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Arizona biotech company gets handle on rat race with birth control for rodents

PHOENIX — A decade of work has come and gone but finally, an Arizona biotech company has received clearance from the federal government to market a unique solution to the rat race.

SenesTech, based in Flagstaff, has developed a method of liquid birth control for rats that has earned praise for its humane aspects toward curbing the rodent population.

The company got the OK earlier this month from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“With this EPA approval, we look forward to working with local, state, and federal municipalities, as well as the private sector …,” Dr. Loretta Mayer, company CEO said in a statement.

The sweet, milky substance, called ContraPest, effectively sterilizes rats. The company, located along Interstate 40 about 5 miles northeast of Northern Arizona University’s campus, said there were no side effects in people, other animals or plants.

One of the active ingredients, the research company pointed out, has already been in use for years with no harmful results to humans.

Company executive Ali Applin told the Arizona Daily Sun that in trials three years ago in New York City’s subway, the rats took “the bait like crazy.”

The company said rat population dropped 43 percent.

Chicago also used ContraPest, baiting mass-transit garages.

For the bait to actually work, rats have to eat a lot of it daily for several weeks, which they did in the trials.

The idea behind SenesTech’s product got its start in a University of Arizona laboratory.

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