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Prudent alert

Prudence is important in the response of government officials to reports that trace amounts of the pesticide EDB may exist in some foodstuffs. But a calm and measured approach to the situation is of equal import. It would be counterproductive for government at any level to alarm the public through precipitous action or intemperate statement. This sometimes has been done in the past with various pesticides and other chemicals, most recently dioxin.

The Environmental Protection Agency's decision late last week to suspend nearly all use of the pesticide seems appropriate. So, too, does EPA's issuance of guidelines concerning levels of EDB in different kinds of foodstuffs.

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If levels of EDB are found high in specific food products already on in supermarkets, it may be the better part of wisdom for them to be removed from the shelves. But for other foodstuffs there should be no wholesale withdrawal based on fear. The need of the moment is to alert, rather than alarm.

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