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NAS Committee Meets on Testing of Pesticides, Toxic Chemicals on Humans

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, January 8, 2003

A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel, requested by the Bush Administration, will meet January 8-9, 2003 to begin its review of the ethics of chemical companies using humans in laboratory tests in order to loosen environmental safeguards on pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

The NAS’s Committee on Use of Third-Party Toxicity Research with Human Participants is set to meet on Wednesday in the auditorium at the NAS main building at 2101 Constitution Ave, and on Thursday in Room 100 at the 500 5th St. N.W. location; both are in Washington, D.C. The proceedings can be listened to via the web, at www.nas.edu.

Leading experts from public interest groups, chemical companies and government agencies will make presentations at what are likely to be the NAS committee's only public sessions.

A 1998 EWG investigation revealed the disturbing revival of the discredited--and previously abandoned--pesticide company practice of paying people to eat or drink pesticides, then monitoring for resulting health effects for regulatory advantage.

The resulting public outcry from EWG’s 1998 investigation prompted the US EPA to impose a moratorium on the use of human test results in deciding pesticide safety levels. In early 2001, the Bush EPA signaled it would end the moratorium. In an ensuing controversy, the EPA maintained the moratorium and commissioned the NAS study. Pesticide and chemical companies continue to pressure EPA to lift its ban.

The NAS meetings kick off a period of closed deliberations. The committee will then make recommendations to EPA that could have far-reaching consequences. Should the human testing moratorium be rolled back, hard-won protections for children in the nation’s pesticide law could be neutralized. Pesticide and chemical companies, even polluters, would gain a much stronger hand in determining how much they can expose the public to toxic chemicals. And people could become the toxic lab animals of the 21st century.

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