House Approves Amendment To Ban Federal Studies of Pesticides on Humans
The House on Thursday approved by voice vote a proposal that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from "conducting or accepting any studies that test pesticides on humans," the Washington Post reports. The measure, sponsored by Reps. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) and Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), was included as an amendment to legislation (HR 2361) that would fund EPA's 2006 budget.
According to the Post, the proposal is an attempt to "quell a growing controversy over whether federal scientists were encouraging families to expose their young children to harmful toxins."
Former President Bill Clinton banned the federal government's use of data from tests on U.S. residents to set nationwide limits for pesticide exposure. However, President Bush reversed the decision when he took office. Following public protest, the Bush administration placed a hold on the policy so the National Academy of Sciences could conduct a review.
In 2004, NAS issued a report detailing scientific protocols for conducting such studies, and the Bush administration now allows them on a case-by-case basis. However, following pressure from congressional Democrats, the Bush administration in April canceled an EPA study that would have paid Florida families $1,000 over two years to monitor their children's exposure to pesticides.
The amendment approved on Thursday would ban such projects by EPA and prohibit the federal government from using data from similar private surveys. Solis said, "The public is on our side. ... It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out morally this is not the right thing to do."
EPA spokesperson Eryn Witcher said officials are reviewing the amendment to determine whether to fight the measure. Meanwhile, environmental advocates said they will work to keep the language in the final EPA budget bill.
Richard Wiles, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, said, "The federal government must not in any way support the highly unethical practice of dosing people with pesticides" (Eilperin, Washington Post, 5/21).