EPA and Congress go in two different directions simultaneously.
July 5, 2005.
What we have here is more than a failure to communicate-Just as Congress is about to strengthen the rules on the use of human test subjects, including tests of pesticides, the Environmental Protection Agency’s top brass may be loosening the rules. The move, the Baltimore Sun reports, has triggered a revolt by senior scientists, physicians and even its lawyers--and you know something is afoot when lawyers get involved on the side of the angels. The Sun obtained an internal memo predicting that the rules change might “greatly weaken existing protections outlined in the EPA Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects.” While EPA scientists do some tests using human subjects, most of the research is outsourced to university and industry labs--including pesticide manufacturers. The rules cover all the work, that done in-house, and those done under contract. The EPA doesn’t agree, saying the rules changes--promised next month--are based on science and ethical considerations and nothing is yet set in stone. Meanwhile, a series of bills in now going through Congress that would ban EPA or its contractors from doing any human experimentation. The “Common Rules” mentioned in the memo, are rules adopted by several government agencies; the origin of which goes back to the revulsion of scientific experiments performed by the Nazis in World War 2. Critics say the new rules either ignore or wrongly interpret that standard.