DDT Demogogary


            “Our son is dead, and you say we cannot sue?” the mother asked disbelievingly. The words were understandable despite the heavy accent.

            “I cannot see how Green Peace, much less these other environmental groups, are to blame for your child’s death,” Daniel replied. He wanted a case, but this was too much a long shot.  

            “Our country was not allowed to make DDT, because of your patents. You would sell it to us, because of your environmental laws.” Daniel began to fade as the man’s thick African accent droned on. “Then you were so busy giving us condoms for men to see prostitutes and AIDS drugs when they were infected, that they did not have money for drugs to treat children with malaria.”

            “Then perhaps you should have used anti-malarial drugs to prevent the disease –“

            “If we could not afford the drugs to cure him, we could not afford the drugs to keep him from getting healthy in the first place.”

            Poor people, Daniel thought, in more ways than one. “Can’t you have another child?” Daniel asked. “The family planning commission would have to give you permission to replace your only child.”

            “Family planners sterilized my wife when she had our son. They said there were already too many poor people in the world.” Then, bitterly, “Perhaps that is why they don’t let us kill mosquitoes with DDT. Millions fewer poor people, all dead.”

            Millions dead. Those words snapped Daniel out of his doldrums and into a new series of daydreams. “Perhaps your case would be more seriously considered by the courts if it were a class action lawsuit. The same NGOs that caused your child’s death strong armed you, your people, your country – into a situation where this was certain to happen to many people.” Class action suits are big money, when there are many sob stories. “Can you give me names of those who have died of malaria due to lack of DDT? Especially those who’ve lost the only children they had, as well.”

            “You will take our case?” the husband asked, barely believing.

            “I think we can find a jury to consider demanding proper compensation from environmentalists for so many unnecessary deaths.”    




Tamara Wilhite Added Feb 11, 2018 - 4:39pm
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Leroy Added Feb 11, 2018 - 7:01pm
' “Our country was not allowed to make DDT, because of your patents. You would sell it to us, because of your environmental laws.” Daniel began to fade as the man’s thick African accent droned on. “Then you were so busy giving us condoms for men to see prostitutes and AIDS drugs when they were infected, that they did not have money for drugs to treat children with malaria.”'
The only problem with your story is that the patent for DDT expired long ago.  Many African countries followed the West and banned it.  Today, many of these countries are rescinding the ban. Don't think it would hold up in court.  Their own government is at fault.
Part of the problem is that it just isn't profitable to make anti-malarial drugs to sell to Africans.  Antibiotics are more profitable because they have a limited lifespan of effectiveness.  My understanding is that the Bill and Melinda Gates are working on providing the research.
Flying Junior Added Feb 12, 2018 - 2:59am
What's happening right now is that churches and other organizations are providing mosquito nets at a cost of about $10.  This protects people from bites during the night when mosquitoes attack.
Research into sterilizing male mosquitoes or genetically modifying mosquitoes to make them resistant to the parasites that cause malaria has been largely unsuccessful.
But once you kill off all of the frogs, bugs and birds, the entire ecosystem dies off.  Rachel Carson.  Rush Limbaugh.  Who do you wish to align yourself with?  This is God's earth.
I don't know why we don't just provide insect repellents such as DEET.
Hey farmer farmer,
Put away the DDT now;
Give me spots on my apples,
But leave me the birds and the bees.
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got till its gone?
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.
Tamara Wilhite Added Feb 12, 2018 - 10:05am

Leroy I was not aware of that copyright issue. The fact that Western NGOs are saying don't use the stuff that's most effective still costs lives. Same movement that told starving nations to reject GMO crops, better people die than get what they need to live.
Tamara Wilhite Added Feb 12, 2018 - 10:08am
Flying Junior Rachel Carson developed cancer and blamed pesticides and other drugs. She hid that fact while writing her polemic. 
She wrote "Silent Spring" as a horror story to scare people away from such chemicals, and the tens of millions of unnecessary deaths from mosquito borne diseases are her fault. Same thing as Jenny McCarthy and vaccines being blamed for autism, so kids died of diseases we could prevent.
No, the pesticides were not causing the horrors to the degree environmentalists blame, just as acid rain didn't melt all the forests and global cooling didn't leave us with glaciers in Chicago.
Environmentalists keep throwing out doomsday scenarios, and every time proven wrong, ignore it and move on to the next.
Flying Junior Added Feb 12, 2018 - 2:00pm
I remember clearly the problems associated with Bald Eagles and Brown Pelicans.  It's not a myth.  I'll take Stanford University over FOX conspiracy theorists any day of the week.
Autumn Cote Added Feb 12, 2018 - 3:30pm
Please note, this article would be a lot easier to read if you added some white space between paragraphs.  
John Minehan Added Feb 12, 2018 - 3:38pm
The science behind Silent Spring is questionable.  I can remember my cousin, a wildlife biologist, discussing what a weak argument it presented more than 40 years ago.
Having served in East Africa as an Army Intelligence Officer, I can tell you that the malarial treat is very real.
My cousin put it very simply 40 years ago, "The planet is a farm."  Put another way, Nicholas Nassim Taleb's "precautionary principal" is at work.  The correct question is not so much "Does DDT do harm?" as it is "Is there any use for which DDT is put that cannot be done as effectively with some other agent?" 
Tamara Wilhite Added Feb 12, 2018 - 3:59pm

