GENTECH archive


Wash. Post/EPA termed soft on Pesticide Risks

Regarding the role of government regulators!

- Nina Moliver

<<  7 Groups Quit Food Panel
 > EPA Termed Soft On Pesticide Risks
 > By William Claiborne
 > Washington Post Staff Writer
 > Wednesday, April 28, 1999; Page A23 
 > All of the environmental, consumer and public interest members of the
 > federal government's food quality advisory panel resigned in protest
 > yesterday, accusing the Clinton administration of allowing the agriculture
 > and chemical industries to "hijack" a 1996 law aimed at protecting
 > children
 > from toxic pesticides.
 > Seven groups, including representatives of farm workers exposed to
 > pesticides, said the Environmental Protection Agency will fail to fully
 > meet an August deadline for reassessing the maximum allowable levels of
 > the
 > pesticides that pose the greatest risk to children, farm workers and the
 > environment. They said the EPA has "dithered in endless, fruitless debate
 > instead of developing a plan for banning or limiting the use of
 > agricultural chemicals that can cause cancer, neurological damage and
 > reproductive defects."
 > "It is pointless to say we can stay on the committee when this agency
 > can't
 > do anything about toxic chemicals that have been around since World War
 > II," said Marion Moses, president of the Pesticide Education Center, one
 > of
 > the seven groups that left the EPA's Tolerance Reassessment Advisory
 > Committee (TRAC).
 > Edward Groth, technical policy director of Consumers Union, said commonly
 > sold food products with high residues of toxic pesticides include apples,
 > peaches and pears. He did not recommend avoiding all at-risk foods, but
 > urged consumers to use caution in their consumption of such commodities.
 > Besides the Pesticide Education Center and Consumers Union, the groups
 > that
 > resigned are the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Farmworker Justice
 > Fund, the National Campaign for Pesticide Policy Reform, the World
 > Wildlife
 > Fund and the CATA/Farmworker Organizing Committee.
 > The resignations leave the advisory committee with 45 members representing
 > industry groups, chemical companies and state regulatory agencies.
 > The advisory panel was created at the direction of Vice President Gore a
 > year ago in the face of an escalating lobbying campaign by the agriculture
 > and chemical industries, which had complained that the EPA was too
 > zealously implementing the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act. President
 > Clinton had touted the measure as the "peace of mind act" because of the
 > safeguards it was intended to put in place to protect children from toxic
 > pesticides.
 > The vice president said he included the public interest groups on the
 > panel
 > to make the regulatory process more accountable.
 > However, Erik Olson, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense
 > Council, told yesterday's news conference: "This administration has failed
 > to respond to public pressure and instead has yielded to industry
 > pressure." He said not one pesticide has been removed from the market
 > during the group's tenure.
 > EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Peter D. Robertson said the administration
 > is still committed to implementing pesticide safety decisions.
 > "We, too, wish that this process could be faster. But we are on schedule
 > for assessing risks and taking risk-reduction actions beginning in August,
 > as the law prescribes," he said.
 > Chris Klose, spokesman for the American Crop Protection Association, an
 > industry group, said the food quality law is complicated, and that the
 > members who resigned are "more interested in political science than sound
 > science that protects the nation's food supply."
 > Major Pesticides
 > Following are examples of widely used pesticides that interest groups want
 > limited or banned. 
 > Chlorpyrifos
 > Found in: Apples, peaches, grapes, oranges, tomatoes.
 > Health concerns: Long-term effects may include cancer, reduced growth and
 > development, birth defects and neurological problems. 
 > Azinphos methyl
 > Found in: Apples, pears, peaches, grapes, tomatoes.
 > Health concerns: No test for the chemical's toxicity has been submitted to
 > the EPA, but concerns about possible effects from long-term, low-dose
 > exposure center around neurobehavioral effects.
 > Methyl parathion
 > Found in: Apples, pears, peaches, green beans.
 > Health concerns: Concerns about long-term health effects generally are the
 > same as for the other named pesticides, and chiefly include
 > neurobehavioral
 > effects for which the EPA does not require testing.
 > SOURCES:Consumers Union, Natural Resources Defense Council 
 >  >>