Activists decry EPA Use of Human Testing

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a vocal opponent of the pesticide industry, is protesting an apparent reversal in policy by EPA. In considering the registration of three pesticides, the agency has considered data derived from human testing, something it had barred during the Clinton administration.

It's interesting that human testing is so controversial in the United States. Human testing has been common practice in many countries, including European countries. In this regard, the United States is something of an exception.

The EWG contends the pesticide industry is pushing for the use of human testing because it will make it easier to register pesticide products. Of course, there is truth to this. After all, human tests are better indicators of human health effects than tests on lab animals. If products pass muster in human tests, then presumably it would be more difficult to ban them based on animal tests that are, at best, imperfect predictors of human effects.

Supporters of the pesticide industry claim that the real reason anti-pesticide activists oppose human testing is that it will help disprove activist claims that pesticides are unacceptably dangerous.

Regardless, EPA claims the human tests it's looked at would not have altered the outcome of the cases it used them to consider. It also states that no formal policy decision has been made in the matter of human testing.

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