I Smell a Rat
Rat Poison Industry Had Undue Influence on EPA Regs, Say Critics
Makers of rat poison were allowed to influence, and in some cases rewrite, two U.S. EPA regulatory initiatives meant to make their products safer, according to environmental and consumer-safety organizations. The first initiative was proposed by the EPA under President Clinton in 1998, when the agency said it would allow rat-poison use as long as the industry added a bittering agent to make the taste less attractive to non-rat creatures — like, say, kids — and a dye to make it easier to tell if a child had ingested some. After extensive consultations with the pesticide industry, the agency announced in 2001 that, well, never mind about the whole dye and bittering-agent thing. Meanwhile, the EPA was moving forward on a study of the environmental dangers of rat poison, which frequently kills deer and other wildlife when it’s used to protect crops. In 2001, the agency sent a copy of the report to industry groups for a 30-day, “error only” review. Fifteen months and five closed-door meetings with industry groups later, the EPA had toned down language about the dangers of rat poison and rewritten whole sections of the report. Consumer and enviro groups were not consulted during the process. Meanwhile, 15,000 children younger than 6 ingest rat poison each year, as do numerous endangered animals.