Response to Television Show Depicting Illegal Pesticide Human Study
A Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode with a story line about pesticide testing aired on February 6. The story depicted "research" involving intentional dosing of uninformed individuals, who were harmed by their exposure to an unregistered pesticide. The show was filled with factual inaccuracies. The kind of testing depicted on the show violates multiple requirements in EPA’s regulations designed to protect all people from unethical research:
- The show alleged there were loopholes for “observational research” in EPA’s rules that would allow pesticide companies to conduct such a fictional study. The fictional study, however, clearly involved intentional dosing of children with pesticides (not observational research), and EPA rules categorically prohibit all intentional dosing studies with children, as well as with pregnant or nursing women.
- While such a study would never be allowed, the fictional chemical company went even further and lied about the research and did not tell the subjects they were being exposed to dangerous organophosphate pesticides.
- The study unnecessarily put the subjects’ health at serious risk – a risk that would never be tolerated under EPA rules, no matter how fully risks were disclosed.
In February 2006 EPA issued a tough new regulation governing human testing for pesticides by pesticide companies and other parties not affiliated with the government. Our rule put in place the nation’s strongest protections for subjects in third-party research, including:
- A prohibition against research involving intentional dosing of pregnant women, nursing women, or children;
- A prohibition against EPA relying on such testing in its decisions under the pesticide laws; and
- A requirement that all new intentional dosing human studies on non-pregnant, non-nursing adults be reviewed by EPA and a panel of independent experts for ethical and scientific acceptability.
For more information, see these Websites:
EPA’s Human Studies Web page;
The Common Rule, a set of existing requirements that govern the conduct of all human research performed by EPA and 18 other federal departments and agencies.