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Housebound American activist among Right Livelihood winners

October 1, 1997

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ An American chemicals activist so sickened by pesticides that she has not been able to go outside for eight years was named Wednesday as a winner of the Right Livelihood Award.

Cindy Duehring of Epping, N. D. , was one of five people cited for the award, widely considered the ``alternative Nobels.″

Other winners were Joseph Ki-Zerbo of Burkina Faso, founder of the Center for Studies in African Development; German environmentalist Michael Succow; and Mycle Schneider of France and Jinzaburo Takagi of Japan, jointly cited for their work against the use of plutonium.

Each citation carries a cash award of $60,000. The award was established in 1980 by Jakob von Uexkull, a Swedish philately expert, who sold his stamp collection to fund recognition of pursuits he believed were ignored by the Nobel prizes. A jury of several people with an interest in such issues was appointed by the foundation.

Duehring was training to be a doctor in 1985 when she was poisoned by a pesticide used to treat her apartment for fleas. She developed extreme sensitivity to chemicals; even exposure to detergents and perfumes can send her into seizures.

Although she has not been able to leave her sealed, filtered house since 1989, she has done extensive work on education and advocacy for others injured by chemicals. She founded the Environmental Access Research Network, which is now the research division of the Chemical Injury Information Network.

Ki-Zerbo, who also is an opposition member of parliament in his impoverished West African country, was cited for promoting development strategies that run counter to the Western development model often imposed on Africa. ``Growth strategies which ignore the people’s authentic culture can only end in schizophrenia,″ the Right Livelihood Foundation said.

Succow, as a professor at the University of Greifswald, has worked on teaching sustainable development and has focused on post-Communist countries. He has been instrumental in setting up nature reserves and national parks in Georgia and Mongolia.

Schneider is the founder of the French branch of the World Information Service on Energy and recently has been especially active in publicizing the risks of shipping used nuclear fuel for plutonium separation.

Takagi, formerly a nuclear chemistry professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, set up the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center and has been a consistent critic of Japan’s use of fast-breeder nuclear reactors.

The jury included von Uexkull; Monika Griefahn, environment minister of Lower Saxony state in Germany; Kristina Svensson, Sweden’s ambassador to Zambia; Richard Jolly of the U.N. Development Program; and Vithal Rajan of the Deccan Development Society of India.

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