"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The Environmental Protection Agency's new rules on human testing, which the agency said last week would "categorically" protect children and pregnant women from pesticide testing, include numerous exemptions - including one that specifically allows testing of children who have been "abused and neglected."
The rules were revised under intense criticism from environmental groups, scientists and members of Congress, after the disclosure that subjects in some earlier pesticide studies were unaware of what they were being exposed to and, in many cases, did not know why the testing was being done.
One study would have used $2 million from the chemical industry to measure the pesticide consumption of infants in low-income households in Florida.
The "revised" rules will, supposedly, offer "full protection for those most at risk of unethical testing" - subject to the following exemptions:
* Testing of "abused or neglected" children without permission from parents or guardians.
* "Ethically deficient" human research if it is considered crucial to "protect public health."
* More than minimal health risk to a subject if there is a "direct benefit" to the child being tested, and the parents or guardians agree.
* EPA acceptance of overseas industry studies, which are often performed in countries that have minimal or no ethical standards for testing, as long as the tests are not done directly for the EPA.
This last point is especially interesting, in that it represents a novel application of the theory behind "extraordinary rendition," or (to use a less Orwellian term) the outsourcing of torture. The principle is the same - if American law (or American standards of decency) stand in the way, simply take your show on the road. It may be "ethically deficient," but it's efficient, and that's what really matters.
Seriously, though, would you mind terribly if I added "dirty liberal irrationalist" to my résumé? Because I could use an easy, lucrative job, and I hear that FEMA needs a new director.