(Washington, Oct. 29) - An Environmental Working Group (EWG) investigation into a controversial pesticide study found that the chemical industry's lobbying arm, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), boasted to its members that a $2 million contribution it made to the study had gained the industry "considerable leverage" over the project. (http://www.uslri.org/news.cfm?id=newsletters, Fall 2004 pg. 9). The claim severely undermines the EPA's assertion that the money comes with "no strings attached."
The study, in which 60 families are paid $970 plus a t-shirt and a bib to expose their children to pesticides through normal home applications, will undoubtedly lure poorer families to participate and may even encourage them to apply pesticide in their homes that they would not normally use. Participants who see the study through to the end get to keep the video camera.
By accepting $2 million from the chemical lobby, EPA has granted the industry it should be regulating special advance access to study results that the public and independent scientists will not have.
"Which is more disturbing - a government study that pays people to expose their children to pesticides, or the EPA selling its science for $2 million?" asked EWG vice president for research Jane Houlihan.
Today, EWG president Ken Cook wrote to EPA Assistant Administrator Paul Gilman, "[l]et us be clear: it's an extremely bad idea to pay people to expose their children to dangerous pesticides, while giving the regulated industry 'leverage' by accepting its money to do this.
You should stop - today - this outrageous study, immediately return the pesticide lobby's money, and start afresh on studying the important question of chemicals' health effects on children. Surely the $7,000,000 the Agency is putting into this study, or $120,000 per child, could be redirected to projects that more effectively advance public health protections - and the health of study participants."
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EWG's correspondence with the EPA and the ACC document saying "considerable leverage" are available on EWG's website, http://www.ewg.org.
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.