Physician Attacks AHRP for Criticizing EPA CHEERS Pesticide Experiment on Children
Fri, 16 Sep 2005
AHRP’s opposition to EPA’s proposed rules on human pesticide experiments–in particular rules that would allow children to be subjected to pesticide experiments–was criticized by a physician who accuses those opposed to the infamous CHEERS experiment, as being “politically motivated.”
It is particularly troubling that a physician who heads the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, whose members have a moral duty to “do no harm,” defends such wholly non-therapeutic, potentially harmful experiments on poor children.
For information about the history and current controversy relating to human pesticide experiments, use the search engine on the AHRP website at: www.ahrp.org, as well as the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (www.nrdc.org)
From: Jane Orient
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2005 10:17 PM
Subject: RE: EPA Exceptions to proposed Rules Allow Pesticides experiments on Children_Baltimore Sun
If this is the study I’m thinking of [CHEERS], it would not have exposed any children to pesticides that they wouldn’t normally have encountered, but would have done careful observations on children who were in homes that were being with treated with pesticides to kill PESTS. It was carefully designed by scientists who were trying to learn something helpful, without endangering anyone or taking any ethical shortcuts.
The hype and misrepresentation were politically motivated. The result is less knowledge about the effects of pesticide exposure. Almost certainly the homes will get treated anyway, to get rid of the bugs.
Could be the study would have shown that the pesticides have a negligible or actually beneficial effect on the children (that’s how the dose-response curve works for most compounds that have been examined, whether natural or synthetic). How would we proceed with the scaremongering and litigation then!
Because the volume of stuff like this seems to be increasing, I am reading less and less of the information that you send.
Let’s ban all pesticides, and live with the malaria, and the dengue, and the encephalitis, and the typhus, and all those other things that they have in countries that aren’t able to afford pesticides.
Sent: Friday, September 16, 2005 11:37 AM
To: ‘Jane Orient’
Subject: RE:objection to AHRP comments re: EPA Exceptions to proposed Rules
ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTION (AHRP)
Promoting Openness, Full Disclosure, and Accountability
“politically motivated”???? It couldn’t possibly be that my persistent criticism of physician-scientists and government agencies that would exploit the vulnerability of children who have had the bad luck to be born to families who are poor, socially, economically, politically and educationally disadvantaged–and who do not suspect the hazards of having their children exposed to pesticide spraying–stems from a conviction that it is morally wrong to exploit such children in non-therapeutic medical research?
Knowledge about the effect of pesticide exposure is legitimately obtained through epidemiological studies which reveal the true risks of pesticide and other environmental pollutants on children’s health. To pretend that you don’t know the difference between epidemiological studies–which are both scientifically valid and ethically acceptable–and accept the pesticide industry’s preferred method of quick and dirty tests aimed at lowering EPA standards, is disingenuous.
While ignoring the financial stake for the pesticide industry which initiated the overthrow of the Nuremberg Code proscription against the exposure of humans to poisonous experiments, you condone ethical corner cutting by raising the possibility that “the study would have shown that pesticides have a negligible or actually beneficial effect on children.”
Such rationalizations from someone who represents an organization of physicians makes this all the more appalling.
Those arguments didn’t hold water when made in two legal challenges. I suggest you read the landmark decision (Higgins v KKK, 2000) by Maryland’s highest court in a case almost identical to this.
The Maryland case involved an EPA funded lead abatement study in which researchers from Kennedy Krieger / Johns Hopkins measured the blood of inner city black children who were placed in partially lead abated homes–The researchers recorded the increase in lead poison in the children’s blood and did absolutely nothing to intervene–
Your argument, “the homes will get treated anyway,” was roundly rejected by that panel of judges who criticized the moral compass of medical scientists who claimed they were just studying the effects in children “who would have been exposed to lead paint anyway.”
The Court expressed strong criticism of the medical research community for exposing poor children to risks in non-therapeutic experiments on the hypothetical good that may accrue from the research to other children in the future.
Physicians who support the pesticide industry’s effort to substitute scientifically valid and ethically sound research that examines pesticide safety, with sham research designed not to reveal the long-term hazards, are complicit in industry’s efforts to lower pesticide exposure standards–and thereby causing children harm.
Physicians who support non-therapeutic experiments such as these–that expose children to pesticides or lead–would probably reconsider if they were required to enroll their own children in the tests.
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav