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EPA SCIENTISTS DECRY "POLITICAL PRESSURE"

They Allege Interference in Pesticide Reviews from Agency Managers and Industry

WASHINGTON (May 25, 2006) -- New questions are being raised today about the integrity of the science being performed at the Environmental Protection Agency.

In a letter to EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson, leaders of unions representing about 9,000 scientists and other agency employees allege that EPA managers and pesticide industry officials are exerting "political pressure" on the researchers to overlook important test results in their ongoing assessment of a family of pesticides that may be harmful to fetuses, infants and children. (To see the letter, click here)

"EPA is playing 'let's make a deal' with the pesticide companies, forgetting that their first duty is to protect our health and safety by keeping dangerous chemicals off our dinner plates and out of our kids' lunchboxes," said Aaron Colangelo, a health program attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Such pressure to subvert truth-finding is no way to protect public health."

In their May 24 letter to Johnson, the union leaders said it all in warning that "the EPA could betray the public trustůunless the agency adheres to principles or scientific integrity and sound science in the pesticide tolerance reassessments it is undertaking."

"The political appointees at EPA, and their allies in the pesticide industry, need to back off and let scientists do their work without interference," Colangelo said.

"And we should be grateful to the agency's scientists. They are some of the most highly trained, highly qualified health experts anywhere, and they are demonstrating their courage by standing up and saying their bosses are putting people at risk in order to protect the special interests of big chemical and agribusiness," Colangelo said.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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