Monday, November 19, 2007

Last chance for DDT, indeed

Two letters in the WSJ today (A17) comment on "Last Chance for DDT" by Roger Bate (which I archived...a compilation post should be forthcoming). Emphasis mine.
  • Hans Overgaard, PhD (Norway), co-author of the article upon which Bate commented, emphasizes "that a single, silver-bullet solution, such as DDT, to control malaria is not realistic. As Mr. Bate himself states, DDT is not a panacea. Instead, several types of interventions are needed in an integrated approach to vector management. Despite the good track record of DDT in controlling malaria, we need to find alternative control options because evolutionary forces predispose DDT resistance. In addition, the persistence of DDT in the environment affects non-target organisms as well as food and water supplies...A recent study reported in Medscape Today showed that high levels of serum DDT predicted a statistically significant five-fold increased risk of breast cancer among women who were born after 1931."
  • Don M. in Sherman, TX, offers contrary examples about DDT's harmfulness. "I happen to be a survivor of DDT. I grew up on a farm in the '30s, '40s, and '50s. We had about 25 milk cows, several pig sows and many young piglets, horses, and many free range chickens. We also had an outhouse...We sprayed the cows in the milk barn, the pig pens, the horse barn and the out house. We sprayed the window screen at the house and porch but not in the house. The results were fantastic. The flies and mosquitoes disappeared...We, as well as every one else, drank the milk from cows that were sprayed with DDT. I am 76 years old and have suffered no ill effects from DDT. My three sisters and brother have not had any illnesses related to DDT. My schoolmates, neighbors and friends were all exposed to DDT and all have lived normal lives."
As always, DDT is like any other poison, to borrow the old maxim. Depends on the dose. What I am surprised at is WHY does no one seem to advocate a middle ground? Responsible DDT usage? Don't trust Rachel Carson--trust unbiased studies.

3 comments:

Ed Darrell said...

You might want to read Rachel Carson. She recommended "responsible DDT usage."

It's the wackoes one needs to distrust, not the scientists.

Hannah J said...

So I'm to assume that Carson is a trustworthy scientist, by your logic. So far, her only credentials that I've heard of is that she wrote the book, sold a bunch of copies, and is essentially a scared environmentalist.

And I'm also to assume that every single scientist who DOESN'T believe that DDT is the maniacal killer chemical it's claimed to be, is to be called a "wacko."

Cao said...

Rachel Carson was a marine biologist who was way off the beaten track in that book, talking about genetics and other areas outside her area of expertise.