HumanExposures to Pesticide in Relation to Values and Ethics
Pesticidesare used in plants so that they would not be attacked or invaded byparasites like insects and other parasitic plants that stealnutrients or even kill the plan. In order to stop these organismsfrom negatively affecting our crops and plants, poisonous substancesmust be mixed as a form of pesticide that would and impede the growthof parasites. But what if these pesticides will be tested to humansin order to gauge if the intake of these substances will have harmfuleffects to our health? Should the society accept it for theadvancement and development of pesticides or should this practice bestopped because it is immoral and unethical to the people who havebeen used as test subjects? This paper will weigh the optionsregarding the exposure of humans to pesticide in relation to ethicsand values.
Sincethe United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accepted theuse of the result of human testing in pesticides in standardsettings, it sparked many issues most especially regarding policy andethical concerns (Robertson & Gorovitz 2000 Steinberg 2000).Issues raised regarding this topic include the nonexistence of themandatory ethical guidelines in researching which was conducted bythe manufacturers of pesticides after they submitted the results tothe EPA, the nonexistence of the methodology and procedures forlessening the harm to human test participants and for putting them toundefined and unreasonable risk, and the utilization of differentapproaches to make the participants and test subjects be educatedthat the results, setbacks and compensations may be worse or lessthan those specified by the Common Rule (Office of Science andTechnology Policy 1991). The test subjects should be educated firstbefore getting their consents.
Inorder to address the issues that were previously raised, the Centerfor Children’s Health with the help of the Environment of the MountSinai School of Medicine made a convention and a workshop on February27, 2002 entitled “Pesticide Testing in Humans: Ethics and Policy.” All participants in the workshop are recognized in a national levelas experts in the fields of children’s health, ethics, federalpolicy and toxicology. Participants were carefully evaluated based onthe established national reputations and extensive documents andrecords that are published. Different participants in this conventioncame from a wide range of samples including academic and industrialrepresentatives and representatives from non-profit advocacyorganizations that will represent different point of views. Anotherpurpose of this workshop was to come up with policy and ethicalrecommendations regarding the testing of pesticides to humans thatwill be supported by the different participants [ CITATION Ole04 l 13321 ].
Recommendationsby the participants include the establishment of the ethicalguidelines in the researches that it will be conducting so that therisk, the magnitude and the period of harms in human will beminimized. Medical ethics has a core tenet that studies should not beharmful to humans, unless that if the study will be directlybeneficial to the people who are the test subjects of the study. Thestudy that involves the exposure of humans to pesticide is clearlycontrary to the core tenet that they should uphold (Caplan and Sankar2002). It will never be acceptable for developing nations to commencea study that will involve humans if the harms and risks areconsidered as unacceptable in a nation that is industrially developed[ CITATION Ole04 l 13321 ].
Itis sad to know that there are companies who are funding this type oftesting and/or practice. The excuse of these companies is that theindustry has been using the data from humans for a long time nowbecause it is needed to cope up with the standards set in the 1996Food Quality Protection Act. Also, according to these companies,testing pesticides on humans can bring improvement and innovation toscience if the testing will follow the standards set by theDeclaration of Heliniski for Testing and Protection of Human Subjectsthat the participants or “test subjects” give out their consentsto continue with the testing on them. In addition to that, theyfollow the Declaration of Heleniski because also of the purpose thatit has been approved by various ethical boards (Wadman 1998).
Manufacturersof pesticides also argue that the human data is important for anequal and science-based control and regulation of the products. RayMcAllister who is an agronomist and a policy analyst said that thetesting of these pesticides to humans will provide very significantinformation regarding the reaction of humans if a very little amountof a compound will be exposed to them (Wadman 2005).
Weall know the harms and risks of being exposed to these pesticidesmight bring. That is why people are concerned about the ethicalissues of it. A study made by L S Engel, H Checkoway,M C Keifer, N SSeixas,W T Longstreth Jr, K C Scott, K Hudnell,W K Anger, and RCamicioli was made to see if there is a connection between theacquisition of Parkinson’s Disease on the prolonged exposure ofpeople to pesticide (). This study was made to show or to try toprove that it is not only the ethical concerns that we should bebothered through this
practicebut also the health concerns as well. According to their study, thereis a possibility of Parkinsonism to be connected and associated to along term exposure to pesticides. However, they failed to specifywhich pesticide can yield out the highest possibility of acquiringParkinsonism. Though there is no clear evidence of a disease to bethe cause of pesticides, there is still a possibility that stillneeds to be accounted for.
TheHouse of Representatives of the United States did a brilliant movewhen the members of the house voted to stop the experiments,researches and studies that purposefully make the human volunteers tobe exposed in pesticides. This has been a debate for seven years topeople who are pro and against the experiments that involve humandosing. Companies who pay for the testing of this experiment will beaffected but if it is for the welfare of the people, this step mustbe taken. Arguments were raised by companies that say the advantagesof this type of experiment like the determination of the safeexposure levels of certain pesticides to humans. One of therepresentatives of an industry group in Washington, D.C. Jay Vroomexpressed his reaction of disappointment to the House ofRepresentative’s banning of the practice because for him, thepolicy makers would block the usage of “essential” data which issafely done. The National Research Council or NRC’s panel chairwho is also an ethicist of the University of Virginia inCharlottesville James Childress said that the move of the governmentis good because there is a lot of NRC panels were concerned and hethought that the House amendment is done because of a number ofethically justifiable responses (Kaiser 2005).
Independentscientists supported the claims of some companies regarding the humantesting in order to get human data. They argued that the data can beused by the NEP. However, the NEP could only use the human data ifthey met the strict scientific and ethical standards. Contradictingthe beliefs of the independent scientists and pesticidemanufacturers, environmental groups like the Natural Defense Councilor NRDC are against the practice of testing pesticides to humans.NRDC said that the industry was just trying to conceal their truegoal in excuse of saying that they are doing human experiments forthe benefit of the public good but to keep these harmful products onthe market. Alan Lockwood of the University of Buffalo, New York whois pro human data also said that the studies regarding human dosingdid not succeed in meeting the widely accepted ethical standards inconducting researches. Lockwood also added that there is really noassurance if a study is completely free of risk or not (Wadman 2005).
Thisproblem is an example of an ethical dilemma that needs to beaddressed because it tackles two important points: the welfare of thepublic or the well-being of an individual. People will favour theside of what they think they value more. Since the values of peopleare relative, this debate will go on continuously for years and it isjust right for the government to mediate in order to come up with abest resolution that will meet both parties’ ends
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