Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Ethics of Pesticide Testing in Humans

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Ethics of Pesticide Testing in Humans

Article excerpt

With some dismay, we read the article by Meaklim et al. titled "Fenitrothion: Toxicokinetics and Toxicologic Evaluation in Human Volunteers" that appeared in the March 2003 issue of EHP (Meaklim et al. 2003).

The ethical aspects of testing pesticides in humans have been the subject of vigorous recent debate. A committee has been convened at the National Academy of Sciences to consider the issue. Our Center for Children's Health and the Environment at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine held a national conference in 2002 on the ethical aspects of pesticide testing in humans (Conference on Pesticide Testing in Humans: Ethics and Public Policy, held 27 February 2002, New York, NY).

A fundamental problem is that no federally mandated ethical standards exist for safeguarding volunteers in pesticide studies. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never established such standards. This is a situation very different from that which exists in the case of clinical trials of drugs conducted under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration.

A serious ethical impediment to pesticide testing in humans is that there is no conceivable way in which the administration of a pesticide to a person can benefit the health of that person. The logic that permits controlled clinical trials of pharmacologic agents that may directly benefit human health does not pertain here. …

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