Science Panel Okays Pesticide Testing on Humans

A National Academy of Sciences panel said yesterday that testing of pesticides and other toxic chemicals on human subjects — including, in appropriate circumstances, children — is ethical as long as such tests meet stringent safety and scientific standards. The decision came as a surprise to environmental groups, who immediately protested, claiming such testing is never justified. Controversy over the issue first arose in 1996 when Congress passed the Food Quality and Protection Act, which tightened safety standards on pesticides. The chemical industry began submitting human studies to the U.S. EPA, arguing that animal-based research was inadequate and alarmist. In 1998, enviro groups persuaded the EPA to pass a moratorium on such tests. Pressure from the Bush administration to lift the moratorium led the EPA to request the NAS study. The results are expected to play a significant role in the formation of government policy on toxic chemicals. Sounds fun — where do we sign up?