John Minehan We can look for better ways to kill mosquitoes, which ironically is hindered by the precautionary principle and elitist liberals going "oh, yuck" to genetic modification of anything, ruling out the genetic engineering of mosquitoes to try to hurt their counts. They let millions starve by lying that GMO foods were poisonous, so letting millions more die of disease is par the course.

The problem with the precautionary principle is that it ends up saying you cannot do anything new or different because no matter what you do, you're creating a risk of some sort.
You get the same suffocating of freedom of speech when you cannot say anything that may offend someone (and are at risk of someone lying about offense to enjoy the power of shutting others down).
John Minehan Added Feb 12, 2018 - 4:19pm
"They let millions starve by lying that GMO foods were poisonous, so letting millions more die of disease is par the course."
No one (who has a rational opinion, that is) who is against GMOs ise against GMOs because they are "poisonous."  
Dave Volek Added Feb 12, 2018 - 6:46pm
There is always some environmental disadvantage with any industrial product--either in the manufacture, use, or disposal. When using such a product, there are societal trade-offs to be made. We could hope the politicians are finding the right balance, but we don't have a lot of confidence they are. Whether they limit a certain product or let its use continue, they will always have detractors.
Katharine Otto Added Feb 12, 2018 - 6:51pm
It's hard to know the ramifications of insecticide use, but DDT does build up in the environment, is stored in tissues, and could have long term effects, like so many other chemicals--agricultural and otherwise--that the US is so good at developing and exporting around the world. 
I live in Savannah, GA, which is an insect paradise, and the county government likes to dump malathion on our heads by helicopter all summer long.  Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers maintains the largest mosquito nest in two states along the Savannah River, where it dumps dredge from the river.  As an international port, we are probably importing all kinds of virus and protozoa-bearing mosquitoes.  Does anyone talk about drainage?  The Corps says it pays the county to control the mosquitoes, but the county can't afford to maintain the drainage ditches.  That this regular dosing of malathion kills indiscriminately, including pollinators, has scary implications.
My point is that the simplest control measures, like destruction of habitat, are probably the best, but you don't hear the patent-chasers talking about that.  That's what Walter Reed and William Gorgas did when constructing the Panama Canal, thereby curtailing the epidemics of yellow fever and malaria that were killing the workers.
As far as malaria is concerned, there's a lot of money, including Gates money, in developing patented medications from the herb artemisia, which has been used for centuries by natives in Africa.  Now, because of widespread use of the drug, resistance is developing, but hey, Novartis stockholders are benefiting.  
Flying Junior Added Feb 12, 2018 - 8:58pm
In San Diego, to control West Nile virus and an outbreak of the Zika virus that never actually happened, mosquitoes were killed with aerial spraying of Pyrenone Mosquito Fogging Spray.  This poison dissipates within one half of an hour.  It uses pyrethrins such as are found in the common household flea bomb.
There is no comparison to DDT.  This product is light years safer and does not build up in the environment.  The summer the Zika virus scare hit us, I didn't see a single mosquito the entire season.  Slept with the windows open and no screens.
Leroy Added Feb 12, 2018 - 10:36pm
I've become skeptical of any scientific research, including the study that says more than fifty percent of studies are invalid.
I remember when it came out that drinking three bottles of hair dye a day could cause cancer, causing some hair dyes to be banned.  It was based on studies using rats.  Not many of us go around drinking three bottles of hair dye a day.  Kids today prefer Tide pods.
My point is that maybe we overreacted.  Maybe it is possible to use DDT in a safe way.   Even Pyrenone Mosquito Fogging Spray has its environmental risk.  It is toxic to fish.  Is it better than DDT?  I don't know.  If it is as safe as FJ says it is, then, by all means, make it available to Africa.  Are we that stupid or is there a reason why we don't?
Flying Junior Added Feb 13, 2018 - 12:26am
Good question.
Flying Junior Added Feb 13, 2018 - 12:36am
Wouldn't you know it.  There is a Malaria Consortium.  Four types of pesticides are currently in use.  Indoor residual spraying coats the walls of a dwelling with a pesticide that kills young larvae before they become active adults.
The class of pyrethroids is the only one that is recommended for long-lasting insecticidal nets.  So the nets are treated and last about three years.  However these efforts need to be coupled with adequate education.  Only about 50% of malaria deaths are being prevented.
wsucram15 Added Feb 13, 2018 - 1:16am
 Both pyrethrins and pyrethroids  are very strong and work on most critters, but you need to know what you are doing. 
No chemical on your food is good, but there are good ways to wash off the chems, dont just rinse with water and figure its gone.
Most commercial grade chemicals are not good for you or meant for your home. They are meant to kill reproductive systems, kill larve and ultimately kill the bugs themselves.  What do you figure it will do to us?
Leroy Added Feb 13, 2018 - 10:12am
"Good question."
What about bug zappers?  I suppose electricity might be a problem.  I bought one last year because of all the pesky mosquitoes the year before.  Mysteriously, there were no mosquitoes last year.  They say the outside zappers work well to reduce the mosquito population.  Then again, they kill indiscriminately any insect attracted by the light.  But, then again, so do the chemicals.
Dave Volek Added Feb 13, 2018 - 12:41pm
My point is that maybe we overreacted. 
Yep. We do this a lot. When we put too much emotion into our decisions, we often make not-the-best choice.
A friend of mine got killed in a rural intersection. We could argue that had that intersection been a cloverleaf instead of two perpendicular roads intersecting, my friend would not have died. But these cloverleafs costs about $10m each. So my friend's life seems to be valued at less than $10m (we didn't build it).
But it's not hard to envision that some agitator/activist would lobby government for the cloverleaf, using full emotion to make the point: "Damn the costs!"
These kinds of decisions need data, not emotion, to get the best value for our societal resources.
A. Jones Added Feb 13, 2018 - 11:52pm
"I'll take Stanford University over FOX conspiracy theorists any day of the week."
DDT for Health
Henry Miller, M.D.
Hoover Institution at Stanford University
"The regulators who banned DDT also failed to consider the inadequacy of alternatives. Because of its persistence, DDT works far better than many pesticides now in use, some of which are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms. With DDT unavailable, many local jurisdictions are depleting their mosquito-control budgets by repeated spraying with short-acting, marginally effective insecticides.

Of course, spraying any pesticide -- let alone DDT -- has been greeted by hysteria from environmental activists, who have attacked the killing of mosquitoes as 'disrupting the food chain.' New York's Green Party literature declared several years ago, 'These diseases only kill the old and people whose health is already poor.'

Since countries around the world began to ban DDT in the 1970s, insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue, and now West Nile virus, have been on the rise. The World Health Organization estimates that malaria kills about a million people annually, and that there are between 300 million and 500 million new cases each year.

This huge toll has caused some bureaucrats to reconsider. In 2005, the United States Agency for International Development endorsed DDT for malaria control, following the lead of the WHO.

To control mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, the pesticide would need to be used extensively -- and it should be. DDT should be made available, immediately, for both indoor and outdoor mosquito control in the U.S.; and the government should oppose international strictures on the pesticide. Federal officials should also educate local authorities and citizens about its safety and potential importance. Right now, most of what people hear is the reflexively anti-pesticide drumbeat of the environmental movement."
Leroy Added Feb 14, 2018 - 9:53am
Very informative, A. Jones.
Leroy Added Feb 14, 2018 - 9:56am
I remember the good old days when we used to ride our bikes behind the mosquito fogging trucks.
Tamara Wilhite Added Feb 14, 2018 - 10:34am

John Mineha

Zambians starve as food aid lies rejected
Quote: "The GM? Yes, the radio says it's poison."


Tamara Wilhite Added Feb 14, 2018 - 10:36am
Quote: "They refuse the corn because of scare tactics by environmentalists. They say it's poisoned and contaminated, that's the way GM is described in the developing world," Moore said.
Starving Nations Reject U.S. Food Donation
Tamara Wilhite Added Aug 6, 2018 - 11:02pm
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