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Health Care & Environment

10.28 We must protect the Grand Canyon before time runs out

10.28 Let’s Treat Our Patients, Not Trick Them with Private Insurance

10.27 UK public support for fracking falls to lowest level

10.27 10 years on from the Stern report: a low-carbon future is the 'only one available'

10.27 The Kolkata dump that's permanently on fire: 'Most people die by 50'

10.27 World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns

10.27 With New Study in Hand, Pennsylvanians Reiterate Call for Fracking Ban

10.26 Big Pharma Preps to Spend Hundreds of Millions to Keep Drug Prices High [less corrupt countries have price controls...]

10.26 'Get the Insurance Companies the Hell Out' of Healthcare System

10.26 Australia's coal seam gas emissions may be vastly underestimated – report

10.26 What is causing the rapid rise in methane emissions?

10.26 What is causing the rapid rise in methane emissions?

10.26 Dutch unveil giant outside vacuum cleaner to filter dirty air

10.25 Stand Up to Big Pharma Greed. Vote Yes on Proposition 61

10.25 Report Shows 'Bold New Vision' for Carbon-Free Transportation System Is Possible

10.25 Antibiotic waste is polluting India and China's rivers; big pharma must act

10.25 Renewables made up half of net electricity capacity added last year

10.25 Standing Rock: Police Arrest 120+ Water Protectors as Dakota Access Speeds Up Pipeline Construction [11:00 video]

10.25 Actor Shailene Woodley on Her Arrest, Strip Search and Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance [10:00 video]

News Media Matters

10.27 Swat Team

10.26 'Fascination with sex': Megyn Kelly and Newt Gingrich in angry clash over Trump coverage [3:47 video]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.28 Media Roll Out Welcome Mat for ‘Humanitarian’ War in Syria [she's competitively bad on the military and Wall Street...]

10.28 Hillary Clinton: A Hawk in the Wings

10.28 FCC Passes Sweeping Internet Privacy Rules in 'Big Win for Civil Rights'

10.27 Three races to watch: Forget the White House and even Congress — the battle for the statehouses is on

10.27 Gov. Christie’s Shadow Over Bridgegate

10.27 #ThanksPaul: Bernie Sanders goes all in for down-ballot Democrats, to the dismay of Paul Ryan

10.27 The Real Living Wage? $17.28 An Hour – At Least

10.26 More than just the guns: Poverty and inequality should be blamed for America’s gun violence

10.26 Rising Student Debt Places Living Wage Even Farther Out of Reach: Report

10.26 'Terrifying': AT&T Spying on Americans for Profit, New Documents Reveal

10.25 Free to Plunder: The Case Against Gary Johnson and Libertarianism

10.25 This Atlas of Racial Equity Just Keeps Getting Better [map graphics]

10.25 Elizabeth Warren: 'nasty women' will defeat Trump on election day [videos]

Justice Matters

10.27 Ted Cruz suggests delaying nomination of Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia indefinitely

10.27 Amidst Law Enforcement Crackdown, DAPL Company Warns Water Protectors: Get Out, Or Else

10.26 Enough is enough: we've reached a tipping point on sexual assault

10.26 Pussy Riot celebrate the vagina in lyrical riposte to Trump [4:30 video]

10.25 Chris Christie Is Over

10.25 Officer who shot Samuel DuBose faces murder trial as city braces for protests [4:51 video]

High Crimes?

10.27 Idlib school attack could be deadliest since Syrian war began, says UN

10.25 Islamic State atrocities reported around Mosul, says UN

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.28 The carbon bubble: why investors can no longer ignore climate risks

10.28 Too Big to Fail, Hillary-Style [she's mostly competent but has big blindspots]

10.28 The Billionaire Class Is Terrified That Russ Feingold Will Return to the Senate

10.27 10 years on from the Stern report: a low-carbon future is the 'only one available'

10.27 Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s trickle-down economics experiment is so bad the state stopped reporting on it

10.26 Donald Trump has close financial ties to Dakota Access pipeline company

10.25 Already an Oligarchy: Corporate Dominance Negates Democracy

10.24 How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul

10.24 Elizabeth Warren Warns Democrats Not To Cave On Corporate Tax Reform

10.23 Super-size my superyacht: the quest for bigger boats and gadgets



10.28 What do you think about the state of Spain's politics?

10.28 First Nations, Conservation Groups Sue to Block Massive LNG Project in BC

10.28 US Votes 'No' As UN Holds Historic Vote for Nuclear Weapons Ban

10.27 Which is the world’s most wasteful city?

10.27 Honduran Opposition Leaders Being Murdered While US Pours in Money to Repressive Government and Military [are U.S. neocons from the 1980s still in charge?]

10.26 In Iceland, Women Leave Work at 2:38pm to Protest Gender Wage Gap

10.26 Human Rights Defenders Face 'Unthinkable Spiral of Violence' in Latin America

10.26 Why Hillary Clinton's plans for no-fly zones in Syria could provoke US-Russia conflict

10.26 Spain reviews plan to let Russian warships refuel en route to Syria

10.26 Threats of death and violence common for women in politics, report says

10.26 Can we secure the internet of things in time to prevent another cyber-attack?

10.25 Study says 850,000 UK public sector jobs could be automated by 2030

10.25 Quetta attack: Pakistan reels as more than 50 die in assault on police academy

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  Groups Challenge EPA's 'Industry friendly' Pesticide Rules
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Groups Challenge EPA’s ‘Industry friendly’ Pesticide Rules

by Michelle Chen
EPA scientists and employees have sent a letter to the EPA administrator, protesting rushed studies and demanding that no chemical be approved unless the "EPA can state with scientific confidence that these pesticides will not harm the neurological development of our nation's born and unborn children."
June 1--Two recent actions by environmental health watchdogs foreshadow a showdown between corporations and public-interest advocates over the safety of toxins marketed as pesticides.

On May 24, a coalition of Environmental Protection Agency employees and scientists issued a public letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson accusing the Agency of coddling pesticide companies. The writers urged greater scrutiny of the potential health impact of two classes of toxic pesticides currently in use.

On Tuesday, the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) raised further suspicions about collusion between the agency and corporate interests by publicizing notes from an August 2005 meeting between EPA officials and pesticide-industry representatives. The meeting records suggest that industry leaders want to use human research subjects to prove the safety of toxic pesticides.

The tension between EPA's internal dissenters and the industry is mounting under a looming deadline for the scientific assessment of two similar classes of pesticides: organophosphates and carbamates. The assessments, mandated by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA), are intended to establish safe levels of human exposures. The EPA has been evaluating pesticides in the two groups for several years, and about 20 chemicals are still awaiting final decisions by an August 3 deadline.

In their letter, the EPA scientists and employees argued that many of the risk assessments of previous years had cut corners.

"In the rush to meet the August 2006 FQPA statutory deadline," the co-signers wrote, "many steps in the risk-assessment and risk-management process are being abbreviated or eliminated in violation of the principles of scientific integrity and objectivity by which we as public servants are bound."

In the 1990s, the authors argued, although some risk assessments had led to limited restrictions on certain uses of organophosphates, the EPA had failed to fully assess residential and occupational exposure hazards. It ignored, for example, the impact on children of farm workers who accompany their parents in the fields.

Citing the need for further research, the authors called on the agency to stop approving the use of the remaining organophosphate and carbamates in the reassessment process "until EPA can state with scientific confidence that these pesticides will not harm the neurological development of our nation's born and unborn children."

Exposing the other side of the pesticide controversy, PEER publicized notes from a closed-door meeting on August 9, 2005, attended by EPA and White House Office of Management and Budget officials as well as pesticide-industry interests, including Bayer CropScience and the trade association CropLife America. The hastily scrawled notes, which were pulled from a public EPA administrative docket, articulate the pesticide industry's demands for certain regulatory policies that would help them obtain data to keep controversial plant and animal poisons on the market.

"Pesticides have benefits. Rule should say so. Testing, too, has benefits," reads one statement.

One type of testing that the industry finds beneficial--despite an outcry from public-interest groups--involves the use of humans.

The notes circulated by PEER tie the prospect of human testing to the FQPA evaluations. A statement attributed to industry lobbyist Jim Aidala urges the EPA to devise a favorable testing protocol so the industry can "proceed ASAP" and cites concerns that the process "won't be able to meet the FQPA deadline."

Several months after that meeting, the EPA exceeded the industry's expectations by finalizing official procedures for human testing of pesticides. Effective as of April 7, 2006, the EPA's testing protocol allows some human testing with oversight from a designated "Human Studies Review Board" and places restrictions on research using pregnant women and children.

But environmental groups have denounced the EPA's protocol as rife with ethical loopholes, suggesting it prioritizes the industry's interests over science in the public interest.

Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER, said the industry saw human testing as "central to their regulatory strategy" because it might yield data that counters the intense adverse effects observed in animal studies.

"The most valuable subjects, from the industry's point of view, are going to be children," Ruch told The NewStandard, because regulatory oversight is heavily focused on how pesticides influence early development.

The FQPA requires a much higher health standard for pesticides that could affect the health of children and fetuses.

PEER pointed out that in describing possible uses of children as research subjects, the notes display the phrase, "Kids—never say never.... Can't know without testing."

"Closed-door discussions about using children as chemical guinea pigs," commented Ruch. "I'm not sure if it gets too much worse than that."

A backgrounder on the EPA website concedes that organophosphates, about 77 million pounds of which are doused on the country's crops, lawns and other areas each year, are associated with chronic and acute health problems including nerve damage and paralysis.

Groups objecting to human testing say history raises concerns that it could facilitate unethical testing practices, such as the outsourcing of human trials to other countries, or research on prison inmates and neglected children.
Pesticide Action Network of North America, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other advocacy groups have sued the EPA to block the human-subjects rule. The groups say history raises concerns that the EPA's plan could facilitate unethical testing practices, such as the outsourcing of human trials to other countries, or research on prison inmates and neglected children without sufficient informed-consent rules.

In a joint response to PEER, leaders of CropLife America and another trade association, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, alleged that PEER's criticisms revealed fears that human studies could invalidate arguments against pesticide use. "PEER may be anticipating EPA scientific findings not to their liking and are setting the stage for future disagreement and potential litigation," they said.

In an interview with TNS, Allan Noe, a spokesperson for CropLife America, dismissed the ethical and public-health concerns of PEER and other groups, stating that the company supported testing only on "healthy, non-pregnant adults." CropLife endorses human-based research "under carefully controlled conditions and only when absolutely called for," he said.

But Susan Kegley, a senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network, suspects that the push for human testing reflects not a genuine interest in protecting health but rather, the industry's eagerness to manipulate science.

"The only reason human testing is quote 'necessary' is to increase industry profits," she said. "You will only find them using human tests that raise the acceptable amount you can be exposed to, and decrease protections for people."
© 2006 The NewStandard. All rights reserved. The NewStandard is a non-profit publisher. This article is reprinted with permission from The NewStandard, which encourages noncommercial reproduction of its content. Visit for more information.

Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

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This story was published on June 2, 2006.

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