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The Bush Administration Tells Pesticide Companies It's Okay to Pay People to Swallow Toxicpesticide Cocktails to Test Their Products

November 28, 2001

The Bush administration, reversing a Clinton administration policy, has told the pesticide industry it can payvolunteers to swallow doses of pesticides and use the data from such tests for its research, siding withmanufacturers who say such studies are ethical and scientifically valid.

The new policy, which the Environmental Protection Agency has not announced, disregards the recommendations of ascientific panel the agency assembled in late 1998, after the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-basedinvestigative environmental organization, published a report on the plethora of human test results arriving at theEPA for pesticide evaluations.

The panel of doctors, bioethicists and clinical scientists urged the EPA to adopt a clear policy on human testing,one that would require adherence to rigorous standards and pre-approval by an independent review board.

Pesticide companies, which welcomed the EPA decision, argue that human tests provide more accurate results, allowingpesticides to be applied to crops in larger quantities and closer to delivery to supermarkets.

The policy could have a significant impact because it comes as the government is beginning to reassess safety levelson nearly 9,000 pesticides to reflect their impact on children.


  • Jay Vroom, President of the American Crop Protection Association, which represents most of the nationspesticide producers.
  • Herbert Needleman, Professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School ofMedicine. Wrote the dissenting report on the EPA panel, saying human testing is never justified.
  • Richard Wiles, Senior Vice President, Environmental Working Group.
  • Samuel Gorovitz, Professor of Philosophy and Public Administration at Syracuse, member of EPA panel onhuman subjects.

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