Painstakingly sinful

US EPA hell bent on human trials for pesticides

Published: Monday 15 August 2005

The us Environmental Protection Agency (epa) has once again encouraged an unethical practice, urging pesticide companies to go for human trials of their products. This, despite the us House of Representatives prohibiting the agency from accepting human pesticide dosing studies as evidence of safety (when other methods of determining a chemical's toxicity are available). EPA's new proposal -- companies submit evidence from human exposure experiments when seeking to market new chemicals or broaden the application of existing ones -- is now being considered by the us Congress.

The proposal comes in the wake of the collapse of epa 's controversial Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study programme. Under this, the agency was accused of trying to 'allure' poor families to participate in trials aimed at assessing human exposure to pesticides. Critics say the new policy will enable companies to evade usual ethical standards, which they otherwise have to follow while applying for licences from the us Food and Drug Administration or the us National Institutes of Health.

"It is beyond irony that epa claims these studies are required to save human health. This means it is turning its back on the health risks to the troops of human guinea pigs it is creating," says Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a us -based pressure group.

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