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Daily News Archive
From December 11, 2001

Human Testing of Pesticides Denounced

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, a group of physicians and environmentalists have called the use of human test results to set pesticide exposure standards a morally repugnant practice with dubious scientific value, and have warned the federal government against their use.

The group, prompted by a policy reversal by the Bush Administration to consider these trials in determining allowable pesticide exposure levels in the United States, has sent a letter to Health Administrator Allan Rock asking for a ban on using information from human toxicity testing. The letter also suggests that using humans in testing could weaken the safety margin that is now applied to pesticides.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S., Canada and Mexico have committed to joint reviews of pesticide safety, creating the possibility that the new U.S. approach will be applied in Canada and may encourage further experimentation on humans, which raises ethical, scientific and medical concerns.

"The concern is that once the door is open for this, that these kinds of tests can happen anywhere in the world," said Kathleen Cooper, a spokesperson for the Canadian Environmental Law Association, one of the organizations writing to Mr. Rock.

The letter was also signed by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Canadian Institute of Child Health and the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada.