The Bush administration has promised the pesticide industry that it will overturn a Clinton-era policy that prohibited using information obtained from industry studies on human subjects to determine pesticide limits. Under the new policy, which hasn’t yet been officially announced, the U.S. EPA would be able to set limits based on data from tests in which paid volunteers ingest small amounts of pesticides, despite ethical and safety concerns raised by environmentalists and physicians. The about-face would also defy recommendations made to the agency by a scientific panel in 1998. Two panel members called for an absolute ban on human testing of pesticides, while the 16 other members said such tests should be very limited. For its part, the industry claims that animal testing doesn’t provide an accurate enough picture of how safe pesticides are for humans and results in overly strict restrictions on pesticide use.
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