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E-M:/ Pesticide Apologist Articles in the Popular Press- Is MSU poisoningthe Facts?

Is MSU poisoning the Facts?
Praxis would like to quote this pesticide apologist article (one of hundreds) published Monday, June 19, 2000 Detroit News and offer a rebuttal based on our long standing concerns and careful examination of this issue. Having trusted public employees suggesting that not using a pesticidal toxin poses significant risk is non-factual, tantamount to a lie, and implies safer alternatives do not exist. However listed below are the following known negative health effects to children and adults when this EPA registered toxin when it is used in their homes, our schools, our workplaces and on our food crops. Simultaneously it has been our daily experience that they are working in a dedicated fashion to repress safer, more affordable natural non-pesticide solutions.  It has been our experience that the university and its Extension service and MDA has used its position of public trust to misrepresent EPA labeled pesticide products risk information.  MSU/MSU Extension Employees often uses ambiguous authority to discourage and disparage safer biological control alternatives in general ('do not work', 'untested', 'more harm to the environment that pesticide use', etc.) and the ones provided by Praxis in particular.  Having a public Land Grant University attack a federal agency for doing its job simply to expand markets and increase shareholder profits for trans-national corporations that manufacture chemical pesticide is unacceptable.

Is this pesticide apologist behavior university policy?
This apologist behavior regarding pesticide risk appears, based on our own experience, to be standard university policy and bears careful examination by every member of  society, parents and our elected officials in particular. To Quote the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, "children and women are more sensitive to pesticide exposure then men". In the standard reference book "Basic Guide to Pesticides, Their Characteristics and Hazards" by Shirley A. Briggs ISBN 1-56032-253-5 on page 213 the know risks of the Chlorpyrifos are described as follows-Class of Pesticide: Organophosphate specific compound: Chlorpyrifos trade name Dursban.
Mode of Action: Acetocholinesterase inhibitor, damaging nerve function. Immediate effects: Behavioral disturbances, un-coordination, muscle twitching, headaches, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, irritability, loss of memory, sleep pattern change, restlessness, weakness, tremor, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, sweating, salivation, tearing, excessive nasal discharge, blurred vision, constriction of the pupil, slowed heartbeat, confusion, incontinence, and hypertension.
Long term effects: Delayed neurotoxicity, recovery is rarely complete in adults; with the passage of time the clinical picture changes from flaccid to epastic type paralysis, some (effects) are cumulative, persistent anorexia, weakness, malaise, nerve damage via the destruction of the myelin sheath, around nerve fibers, carcinogens, sterility and impotence, mutagens, fetotoxin , hormonal inhibition, eye damage, suspect mutagen, suspect carcinogen, embryotoxins, suspect teratogens, immunotoxins, indication of bone marrow damage and aplastic anemia, kills white blood cells, sperm and other reproductive abnormalities, suspect viral enhancers, ulcers, abnormal brain waves, reduced protein synthesis in fetus, liver damage, kidney damage, suppressed antibody reproduction, decrease auditory attention, visual memory, problem solving balance and dexterity.
Environmental effects: Responsible for the deaths of large numbers of birds on turf and in agriculture, affects breeding success in birds, embryotoxin in birds, can change feeding habits in birds.

Testing of pesticides on human subjects is unacceptable, immoral and violates international treaties on human experimentation, it is deeply disturbing that this topic has been broached by any US scientist.
Why is it even being brought up in this apologist article in defense of this pesticide that was often recommended for use in Michigan's homes and schools for decades before it was banned.  Regarding the disturbing comment in the article : "Meanwhile, the EPA disregarded human studies proving Dursban’s safety".  The so called “studies” merle identify that some unfortunate human subjects survived exposure, this did not proved the subject was not harmed at levels that were less than lethal and this certainly would not allow any reasonable person to make safety claims.  Praxis would like to point out that the EPA prohibits "human studies" that use experimental models where human subjects, usually colleges students and the poor are paid to consume, inhale, or be injected with doses of to EPA registered pesticides.  This is not legal and would violate international treaties on human experimentation. This vile, repugnant, proposal violates the fundamental core concepts of a civil society, the United States is a signatory of the international agreement regarding human experimentation developed after the trails at Nuremberg.  Nazi scientist that conducted human experimentation were considered war criminals and imprisoned or hung for doing precisely what has been proposed in this article- test human beings with a substance that is a biocide and has no reasonable expectation of benefit simply to get around laws designed to protect the public expressly to increase corporate profits.  Ironically a pesticide, Zyclon B, made by the IG Farben company now operating as AG Bayer was the product used to kill millions of jews, gypsies and others in the Nazi death camps of World War II.

