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October 14 2006 - Democrats challenge EPA pesticide Rule

Three Democrats in Congress have added their names to a lawsuit seeking to end any pesticide testing on children by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Hilda Solis, both of California, said Thursday they have joined a lawsuit against EPA by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The group is suing EPA to end pesticide testing on pregnant women and infants. The lawmakers say a new rule from EPA fails to implement the ban required by Congress last year to protect vulnerable people from harmful pesticide testing.

They contend the rule prohibits the use of data collected from pesticide testing on pregnant women and children but allows the testing to continue.

"Pregnant women, infants and children have been and likely still will be used as human guinea pigs in pesticide testing," Nelson said. "It must be stopped."

EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood said the agency always works to ensure the health and safety of the most vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and children.

Congress in July 2005 imposed a one-year moratorium on testing pesticides on humans and gave EPA six months to issue a new rule to prevent testing on pregnant women and children.

That occurred after Boxer and Nelson demanded that EPA cancel an industry-backed pesticide study on the families of 60 children in Duval County, Fla. They had been due to receive children's clothes, a camcorder and $970 for participating.

EPA in January for the first time established criteria for tests by pesticide makers on human subjects and said it would not approve any new such testing involving pregnant women and children. Wood said Thursday, however, that in rare cases EPA would accept pesticide test data involving pregnant women and children, but only if that data indicated that a more stringent health standard is needed to further restrict use of the pesticide.

NRDC then sued EPA over the new rule for what the group called "unethical, illegal human pesticide testing."

In a friend-of-the-court brief, Nelson, Boxer and Solis urged a federal appeals court to order EPA to create a new rule that complies with Congress's intent to ban testing on pregnant women, infants and children.
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