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----- Original Message -----
From: Rane Curl
To: enviromich
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2001 5:43 PM

Enviro-Mich message from Rane Curl <ranecurl@engin.umich.edu>

On Sat, 19 May 2001, David Zaber wrote:

> I would ask which "very useful" chemical has been banned due only to a
> positive result in the Ames assay?
Dr. Curl wrote:

Here's what Environmental Working Group has to say about the so-called "Alar scare". 
"Prior to 1989, five separate, peer-reviewed studies of Alar and its chemical breakdown product, UDMH, had found a correlation between exposure to the chemicals and cancerous tumors in lab animals. In 1984 and again in 1987, the EPA classified Alar as a probable human carcinogen. In 1986, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged the EPA to ban it. Well before the 60 Minutes broadcast, public concern had already led six national grocery chains and nine major food processors to stop accepting apples treated with Alar. Washington State growers had pledged to voluntarily stop using it (although tests later revealed that many did not). Maine and Massachusetts had banned it outright."
"On Feb. 1, 1989, acting EPA Administrator John A. Moore, commenting on the preliminary results of Uniroyal's own study of Alar, stated: "There is an inescapable and direct correlation between exposure to UDMH and the development of life-threatening tumors in mice." EPA calculated the lifetime risk of cancer from Alar consumption at 45 in 1 million - 45 times the agency's "negligible" risk level."
"In 1993, a report by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) validated a central premise of the NRDC report: that infants and young children, who consume a lot of apples and apple products, are particularly susceptible to carcinogens in food. The chair of the NAS study, Dr. Philip Landrigan, said: "NRDC was absolutely on the right track when they excoriated the regulatory agencies for having allowed a toxic material to stay on the market for 25 years." Subsequent reports by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Public Health Service confirmed that Alar is carcinogenic."
See the entire report by EWG, entitled "Ten Years Later, Myth of 'Alar Scare' Persist:  How Chemical Industry Rewrote History of Banned Pesticide", for the story on Alar, industry funded organizations, and the media.
Here is what the Columbia Journalism Review had to say in October of 1996.
"The so-called Alar scare occurred more than seven years ago, but it is still very much in the news - mainly because food and chemical industry trade groups have made it their rallying cry as they lobby for "agricultural-disparagement" laws meant to blunt criticism of their products. The Alar affair also has become a favorite media symbol for a false alarm. Reporters and pundits repeatedly refer to it as a prime example of Chicken Little environmentalism and government regulation run amok."

 And they are wrong."  

"Like most media myths, this one includes a fact or two. There was indeed an overreaction to the 60 Minutes report, as viewers confused a long-term cumulative threat with imminent danger. But Alar is a potent carcinogen, and its risks far outweigh its benefits. After extensive review, the Environmental Protection Agency decided in late 1989 to ban it because "long-term exposure to Alar poses unacceptable risks to public health."                    

"Moreover, studies and reviews completed after the CBS story aired - including one by Uniroyal - confirmed the earlier ones the NRDC relied on, according to Jim Aidala, the EPA associate assistant administrator for pesticides. Alar, the trade name for daminozide, and its breakdown product during heating, UDMH, are animal and "probable human" carcinogens."

"Besides the scientific evidence, 60 Minutes has been repeatedly vindicated in the federal courts. On April 29, the Supreme Court upheld without comment an appeals court decision dismissing a $250-million class-action suit filed in 1990 against 60 Minutes by a group of Washington state apple growers, alleging the show falsely disparaged their product (Auvil v. CBS "60 Minutes"). In October 1995, the appeals court had held that "the growers have failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to the falsity of the broadcast." A year earlier the district court had dismissed the case for essentially the same reason."            

"The apple industry, meanwhile, rebounded quickly. In November 1990, The New York Times reported that "the industry overall has suffered little fallout." And the president of the International Apple Institute told the Times that "the loss of Alar is not a major catastrophe for growers."     URL: http://www.cjr.org/year/96/5/alar.asp

> As for the animal models, I'm not ready to wait till cancers (or other
> effects) show up in humans before steps are taken to reduce or
> eliminate human exposures if a chemical causes adverse impacts in
> animal models.

That is your choice, but is not the issue in contention, which is whether
the news release about the LFA report gave a fair and balanced assessment
of the question of whether pesticides cause cancer.
Ames himself has become very critical of animal model tests, because of a
large number of factors that come into play when large doses are employed
in such tests.
Read  what Rachel's Environmental Health Weekly says about Bruce Ames and about how risks are characterized.  http://www.rachel.org/search/index.cfm?St=1  Its interesting reading. 

> The bottom line here is that the Lymphoma study raises important
> questions about human exposures to pesticides.  Clearly, not all
> pesticides cause lymphoma, however.

We agree on that. But the material that was posted here about the LFA
report was anecdotal, sounded chosen to create concern where none may be
justified, did not identify the "panel of nationally recognized
scientists", and did not cite any contrary views.
I think folks who agree with Dr. Curl should take their concerns to the LFA. That way, the authors of the report and the press release can hear the complaints directly. 

In any case, I asserted nothing about any link between pesticides and
cancer, but only questioned the alarmist tone of the material presented.

The complete report "Do Pesticides Cause Lymphoma" is available at the
website http://www.lymphomahelp.org/docs/research/research_report.asp

I sampled this, and discovered that the "panel of nationally recognized
scientists" were only acknowledged as having made suggestions and
comments, but no claim was made that they in any way approved of the
contents of the report, and no comments from them were reported.

I also sampled the included extensive abstracts of papers that have been
published concerning links between pesticides and lymphoma, and found that
none were definitive, some found a *negative* correlation, and most
clearly did not consider all possible associated causes for effects

My conclusion is that the report is an advocacy document, not a scientific

--Rane L. Curl

P.S. I would like to state that I am very critical also of the similar,
but opposite, advocacy positions that have been taken by industrial
representatives. What is missing from both sides of many similar issues
are fundamental, repeated, well founded, scientific studies yielding
definitive conclusions.

I think this is a useful discussion on an important topic for Michigan. 
David Zaber