Daily News Archive

From November 28, 2001

U.S. EPA Will Accept Pesticide Tests on Humans

Although the EPA has not officially announced their new policy, the Los Angeles Times reports that the EPA will accept industry data gathered by intentionally exposing paid subjects with toxic pesticides despite EPA's public rejection of human testing in the past. In response to mounting criticism from environmentalists and physicians, the Clinton Administration stopped using studies conducted on humans three years ago. The information from industry studies, in which paid volunteers swallow small doses of the products, were used to determine the amount of pesticides that could be applied to fruits, vegetables and other crops. A top EPA official speaking at the American Crop Protection Association's annual meeting made the announcement.

The Bush administration has sided with manufacturers on whether such studies are ethical and scientifically valid and told the pesticide industry that it will use data from such human tests. The new policy comes as the government is beginning to reassess about 9,000 pesticide safety levels to reflect their impact on children as mandated by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996.

Ray McAllister, vice president for science and regulatory affairs for the pesticide trade association told the Los Angeles Times that without human tests, regulations "end up being more conservative and more restrictive than they need to be."

Lynn Goldman, who headed up EPA's Office of Pesticide Program during the Clinton administration, opposes the use of human experiments and is confident that EPA can safely regulate pesticides using data from tests on animals.

After a public outcry over the resurgence of human experiments performed by pesticide companies in the 1990's, EPA created a scientific advisory committee to offer ethical guidance on the issue. The panel, which was deadlocked for much of the time since its creation in 1998, released a draft report in 2000 supporting limited human testing to study how the human body processes pesticides. However, EPA insisted that the policy to ignore human studies overrides the advisory panel's recommendations.

Since the 1960's pesticide companies have quietly submitted data from human studies to the EPA, to replace regulations based on animal data, which many manufacturers claim to be too strict. Past studies have involved volunteers in prison, and in some cases even pregnant women in hospitals. Most of the experiments conducted in the past have been paid students and other people in need of money a few hundred dollars to be test subjects the experiments, if they are willing to sign a waiver giving up their right to sue. In many cases, the subjects have been required to ingest pesticides over a number of weeks.

To view the full story, please visit: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-112701tests.story
For more information, contact Beyond Pesticides.