|Posted January 5, 2005:
The Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut and Massachusetts
today filed a petition urging the federal Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) to take stronger action to protect children from the
health risks of eating food with excessive pesticide residues.
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."
||Examples of food on which the pesticide is
||corn, soybean, peanuts
||bananas, broccoli, carrots, corn, peaches, peanuts,
potatoes, soybeans, squash, tomatoes
||apples, beans, broccoli, corn, grapes, oats, oranges,
peaches, peanuts, pears, soybeans, tomatoes, wheat
||carrots, potatoes, soybeans, sugar cane, tomatoes,
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said: "Government
has no greater duty than to safeguard the health and safety of its
children. It's time for the federal government to step up, do the
right thing, and honor that duty."
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said: "The
EPA's failure to protect children from poisonous pesticides is unconscionable
and unlawful. It makes everyday foods potential poison traps. Pesticides
kill pests because they disrupt and destroy vital life systems -
and can have the same toxic effects on children if their residues
remain on food. I hope that the EPA will act swiftly on this petition,
as our children's health depends on it."
Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said: "Protecting
our children is first and foremost - we must do everything we can
to keep dangerous chemicals out of the food they eat. This petition
provides EPA with an important opportunity to undo a wrong and protect
the health and well being of our most valuable asset, our children."
Dr. Philip Landrigan, Director of the Center for Children's Health
and the Environment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine said: "As
a pediatrician who chaired the National Academy of Sciences Committee
on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, I am distressed
that the EPA is not following our committee's clear recommendation
to presume that children are uniquely vulnerable to pesticides.
When no studies of the developmental toxicity of a pesticide have
been undertaken, EPA should automatically incorporate a child-protective
safety factor into risk assessment. Too often, EPA has failed to
take that critical step."
Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides said: "In
adopting amendments to federal pesticide law, Congress intended
to address a dramatic and documented deficiency in the protection
of children from toxic chemical exposure, and EPA has simply not
met its statutory duty. I applaud the Attorneys General for pursuing
this critically important kids health issue."
Today's action by the Attorneys General asserts that the EPA has
failed to comply with its Congressional mandate by not applying
the stricter pesticide residue standards that accommodate the heightened
sensitivity of children. The petition challenges regulatory decisions
made by EPA on five pesticides that are widely used on food consumed
by children. The pesticides that are the subject of this petition
are: alachlor, chlorothalonil, methomyl, metribuzin and thiodicarb.
These same pesticides were the subject of a federal lawsuit filed
by a coalition of AttorneysGeneral 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. Today, the coalition of Attorneys General is filing
In 1993 the National Academy of Sciences determined that infants
and children are more susceptible to harm from pesticide residue
on food because their bodies - - particularly their nervous systems
- - are still developing.
In 1996, Congress unanimously passed the Food Quality Protection
Act (FQPA) which directed EPA to set standards for pesticide residues
on food that take into account children's special sensitivity to
pesticides. Previously, EPA determined how much pesticide residue
was allowed to remain on food based solely on the health risks posed
to adults. The FQPA directed the EPA to set pesticide residue standards
ten times more stringent than those considered acceptable for adults.
This tougher standard can be waived only when there are reliable
data demonstrating that a less stringent standard is still safe
The petition is being handled by New York Assistant Attorney General
Karen Kaufmann, Assistant Attorney General David Munro and Chief
Scientist Judith Schreiber; California Deputy Attorney General Claudia
Polsky; Connecticut Assistant Attorney General Matthew Levine; and
Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg.