Anti-pesticide activists exploit poor kids

By Steve Milloy

While it’s not surprising that children from the inner city and Latino farmworker communities might perform slightly less well than average American children on development tests, anti-pesticide activists can make it news if they can link that performance to pesticides. And so they have tried.

Environmental Health Perspectives published three studies today purporting to link prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides with substandard performance on development tests by the aforementioned groups of children.

I’m sure than the well-known anti-pesticide activist-researchers involved (Brenda Eskenazi, Frederica Perera and Mary Wolff) expect to overwhelm the media with their message by simultaneously releasing all three studies right before Earth Day, but here are the underlying fatal flaws common to all three studies:

  • Even accepting the study results at face value for the sake of argument, the test score deficiencies are insignificant. There is no meaningful developmental difference between a child who scores a 100 on an IQ test vs. one who scores a 101.4.
  • Childhood development is a complex, multifactorial phenomenon, which these researchers have magically reduced down to blood levels of pesticide metabolites. While most reasonable people would point to the children’s general plight in Lower Social-economia as the likely cause of whatever development issues they may have, Eskenazi, Perera and Wolff have conjured up a superficial statistical analyses to advance their personal financial and political agendas as well as the bureaucratic and political agenda of their funding agency, the anti-pesticide EPA.
  • There is no known biological mechanism that explains how legal exposures to pesticides might lead to developmental problems.

Interestingly and as we pointed out last week, Eskenazi and Perera are also blaming these same children’s developmental issues on brominated (PBDE) flame retardants.

Can’t wait to see what gets blamed next week.

Here are the three “studies”:

8 thoughts on “Anti-pesticide activists exploit poor kids”

  1. Yet another “correlation = causation” study. The ozone “hole” recovered and EPA recently issued a press release declaring victory and salvation for all from mela/carcinomas by the hundreds of thousands because of its Stratospheric Ozone Protection (SOP) rules. Then yesterday it was announced the “hole” over the Antarctic is as big as ever. Doh!

    I think the President needs to enact regulations for “scientists” so-called to require them to explicitly certify that their study conclusions are in fact directly causal or indirectly correlated. For sure people like Skenazi, Perera and Wolff haven’t the foggiest what the difference is. But it would be much more fun to catch them at it.

    Hey Mr. Obama. Get right on this.

  2. Actually, what we see here is a more systemic and profoundly troubling problem, and that is corruption of the “peer-review process”. We’ve seen it taken to new levels with the AGW hoax in general, Mann’s hockey stick , et.al. Critics are either ignored or attacked and data access to confirm results has been routinely stiffled or blocked.
    This is just another example of political agendas trumping REAL science.

  3. They are cutting their own throats. The less the public learns to trust them, the more likely their funding is in danger. As the economy continues to shrink, funding for research will be some of the first things to go. They fail to realize that their existence is dependent on a healthy economy and trust and respect for their integrity. The worst case scenario is that the public losses both trust and seeing value in what they do. Academics by and large fail to realized the link between economic strength and funding.

  4. I have noticed that many children in the Lower Social-economia wear inexpensive, old and worn shoes. If the feds or Florsheim would give me some major funding, I’ll bet I can find a correlation between shoe quality and children’s performance on development tests.

  5. They have no significant data and yet they come to those whoaful conclussion. Who are these editors, fired air traffic controllers?

  6. “Then yesterday it was announced the “hole” over the Antarctic is as big as ever. Doh!”

    Actually the press release said that while it was still large it had shrunk considerably ( from 11.2 million mi^2 to 8.x million mi^2) and would likely fully recover by the middle of the century. The issue is due to the relative longevity of CFC’s.

  7. Except that they have announced a hole over the Arctic in conjunction!! And they have announced all kinds of predictions which have never been even close to correct as the hole was supposed to be GONE by now!! You are just a wee bit gullible and biased!!

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