Is The EPA Killing Our Children?

By Bill Spencer
Copyright 1999 The Packer
November 15, 1999

Two decades ago, the infamous mass murderer John Wayne Gacy leered at children behind the grease-painted smile of a jolly clown. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency wears the guise of a compassionate caretaker while advocating food safety regulations that will kill up to 1,000 young boys and girls each and every year.

Digging through new university evidence uncovers an inherent evil buried in the crawlspace of EPA's Food Quality Protection Act regulations. Carol Martha Browner must be in denial of the fact that as EPA Administrator her agency's new rules will kill children, put hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work, make the vocation of "American farmer" a mere memory of this millennium, and bolster the import of foreign food grown with pesticides illegal to use in the United States.

According to a comprehensive risk-assessment study conducted by Harvard University, the EPA's ban on just two classes of effective pesticides will cause up to 1,000 premature deaths each year due to decreases in disposable income and increases in the price of food. The less money people have available to spend and the more money people have to spend on food, the less healthy food they and their children eat and the earlier they die. It's just as simple as that. Amazingly, the two classes of crop protection products that EPA targeted first - organophosphates and carbamates - are perhaps the most essential to farmers who grow fruits and vegetables. What nutrition expert or health organization doesn't agree we should all be eating more of those very foods ?

Harvard concluded that dietary changes caused just by this initial EPA ban would decrease the consumption of many nutrients known to fight disease and promote health - a reality further exacerbated for disadvantaged minority groups as well as families at or below the poverty level. In spite of Harvard concluding that it is impossible to link consumer exposure to those pesticides to any actual harm, EPA has opted to promote premature death through regulatory fiat rather than fighting cancer through healthy diet.

Harvard also concluded that EPA has failed to evaluate other potentially dangerous countervailing risks such as adverse changes in the control of disease vectors and pests affecting public health. Overall, Harvard said that any benefit that might come from preventing farmers and others from using those crop protection and public health products would be more than offset by risks caused by their ban.

The esteemed university is not alone in it's skepticism. Earlier this year, researchers from Texas A & M University, Auburn University, and eight other major universities collaborated on a study that pointed out the FQPA folly. Among those findings was conclusive evidence that the EPA's actions would dramatically increase the import of foreign-grown apples, potatoes, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables. America's farmers would be hit hard since foreign farmers could produce these crops with the same pesticides banned here. Due to the fact that traces of the banned pesticides are largely undetectable and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration typically inspects only seven-tenths of one percent of all imported food, foreign farmers would be laughing all the way to the bank. More importantly, American consumers would be shelling out more money for foods that are actually less safe due to the added fact that older dangerous pesticides long ago banned for use in the United States are still being used overseas.

For the sake of our own sanity, Americans must conclude that EPA officials simply lack the intellect to understand the tragic effects of their actions. Even when that benefit of doubt is extended, however, intent is the only thing separating EPA actions from the dubious deeds of a madman. While not murder out of malice, the end result of EPA's FQPA regulations will be just as maleficent and gruesome and deserving of formal, legal accountability.

After serving on a now-abandoned advisory committee created by the Vice-President that offered Americans their only hope of infusing some degree of rational oversight to the FQPA rules process, I find it my duty as an American to air these concerns. During that process, EPA officials were too eager to serve as bobbing-head dolls when emotional and unscientific views were presented on the perceived evils of crop protection tools. They were too fervent in efforts to downplay the possible impacts their actions would have on America's food production system. Now, as they proceed lock-step with their extremist allies, it appears they also are too zealous to consider the impact on America's farmers and the actual lives of America's children. From an inside view, it was easy to see that EPA relied too much on incomplete science, grossly inflated use rates, incomplete data, and a risk- assessment method devoid of any consideration for overall nutrition or the resulting health impact of imported food.

The only hope now to fix this mess is to contact the Vice-President and your members of Congress. Tell them about the children. Tell them about the soon-to-be jobless workers. Tell them about the coming Depression caused by skyrocketing food prices. Tell them about the poor farmers across America that will have to find new professions. Tell them about the impending wave of tainted imported food. Tell them about our inability to prevent the invasion of asthma causing cockroaches and encephalitis infected mosquitos. Urge your members of Congress to bring H.R. 1592 and S. 1464 to a quick vote to force EPA to implement the FQPA as Congress intended.

This improper implementation of the FQPA is mass murder in disguise. The clock is ticking. But there's still time to unmask this monster and its EPA accomplices before the body count begins to pile up. Do it for the children.

Bill Spencer is a fourth generation citrus grower in Yuma, Arizona. He is also the President, Chief Operating Officer, and Sales Manager of Associated Citrus Packers, Inc., a family owned business and the largest independent citrus growing, packing, and marketing operation in Arizona with gross annual sales of 20 million dollars. A 1972 graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Agricultural Economics, Bill is also a member of the IR-4 Commodity Liaison Committee, the Arizona Department of Agriculture's Citrus, Fruit, and Vegetable Standardization Advisory Council, and USDA Federal-State Inspection Service Ad Hoc Advisory Committee. As a long time member and 1998 Chairman of American Farm Bureau Federation's Citrus Advisory Committee and member of AFBF's FQPA Advisory Committee, Bill's name was offered by AFBF President Dean Kleckner for a seat on the 56 person Federal Advisory Committee in Washington, D.C. formed by Vice President Albert Gore to advise USDA and EPA on the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and EPA Administrator Carol Browner jointly appointed Bill to the Tolerance Reassessment Advisory Committee (TRAC) to the FQPA in May 1998. Bill may be reached at: Two West Sixth Street Yuma, AZ 85364 TEL: (520) 783-4491 FAX: (520) 783-6124 e-mail address:

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