By Professor J. Gordon Edwards
The NAS report that was released on 28 June 1993 did not dwell on any serious hazards posed by pesticides in U. S. foods, either for adults or children. Unfortunately, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released some untruthful statements implying that the NAS report (which had not yet been released) would warn that fruits and vegetables may be causing cancer in our children.
When the NAS report was released it did not call for banning pesticides, however the (environmental extremists had called for a phase out of many synthetic pesticides, saying that they are dangerous to children. The NRDC had erroneously stated that the NAS report would “confirm that children are uniquely vulnerable to pesticide residues in food,” and that “they are inadequately protected from those chemicals.” By making such statements, the NRDC was able to imply that the NAS supports their propaganda, when in reality, hardly any scientists do.
John Wargo, a spokesman for the NAS, who worked on the childhood pesticides panel for the NAS wrote a letter of complaint to the director of the NRDC stating “Your decision to pre-empt the NAS report is a clear violation of the ethics of the Academy in particular and scientific standards of behavior in general.”
An EPA consultant (Chris Wilkinson) who is a cancer researcher, commented on an NRDC report saying, “I hope it dies a quiet death, because it’s really a trashy sort of thing (and) I think a lot of the conclusions are scientifically flawed and frankly wrong.”
Regarding the NRDC’s claim that children are more susceptible to adverse effects of chemicals than adults, the director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (Dr. John Higginson) stated “I consider that the safety standards used in the past are satisfactory, and I don’t know on what evidence the committee felt they had been inadequate.”
Dr. Alice Ottoboni, in her book The Dose Makes the Poison, reported that pesticides such as DDT are much less toxic to young animals than to adults. If the critics of testing methods have specific scientific data proving otherwise, they should present the data for study by scientists.
Public health reports reveal that the presence of cancer in children has decreased, rather than increasing, during the years of widespread use of synthetic pesticides.
This trend is evident despite the use of more sensitive methods of cancer detection and the earlier and more widespread testing of potential cancer victims. §
Dr. J Gordon Edwards is a Professor of Biology at San Jose State University