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Dec 9, 2007
Focus: Health
Action Request: Various
Location: United States
Background: (go here to take action)

-In 1987, the Montreal Protocal, an international treaty to ban ozone depleting chemicals, mandated the phase out of the fumigant methyl bromide, which is used widely in the U.S. on crops like strawberries. The full phase out was to take place over the course of 18 years.

-In 2004, the Bush Administration began pushing for exemptions to the treaty to allow the U.S. to continue using chemicals like methyl bromide for economic reasons.

-In 2005, the Administration began considering converting methyl bormide use to a new chemical marketed by Arysta Life Sciences known as methyl iodide, which does not deplete the ozone layer.

-But unlike many other pesticides, methyl iodide vaporizes quickly, causing it to drift far distances. Although the state of California has categorized it as cancer causing, and the EPA admits it causes thyroid tumors, the agency has been pushing to approve the chemical since 2006.

-In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on September 25, 2007, the nation's leading chemists asked EPA not to approve methyl iodide without further scientific review. The chemical has been used to induce cancer in laboratory experiments and causes neurological and thyroid problems, as well as miscarriages in studies with laboratory animals.

-On October 5, 2007, the EPA approved methyl iodide for widespread use in the U.S., putting farmworkers, families and rural communities at risk.

Please send a letter to the EPA requesting they heed the advice of the nation's leading chemists.
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Posted: Dec 9, 2007 8:18am
Jan 28, 2006
Focus: Children
Action Request: Petition
Location: United States
ALERT: EPA TO ALLOW PESTICIDE TESTING ON ORPHANS & MENTALLY HANDICAPPED CHILDREN

Saturday, January 28, 2006

http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa6.cfm

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is just days away from publishing a new federal regulation that will allow the testing of chemicals and pesticides on human subjects. On August 2, 2005, Congress had mandated the EPA create a rule that permanently bans chemical testing on pregnant women and children, without exception. But the EPA's newly proposed rule, is ridden with exceptions where chemical studies may be performed on children in certain situations like the following:

  1. Children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," such as those that are mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns, may be tested on. With permission from the institution or guardian in charge of the individual, the child may be exposed to chemicals for the sake of research.
  2. Parental consent forms are not necessary for testing on children who have been neglected or abused.
  3. Chemical studies on any children outside of the U.S. are acceptable.

Despite receiving over 50,000 letters from citizens, congress, and EPA's own scientists opposing the proposed rule, on January 24, the EPA notified the Associated Press, saying they are on the threshold of approving the proposal and allowing chemical testing on children.

"The fact that EPA allows pesticide testing of any kind on the most vulnerable, including abused and neglected children, is simply astonishing," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Even EPA's own scientists are speaking out against the agency's proposed rule. "I am somewhat dismayed that this rule was presented in such a complex -- and I would have to say, tricky -- way," said Suzanne Wuerthele, a regional toxicologist for the EPA.


OCA's focal concerns with this proposed rule specifically involve the following portions of text within the EPA document (Read the full EPA proposed rule here: PDF --- HTML):

70 FR 53865 26.408(a) "The IRB (Independent Review Board) shall determine that adequate provisions are made for soliciting the assent of the children, when in the judgment of the IRB the children are capable of providing assent...If the IRB determines that the capability of some or all of the children is so limited that they cannot reasonably be consulted, the assent of the children is not a necessary condition for proceeding with the research. Even where the IRB determines that the subjects are capable of assenting, the IRB may still waive the assent requirement..."

(OCA NOTE: Under this clause, a mentally handicapped child or infant orphan could be tested on without assent. This violates the Nuremberg Code, an international treaty that mandates assent of test subjects is "absolutely essential," and that the test subject must have "legal capacity to give consent" and must be "so situated as to exercise free power of choice." This loophole in the rule must be completely removed.)

70 FR 53865 26.408(c) "If the IRB determines that a research protocol is designed for conditions or for a subject population for which parental or guardian permission is not a reasonable requirement to protect the subjects (for example, neglected or abused children), it may waive the consent requirements..."

(OCA NOTE: Under the general rule, the EPA is saying it's okay to test chemicals on children if their parents or institutional guardians consent to it. This clause says that neglected or abused children have unfit guardians, so no consent would be required to test on those children. This loophole in the rule must be completely removed.)

70 FR 53864 26.401 (a)(2) "To What Do These Regulations Apply? It also includes research conducted or supported by EPA outside the United States, but in appropriate circumstances, the Administrator may, under § 26.101(e), waive the applicability of some or all of the requirements of these regulations for research..."

