Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on June 29, 1993 · Page 12
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 12

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Ukiah, California
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Tuesday, June 29, 1993
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Page 12
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12 —TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 1993 THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL- • •• I ^J L» Vi/ *mf 9 "\ I ) W V^ I ^ •*• t. \f I 1 ** W*^ » • • "• *^ •«..»•• . —— Government's pesticide approach puts children at risk, panel claims WASHINGTON (AP) — A National Academy of Sciences panel Monday attacked the government's "one-size-fits-all approach" to pesticide risk, saying it fails to protect children who are more sensitive to some chemicals found on fruits and vegetables. In its report, the panel cited "a potential concern" that some children may be ingesting unsafe amounts of pest-controlling chemicals. However, the scientists said not enough is known about that risk to recommend any alteration in consumer habits. They declined even to tout the consumption of organic produce over that grown with synthetic pesticides. "The child's world is filled with risk — the infections they get, the medications they get, their rides in automobiles, their rides on bicycles ... that parents must fret with and deal with every day," said Richard Jackson, a University of California professor who served on the panel. "We are not in a position to tell individual parents to change how they go about their life," he said at a news conference. Instead, the panel recommended that the government improve the way it calculates pesticide risks to include the difference between children and adults and collect more detailed data on the amount of food children eat. "The government's current regulatory program takes a one-size- fits-all approach even though children differ substantially from adults, not only in size but also in metabolism and in what they eat," said committee Chairman Philip Landrigan, a professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Asked why parents shouldn't switch to organically grown produce, Donald Mattison, committee vice-chairman and University of Pittsburgh graduate school dean, said, "We're identifying what we think are potential risks to health... we could not find any data that demonstrated adverse health effects" from pesticide residues. Panel member James Bruckner of the University of Georgia said that in some cases children are more resistant to certain pesticides because of their differences from adults, and in some cases they are less resistant than adults. While detailing the perils of pesticides, the panel encouraged families to have their children eat fruits and vegetables. "It seems internally inconsistent, I know," Donald Mattison, dean of the graduate school of public health at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a telephone interview. But "many members of the panel believe washing and peeling fruits and vegetables will go a long way toward reducing risk," said Mattison, vice chairman of the panel. "We know the benefits of fruits and vegetables in children's diets, and there's a gut sense that the risks are probably of a smaller magnitude," Mattison added. The 386-page document says the prevailing method of estimating pesticide risk is based on a single number representing average exposure of an entire population. But that doesn't take into account the fact that infants and children eat fewer foods, consuming much more of certain foods per unit of body weight. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates pesticide levels by balancing agricultural benefits with health risks. And on Friday the EPA responded to the report — joining with the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration in calling for a reduction in the use of pesticides on fruit and vegetables. Although the government has long established tolerance levels for pesticide residues on food, the Clinton administration's response Friday marked the first time the government has said farmers should cut the use of chemicals. The National Agricultural Chemicals Association promised to "work with everyone to further strengthen the food safety system." The Grocery Manufacturers Association "endorses the Academy's call for more testing of chemicals and for the gathering of more dietary and residue data on foods consumed by young children," GMA President C. Manly Molpus said in a statement. The group lobbies for 130 companies. And the study "points to serious problems in our food safety regulations, but we need action, not alarm," said Wendy Gordon, cofounder of Mothers & Others For A Liveable Planet. "It's up to the government to give farmers the support they need to get off the pesticide treadmill." Food safety plan calls for cutback on pesticide use WASHINGTON (AP) — Farmers for the first time will be forced to cut back on pesticide use on fruits and vegetables under a Clinton administration plan to take the fear out of eating right. Anticipating a pair of reports on the amount of pesticides found in the foods eaten by children, the administration Friday announced a "commitment to reducing the use of pesticides and to promote sustainable agriculture." Although the government has long established tolerance levels for pesticide residues on food, Friday's announcement was the first time it has said farmers should cut the use of chemicals. But the announcement also said children and adults alike should keep eating fruits and vegetables "that form a vital part of a balanced, healthy diet, especially for children." "We stand behind the safety of our food supply and will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to maintain that safety based on the best available science," the announcement said. The announcement came from the Agriculture Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration, agencies that often have been at odds. "We will work side by side with American farmers to help test and implement improved and safer methods of pest management already used by many farmers," the statement said. The food industry praised the announcement for its assertion that the food supply is already safe. Farm groups praised the administration for making sure that agriculture's concerns get heard. Consumer and environmental groups said the statement recognizes that more needs to be done about pesticide residues. The announcement was timed to precede this week's report by the National Academy of Sciences on pesticides and children. They said the study says that children are at greater risk from pesticides than adults and that the government should take that into account when setting safety standards. A study by the private Environmental Working Group, using FDA and private laboratory data, said American children by age 5 accumulate between 25 percent and 35 percent of their lifetime risk — as set by the government—from several carcinogenic pesticides. However, the group said the risk from the pesticides did not outweigh the value of eating fruits and vegetables. "From our standpoint, the statement does outline the issues very responsibly and it should