Wash. Post/EPA termed soft on Pesticide Risks
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- Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 08:09:30 EDT
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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
> 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
> 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
> do anything about toxic chemicals that have been around since World War
> II," said Marion Moses, president of the Pesticide Education Center, one
> 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
> resigned are the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Farmworker Justice
> Fund, the National Campaign for Pesticide Policy Reform, the World
> 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
> The vice president said he included the public interest groups on the
> 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.
> 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
> effects for which the EPA does not require testing.
> SOURCES:Consumers Union, Natural Resources Defense Council