MORE DDT DECEPTIONS
Lambert revels in parading his "knowledge", especially when he can do so at the expense of those supporting the use of DDT. His attack on posts by Gary Becker and Richard Posner is a classic example of Lambert doing his "hey look how much smarter I am than these schmucks" routine -- Lambert could have simply said the esteemed gentlemen are wrong, preferring instead to title his post "Becker and Posner's ignorance about DDT". Lambert's post is, however, riddled with the usual deceptions.
With 11 links Lambert's post appears at first glance to be well researched and documented. It isn't. Two of the links are to Becker and Posner's posts, one is to Malaria Foundation International with the other eight to earlier deception-enhanced Lambert posts. (Lambert could have linked to outside sources but is inclined to self-reference -- not only is it self-promotional, it also makes it more difficult to detect his deceptions.)
Lambert writes in his Becker and Posner post: "And far from rejecting the use of DDT in that period, the WHO endorsed it." Anyone who takes the time to follow the link to his earlier post, and the futher links from there, will find nothing from WHO endorsing DDT use. The link to a Roll Back Malaria statement on the use of bed-nets and indoor residual spraying doesn't even mention DDT. The closest thing he offers to a WHO DDT endorsement is an Allen Schapira quote: "WHO has never given up in its efforts to ensure access to DDT where it is needed." Oddly, no examples of ensured access to DDT are provided.
Lambert writes: "DDT is not banned and WHO has always supported its use." The first link is to a another Lambert post, in turn linking to an online ad for DDT. The ad notes that the company has sold DDT to a number of countries over recent years but doesn't specify whether the DDT was sold before the advent of the POPs treaty and also doesn't specify the ultimate use -- legitimate or otherwise -- of the DDT. Anyway, Lambert's point is that DDT can't be banned if a company is offering it online. While it's better substantiation than Lambert usually offers, it's hardly proof there hasn't been an ongoing de facto DDT ban. (I probably get three or four emails a day trying to sell me prescription drugs I'm not legally entitled to. Buying some of these drugs wouldn't constitute proof the Australian government wants me to take them.)
The second link is to yet another Lambert post. It's the same one linked to regarding the Shapira quote. It does not support the claim that the WHO supports DDT use.
Lambert writes: "The World Bank already funds DDT spraying as does USAID." The first link is to, you guessed it, an earlier Lambert post that says: "The World Bank also funds DDT in India, Madagascar and the Solomon Islands." Yes, the World Bank does contribute to India's use of DDT. India is committed to DDT use and is something of a special case: it is one of the few countries still making DDT and would use DDT whether or not the World Bank offered its support. So, the World Bank, probably wanting to avoid a nasty spat, complete with claims of racial discrimination, came to the party. Regardless, I'll pay Lambert as getting it right on World Bank funding for India's DDT use.
DDT use is Madagascar and the Solomon Islands is another matter. The Madagascar link is to a World Bank document dated October 2000. It discusses DDT use noting: "In 1998, the World Bank and the government of Madagascar agreed to reduce the total surface areas for spraying and to progressively phase out DDT, replacing it with an environmentally friendly insecticide." The Solomon Islands link no longer works but I know its thrust because I've posted on this before. The link says nothing whatever about DDT use after 1999. Thus, two out three items of Lambert's evidence do not support his contention that the World Bank funds general DDT use.
Lambert's USAID link is even iffier, offering as it does this as proof: "USAID strongly supports spraying as a preventative measure for malaria and will support the use of DDT when it is scientifically sound and warranted." As of that writing USAID might well have been supportive of DDT spraying but had spent US$0 on DDT sparying programs, with its efforts heavily criticized by the Government Accountability Office.
Lambert writes: "The agricultural use of DDT in the US was banned in 1972. Use in public health was not. The Stockholm treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants permits the use of DDT against malaria. The ban on the agricultural use of DDT has undoubtedly saved lives by slowing the spread of resistance." He's correct in noting that, because DDT is still allowed to be used in the US in the event of a public health emergency, it isn't really banned. On the other hand, as far as I can determine, DDT has not been used in the US since its banning for agricultural use.
Lambert's first link in the paragraph above, to the Malaria Foundation International, is the rare unequivocally correct piece of evidence he offers. But the "saved lives" link is another very iffy one. It leads, of course, to another Lambert post, one dealing with a resurgence in malaria supposedly link to agricultural use of DDT. All well and good but if DDT has hardly been used for IRS, which since the late 1990s has been the case, and is preventing very few malaria infections, what good has it done to preserve DDT lethality? It might well be an important factor in the future but hasn't been a significant life saving factor as yet.
Lambert writes: "As already noted, DDT was not banned. The main causes of the resurgence of malaria was the evolution of resistance to DDT and anti-malaria drugs." Lambert's link is to an earlier post on DDT use in Sri Lanka. He makes the case for agricultural use of DDT causing a resurgence of malaria in Sri Lanka. Even if he is correct it is not appropriate to generalize, based solely on the Sr Lankan experience, that malaria has made a comeback due to agricultural use of DDT.
Finally, in response to this from Posner:
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2001) bans DDT but with an exception for its use against malaria, and the puzzle is why the exception is so rarely invoked, South Africa being a notable exception. An even greater puzzle is why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the world's largest foundation and has made the eradication of malaria a priority, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars searching for a vaccine against malaria but nothing (as far as I know) to encourage indoor spraying with DDT.Lambert writes:
Here's the solution to the puzzle: Gates is a smart guy and has studied the problem more carefully than Posner. They had a massive program that tried to eradicate malaria with DDT spraying in the 60s and it failed. DDT is a useful tool against malaria and it is being used for that, but it won't eradicate malaria. Gates is right to fund research into a vaccine and the development of new drugs and insecticides. (We desperately need new drugs and insecticides because the parasites and mosquitoes keep evolving resistance to the ones we have.)Lambert's being especially dishonest here; he knows Posner isn't talking about using DDT to eradicate malaria carrying mosquitoes: Posner's wants to know why more effort isn't being put into the use of DDT to eradicate malaria as a health problem.
Really, it's pathetic that an academic writes the deliberately dishonest nonsense Lambert cranks out.
Note: Lambert finds my little critiques irksome so he bounces my links to his old blog, thus many of the links above aren't going to work. I suggest you open his Becker and Posner post in a new window and use that to access his older links.
This post is for Ken Miles, who says I'm a "dishonest" writer of "garbage".