be reassuring to agriculture that the administration does understand all the various components of the issue," said Don Lipton, spokesman for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Farmers share the goal of lower pesticide, use, he said. "The question is: How do you get there and how do you pay for it?" The high cost of pesticides and public worries about their use have already caused many farmers to cut back. The Agriculture Department, as part of the effort plans to step up research and development of alternatives that farmers can use to replace high-risk pesticides. Much of the effort will be directed toward integrated pest management, which covers an array of methods. Among those are careful monitoring to ensure chemicals are used only when there are enough bugs or worms to cause a problem, crop rotation, the use of natural enemies to fight pests and careful planting to avoid the times when pests thrive. Sustainable agriculture refers to a range of practices from organic farming to methods of planting that disturb the soil as little as possible, preventing pesticide runoff. The EPA will consider canceling pesticides from approved use as alternative pest-control methods are developed, said Ann Hardison, special assistant to EPA Administrator Carol Browner. AIDS panel wraps up work, still pessimistic on epidemic WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Commission on AIDS ended its work Monday on the same note it hit when it started four years ago: The country is doing a terrible job of dealing with the epidemic. More people will be infected, more will die, a cure is "difficult to imagine" and a vaccine for general use in humans is at least five to 10 years away, the commission said in its final report. "This is a short, sometimes angry report tinged with sadness and foreboding," said an introduc- ition 4O) the; report f-by.v'DriMJune Osborn, me commission's chairman, and Dr. David Rogers, the vice chairman. "The human immunodeficiency virus has profoundly changed life on our planet," they wrote. "America has not done well in acknowledging this fact or in mobilizing its vast resources to address it appropriately." The commission, which started its work in 1989 and consisted of both Democrats and Republicans, often criticized the Bush administration for not doing enough about the epidemic and for being squeamish about discussing subjects such as homosexual sex. But in this final report, the commission said, "New hope surged with the election of President Clinton." The administration has proposed a 1994 budget that includes $2.7 billion for AIDS research, treatment and prevention, a 28 percent increase over this year's spending. Nevertheless, the report said that while Clinton was sympathetic to the cause and had promised much, he had yet to deliver. Members of the commission were ready to be openly critical of the president for failure to act But after his appointment last Friday of Kristine Gebbie as the government's AIDS policy coordinator, they were planning to temper their remarks. "We're pleased that the Clinton administration has finally started its engine on AIDS," Rogers said in W^eparate statement accompanying „ the report An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the timing of Gebbie's appointment and the release of the report was a coincidence. The commission, which issued 14 reports in the past and many recommendations, has boiled its message down to two points, calling on leaders to speak frankly about AIDS and to develop a "clear, well-articulated national plan" for dealing with the disease. "What should be done is not complicated," the report said. "But it requires leadership, a plan, and the national resolve to implement it" As of March 31, acquired immune deficiency syndrome had been diagnosed in 289,320 Americans, of whom 63 percent, or 182,275, have died since June 1, 1981, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite ethics rules, lawyer's old firm gets RTC business WASHINGTON (AP) — A New York law firm has reaped nearly $5 million in contracts with the Resolution Trust Corp. since one of its lawyers moved to the government agency as an associate general counsel, documents show. Ethics rules bar Sheila Cahill or her subordinates from dealing with her former law firm for two years. Despite those rules, Cahill or her two top aides approved contracts worth almost $4.5 million for Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft after she joined the RTC in February 1992, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Those contracts make Cadwalader one of the RTC's top outside contractors. Before Cahill's move to the savings and loan regulatory agency, Cadwalader had received just $286,000 for tax work with the RTC, invoices show. Colleagues in the counsel's office protested from the start that Cahill's office of asset disposition was overseeing business to her old firm, documents show. One memo warned of "a potentially serious ethical issue" if a $3.5 million no- bid contract was awarded to Cadwalader. An inspector general's report late last year concluded there was an appearance of a conflict of interest that warranted further review, but the S&L cleanup agency has yet to resolve the issue. RTC rules provide a full list of punishments for conflicts of interest, ranging from a verbal warning to suspension or dismissal. Cahill did not return four calls to her office seeking comment. Treasury Department spokeswoman Joan Logue-Kinder said the allegations "are being looked at through the appropriate channels." As the internal controversy escalated, Cahill sent a memo to agency officials on July 23,1992, recusing herself from overseeing her former firm's work in favor of a subordinate selected by the RTC general counsel's office. She also indicated she was seeking a waiver of the agency ethics rules and expected her recusal would be only temporary. The waiver was never approved. Less than two months after announcing her recusal, Cahill approved a Sept. 8, 1992, invoice! for $50,219 to Cadwalader. The! rest of the invoices list two attorneys who work directly for Cahill, Hu Benton and Maureen Bolton, as approving payments to the firm. RTC ethics guidelines also stipulate that "Delegating authority to subordinate staff to act for you in these instances is inappropriate and must be avoided" "It sounds like an open-and-shut violation of rules," said Bob Litan, a Blockings Institution scholar who serves on a congressional panel studying the S&L crisis. ^Obviously it smells bad." ^"» • 1*^ Give us a piece of your mind. We might even print it in the newspaper. Beginning in July, the Ukiah Daily Journal will feature a new column - Sound Off. All you have to do is pickup the phone and call us, leave a message of any length on any topic, and we may publish it on our weekly Sound Off column. You do not have to give your name or address — all we ask is that you keep your comments in good taste and to the point. So if there's something that's been on your mind lately, give us a call and share it with the readers of the Ukiah Daily Journal. Sound Off by calling now! 468-3540 24 hour a day - 7 days a week Watch for this new feature column Beginning in July in the W Ukiah Daily 'ournal

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