(OCA NOTE: This clause is stating that the Administrator of the EPA has the power to completely waive regulations on human testing, if the testing is done outside of the U.S. This will allow chemical companies to do human testing in other countries where these types of laws are less strict. This loophole in the rule must be completely removed.)

70 FR 53857 "EPA proposes an extraordinary procedure applicable if scientifically sound but ethically deficient human research is found to be crucial to EPA’s fulfilling its mission to protect public health. This procedure would also apply if a scientifically sound study covered by proposed § 26.221 or § 26.421--i.e., an intentional dosing study involving pregnant women or children as subjects..."

(OCA NOTE: This clause allows the EPA to accept or conduct "ethically deficient" studies of chemical tests on humans if the agency deems it necessary to fulfull its mission. Unfortunately, the EPA report sets up no criteria for making such an exception with any particular study. This ambiguity leaves a gaping loophole in the rule. Without specific and detailed criteria, it could be argued that any and every study of chemical testing on humans is "necessary." This loophole in the rule must be removed, based on this inadequacy of criteria and definition.)

By mail: Send two copies of your comments to:
Public Information and Records Integrity Branch (PIRIB )
Office of Pesticide Programs
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Mail Code: 7502C
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC, 20460-0001
Attention: Docket ID Number OPP-2003-0132

The OCA also needs your financial support to continue working on these important issues. Please donate today!



Q&A Section

1) Question: I read on Snopes that this alert is false. Is that true?

Answer: The Snopes/Urban Legends posting is actually in regards to an EPA proposed study called CHEERS and an alert we had sent out regarding that in late 2004 (http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa-alert.htm). It is not directly related to this alert. The Snopes posting did a great disservice to that issue in their inaccuracy and lack of research into this issue. We spend massive amounts of staff time researching these issues, confer with outside experts on the topic, and cite dozens of references. The Snopes website, while valuable with most of its information, is not always accurate, and that is the case here. In fact, you'll find they reference only a couple of newspaper articles to backup their stance on this issue. Fortunately, enough concerned citizens, several nonprofits, dozens of mainstream newspapers, and many congress members, actually did their research on the EPA study and found that study was, in fact, very problematic. In fact, in early 2005, the EPA CHEERS study was permanently dropped, thanks to pressure from Congress. In August of 2005 Congress went a step further and mandated the EPA pass a rule that bans all testing of chemicals on children and pregnant women, without exception. That is what this alert pertains to. Snopes hasn't posted any information about this particular alert, and we hope they do their research this time. We ask our readers to do your research, as well. No single alert or single website will provide you with all of the information you need. We provided dozens of links on our alerts to external resources that allow you to further research and reference all of the information we provide. If you have questions, we're always happy to help out craig@organicconsumers.org

2)Question: I read the EPA website and part of the introduction of the rule, claims the rule is to prohibit all such testing and to establish sanctions. That sounds like a good thing. So what's the problem?

Answer: The EPA is proposing a rule that they would like to have approved. Anytime you are marketing a product, you sell its best points and hope that people won't look too deeply and find its flaws. The EPA website and the introductory description of the rule are very long winded and flowery, claiming this rule abides by the congressional mandate to ban all testing of women and children, without exception. In fact, if you read the rule, which is 30 pages of fine print, there are multiple exceptions. We have noted those in our template letter to the EPA and on our action alert page. This is a specific layout of the problematic text as taken directly from the actual EPA rule. In short, these are the loopholes in the document that need to be removed, as mandated by congress, which says the rule must have no exceptions.

3) Question: The rule says these waivers apply when the IRB sees a benefit of the test for the children involved, and also calls for supplementary protective measures when necessary. That sounds like a good thing. So what's the problem?

Answer: Actually, you are referencing a point made under subpart §26.405 of the rule. That subpart is designed to only address "research presenting the prospect of direct benefit to the individual subjects." In that subpart, it says that "more than minimal" risk to children subjects is acceptable if there is a chance it could benefit the child. Outside of that subpart, there are no stipulations requiring that the studies be beneficial to the test subjects. Anywhere else in the document where this type of situation is noted, it is under an "or" clause. In other words, the loopholes for this rule state that the rule can be disregarded if the study was done overseas, OR the test subject's guardian consents, OR if the study may be of benefit to society as a whole, OR if the study may be of benefit to the test subject, etc. The study also calls for supplementary protective measures when necessary but outlines no criteria for how this "necessity" is defined or determined. Without a clearly defined line of what is acceptable and what is not, it's at the whim of the IRB, EPA administrator or third party research organization to determine whether or not supplementary protective measures are necessary. In that sense, it could simply mean the IRB might determine, for example, a test subject should wear safety goggles when being doused with atrazine. In other words, without specific definition of what defines a situation that calls for further supplementary protective measures, this becomes a simple, flowery token statement with no meaning and no teeth.

