Via Reuters, thought the following might interest some of you.
"Yesterday" is April 27. (I received this undated, as you see it.)
Also, here is a news release appearing World Wildlife Fund's site:
Here is the groups' letter of resignation:
------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
GROUPS QUIT U.S. PESTICIDE PANEL, CITE CHILD SAFETY
By Julie Vorman
WASHINGTON - A half-dozen consumer groups yesterday quit a White
House pesticide review panel, saying chemical and farm interests were
blocking attempts to protect young children from suspected
cancer-causing insecticides used on peaches, apples and other foods.
The departure of the World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defence
Council, Consumers Union and four other activist groups came after
months of growing frustration with the slow pace of the 50-member
At issue is how the Environmental Protection Agency decides which
pesticides in food, drinking water, playgrounds, lawns and homes pose
a health threat to young children.
The consumer groups criticised the EPA for not banning methyl
parathion and other chemicals linked to cancer.
Methyl parathion is widely used on peaches, apples, pears, grapes and
other diet staples of young children. Consumers Union, using U.S.
Agriculture Department data, recently calculated that two out of five
young children eat an unsafe amount of methyl parathion residue from
Ned Groth, a food safety scientist for Consumers Union, said, "The
panel is a consensus process that takes forever and is an invitation
to endless debate. The agency needs to make hard decisions based on
the available data and go forward."
As a precaution, parents should peel fruits and vegetables before
giving them to pre-school children, or buy organically-grown produce,
Researchers say animal studies show the nervous systems and
reproductive organs of infants, toddlers and small children may be
vulnerable to certain chemicals. Of particular concern to health
experts are a cheap and widely-used class of organophosphate
pesticides for fruits and vegetables developed by the military during
World War II in nerve gas experiments.
But U.S. growers, now facing low commodity prices and stiff
international competition, have pressed the EPA for more studies and
proof that certain chemicals are dangerous.
That has resulted in a virtual deadlock on the pesticide advisory
panel created one year ago by Vice President Al Gore. At that time,
Gore said he expected the panel to make final recommendations to the
EPA by September 1998. The group, which met Tuesday, was scheduled to
meet several times this summer.
Gore, who is expected to seek the Democratic presidential nomination,
has tried to walk a tightrope between farm and environmental
interests in the debate.
A sweeping 1996 law ordered the EPA to evaluate 3,000 U.S.-registered
pesticides by August 1999 to assess the safety risk for children. The
law requires the agency to require an extra tenfold safety margin for
The activist groups said they would sue the EPA in August if the
agency failed to meet deadlines imposed by Congress.
Some other panel members - including farm and chemical industry
groups, pediatricians, and scientists - also have privately expressed
doubts that key issues can be resolved without going back to Congress
or the courts.
"To have these groups resign is not in the public's best interest,"
said Jay Vroom, president of the American Crop Protection
Association, a trade group representing pesticide makers. "Are they
for sound science that protects kids or political grandstanding that
A top EPA official said he was disappointed that the activist groups
bowed out, but said the agency remained committed to phasing out
"We, too, wish that this process could be faster," Peter Robertson,
EPA acting deputy administrator, said in a letter to the groups. "But
we are on schedule for assessing risks and taking risk-reduction
actions, beginning in August, as the law prescribes."
(C) Reuters Limited 1999.
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
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