States Take Action to Protect Kids from Pesticides

From: Posted by Lonnie Arnold, Jan. 9, 2005
Date: 10 Jan 2005
Time: 01:19:44
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States Take Legal Action to Protect Children from Pesticides
Posted by Lonnie Arnold on Jan 9, 2005, 21:32

Four states, including California, have petitioned the federal government urging them to take stronger action to protect children by reducing the amount of pesticides allowed on common fruits and vegetables. The petition, submitted by attorneys general for California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, challenges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) action on five pesticides widely used on fruits and vegetables such as bananas, broccoli, carrots, corn, and tomatoes among others. "It's time for the federal government to step up, do the right thing,"

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said. The petition seeks stricter standards for pesticide residue on foods that can be especially destructive to children, the state officials said. According to Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician who chaired the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, infants and children are more susceptible to harm from pesticides on food because their nervous system is still developing. I am distressed that the EPA is not following our committee's clear recommendation to presume that children are uniquely vulnerable to pesticides, Dr. Landrigan said. Children are far more susceptible to harm from pesticide residues on food because they do not yet have the full metabolic detoxification abilities that adults do.

The EPA's own data indicates pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. The attorneys general argue that the EPA has failed to comply with the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), enacted by Congress in 1996, which required the EPA to ensure that pesticide residue standards be 10 times stricter for children. The petition challenges regulatory decisions made by EPA on five pesticides: alachlor, chlorothalonil, methomyl, metribuzin and thiodicarb. These same pesticides were the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by a coalition of attorneys general that was dismissed in July 2004 when a federal judge ruled that the proper procedure to challenge EPA's decisions on pesticide residue levels was through the EPA petition process.

The petition follows the failed attempt of the states to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which the attorneys say was struck down because a federal judge ruled that the proper procedure to challenge EPA's decisions on pesticide residue levels was through the EPA petition process. A spokesman for the EPA failed to respond to a request for comment by press time. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said, "I am disappointed that the EPA has not been stronger in its policies to protect children's health and I hope our action today will result in less pesticide exposure for America's children.

Last changed: March 14, 2006