Friday, May 17, 2013

Meet the Rat Poison Rep Who's Super-Concerned About Your Health

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 5:10 PM

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You may have heard that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution urging local businesses to stop selling rodenticides. (The poisonous chemicals, which are often used in outdoor marijuana grows, have been killing Pacific Fishers and poisoning dozens of other wildlife species locally.)

But did you see this? A man by the name of Hal Ambuter, who represents multinational pharmaceutical company Reckitt Benckiser LLC, makers of d-CON rodent poisons, wrote a letter to the board expressing his deep, heartfelt and not-at-all self-serving concerns about the resolution.

Out of the pristine goodness of his heart, Mr. Ambuter urged the board to "consider the serious unintended consequences" of discouraging sales of the poisons his company makes. This foolish resolution, he writes, "could have a profound impact on Humboldt County consumers by forcing them to choose from inferior, potentially more expensive, and possibly more dangerous pest management approaches."

The Board of Supervisors and various environmental groups have pointed out that a good way to keep rodents off of your marijuana stalks is to put a bowl of fresh water out, since that's what the rodents are looking for. But as we all know, bowls of water are incredibly dangerous and prohibitively expensive. How many kids must drown in outdoor water bowls before we say "enough"? It's far safer to keep using rodenticides, which only poison about 17,000 kids per year, according to a letter sent to Mr. Ambuter last year by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA, in its shortsightedness, has moved to ban 12 d-CON mouse and rat control products because they fail to comply with safety measures aimed at protecting children, pets and wildlife. Meanwhile bowls of fresh water (sometimes known as "aquatic death traps") go completely unregulated.

Cynics might suspect that Mr. Ambuter only cares about money, since he referred to us as "consumers." But that's ridiculous. Certainly if he cared about the profits of his employer (which reached more than $10 billion last year) he would have mentioned it in his letter.

Let us not make the mistake of ignoring the altruistic warnings of Mr. Ambuter, who has been accused by naysayers of "scare mongering," "obfuscation," "false heroics" and spreading "misinformation." Alas, such is the plight of the truth-teller. Thank you, Mr. Ambuter, for looking out for us vulnerable consumers.

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About The Author

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

Bio:
Ryan Burns worked for the Journal from 2008 to 2013, covering a diverse mix of North Coast subjects, from education, politics and marijuana to human suspension, sex parties and amateur fight contests. He won awards for investigative reporting, feature stories and news coverage.

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