Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

08.15 RIDE FOR THE OVERRIDE

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

12.08 How Do American Students Compare to Their International Peers?

12.07 What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

12.08 Portland's Answer to Climate Denial? Local Action

12.08 Meet the High-Tech Buses of Tomorrow [perhaps smaller, non-polluting buses can come twice as often, too]

12.08 Mapping the Inundation of New York City

12.08 Leonardo DiCaprio meets Trump as climate sceptic appointed

12.08 Trump picks climate change sceptic Scott Pruitt to lead EPA

12.07 Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is a Full-on Privatization Assault

12.07 Trump advisors aim to privatize oil-rich Indian reservations [drill, pump, burn, breathe, die]

12.07 Thousands of snow geese die in Montana after landing on contaminated water

12.07 Five west African countries ban 'dirty diesel' from Europe

12.07 London mayor to double funding to tackle air pollution

12.07 Donald Trump supports 'clean coal' – but does it really have a future?

12.07 Google, Apple, Facebook race towards 100% renewable energy target

12.07 Google Says It Will Run Entirely on Renewable Energy in 2017

12.05 Trump's pick for key health post known for punitive Medicaid plan

12.05 Asleep at the Wheel: German Leaders at Odds with Industry over Electric Cars

12.05 Dakota Access Pipeline Permit Denied

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

12.07 Democrats Need to Embrace Progressivism or Else Move Out of the Way

12.07 Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month

12.06 Why Does Donald Trump Lie About Voter Fraud?

12.06 FIGHTING FOR THE POOR UNDER TRUMP

12.06 Want to Bring Back Jobs, Mr. President-Elect? Call Elon Musk [dare to be smart]

12.06 Jamie Raskin Has a Fierce, Funny Message for Dispirited Democrats

12.06 Career of Trump's Top Ethics Lawyer Marred by Questionable Ethics

Justice Matters

12.07 President Obama’s Last Chance to Show Mercy

12.06 Did Trump’s Son-In-Law Finance Israeli Extremists and Illegal Settlements?

High Crimes?

12.05 Sea Shepherd activists set sail for Antarctic to battle Japanese whalers

Economics, Crony Capitalism

12.08 Who Won the 'Make the Most Meaningless Thomas Friedman Graph' Contest? [humor with graphs, because we need some!]

12.08 In the UK, Pfizer and a partner hiked anti-epilepsy drug price 2600% overnight [bring out the guillotine]

12.08 “We’ll Look at Everything”: More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

12.04 TRUMP SETS PRIVATE PRISONS FREE

12.04 WHY TRUMP SHOULD SPEND OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY

International

12.08 After Choi-gate

12.08 France's honest tax system crusader convicted for hiding millions of euros

12.06 FAIR’s big play: Onetime fringe group hopes to drive Donald Trump’s immigration policy

12.06 Brazil's Senate president ousted over embezzlement charges

12.06 Brazil grapples with lynch mob epidemic: 'A good criminal is a dead criminal'

12.06 Before the article 50 court battle, there was May v Merkel

12.06 Austrians celebrate far right defeat: 'the first good election result this year'

12.05 Euro falls to 20-month low after Italy government's referendum defeat

12.05 'A storm is gathering on the horizon': Chinese scholars fret about Trump

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Groups Challenge EPA's 'Industry friendly' Pesticide Rules
Newspaper logo

ENVIRONMENT:

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 newstandardnews.net for more information.


Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on June 2, 2006.
 

Public Service Ads: