Smith Hails Euro Parliament Rat Poison Vote

22 June 2010
Alyn Smith MEP, full Scottish member of the European Parliament's powerful Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has hailed today's vote on the biocides regulation in the Environment Committee as a "sensible compromise" on rat poisons. 

Smith also heavily criticised Conservative MEPs for running "one of the daftest scare campaigns of recent years."

The political compromise that was reached ensures derogations for use of key anticoagulants where no alternatives are available and public health is at risk, but under strictly controlled conditions, and with the requirement that Member States draw up substitution plans to ensure a clear pathway to less toxic alternatives for rodent control.  

Smith said:

"Just as I, and everybody sensible, anticipated, the Environment Committee did the right thing on rat poisons.  There was never any serious suggestion that they were going to do otherwise.

"Anticoagulants are unfortunately still needed in certain situations to bring rats under control, and that's why the committee created a derogation, allowing their use when "it is shown by evidence that the active substance is necessary to prevent or control a serious danger to public or animal health or to the environment or to feed or food safety, or to the public interest, and that there are no effective alternative substances or technologies available."

"But let's be clear.  As I have repeatedly stated, these toxins are nasty, horrible stuff - lethal to all kinds of wildlife - and we should be creating every incentive possible to develop new technologies so that we can eventually see the abolition of anticoagulants.  That's why I'm pleased that the derogation further requires the Member States to use "appropriate risk mitigation measures" when using rat poisons, and also obliges them to develop a substitution plan, "concerning the control of the serious danger by other means including non-chemical methods".  We must continue to encourage progress in chemicals and I'm confident that this legislation will do so.

"Tory politicians really have got carried away with themselves on this one, and have just made themselves look silly, and actually ran a risk of undermining common sense given they appear to have none themselves.  So much for being constructive partners in the EU.

"There was never any chance of the EU actually banning rat poison and they knew it.  It is the classic example of unscrupulous politicians, looking for an easy media hit, whipping up popular anti-EU prejudices based on laziness and ignorance.  But it's not a game.  By scaremongering and spreading wild rumours, they merely undermine the legitimacy of the very institution making the decision, and the very political class that they are part of.  No wonder that people become apathetic and lose interest in democracy."