Teaching Case - Breaking the "Circle of Poison": Senator Patrick Leahy and Pesticide Export Controls

Breaking the "Circle of Poison": Senator Patrick Leahy and Pesticide Export Controls


Educator Access
A review copy of this case is available free of charge to educators and trainers. Please create an account or sign in to gain access to this material.

Permission to Reprint
Each purchase of this product entitles the buyer to one digital file and use. If you intend to distribute, teach, or share this item, you must purchase permission for each individual who will be given access. Learn more about purchasing permission to reprint.

  • Product Description

    What would prompt an elected official to take on what appears to be a moral cause with little immediate political benefit? That is the implicit political ethics question raised by this case, which describes the somewhat quixotic, decade-long effort of Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy to block, through legislation, the export of so-called "unregistered" pesticides -- that is, agricultural chemicals that were not approved for sale in the United States. As chairman of the Senate Agricultural Committee when he began his crusade, Leahy sought to make reform of U.S. pesticide export policy a centerpiece of his tenure, notwithstanding the hostility of commercial interests with close ties to the committee and the indifference of the public.

    Learning Objective:
    The case is meant to stimulate discussion of the moral and ethical dimensions of public office, including not only the question of an official's motivation but of the appropriateness of an elected official advancing causes which are not of any evident moment to his constituents. Is this self-indulgence or leadership? The case can also be useful as a window into the committee structure of the U.S. Congress and the ways in which proposals rise or fall.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: August 01, 2000
    HKS Case Number: 1583.0
    Case Author: Esther Scott
    Faculty Lead: Kenneth Winston
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 24
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
    _year: 2000-2009
    _pages: 16-25
    _geography: US & Canada
  • Warranty Information