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More on EPA's Testing of Toxic Chemicals on Women & Children

Now, a Web site for an organization called the Organic Consumers Association could be expected to be ... you know, kind of organic.

As in, the people who write the "news" on a site like that might be the kind of people who wouldn't want to ... oh, pave paradise and put up a parking lot, for example.

However, that Web site does contain one of the clearest explanations of why, despite the fact that in 2005 President Bush signed a ban on the testing of pesticides on human beings until the Environmental Protection Agency created guidelines for such testing, there are still loopholes in this ban.

Let's go over this once more.

President Bush last year signed a temporary ban on the testing of pesticides on humans, especially pregnant women and children and incorporated ethical guidelines from the post-World War II Nuremberg Code.

Now, for those of you not familiar with the Nuremberg Code, it refers, in this case, to some of the war crimes committed by Nazi physicians in the name of "science" during World War II < which included every form of grotesquerie from "experiments" on how much pain a child would tolerate before pressing a button that would kill a parent or sibling, horrifying disfiguring surgeries and even attempts to impregnate human beings with animal genetic products.

And these are not good things.

In more recent months, even some EPA scientists also have said that intentionally exposing people to see what harm could befall them from high levels of poisons intended to kill vermin and bugs would not be a really good thing.

At the end of the Clinton administration, the EPA even stopped accepting data from studies conducted by companies that made pesticides if they were conducted on human beings. But that policy changed under the Bush administration.

Last year, Congress started fussing about this problem when a senator from Florida, Bill Nelson, demanded that the EPA cancel an industry-funded pesticide study in which the families of 60 kids in Duval County got children's clothes, a camcorder and $970 for participating.

Let's go over this again. Children's clothing. A camcorder and $970 for participating in a study that would show whether increased exposure to pesticides would harm a growing child or a developing fetus.

Hmmm.

That wasn't a good thing. Had to be banned.

But several reports, among them that hemp-y, sandal-wearing naggy one from the OCA, point out that the ban only applies to people who can give informed consent. And that would leave out abandoned children in orphanages, handicapped children in institutions (the institutions would get money, and perhaps even camcorders, which they would presumably use to help the children) and mentally-disabled children.

Of course, no EPA official would condone such a thing as this-for-that kind of deal but the ban doesn't expressly forbid it, either.

And I keep thinking back to those medical experiments on children conducted in concentration camps, and how this ban had to be constructed bearing in mind ethical guidelines from the Nuremberg Code.

Also, of course, there have to be observational studies of places and situations in which pesticides may be causing problems to see whether they can be safely used around human beings.

But as California Sen. Barbara Boxer (yeah, a liberal weenie, I know, and just all misty over those throwaway-type kids) said, "The fact that (we would allow) pesticide testing of any kind on the most vulnerable, including abused and neglected children, is simply astonishing."

And you know, it kind of is.

That 50 years later, we have to structure our ethical codes for testing farm and household pesticides In our own country on our own citizens to make sure our own humane scientific procedures do not violate any of the standards established as inhumane by the practices of psycho war criminals is a little astonishing, too.

It's a lot astonishing.

Makes you want to bring a camcorder and film some tests.

Jacquelyn Mitchard's new novel "Cage of Stars" is available now in bookstores. She welcomes readers' responses sent in care of this newspaper or to Tribune Media Services Inc., 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY. 14207. E-mail responses may be sent to tmseditors@tribune.com or visit her Web site at http://www.jackiemitchard.com.