From the January 2005 Idaho Observer:
EPA pays families to expose infants to pesticides
Bush administration promoting human dosing experiments
This is one of the most outrageous things we have ever heard. We are not even sure what the EPA is trying to discover—the amount of pesticides that will kill us or won’t kill us. Regardless, every parent who jumps at the money and the free cam corder they get for participating in this program ought to also be given a Darwin Award.
The following article is from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEERS), a group formed in 1992 to lobby on behalf of present and future generations when environmentally idiotic policies are proposed by government.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is paying Florida families who "spray or have pesticides sprayed inside [their] home routinely" to study their infant children. When agency scientists started to question the ethics of the study, EPA removed the protocol from its website. These scientists contacted PEER for help.
Conducted with funding from the American Chemistry Council, which represents 135 companies including pesticide manufacturers, the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study (carrying the deceptively jolly acronym of CHEERS) will monitor developmental changes in babies, from birth to age 3, who are exposed to pesticides in their homes.
Set in Jacksonville, Florida (Duval County), EPA is now recruiting families through public clinics and hospitals to find a total of 60 infant and toddler test subjects. Agency scientists not connected with the study are concerned about the following issues:
* Financial Incentives—The study makes payments to families totaling $970 for participating throughout the entire two-year period. Families who complete the study also get to keep the camcorder they are provided to record their babies’ behavior. In addition, families are given bibs, t-shirts and other promotional items;
* Lack of Treatment—The study makes no provision for intervening if infants or toddlers show signs of developmental problems or register alarmingly high exposure levels in their urine samples. Instead, families continue in the study so long as researchers are notified when each pesticide application occurs and;
* Lack of Education—Unlike other EPA programs in this area, the study does not require that participants use safe methods to apply or store pesticides around the home. Nor does the study furnish families with information about the risks of prolonged or excessive exposure to pesticides.
EPA selects infants to study based upon pesticide residue levels detected in "a surface wipe sample in the primary room where the child spends time."
When its own scientists began questioning the ethics and value of the study, EPA reacted by removing the study protocol from its website. The agency then began distributing a two-page statement supporting the study that it has since had to retract.
Why Is EPA Doing This?
PEER has learned that there is a stunning corporate agenda behind EPA’s use and now dogged defense of this study:
* Pesticide companies want to study infant exposure levels so that EPA will drop its rules requiring pesticide exposures to small children be nearly 10 times more protective;
* EPA wants to use CHEERS as the opening for a new policy on accepting testing on humans to determine pesticide toxicity. The Bush Administration will soon announce a repeal of the Clinton-era rules against testing pesticides on humans.
* Through direct contributions, corporations are now influencing EPA research. The American Chemistry Council, which contributed $2 million to CHEERS, also successfully lobbied to include exposure to flame retardants and other household chemicals in the study. EPA now has 80 similar research agreements with industries, universities and local governments.
Guinea pigs for poison testing
PEER is leading the campaign to expose CHEERS. The Bush Administration plans to legalize the use of human guinea pigs to test commercial poisons. We are also tracking down each of the corporate contributions to EPA and tracing their influences on public health research.
If you think this is as outrageous as we do, help us take action now.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is throwing open its doors to industry experiments using human subjects to test the effects from exposure to pesticides and other commercial toxins.
The EPA refuses to set ethical rules to prevent abuse, saying that it is too hard to figure out what the rules should be. As a result, industry is free to conduct human dosing studies in poor areas and poor countries that may endanger the subjects’ health for potential commercial gain. The resulting tests would not pass the ethical standards of any federal agency, except EPA, which has no standards.
What is PEER
After successfully organizing his fellow U.S. Forest Service employees into a collective voice for environmental ethics, Jeff DeBonis decided to found PEER in 1992 as a way to spread this movement to other agencies. Since then, thousands of public employees who work in a myriad of agencies at every level of government, have made DeBonis’s dream a reality — by working through PEER to forge a socially responsible value system for their agencies, based on a land ethic which ensures ecologically and economically sustainable resource management and which conforms to a true commitment to environmental protection.
PEER, with chapters in several states with its head office in Washington, D.C., is lobbying for intelligent policies in several critical areas. The group’s website is at www.peer.org. It can also be contacted by writing PEER, 2001 S. Street NW, Suite 570, Washington, D.C., 20009; (202) 265-7337.
Note: According to Title 50, Chapter 32, Section 1524 of U.S. Code, it is unlawful for the government or its contractors to use human test subjects for chemical or biological weapons experiments without their knowledge or consent—unless such experiments are deemed by the government to be in the interest of national security. Fortunately for the government, consent can be gotten from people who value a few dollars, a camcorder and a T-shirt more than they value their own lives and their children’s futures.
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