Saturday, April 09, 2005

Kids As Pesticide Testers? WTF?

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The project was cancelled due to outcry by Democrats. They threatened to block Senate confirmation of the agency's new administrator.

Ok, so what was the project?

The project was designed to test the effects of pesticides on young children. It's simple. If you agree to routinely expose your baby to pesticides for a duration of two years, you will get $970 plus these great prizes:

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Did you say pesticides?

Yep, that's right. You know, the stuff with the packaging that says 'do not expose to small children' on the back. Also documented to have especially nasty side effects for kids...I'm talking about shit like cancer and reproductive problems later in life.

In fact, this EPA website tells you to take steps to protect your children from pesticides.

So what kind of sick people would want to give money and prizes for exposing babies and toddlers to pesticides?

Well apparently the EPA does.

They are the ones who wanted to run project CHEERS, the Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study. On the CHEERS website the EPA says that the project was to help protect children's health.

WTF? Are they crazy?

No. But think about this: The American Chemistry Council which represents various chemical companies (yes, this includes those that make money from pesticides), put up at least $2 million to fund project CHEERS. (Sources: Washington Post, EPA website)

Uhh, why are chemical companies helping fund a study on the safety of chemicals?

Yeah, I had the same reaction. I mean would you want these people funding a study on the safety of oil?

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What does the EPA have to say about all this?

They say that the parents in the study would have been directed not to deviate from normal pesticide use for the entire two years (which is true, I checked). That the kids would be getting the same dose of pesticide that they would have anyway. And that 'We will not ask any parent to apply pesticides in their home to be a part of this study.'

They also deflect criticism that the study was intentionally to be done mainly in low income communities.

Well that sounds...alright.

There are some problems with all that.

First off, of course they targeted low income communities. How well do you think a study on the dangers of exposing babies to pesticides would do in a wealthy neighborhood?

Second, do they really believe that offering money and prizes to participate in a project about exposing kids to pesticides....wouldn't encourage people who normally didn't expose their kids to those chemicals to do so because they wanted the incentives?

Not to mention the CHEERS FAQ misleads participants by saying 'You and your child will not experience any risks from participating in this study.'

So what's this project really about?

Basically, money. These people say it best:

The trick here is that these products are known to have negative long term health effects. This is a short two year study. In other words, the results of he study are already known...there will be little to no obvious short term negative effects on these children at the end of the two year period.

The seemingly positive results of the study will allow the ACC to announce positive "EPA study results" to the public, which will allow the ACC to more effectively lobby congress to weaken regulations on these products even more (thereby increasing profits dramatically).

This technique has been exercised by the ACC for decades.


So it was supposed to be a $7 million project. The ACC fronted $2 million, so where did the rest of the money come from? How much do you want to bet that the American taxpayer was going to foot most of the bill? I wonder how many more 'studies' like this are out there right now.

More on project CHEER. (Other than the EPA's website, I couldn't find much pro-CHEER material. If you know of any please send me a link so I can post it here.)

*UPDATED*

Yahoo News

Fact Check: CHEERS

EPA's main CHEERS website.

EPA CHEERS participant FAQ

ARC/PESTed

Daily Kos

Urban Legends says CHEERS is ok.

LA Times: EPA Chief Withdraws Controversial Pesticide Project

Another Daily Kos Post

'EPA Blocked From Human Pesticide Studes'

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