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So why aren't we using it?

Posted on September 5, 2003 at 10:42 AM in Science | Permalink

I'm no scientist, but if what this article says is true then the environmentalists have a lot to answer for.

A pandemic is slaughtering millions, mostly children and pregnant women -- one child every 15 seconds; 3 million people annually; and over 100 million people since 1972 --but there are no protestors clogging the streets or media stories about this tragedy. These deaths can be laid at the doorstep of author Rachel's Carson. Her 1962 bestselling book Silent Spring detailed the alleged "dangers" of the pesticide DDT, which had practically eliminated malaria. Within ten years, the environmentalist movement had convinced the powers that be to outlaw DDT. Denied the use of this cheap, safe and effective pesticide, millions of people -- mostly poor Africans -- have died due to the environmentalist dogma propounded by Carson's book.
All of this (the destruction of species and the threat of cancer) was mere speculation on Carson's part, based upon erroneous analysis of data (junk science). For example, Carson argued that the rise in cancer rates from 1940-1960 was proof that DDT was the cause because spraying began in 1940 and continued. However, if Carson would have looked at Center for Disease Control data from the 1900-1960, she would have noticed that her theory was way off the mark because cancer rates started to skyrocket in direct correlation to a surge of tobacco use.

Have a read through the whole article. This is greatly disturbing if true. Now as I said, I'm no scientist, but I had a look and found a WHO report on the analysis of risks of DDT. This is what it had to say:

The 1984 JMPR estimated that the lowest relevant NOAEL for carcinogenicity in rats was 6.2 mg/kg bw per day and concluded that "there is no significant risk of DDT producing tumours in humans". The overall evaluation of the IARC group was that "DDT is possibly carcinogenic to humans" but that "there is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of DDT".


The 1984 JMPR concluded that "there is no firm evidence that DDT has any reproductive or teratogenic effects"


The benefits of DDT use in malaria and other vector-control programmes outweigh any health risk from the presence of DDT in drinking- water.

Basically what the report says is that DDT has been suspected of being carcinogenic, that is, cancer-causing, but that the evidence does not support that theory. Another report on the WHO site says that the WHO wants to ensure that treaty restriction on DDT will not result in an increase in malaria deaths while countries around the world organise to ban the use of DDT. Now if what the report says is true than the use of DDT is imperative to prevent the thousands of deaths through malaria that occur, and that it is safe to use if it is used for spraying buildings rather than on crops. Why is there so much hysteria against DDT if what these reports say are true? Another good article on DDT in the Economist from 2000

But with a convert’s zeal, many rich countries have tried to impose their decision on the poor world, where about 300m people suffer from malaria every year, and more than a million die.

Is this not imperialism in a different form? Or does imperialism become OK if it's done for ecological reasons?

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I must say this is interesting news seeing as I live in Africa and have spent one terrifying night listening to a man die from malari in the next room. AFAIK DDT has been brought back here in SA for limited spraying of homes in rural areas. Unfortuanatley I am as brain washed as most and was shocked to here about that. "DDT!? That is terrible stuff".

So apart from not being a threat to humans is it also not a threat to other animals? I always remember the shocking footage of birds eggs disolving with the environmentalists saying the DDT removed the calcium from the mother's system.

We trust in seemingly scientific findings far too much. Some responsibility about conclusions made must be present.

p.s. Thank you for your concern about Lena. I have written briefly about it on my site. :)

# Posted by: Paul Watson (, 209) at Sep 5, 2003 7:04:53 PM

I would say the bulk of the First World has a lot to answer for considering the problems of the Third World. I suppose you could blame Capitalism and greed, but Socialism and good will doesn't seem to be doing much either.

The horrible problems of the world won't go away until humanity puts aside it's petty religious and idealogical differences and decides to work together with each other.

It's not just environmentalists, though that's a part of the problem - all those guys out there worrying about the whales or seal puppies could expend an equal amount of energy and help the poor unfed wretches of the Third World, but that doesn't happen...

# Posted by: TAD ( at Sep 7, 2003 1:54:46 PM

Paul: If I understand the WHO reports correctly the research shows that in large quantities DDT can be damaging to animals and is possibly damaging to humans if consumed over a long period of time.

AFAICS there is little research to suggest all of this, it is mostly speculation. It's probably not a great thing to spray of food crops just in case, but it should be fine to use as a domestic spray in homes/buildings to protect the inhabitants from malaria.

I know what you mean about the brain washing, when I first saw the story praising DDT I almost didn't read it because I thought that can't possibly be true!

Tad: The more I read about Greenpeace propaganda, lies and shady practices (not just Greenpeace, but they're the most visible) the more cynical I become about the 'environmentalist' movement. I love natural areas, hiking is one of my favoured pastimes, but crying ‘apocalypse’ isn't helping anyone.

# Posted by: Glenn Slaven ( at Sep 8, 2003 8:59:39 AM

"The more I read about Greenpeace propaganda, lies and shady practices (not just Greenpeace, but they're the most visible) the more cynical I become about the 'environmentalist' movement."

Glenn, you just took the red pill. Now come take a look at the matrix...

# Posted by: Yobbo ( at Sep 9, 2003 2:51:32 AM

I know I am a tad late, but the DDT Faq on will be of interest to you. In answer to your question, the why of the hysteria, point 11 is chilling:
Population control advocates blamed DDT for increasing third world population. In the 1960s, World Health Organization authorities believed there was no alternative to the overpopulation problem but to assure than up to 40 percent of the children in poor nations would die of malaria. As an official of the Agency for International Development stated, "Rather dead than alive and riotously reproducing."


# Posted by: The Usurer (, ) at Sep 9, 2003 1:08:37 PM

"I wish the real world would just stop hassling me" - Rob Thomas