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DDT WarsRescuing Our National Bird, Preventing Cancer, and Creating EDF$
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Charles F. Wurster

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190219413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190219413.001.0001

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DDT Goes to Trial, Finally, in Washington, DC

DDT Goes to Trial, Finally, in Washington, DC

10 (p.131) DDT Goes to Trial, Finally, in Washington, DC
DDT Wars

Charles F. Wurster

Oxford University Press

EPA was only five weeks old on January 7, 1971, when the Court of Appeals ordered the agency to cancel all DDT registrations. The situation was fluid, to say the least. EPA did not know how the cancellation process was to be carried out, since USDA before them had never executed a cancellation procedure. There was no precedent to follow, and the parties did not agree on the rules for cancellation. The cancellation process for DDT clearly would be adversarial, with the pesticide industry already objecting. Represented by Bill Butler, EDF insisted on judicial rules of evidence with qualification of expert witnesses, testimony to be relevant to the topics at issue, and full rights of cross-examination for all parties. That was a bottom line for EDF, and EPA lawyers agreed. If a witness was qualified as expert on topic A and not on topic B, he or she could testify on A but not on B. We had learned from experience that we did not want industry representatives and salesmen or lobbyists making opinion statements and then walking away, leaving a muddy record that would be little more than a popular vote open to varied interpretations. Industry wanted that. EDF wanted competent scientists to build an accurate record, and after months of haggling, EDF and EPA ultimately prevailed. There would be judicial rules of evidence. It was a triumph for Bill Butler and EDF. Little did we know then that this procedure would influence pesticide regulation by EPA far into the future. Judicial rules of evidence proved critically important in the litigation and eventual banning of aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, and mirex, as we will describe in Chapter 12. Qualified scientists and experts testified in those proceedings, and some previously vocal advocates never appeared. Since EPA had been ordered by the court to consider cancellation of all registrations of DDT, it was the DDT proponents who were bringing the appeal. They were known as the Group Petitioners. It had become the burden of industry to prove DDT safe, whereas before it had been our burden to prove hazard.

Keywords:   Anacapa Island, Atlantic Ocean, Congressional Record, Delaney Food Additives Amendment, Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Mississippi River, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Sierra Club, United States Atomic Energy Commission, asbestos exposure, herbivores, phytoplankton

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