US to change pesticide regulation
Oct. 19, 2009
A program to test pesticides to make sure they do not affect human hormone systems will be compromised by changes to rules on submissions, scientists say.
The order by the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) allows data from studies by pesticide companies to substitute for new studies, according to scientists involved in developing the new program.
Thirteen years ago Congress required the US Environmental Protection Agency to screen pesticides for hormonal effects such as reproductive and developmental problems by 1999. Pesticides have been implicated in the appearance of male fish producing eggs in Washingtons Potomac River.
But the program to test the chemicals on animals such as tadpoles and rats is only now set to begin and some scientists say it is already being rendered ineffective.
What the OMB is asking the (EPA) to do is to accept all the old data from pesticide manufacturers defending the safety of their products, said Theo Colborn.
He is a scientist who served on panels that designed the testing program and selected the tests that compose it.
This looked like, to me, a very desperate attempt to cover up a decade or more of about 1,000 studies and research on the effects of chemicals on the endocrine system.
The endocrine system regulates bodily functions by glands such as the hypothalamus, pituitary and thyroid.
The OMB, which oversees administration regulatory policies, told the EPA to the greatest extent possible accept existing data on the toxicity of the pesticides in lieu of conducting new tests on the 67 chemicals selected for investigation.
I would view it as smart, good government ways of not making people do costly and duplicative tests, said a senior OMB official, who noted that the tests can cost up to a million US dollars.
But this instruction angered some environmental scientists, who contend the submission of previously conducted tests would allow the pesticide makers to selectively submit industry-financed and outdated studies that show the pesticides are safe. The pesticides should undergo the new battery of tests, they say.
OMB is telling three federal advisory committees and dozens of scientists that they dont know what theyre talking about, said Peter deFur, an environmental scientist who sat on the three panels that selected the tests and designed the program.
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