| Students: Dow's Chemical
How would YOU like to be a chemical
guinea pig for Dow? If you’re a student strapped for cash,
Dow will happily give you some pesticide to swallow.
In 1998, Dow recruited 60 college students in Nebraska through
an ad in the school newspaper urging them to "earn extra money".
After calling 402-474-PAYS and signing a seven-page consent form,
the students were given pills loaded with the active ingredient
in Raid roach spray, Dursban. Later the chemical - a nerve-gas derivative
- was found to cause neurological damage, and the EPA withdrew it
from household use in 1999. Dow AgroSciences paid the test subjects
This isn’t to say that Dow only considers
students as test subjects – that’s not true. The company
has also tested its chemicals on prisoners – in 1971, Dow
tested chlorpyrifos on inmates at the Clinton Correctional Facility
in New York, (1) and in 1965, Dow conducted
dioxin tests on inmates at the Holmesburg Prison in Pennsylvania.
(2) So students are in good company. In
fact, Dow has conducted at least five human studies with chemicals
since the 1970s (3) – students are
only the latest population that Dow has used to
test its poison.
At issue is the safety standard that the US Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) uses to protect us from pesticide exposure: a level
of harm is established for animals, and then that level, divided
by a safety factor of ten, becomes the standard that the EPA sets
for human exposure. That factor-of-ten cushion is a source of irritation
to the chemical companies that produce and market pesticides, including
Dow, and they've been pressing the EPA to recognize the results
of human testing - which seem likely to result in looser pesticide
standards. That could mean millions in added profits for the chemical
As the world’s largest chemical corporation, Dow stands to
profit handsomely if the EPA’s pesticide standards are gutted.
That’s why they paid students so lavishly – a
full $460 – to swallow their pesticide. Isn’t it
great to know that Dow thinks we’re good for something?
- top -
(1) Morris, Jim, “The Stuff in the Backyard
Shed,” US News and World Report, 8 November 1999,
available at www.getipm.com/newsletter/99-11.htm.
(2) Lester, Stephen, “Chemical Injuries: Industry’s
‘True Lies’ the Politics Behind the Scientific Debate
on Dioxin,” Everyone’s Backyard Vol. 13 No.
3, available at http://www.safe2use.com/pesticides/truelies.htm.
(3) Jeff Kart, "Scientific panel rules human
pesticide tests are ethical". The Saginaw News, February