorities to overreact with a disproportionate cost for collectivities (stopping air transport during the eruption of an Icelandic volcano in 2010, vaccination against the H1N1 flu in 2009)
... or, most of the time, "under-interpreted".
This under-interpretation occurs in public policies which are often maneuvered by the economic interests of the chemical industries. A well-known example concerns the influence struggle lead by industrial lobbies to delay the evaluation process of endocrine disruptors from 2009 to 2013.
These drifts of the precautionary principle have become negative references which legitimize and lead to a weak and wait-and-see interpretation of this principle, as it is the case for Bisphenol A, for example.
*1 Conference convened by the Science and Environmental Health Network
*2 2001, EFSA's scientific experts conclude that irradiated sterilized foods are non-toxic (European Food Safety Authority)
*3 2010, EPA and INCA conclude no link between saccharin and bladder cancer
THE DIFFERENT RISK ASSESSMENT’S GRADIENTS
Risk assessment can be measured by a gradient that is a function of two variables: the risk’s probability (for example, the causal link between a substance and a disease) and the predictability of its occurrence (for example, the link between exposure to the substance and the disease it causes)
Therefore this gradient oscillates between a certain risk associated with sufficient knowledge to predict its occurrence (which defines the prudence principle, that can be covered by insurance, such as risks related to asbestos or tobacco) to an uncertain risk associated with an unpredictable occurrence (which defines the precautionary principle), passing through the middle position, that is the proven risk without being able to predict its occurrence (which defines the prevention principle and whose uncertainty does not relate to the risk or the danger but on its probability of realization).
The safelife Association holds this intermediate position of prevention principle as its "legislative" framework for its positions.
THE PREVENTION PRINCIPLE
The prevention principle is based on the scientific community's position regarding substances’ impacts on organisms or metabolic functions similar to humans ones.
Science is able to extrapolate tests and scientific measurements to a proven, possible or probable level of health risk without being able to predict their occurrence.
The epistemology of the last 50 years concludes that repeated scientific publications, independent of each other, peer-reviewed by renowned scientific communities (such as Pubmed* or Jama**, ...) are a sufficient signal to take into account these substances in priority.
As the safelife Association applies the prevention principle, identified ingredients are excluded from its standards.
Change can be provoked with immediate effect as corrective actions are triggered more quickly than applying the precautionary principle which favors the analysis of large-scale studies over a long period.
It should be noted that these epidemiological studies identify the occurrences of chronic diseases without being able to obtain statistical certainty about the factors that caused them most of the time.
* Pubmed, the totality of publications from the Medicine National Institues of Health
** Jama, Journal of the American Medical Association