6) Question: The EPA sent me a letter back that says "EPA's proposed rule would ban EPA from conducting or supporting any intentional dosing study of pregnant women or children with pesticides or any other environmental substances. All children are included in this ban. There are no exceptions." They seem to be saying this rule is for studies that don't involve intentional dosing. Is that correct?

Answer: That is incorrect and is misleading PR from the EPA that contradicts the text of their actual proposed rule. As you can see above, we have outlined the specfic text in the rule that we have problems with. Nowhere in the rule does the EPA say that all intentional dosing studies are banned, yet that is exactly what congress had asked them to do. In fact, the rule goes so far as to make make allowances for what it refers to as"ethically deficient human research." (70 FR 53857). In short, the EPA is making public relations claims that completely contradict what is clearly written in balck and white in the actual proposed rule.

5) Question: I can't get your email form to work. How can I send comments to the EPA directly?

Answer: By mail: Send two copies of your comments to:
Public Information and Records Integrity Branch (PIRIB )
Office of Pesticide Programs
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Mail Code: 7502C
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC, 20460-0001
Attention: Docket ID Number OPP-2003-0132

By email: send comments to opp-docket@epa.gov The subject line should read: "Attention: Docket ID Number OPP-2003-0132 "

If you have questions, we're always happy to help out, but please read all of the information provided on this alert page and follow the links on the right hand side of this page to further information prior to contacting us with questions. craig@organicconsumers.org

Visibility: Everyone
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Posted: Jan 28, 2006 7:50am
Dec 10, 2005
Focus: Children
Action Request: Other
Location: United States

ALERT UPDATE: EPA PROPOSED RULE ALLOWS CHEMICAL AND PESTICIDE TESTING ON KIDS

Thanks to everyone who responded to the OCA Alert in the last issue of Organic Bytes. So far, the EPA has been deluged with over 20,000 comments from OCA supporters demanding changes in the EPA's controversial proposed rule on human chemical testing, which contains loopholes that would allow the testing of chemicals and pesticides on children. EPA's proposal flies in the face of massive public opposition and directives from Congress and the National Academy of Sciences to stop industry from carrying out unethical studies on children. In the wake of this strong citizen backlash, the EPA is frantically trying to discredit the OCA and other organizations working on this issue (such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Health and Environmental Justice, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, etc.) by flat out denying that the proposed rule contains exceptions for testing toxics on children. Unfortunately for the EPA PR greenwashing efforts, the actual proposed rule is still posted on the EPA website, where the public can look beyond the agency's rhetoric and read the rule themselves. We invite you to read these sections of the proposed regulations, which allow chemical or pesticide testing on children under the following circumstances:

  1. Children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," such as those that are mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns may be tested on. With permission from the institution or guardian in charge of the individual, the child may be exposed to chemicals for the sake of research.
  2. Parental consent forms are not necessary for testing on children who have been neglected or abused.
  3. Chemical studies on any children outside of the U.S. are acceptable.
If you haven't already done so please learn more and send an instant letter to the EPA here (public comment period expires Dec.12) http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa6.cfm
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Posted: Dec 10, 2005 11:03am
Dec 3, 2005
Focus: Children
Action Request: Write Letter
Location: United States
Thanks to everyone who responded to the OCA Alert in the last issue of Organic Bytes. So far, the EPA has been deluged with over 20,000 comments from OCA supporters demanding changes in the EPA's controversial proposed rule on human chemical testing, which contains loopholes that would allow the testing of chemicals and pesticides on children. EPA's proposal flies in the face of massive public opposition and directives from Congress and the National Academy of Sciences to stop industry from carrying out unethical studies on children. In the wake of this strong citizen backlash, the EPA is frantically trying to discredit the OCA and other organizations working on this issue (such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Health and Environmental Justice, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, etc.) by flat out denying that the proposed rule contains exceptions for testing toxics on children. Unfortunately for the EPA PR greenwashing efforts, the actual proposed rule is still posted on the EPA website, where the public can look beyond the agency's rhetoric and read the rule themselves. We invite you to read these sections of the proposed regulations, which allow chemical or pesticide testing on children under the following circumstances:
  1. Children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," such as those that are mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns may be tested on. With permission from the institution or guardian in charge of the individual, the child may be exposed to chemicals for the sake of research.
  2. Parental consent forms are not necessary for testing on children who have been neglected or abused.
  3. Chemical studies on any children outside of the U.S. are acceptable.
If you haven't already done so please learn more and send an instant letter to the EPA here (public comment period expires Dec.12) http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa6.cfm
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Posted: Dec 3, 2005 11:52am

 

 
 
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