A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
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EPA cost-cutting poses health risks; Pesticides and brain tumors; Florida fumigants meeting; Safe lawns; more…
June 14th, 2007
Intentional pesticide dosing criticized: The Journal of the American Medical Association has published a paper assessing the ethics of the 2006 Bush administration rule allowing intentional dosing — even of pregnant women and children — with pesticides, calling the EPA policy “a fundamental shift in moral thinking.” The authors reviewed EPA’s decision to stop using the intra-species safety “factor of 10” applied in animal testing to adjust for difference in sensitivity for humans to toxic chemical exposure. Is the cost-efficiency, they ask, “worth the uncertain long-term risks that financially rewarded, usually economically disadvantaged, human subjects will face from intentional exposures to neurotoxins? Is dividing by 10 from mouse to men (and women) too big a burden? The answer is categorically no!” Read more about human testing.
Public health threatened by EPA cutbacks: In an article in the International Journal of Occupational Health, Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) scientists Jennifer Sass and Mae Wu voice their concerns about EPA’s cutbacks of government science staff and library closures. “We strongly recommend that EPA reverse its trend of reducing its own in-house scientific and technical experts. These civil servants represent the nation’s brain trust. We further recommend that Congress increase the research budget for EPA specifically favoring programs that provide publicly available policy-relevant data for priority issues such as children’s health, environmental justice, and susceptible populations. Congress should ensure that EPA’s funds are used in a manner that preserves scientific integrity, ensures adequate transparency, and encourages public accountability.”
Pesticides linked to brain tumors: French researchers revealed that highly exposed vineyard workers and people who used pesticides on houseplants on a regular basis are three times more likely to suffer from certain brain tumors than less-exposed individuals. The authors hypothesize that fungicides carry the greatest risk, but caution that “because of trade interests, information on the use of specific pesticides in a given area is not available in France.” Published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “Brain tumours and exposure to pesticides: a case-control study in southwestern France” assessed exposure of more than 200 patients and 400 matched controls, and concluded the risk was significant enough to warrant further study.
Florida residents ask EPA to take action against fumigants: Members of the Farmworker Association of Florida representing over 6,000 workers, joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Farmworker Self-help, Yat Kitischee Native Center, Florida Rural Legal Services, the Catholic Diocese of Venice Environmental Justice Committee, Sierra Club, an organic nursery grower from St. Augustine, a fish farmer, rural residents, and environmental activists at an EPA stakeholder meeting in Fort Myers, Florida, on June 6th. Community members told of illness and hardship from pesticide exposure. PAN campaigner Dr. Chela Vasquez reports, “People told stories of farmworkers routinely being exposed to methyl bromide during application in the pre-planting season and asked EPA to protect workers from dangerous chemicals.” EPA has been holding community meetings to gather stakeholder input on mitigation of fumigant pesticides hazards. Read more about fumigant pesticides.
Californians demand reduction in pesticide VOCs: In a suit brought by public interest groups, a U.S. District Court judge in Sacramento ruled that the state violated the Clean Air Act by failure to regulate Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Fumigant pesticides are a significant contributor to VOCs. Ventura County has one of the highest rates of fumigant pesticide application rates in the state and to date has refused to curb use. Opinion editorials in the Ventura County Star clashed on the issue: California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation Director Mary Ann Warmerdam asked “whether we can meet our environmental obligations and sustain a farm economy that produces more than half the fresh fruits and vegetables for our nation.” Local attorney and activist Mary Haffner, however, declared: “Communities and environmental groups, strengthened in number and educated about the trade-offs between high yields and high air and water pollution, will continue to ensure that these mandates are enforced.”
Safe Lawns Campaign receives award for video: SafeLawns.org received a silver award from the Garden Writers Association for its video, “Making the Organic Transition in Lawn Care.” The awards are for “providing public recognition for excellence in gardening related communications.” The video explains to viewers how to transition from using synthetic chemicals to organic methods in order to produce a more natural, healthier lawn.
Organic and Fair Trade buying on the rise: A new study in the United Kingdom shows that over 37% of those surveyed are willing to pay more for organic and Fair Trade products, up significantly from 24% in 2002. The Daily Mail reports, “Changes are being driven by concern about global warming and exploitation of the developing world.” U.K. organic food sales are forecast to exceed £1.7 billion (almost US $3.4 billion) this year compared to £849 million in 2004.
PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.
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