Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Will EPA ban on rat and mouse poison be another DDT fiasco?

Based upon bogus information and political considerations, the United States banned DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) in 1972. Its use began in 1943 and it was one of the most widely-used pesticides, as it was especially successful at controlling malaria and typhus during World War II. Paul Hermann Müller was even awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery "of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods."

But in 1962, Rachel Carson published a book called Silent Spring that *suggested* DDT and other pesticides were dangerous to the environment and wildlife - and caused cancer in humans. It was this book and the subsequent emergence of the environmentalism movement, fueled by the formation of the Environmental Defense Fund whose goal to have to DDT outlawed, that resulted in the ban.

But the issue of whether or not a ban was truly necessary has been fraught with controversy, from the original decision and whether or not the science supported it, to the claim that millions have died of malaria as a result of the lack of sufficient deterrent to the insects that carry it.

As this author relates:

As to the circumstances surrounding the banning of DDT, the November 1980 issue of Fusion magazine (page 52) stated: "When U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief William Ruckelshaus was about to announce his decision to ban DDT in June 1972, he confided to a friend, "There is no scientific basis for banning this chemical --- this is a political decision."" The 'friend' was never identified however. In a commentary the magazine concluded (page 56): "The EPA and environmentalists must be held accountable for their crime: There was not a single human death from DDT usage; there have been untold thousands of deaths and millions of disease-stricken persons as a result of the DDT banning."

Fusion's most comprehensive article about DDT (a dozen or so pages) was in their June 1979 issue. The article stated that independent tests refuted nearly every single government claim as to the harmful effects to wildlife from exposure to DDT and addressed each claim. As evidence DDT wasn't harmful to wildlife, the article stated wildlife living downstream from DDT manufacturing plants actually thrived, their numbers increased. There wasn't any disagreement about any lethalness to humans however because the government never claimed there were any deaths, and there wasn't, not a single one. In summation the article concluded the 'political' reason for banning DDT was because it was 'saving too many third-world lives'... an utterly shocking observation.

And now, today, we have a plan to ban 20 rate and mouse control products because they use loose bait.

Note, this latest decision is not because the product, itself, is banned - but because of how it could be used.

You see, the EPA (and the nanny-state government) believes that many of these types of pest control products are used in homes where children or pets could come into contact with them.

The Heartland Institute details how critics of the ban (especially those representing businesses whose products may be on the chopping block) are quick to emphasize the minimal health benefits and the many potential costs of the ban. They point out the following:

• The EPA's proposed ban could force people to rely on products from an alternate class of rodenticides which, unlike the products targeted by EPA, have no antidote.

• EPA's decision could also force consumers to avoid treating their homes for rodents unless they can afford to hire a pest control professional to use the ingredients denied to individuals.

• People living in poverty are most afflicted by rodent problems, and they will be the ones most adversely affected by the proposed ban because they will be unable to afford the professional exterminators made necessary by the ban on these do-it-yourself consumer products.

As the Heartland article explains, the EPA's decision to ban these household products is based largely on a single statistic:

"...between 1993 and 2008 the American Association of Poison Control Centers received 12,000 to 15,000 reports of rat and mouse poison exposures each year regarding children under 6 years old. Improper use, however, is not a good enough reason to ban such useful product from the market..." (emphasis added)

The worst part about this is the fact that other products and activities, when used or done incorrectly, cause even more harm - but they're not being banned.

Todd M. Wynn, director of the Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force for the American Legislative Exchange Council, is quoted in the article:

“Each year, hundreds of thousands of children are treated for bicycle-related injuries; nearly half of these children are diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. Does that mean we should ban bicycles? We allow parents to make these choices every day, but EPA steps in and seeks to make these decisions instead of American families,” Wynn said.

“There are certain levels of acceptable risk in society, and parents play an important role by weighing the potential risks and benefits of using a product. This is not saying there is no government role in consumer protection, but one must be sure there is a proper assessment of the science and risk involved and not base regulations and bans on emotionally driven statistics of exposure to children,” he explained.

Unfortunately, our government believes it is responsible for keeping everyone from harm, even if doing so harms others in the process or erodes our liberties and freedom to make choices on our own.

It's a nanny-state government that assumes it knows better than us and then makes our decisions for us. You see, we cannot be trusted to make the 'right' decisions on our own and, rather than hold parents accountable if their child should happen to get into such poison, they'll just impose a ban.

After all, if it saves just one life...


Chuck Greer said...

Had a beautiful Springer Spaniel years back named Maggie (no kidding) who got hold of some rat poison under the freezer in my garage. Almost killed her, I had high vet bills, but she barely survived. I NEVER thought "this stuff should be banned"! Rather, I thought , I need to make damn sure my Springers can't possibly get to this stuff. Silly me, I should've been thinking clearer...

Maggie Thurber said...

Glad she was okay, Chuck.

btw - one of the most common dog names is "maggie"

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