In yesterday's Washington Post, the chief science adviser to the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality was misidentified and his name was misspelled. He is Dr. Lee Talbot.
The government said yesterday it is cutting back the amount of money it gives developing countries to buy U.S. pesticides and instead will help them end indiscriminate use of the chemicals.
The Agency for International Development's new policy also continues a general year-old prohibition against supplying to other countries pesticides not allowed to be used in the United States for health or environmental reasons. But that policy will be relaxed somewhat to account for crop, pest and other differences between the United States and developing countries.
Because AID programs account for less than 2 per cent of U.S. pesticide sales to developing nations, the most far-reaching impact of the AID action would be in helping them develop the technical expertise and programs to eliminate unsafe and ineffective use of potent chemical pesticides.
For years the United States has dominated the $7-billion-a-year worldwide market in pesticides. While they have reduced diseases and increased crops, they have also killed people. Incorrectly applied malathion killed five persons and left 2,900 ill last summer in Pakistan, for instance.
The AID policy was set forth in an environmental impact statement filed yesterday with the Council on Environmental Quality. The statement was the fruit of a lawsuit filed in April, 1975, by the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Audubon Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.
The attorney for the four groups, Richard A. Frank, has said that previously "AID just sort of gave people these pesticides. They have not been informing the foreign governments of the problems connected with them."
While the suit was aimed at the sales of pesticides not licensed for use in this country, AID's newly announced policy applies to all pesticide assistance programs for agricultural and public health reasons.
AID pesticide programs have been declining in recent years, from $28 million in 1970 to $11 million in 1975, the most recent figures. But now, instead of that money going just for the purchase of pesticides, AID says it will emphasize the development of pesticide controls and practices.
In an announcement the agency said, "Because the United States has had extensive experience in pesticide use, AID feels it can effectively assist developing countries to strengthen their pesticide control programs and to insure that these valuable chemicals are used safely and effectively . . ."
Fred Whittemore, a pest management specialist with AID, said alternatives to pesticides would include efforts to improve plowing, tilling and harrowing, to encourage the growth of natural predators and parasites and to improve storage and crop resistance to pests.
Each year, the developing countries lose millions of tons of food to a variety of insects, worms and vermin. Often the result is hunger and the purchase of foreign food.
Traditionally, the response has been to spray and spread chemicals across the land. But increasingly, environmentalists and health workers have questioned the use of chemicals because of side effects. Some pesticide chemicals have been linked to cancer, others to reductions in whole species of animal life.
AID's new policy does not rule out pesticle assistance completely. For example, the agency said, it will still be necessary to use pesticides to control malaria and other diseases transmitted by pests. But it said it wants "to reduce pesticide dependence."