Statement by Erik Olson, NRDC's Senior Health Attorney
WASHINGTON (July 27, 2005) -- Congress has put a stop to a coordinated effort by the White House and the chemical industry to allow widespread testing of toxic pesticides on people. A House-Senate appropriations conference committee voted this afternoon to establish a moratorium on conducting or using human pesticide tests, and ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to set strict standards regulating the practice.
The following is a statement by Erik Olson, senior health attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council:
"Congress has firmly rebuked the Bush administration for its lax approach to human pesticide testing. This vote slams the door on the pesticide industry's freewheeling, unethical and unscientific experimentation using toxic pesticides on people.
"Although we will need to watch EPA like hawks to be sure that the agency fulfills its new obligations, for now this is a very gratifying victory. A bipartisan majority in Congress has told the Bush administration and the chemical industry that they have gone too far, and that public safety must come first.
"In stopping EPA's careless policy on human pesticide experiments and dictating new protections for people who undergo such testing, a bipartisan coalition of health, religious and environmental groups overcame opposition by the White House and key Senate majority leaders.
"Congress placed a moratorium on conducting or considering these experiments until new safeguards are put in place by EPA. The agency also must strengthen its rules to better protect human test subjects.
"Specifically, the EPA must issue new rules that prohibit pesticide testing on pregnant women, infants and children. Contrary to the industry's recent claims, pesticide companies have recently petitioned EPA to consider pesticide tests conducted on pregnant women, infants and children.
"The new rules will mirror recommendations put forth by the National Academy of Sciences last year, and also must comply with the 1947 Nuremberg Code, which was adopted internationally after the infamous 'Nazi Doctors Trials.' In addition, Congress ordered EPA to create an independent Human Subjects Review Board. The EPA prompted Congress to take this action by failing to follow many of these requirements. The agency had even refused to establish the NAS-recommended independent review board, now required by Congress."