Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Poisoning the dispossessed

The US Environmental Protection Agency has overhauled its guidelines on pesticide testing making them, in effect, more industry-friendly. Although the agency "regard[s] as unethical and would never conduct, support, require or approve any study involving intentional exposure of pregnant women, infants or children to a pesticide," the new guidelines stipulate several notable exceptions including:

(1) The testing of "abused or neglected" children without permission from parents or guardians.

(2) "Ethically deficient" human research if it is considered crucial to "protect public health."

(3) More than minimal health risk to a subject if there is a "direct benefit" to the child being tested, and the parents or guardians agree.

(4) EPA acceptance of overseas industry studies, which are often performed in countries that have minimal or no ethical standards for testing, as long as the tests are not done directly for the EPA.

Has the EPA forgotten the shame of Tuskegee?

(This post is adapted from an Andrew Schneider article in The National Sun and an email circulated by the Sierra Club.)

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