Testing Pesticides On People: Is It Moral? Is It Useful?

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

The issue of testing pesticides using human subjects has created one of the most explosive environmental debates to arrive in Washington in years. Although the National Academy of Sciences had given a green light to such testing, the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly canceled a proposed pesticide exposure study involving children when Democratic senators threatened to block the nomination of Stephen L. Johnson as EPA administrator last April unless the research was abandoned.

The study — called CHEERS, for Children’s Health Environmental Exposures Research Study — would have paid some 60 families in Duval County, Florida, who use pesticides and cleaners in their homes $970 a month to allow researchers to monitor their health to obtain “real world” exposure information. Part of the controversy came from concerns that poor parents were, in effect, being “bribed” into intentionally dosing their children. Part of it came from the fact that funding for the study was augmented by $2.1 million from the industry.

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