City of Roses
Seems some here are curious where I stand on the use of the pesticide DDT.
Firstly, let me say I truly do respect the views of those who passionately advocate the end of the DDT ban, for it is quite a potent pesticide and insecticide that truly can effectively kill massive swarms of mosquitoes and the transmitting of deadly diseases.
I think the best approach in exploring the issue is understanding how it was banned in the first place.
DDT was introduced in the World War II era, and was used for three decades before being banned on June 14, 1972, when William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the registration of the product.
Ruckelshaus said he was convinced that ongoing use of DDT would create unacceptable risks to the environment and potential harm to human health. Increased insect resistance, the advancement and development of more effective alternative pesticides, growing public and user concern over adverse environmental side effects including liver failure, respiratory system abnormalities and risk of liver cancer, and governmental restriction on DDT use since 1969, are cited as the chief reasons.
It has also been proven that DDT can affect the nervous system. Reports have consistently shown that patients who have swallowed large intakes of DDT poisoning can have higher tremor and seizure rates.
Finally, it is important to know that DDT sticks strongly to soil, and can build up in plants and in the layers of tissues of fish, birds, and other animals. It has been known that DDT can break down and remain in the environment for 2-15 years after usage. Many agree that DDT was responsible for the toxic effects on the reproductive systems of wildlife where it was used in agriculture. It has also centrally affected aquatic life and decreased successful rates of reproduction among many species.
It's even argued that 25 years since its ban in 1997, bald eagle population numbers had jumped about tenfold, and was downgraded from endangered to threatened because of that. Orher species also rebounded reportedly after its ban.
Could there have been lies and hysteria generated about DDT due to the hype and cult success behind the successful 1962 publication "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson? Absolutely. I won't dispute that there may indeed have been irrationality at the time that fearmongered some sort of wide-scale frenzy.
I really don't lean far in support of its continued ban. I do believe it causes those abnormal effects on the environment and species I went a little into, but indeed I also believe in those statistics of its usage in South America, for instance, credited for the reduction of malaria-related cases at the time.
Do I think the ban of DDT has resulted in genocide? I think that's arguable. Indeed if we all believed it truly was genocide, the ban would have been lifted a long time ago. Malaria does kill, no question about that, I sympathize with the millions of children worldwide who continue to pray they don't get bitten by the virus. Some believed in 1970 DDT was credited for saving the lives of 500 million. Is that true? That statistic too can be argued, but, if not 500 million, certainly a lot. Plus the fact its inventor, Swiss scientist Paul Muller, was awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine because of it, which I also respect and understand how it fuels the other side of the debate.
So, to be honest, I'm kind of neutral on this issue. I don't want a child to die every 30 seconds because of a fatal infection like malaria, while I also don't want our environment to be poisoned to the point of no return and regret it later, for I believe the environment must be nurtured and protected for our children and our children's children and so on.
And this is precisely why I respect and understand DDT is such a controversial debate topic, perhaps just as intense as abortion.
This is also precisely why I believe the scientific community and Junkmen need to collaborate and get together to decipher the sound from the junk. Indeed there really is junk science out there, just as there is junk propaganda those on the other side keep spewing out. Some sort of leadership effort like the 9/11 Commission must be formed, a bi-lateral arrangement, so we can find once and for all what is true and what isn't.
There are cost-efficient alternatives out there that are not as toxic as DDT I believe should be studied and considered as an alternative insecticide agent, and if there's one that is both less toxic and proven to fight the spread of bacteria and disease, I think then it would be fair to not need DDT anymore.
"You'll find something that's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don't receive you
You should turn yourself around and come back home" MB20