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Daily News Archive
From March 11, 2002

Scientific and Ethical Factors in Human Testing of Pesticides Questioned

At the New York Academy of Sciences, policymakers, scientists and ethicists met to discuss the role of human test subjects in determining pesticide regulations and standards, according to Reuters Health. Several points were made disputing both ethical and scientific viability of human testing.

Most human testing occurs in countries other than the United States. Dr. Herbert Needleman of the University of Pittsburgh explained the ethical standards tend to be more lax than standards in the U.S. For example, he pointed to one study done in Scotland in which college students and other unemployed people were paid $600 a day to consume organophosphates.

In addition, the ethicality of such testing is questioned when considering the reason for it. Will these tests benefit society at large? The point was argued. Dr. Mary Faith Marshall of the University of Kansas Medical Center remarked that research using human test subjects must be important enough to justify it, or else "researchers shouldn't even be doing the study in the first place."

Beyond ethicality issues, the scientific viability of human tests is also questionable. Pesticides are traditionally tested on animals and safe levels for humans are extrapolated from those to account for children's heightened sensitivity. Many human-tested pesticides use young adults as subjects. In doing so, adjustments for child sensitivity are avoided.

For more information, please contact Beyond Pesticides.