DC, September 15, 2003: The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) is failing to adequately protect
children from dangerous pesticides, according to two
lawsuits filed today in federal district court in New
One lawsuit was filed by a coalition of environmental,
public health and farm worker organizations, and the
other by four states - New York, New Jersey, Connecticut
Both lawsuits say the EPA is violating the 1996 Food
Quality Protection Act, a bipartisan law passed unanimously
by Congress requiring the agency to protect the health
of infants and children.
The lawsuits ask the court to force the EPA to comply
with the Food Quality Protection Act's key provision
that requires the agency to protect infants and children
10 times more stringently than adults, unless it can
show that children do not have special sensitivities
"The EPA is ignoring the threat toxic pesticides
pose to children who work on farms and other children
who live nearby," said Aaron Colangelo, an attorney
with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
In 1998 NRDC and more than 60 other organizations petitioned
the EPA in 1998 to address the risks pesticides pose
to farm children, but the agency never responded to
"The EPA also illegally bases some of its most
important pesticide safety decisions on a secret, industry-funded
computer program that it refuses to reveal to the public,"
Colangelo said. "This is an unacceptable violation
of the law and the public trust."
Congress inserted the stricter provisions to protect
infants and children into the Food Quality Protection
Act on the recommendation of the National Academy of
Sciences, which found that infants and children are
more susceptible and more exposed to many toxic pesticides
A year ago, the EPA's independent scientific review
panel on pesticides found that the agency erred by failing
to apply the tenfold safety factor when reviewing the
cumulative risks of organophosphate insecticides, which
are among the most dangerous pesticides on the market.
"Protecting children from the risks of eating
food containing harmful pesticides is an essential function
of government," said New York Attorney General