Letters To The Editor


September 20, 2005

EPA rules will not allow pesticide testing on children

The Sun's article "Exceptions in new EPA rules would allow testing pesticides on children" (Sept. 14) seriously misleads the public regarding a complex issue that is important to anyone who cares about public health protection for all people of all ages.

In fact, the proposed rules would ban the Environmental Protection Agency from conducting or supporting any intentional dosing study of pregnant women or children with pesticides or any other environmental substances.

All children are included in this ban, regardless of their living circumstances.

To write that the EPA would single out some children as less deserving of health protection, including those less fortunate, is outrageous and only serves as a sensational sound bite that misinforms the public.

Moreover, the proposed rules would ban any person or entity who intends to submit his or her research to EPA under the pesticide laws from conducting any intentional dosing studies with pregnant women or children. Again, all children are included.

Indeed, the proposed rules also include further protections for other types of research that do not involve "intentional dosing."

For example, observational studies of children's daily activity patterns - e.g., how frequently they put their hands in their mouths - can provide critical data that add to understanding of childhood exposure patterns and might ultimately lead to better protection for children.

For such studies, EPA wants to provide even further protections by requiring such things as informed consent by parents or guardians so that all children are protected.

We expect and need vigorous debate of our proposal. But the debate must be based on the facts, not misrepresentations.

James J. Jones, Washington

The writer is director of the Office of Pesticide Programs for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Astonished by cost of UM education

I was astonished to read in Michael Olesker's column that it now costs $19,633 per year for a student to attend the University of Maryland ("Steele report ignores the racial divide in Md. schools," Sept. 16).

When I arrived in College Park in the fall of 1986, my semester tuition bill was $800 and my room and board were each about $800, for a total cost of about $5,000 a year.

My parents paid half the bill and I made up the other half with summer work.

I realize that this was nearly 20 years ago, but I don't think costs at UM have risen so dramatically as to warrant such massive tuition hikes.

The university's mission used to be to provide the children of working-class Maryland families an affordable, high-quality college education.

I really feel sorry for the kids today, both black and white.

D. R. Longway


Go back to basics for real reform

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele is pushing for education reform. I say let's go back and revisit the old Baltimore and Maryland school systems ("Steele pushes market-style schools changes," Sept. 15).

I grew up in Baltimore when it had one of the finest school systems in the nation. Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, City College, Eastern High School and Mergenthaler High School were all model schools.

What was the difference? Among other things, education was a partnership between home and school.

But more than that, when I was growing up, teachers were not continually overwhelmed with paperwork and questionable "new and better" methods of teaching.

Going back to the basics might sound simplistic, but it worked in the past.

Why not give it a shot now?

Paula Baranowski

Havre de Grace

Invest in schools, not a new hotel

Two stories in The Sun last week really brought home some of our major problems in Baltimore. Friday's front-page article "City school system examines its space" (Sept. 16) shows the dilapidation of the city school system. Meanwhile, an article Thursday on the convention center hotel mentions some concerns the state has about the project ("Colo. firm replaces Whiting-Turner as contractor for hotel," Sept. 15).

To state the blaringly obvious: If private hotel chains are unwilling to build a hotel on their own, it is probably not a money-making proposition.

Perhaps the city should spend its millions on its students, and thus guarantee improvements for the city, rather than throwing money away on a possibility.

Eric S. Hanson

Owings Mills

Trade isn't cure for world poverty

President Bush speaks at the United Nations, saying poverty breeds terrorism and despair. For once I agree with him. But to say that the competition of the so-called free market is the remedy is a lie ("Bush urges end to trade barriers at U.N.," Sept. 15).

Worldwide poverty has dramatically increased in the past 25 years because of the removal of community and national protections against unfair competition.

The so-called free market is only free for the transnational corporations to dominate and control natural and human resources for their narrow interests.

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