Daily News Archive
From January 10, 2003

Pesticide Industry Attempts to Hijack Conference to Educate Health Care Providers

A series of letters on a government website has recently come to light showing that EPA is letting the pesticide industry call the shots regarding the content of the upcoming conference of the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation (NEETF). The NEETF, chartered by Congress in 1990, is an organization formed to develop and support environmental learning programs to meet social goals, such as improved health, better education, and "greener," more profitable business.

After the conference agenda was announced, CropLife and Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), two chemical industry trade groups with a record of fighting steps to protect the public from pesticides, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking that three respected physicians be removed from the conference program. Steven Johnson, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Pesticide Program and former Monsanto executive, responded, stating that he shared their concerns and that the conference would be postponed and restructured.

The three physicians are Dr. Richard Jackson, the senior environmental health official at the Centers for Disease Control; Dr. Philip Landrigan, who served as Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on pesticides and children; and, Dr. Lynn Goldman, former head of the Office of Pesticide Programs at EPA.

In response to EPA's decision, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), sent a letter accusing EPA of caving in to the pesticide industry. In his letter, he points out that the conference was designed to address serious deficiencies in medical training and to teach doctors how to recognize pesticide injury. The conference was to be the beginning of a long awaited process of such education, because doctors receive almost zero information on pesticide injury in medical school. Congressman Waxman has requested a detailed response from the agency, including all documentation related to political tampering of this and all similar events. He also urged EPA to send new invitations to Dr. Jackson, Dr.
Landrigan and Dr. Goldman.

(1)Original EPA letter inviting doctors and physicians to the now cancelled conference

(2)Initial pesticide industry letter from Jay Vroom, President of CropLife America and
Allen James, President of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) - both
are industry groups--objecting to the EPA conference theme and speakers

(3)EPA response letter to pesticide industry.

(4) Congressman Henry Waxman's letter to EPA director Christine Whitman: