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FDA and EPA Scientists Rebel, Pesticides in Produce and more
FDA Scientists Rebel: Low morale and interference with scientific studies from political appointee supervisors of the Bush administration plague a significant number of staff scientists in the Food and Drug Administration, according to a recent poll. A growing concern that corporate influence impairs the integrity of the scientific work carried out by the FDA prompted almost one thousand scientists to respond to the survey conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Of the scientists replying, 40% said they feared retaliation if they voiced concerns about product safety in public, and 40% knew of cases “where commercial interests have inappropriately induced or attempted to induce the reversal, withdrawal, or modification of FDA determinations.” Twenty percent say they “have been asked explicitly by FDA decision makers to provide incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information to the public, regulated industry, media, or elected/senior government officials.” In addition, more than one fourth of the scientists responded that FDA decision makers implicitly expect them to “provide incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading information.”
FDA to Reduce Pesticide Inspection Staff: On June 25, 2006, at the Institute of Food Technologies annual meeting and Food Expo, Robert Brackett, head of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CSFAN), announced expectations of staff layoffs for inspectors of pesticides in foods. According to IFT’s report, “CFSAN’s workforce of 950 full-time employees in late 2003 will shrink to 817 in 2007 he said. The cutbacks mean that such programs as pesticide monitoring will be discontinued, and Brackett added that the center plans only to pursue what he described as “serious” problems about dietary supplements and cosmetics. ‘Generally Recognized As Safe’ designations on food and food additives and biotechnology notification programs are on the chopping block.”
EPA Scientists Demand Refusal of Organophosphate Registration: August 3rd marks the deadline for public comment on EPA approval of some twenty dangerous organophosphate and carbamate pesticides. Thousands of EPA scientists have joined with public health, environmental, and social justice advocacy groups to demand that EPA politically appointed officials, currently under suspicion for collusion with the pesticide industry, refuse the approval of twenty organophosphates and carbamates. Pesticide Action Network asks for your support in stopping these dangerous chemicals from harming our communities. Click here to take action.
Help roll back approval for sulfuryl fluoride use on food: Sulfuryl fluoride is a fumigant pesticide commonly used to treat termite infestations and recently approved by the U.S. EPA for use on fumigating stored grains, nuts and dried fruits. Made exclusively by Dow AgroSciences, sulfuryl fluoride is a highly acutely toxic chemical that leaves fluoride residues in food at levels that have been associated with birth defects, brittle bones and bone cancer. According to Beyond Pesticides, “USDA’s surveillance program for pesticide residues on foods routinely finds samples bought at stores that exceed the EPA tolerances for fluoride, casting doubt on assurances that the new tolerances continue to maintain levels safe for human health.” Last month, several public health advocacy groups, including Environmental Working Group and Beyond Pesticides, convinced EPA to open a new public comment period ending August 4, 2006 that allows public input on EPA’s recent allowance of high fluoride levels in a variety of foods. Please tell EPA “No! to sulfuryl fluoride“
Pesticides Found in Canadian Produce: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported pesticide contamination in over twenty per cent of fruit and vegetables tested by federal authorities. Some of the produce tested were above the legal limits. CropLife Canada, a lobbying firm for the pesticide industry, has been quick to downplay the report.
Still, the Canadian Press reports that this growing evidence of pesticide contamination is significant when considered with all contaminants in the environment. “A key worry is how the toxic cocktail of pollutants interact,” according to the article. The group Environmental Defence released a study last month that detected a broad number of toxins in the bodies of seven children and six adults from five families living in different parts of Canada. Health Canada was alarmed enough by the report to declare it will study 5,000 people for “signs of pollution-related toxins.”
Big retailers go organic: Organic food sales are growing 15% to 21% each year, according to a recent story from Associated Press. WalMart, Kroger Co., and Albertson’s are among the many larger retailers who are beginning to sell their own store brand organic products. The demand is outpacing the supply, and this has highlighted a debate among those in the organic farming industry; many argue that bigger isn’t necessarily better. “If organic is something created in the image of sustainable agriculture, we certainly haven’t accomplished that yet,” said Urvashi Rangan, a scientist for Consumers Union. To help meet demand, Stonyfield Farms and Organic Valley are offering support to organic farmers to help them increase organic food production.
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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