Senators have passed legislation to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from relying on studies in which people are purposely exposed to pesticides. It’s the EPA’s job to issue permits for new pest killers. Before this, the agency had been drafting rules that would allow it to consider tests conducted on children and even pregnant women. The issue hit home for Democratic Senator Bill Nelson when he learned of a study in Jacksonville—funded jointly by government and the chemical industry—to test pesticides on babies. According to Nelson, in return for the families’ cooperation, they would receive a cash payment, a t-shirt, and a calendar.
“And, by the way, guess which part of town this was going to occur in? You guessed it. It was going to occur in the lower income and minority sections of Jacksonville. This is unlike pharmaceutical studies on humans that offer the possibilities that a human subject may benefit from the experiment.”
The Jacksonville study was cancelled after Senator Nelson and others used the matter to temporarily block the nomination of now EPA administrator Stephen Johnson. Several years ago, the EPA commissioned the National Academy of Sciences to look into the ethics of pesticide tests on humans. In a final report, the academy granted that—in some cases—testing on humans can yield vital data. It made a total of 17 recommendations before such tests should proceed… including that the societal benefit clearly outweighed individual risks.
Friday, 01 July 2005 01:00