Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pesticide Plan Draws Plenty of Fire

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pesticide Plan Draws Plenty of Fire

Article excerpt

The Clinton administration's attempt to strike a balance in pesticide regulation drew protests from environmentalists, farm groups and food manufacturers Tuesday.

Environmentalists said the plan didn't go far enough to protect public health because it would allow farmers to spray some produce with cancer-causing pesticides.

Food manufacturers bristled at the plan's call for more monitoring of pesticide residues in processed foods.

Farmers worried that the changes would remove chemicals from the market before adequate substitutes could be developed.

Administration officials outlined the plan at a joint hearing of the House Energy Subcommittee on health and environment and the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee.

The plan would put health concerns ahead of economic outcomes when deciding whether to allow use of a pesticide. Risks to children would weigh heavily in deciding which chemicals farmers could use.

Carol Browner, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the reforms are "a giant step toward protecting all Americans - especially our children - from the risk of harmful pesticides on the foods we eat."

She said the new standard would apply to all health risks linked to the use of pesticides, including birth defects and neurological disease, instead of just carcinogenic effects.

A coalition of environmental, consumer and some farm groups oppose the administration's plan to allow the use of some chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer. The plan says such chemicals can be used if the residue on food is so small as to produce a "negligible risk" of new cancer cases - a maximum of one in a million new cases.

"Any food safety package . . . that allows cancer-causing pesticides in foods is rotten to the core," Jay Feldman, executive director of the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, said at a press conference.

The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the "negligible risk" standard, saying that the "zero tolerance" standard in the current law predates technology that can detect extremely small levels of pesticide residues, said Mace Thornton, a spokesman for the farm group. …

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