Tuesday, February 19, 2008


DDT ban denialist Tim Lambert accuses a new book, Fighting the Diseases of Poverty, of perpetuating lies in making what is in reality an uncontroversial observation about DDT non-use:
Over the last few decades, however, the [World Health Organization] has discouraged the use of DDT in member states – encouraged by environmentalists, who have often massively overstated the negative effects of DDT on human and animal health (Roberts et al., 2000). Until recently, most Western aid agencies discouraged the use of DDT and indoor residual spraying generally, and the WHO has provided little financial assistance to those governments that wish to go down this route.
The book is simply restating the carefully considered views of the Director of the World Health Organization’s Malaria Department:
Even though indoor spraying with DDT and other insecticides had been remarkably effective preventing malaria sickness and death where used, this strategy seemed to have been abandoned by most countries nearly 30 years ago. By the early 1980s, WHO was no longer actively promoting it.

Some people told me that there was a good reason why its wide scale use had been phased out. I was told the practice was unsafe for humans, birds, fish and wildlife; that the use of DDT in the United States in the 1950s had led to the near extinction of the bald eagle. I was told that indoor spraying with DDT was “politically unpopular.”
But hey, it's no wonder Lambert thinks he knows more about the WHO than does the director of its Malaria Department; Lambert is, after all, a highly trained computer programmer.

Update: school teacher Ed Darrell makes Lambert look honest by comparison. Ed has cranked out the following clangers in DDT related discussions:
  1. Water is carcinogenic.
  2. Required nutrient selenium is carcinogenic.
  3. Life is carcinogenic.
  4. DDT is classified as a human carcinogen.
  5. DDT must be a human carcinogen because “[t]here is no other substance known to be an mammal carcinogen that is not also carcinogenic in humans".
  6. "Hundreds died in Borneo of typhus and plague after DDT wiped out the predators of the vectors of those diseases.”
  7. Rachel Carson was a prominent scientist.
  8. Silent Spring contains no significant errors - not even Carson's claim that DDT caused a woman to develop and die of cancer over a period of some three months after using DDT in her basement.
  9. Acute DDT poisoning has caused human deaths.
  10. Eminent scientist Bruce Ames is "silly" and "misled" because he thinks the DDT threat overstated.
If Ed's at all representative, America's education system is screwed.


Anonymous Ed Darrell said...

You really have a grand imagination. But for a good fiction blog, you should choose something more interesting than health policy. Pick something you understand and can really parody.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous J F said...

Thanks for the link TRJ, i was strapped for time and didn't bother to look it up.

5:11 PM  

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