Building Worse Mousetraps?

| Tue Aug. 9, 2005 4:59 PM EDT

This rat-poison story seems a bit arcane, but here's a noteworthy paragraph from the Washington Post's coverage:

The battle over how to regulate rat poison started in August 1998 when the Clinton administration approved its use as long as manufacturers added a bittering agent and a dye that made it more obvious if a child ingested the poison. Three years later, Bush administration officials rescinded the requirements, on the grounds that they would make the poison less attractive to rats and could damage household property.

Let's see, dead children or stained rugs? Guess we know which one the Bush administration would pick. Meanwhile, Joshua Kurlantzick reported the backstory on this whole affair for Mother Jones earlier this year:

[The Environmental Protection Agency]'s career scientists began preparing a full assessment of the dangers [of rat poison], which was completed in September 2001. In keeping with standard procedure, the report was to be made available to the pesticide industry and the public for up to 90 days, allowing interested parties to review it. The document, which said rat poisons were toxic to "nontarget species" -- that is, humans and other animals -- presented strong evidence for limiting the sale of some of the chemicals to licensed users.

But in a departure from normal procedures, the EPA held the comment process open for more than a year. During this period, it allowed the pesticide industry, organized in a coalition called the Rodenticide Registrants Task Force (RRTF), to go well beyond making the usual technical corrections.

Read the rest for details. "Bush administration privileges industry buddies over scientific evidence" isn't exactly a new story, but that doesn't make it any less important.

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