Using any substance that has so many known risks even in very small doses and other largely unknown levels of risk when synergism between this substance and all the other minute traces we exposed to in our food and living environment take place everyday. On a cellular level this daily exposure usually takes place without our awareness and definitely without our permission. This makes us question the role of land grant universities acting as apologists, promoters and sales representatives for the pesticide industry in its extension bulletins and when the public contacts extension agents for advice.  Why do publicly funded land grant universities like MSU work in a dedicated fashion to keep to Quote Michigan State University Toxicologist J.I. Goodman, "needlessly exposing children - particularly poor children - to increased risk.".(by not using Dursban in their home and school living environment)  This is precisely what is being accomplished by default when MSU, MSU Extension, and Michigan Department of Agriculture do not bring all pest management options to the table in a fair and unbiased fashion.  They end up promoting endorsing and acting like sales and marketing agents for pesticides and genetically engineered food.  This is not in the best interest of the common good. It also flies in the face of the publics clearly enunciated interest in pesticide use reduction, indoor air quality, non-point pollution and the federally mandated FQPA.  We feel very strongly that option like biological control is a grossly underutilized sustainable natural resource that is being aggressively overtly and covertly repressed by the status quo in Michigan and elsewhere.  Michigan residents need to be able to chose from a broad pallet of all available options.  We sincerely believe if people are allowed to vote with their pocketbook, without having their information filtered by a 'scientific and technological elite that they will make decisions that pose less risk to themselves and collateral damage to the environment.

It is interesting to note the company that makes Dursban was forced to pay the largest civil penalty ever given a US company till that time, to the US EPA for failing to report known cases of human injury linked to the use of this product for hiding this information from regulators for more than a decade while it continued to market it here in the State of Michigan.  It has now been banned for most uses but existing stocks on hand, (there were deep, deep, discount sales just before this product was withdrawn) so pesticide applicators may continue to use this product in Michigan for many years to come.  I for one am not comforted by this fact.


Samuel M. DeFazio
2723 116th Ave
Allegan, MI  49010      616-673-2793

Published Monday, June 19, 2000 Detroit News

"EPA: Poisoning the Truth?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned the most popular household
pesticide and curtailed its agricultural use . But the agency grossly misconstrued
scientific data to justify its action, and this regulatory abuse warrants a congressional
The pesticide, chlorpyrifos, has been on the market some 30 years as an active
ingredient in more than 800 products approved in 88 countries. Retailers will be allowed
to sell shelf stock through 2001, but production for household applications in the United
States will be halted by year’s end.
EPA Administrator Carol Browner claims that hundreds of children have been
poisoned by chlorpyrifos, which also is known by its trade name Dursban. And the agency
only acted, she insists, after “the most extensive scientific review of the potential hazards
from a pesticide ever conducted.”
But Dr. Alan Hoberman, the principal researcher whose data Ms. Browner cites, told
us he disputes the agency’s interpretation of his findings. Meanwhile, the EPA disregarded
human studies proving Dursban’s safety in favor of more dubious animal testing. And
poison-control authorities are simply baffled by Ms. Browner’s assertion that pesticide
poisoning is widespread.
Dr. William Robertson, who has headed the Washington Poison Center for 30 years,
says the EPA’s action will actually expose children to greater health hazards. Insect-bite
allergies as well as asthma induced by cockroach allergens outnumber pesticide poisonings
by 100-1.
Hardest hit will be lower-income families in cities like Detroit, who can ill afford a
weekly house call from the Orkin man. Yet that is precisely what the EPA is
recommending as a substitute for a couple squirts from a can of bug spray.
Dursban was reassessed by the EPA under the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act,
which requires the agency to evaluate the effects of pesticides on children specifically.
Based on a study of rats fed doses of Dursban 500 times greater than a typical human
exposure (the equivalent of spraying every three minutes ‘round the clock indefinitely), the
agency concluded that the application currently allowed does not provide an adequate
margin of safety for children. But the dose the agency deemed safe — 1,000 times less
than the level where no health effect is observed — renders Dursban ineffective, thereby
constituting a ban.
Extrapolating from animal testing always is suspect. But in this case, many experts say
the agency has blatantly misinterpreted the data. A myriad of factors could be responsible
for the single change observed in the rats’ brain tissue, and many researchers are
convinced that Dursban was not the culprit. Indeed, the 5-percent thinning of cortex tissue
easily falls within the margin of measurement error. And despite the thinner tissue, the
affected rats displayed no functional disability.
Researchers by the dozens are thus deeply troubled. Says Michigan State University
toxicologist J.I. Goodman: “EPA has gone to great lengths to present a highly
conservative, worst case, hypothetical risk based in large part on dubious extrapolations
... and exaggerated risk estimates.”
Given the widespread questioning of the EPA’s methods in instituting this ban,
Congress ought to hold hearings to make the agency accountable for its decision. Insect
infestation carries its own health hazards, and with this ruling the EPA may well be
needlessly exposing children — particularly poor children — to increased risk. "
The Issue
Should the EPA ban a popular insecticide on the basis of questionable scientific evidence?
Copyright 2000, The Detroit News
We welcome your comments. E-mail us at letters@detnews.com <mailto:letters@detnews.com> "

Perhaps Congress should hold hearings to have MSU/MSUE and all other publicly funded institutions and agencies accountable for these pesticide industry apologist efforts and get an explanation for all the time and money that goes into the service of its corporate clients.  This is especially true where a clear conflicts of interest exists with the interests of the public in regards to pesticide use reduction.