Thursday, August 11, 2005

We're capitalists; we won't hurt you

August 11, 2005

Don’t worry about yourself, think of the cockroaches--The proposed changes by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect human subjects in insecticide studies, is under attack from environmentalists, their own scientists, and Congress. No, not those old proposals. The new ones, the ones that were supposed to correct flaws in the first proposals. Several critics call it a sell-out to the industry, which of course is absurd--government wouldn’t do that, would they? Earlier this year, Congress lambasted the EPA’s proposed guidelines to protect human subjects, noting health risks and ethical lapses in the industry-supported plan. The EPA promised to go back and redo the proposals to take those concerns into consideration. The Baltimore Sun, however, reports today it has a copy of the 76-page draft of the new proposals and the EPA apparently either wasn’t paying attention or decided to ignore the criticism. Although the introduction contains wording say was going to propose tighter rules, the Sun says the text doesn’t come close. Even the agency’s own scientists are appalled. “This is a very important ethical, scientific and clinical issue,” one said, “and they are trying to fool the American public about its intent. It’s a magician’s trick.” [As an aside, the fact that scientist was an unnamed source is a good example of why reporters need to have unnamed sources and protect them]. Environmentalists say the rules have so many loopholes they are essentially meaningless. The proposal came from a congressional study that reviewed 22 EPA-related human studies conducted by the pesticide industry. The study found that in many cases the test subjects didn’t know what they were being exposed to or, in many cases, why the tests were being done. The study also found that some of the tests did not follow accepted ethical standards. Some of the test subjects at risk included pregnant women and children. An EPA spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment as it was only a draft proposal.

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