The Texas Observer in the Classroom c Seven Issues For orders of ten or more copies of each issue sent to a single address the cost for the semester is just $1 per person, sales tax included. Classroom subscriptions will begin with the issue published on February 1st, and extend into May. Seven fortnightly is. sues in all. \(That’s about 14 ar issue … 38 less than th\( To place your order, please indicate the number of stu dents who will be subscribing your needs regarding a free desk copy, and the mailini address we should use. If the number of subscribers i uncertain, feel free to make generous estimate. After th class rolls settle, we will bi youat $1 eachonly for the number of persons who finally decide to subscribe. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 Your first issu teen days \(an b may telephon r – Enter one year $10.00 name street city & state out-of state orders e 484, 864. or $1.2 pay back bill \(and This order for subscription t penditure. We think yo serve you as issues and, institutions a valuable sour But if, after a the Observer} amount of yo merely tell us Prepaid orders, glad you subs keep. registering some 40,000 domestic pesticides in accord with provisions of the Federal Pesticide Act, passed that same year by Congress. But there wasn’t much reason to run tests on Velsicol’s leptophos-as-Phosvel since the pesticide had never been registered for use in the United States. Later in the year, however, while EPA researchers were still plugging away, Velsicol set out to convince the agency that Phosvel should be approved for domestic agricultural use. Although EPA investigators soon compiled information from Egypt linking Phosvel to the deaths and paralysis of hundreds of water buffaloand possibly a number of humansand although the results of several independent tests suggested the possibilities of harmful side effects, EPA chose instead to accept the company’s incomplete test results. In May, 1974, the agency set tolerance levels for Phosvel on fruits and vegetables imported into the countryan administrative step toward eventual registration of a pesticide for U.S. use. EPA finally revoked the tolerances in mid1975, after it was impossible to ignore rumors about the sick Velsicol employees. That was a little more than subcommittee members could take. While acknowledging that the agency was strapped with inadequate staffing and too little money, the senators accused When government shows the same disregard for workers as the company does, it’s frightening. the six-year-old EPA of trying to shortcut the pesticide evaluation process and relying too heavily upon information fed to it by pesticide manufacturers. The report, issued Jan. 2, also criticized the agency for poor planning and managementand delays in implementing the pesticide act. Sen. Edward Kennedy, the subcommittee’s chairman, said he finds it “incredible that a regulatory agency charged with safeguaNing the public health and environinent would be so sluggish to recognize and react to so many warnings over the past five years.” Kennedy’s dismay is echoed by a former Velsicol worker. “You can expect a degree of disregard for employees from a company,” he says, “but when agencies that are supposed to be protecting you show the same disregard, it’s frightening.” Not coincidentally, EPA announced in late December, before the subcommit 12 The Texas Observer tee’s report was released but while the agency was catching hell from senators, that a research team had recommended a ban on domestic use of the pesticide EPN, which Velsicol began manufacturing in Bayport after dropping Phosvel. EPN, used extensively on corn, soybean, and pecan crops in the U.S. since its registration in 1955, may be even more dangerous to humans, the researchers report, than Phosvel. Even if EPA gets itself in gear, incredible damage has already been done. As the subcommittee’s report notes, the setting of domestic tolerance levels encouraged increased use of Phosvel in other countries. In fact, more than 10,000 gallons of the pesticide, stored in a Houston. warehouse since the Bayport plant stopped production, were moved to New Orleans and then shipped to Syria last month while NIOSH medical investigators were looking for evidence of neurological damage among Velsicol workers in the U.S. That suggests, says U.S. Rep. Bob government is doing little Or nothing to protect foreign users of pesticides banned here. “It’s unconscionable to allow their sale overseas when we won’t use them here,” Eckhardt says. He adds that it has long been Congress’ attitude that foreign governments are capable of reaching their own conclusions about the hazards of imported American chemicalsbut Eckhardt is now afraid that other countries may have simply been following EPA’s example and relying solely on fanciful data furnished by pesticide producers. Eckhardt has good reasons to be concerned. According to Norman Baxter, the Houston Chronicle’s Washington bureau chief, the Department of Commerce reports that overseas shipments of pesticides not registered for domestic use totaled more than 33 million pounds in the first seven months of 1976. Some of those shipments included an estimated 22 million pounds of DDTbanned from use here since 1972and about 11 million pounds of pesticides in the aldrintoxaphene familywhich includes the suspected carcinogens aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, and strobane. His ire was aroused even more when he discovered that some overseas shipments of pesticides were labeled with exposure warnings written in English and not in the tongue of foreign workers who stood to be exposed. “I think now we had better make sure not only that foreign governments but their peoples are advised about any hazards,” Eckhardt says. “It seems terrible for some poor Egyptian to buy some of this stuff, known to be poisonous and dangerous in the U.S., and not have any way to know himself what the situation is.”
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.