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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1974) 19(2): 233–245
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Research article
Chemical control of vertebrate pests - a perspective

J.A. Peters

With growing emphasis on environmental impacts, the control of vertebrate pest populations by lethal chemicals is examined in the light of some overseas and local situations. The current philosophy embodied in legislation and policy of developed countries abroad is that a compound should be proven safe, rather than be found by use and experience not to be harmful. Such a level of scientific certainty is so unreasonable that, functionally, it may never be achieved. Such a concept of safety ignores dosage/response relationships and takes no account of the need or benefits. Given the multiple values of a situation and the ultimate problem of not having all the answers (and sometimes not even being aware of the appropriate questions), it is not surprising that issues spill over from one problem to another. In such a situation the charge of bias as active prejudice must be clearly distinguished from bias inferring a certain set of presuppositions.
New chemicals will undergo much more intensive scrutiny than those already approved, as criteria previously ignored, not identified, or not considered significant are developed and applied. The ramifications of environmental policies and attitudes overseas are discussed particularly in relation to future developments of chemical tools in the New Zealand situation. It may be that, by the time all the options have been thoroughly assessed, some will have quietly slipped away.

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