Friday, June 12, 2009


Anti-DDT campaigner Tim Lambert links to an anti-DDT article in Seed magazine -- his blog host. The article gets off to a bad start:
That DDT builds up in our environment, kills marine life, and thins the eggshells of songbirds are lurid facts.
DDT's thinning of songbird eggshells is not an established fact, at least not as far as I know.

Attached to the article is a photograph (titled "Silent Spring DDT") of a heavily protected worker spraying an unknown substance -- presumably DDT since the article is about DDT -- on a lush green field, whereas the article is ostensibly about the indoor spraying of tiny amounts of DDT in the fight against malaria. The photograph is meant to lead readers to think that the dreaded DDT is being broadcast into the environment when such use is unlikely to occur anywhere in the world today.

A large part of the Seed article is devoted to an interview with epidemiologist Barbara Eskanazi, who knows DDT's use in the fight against malaria will have dire outcomes but can't prove it:
I don’t really know. I can’t predict, but I can say that if the studies that I read hold true we may see higher rates of diabetes; we may see higher rates of breast cancer; we may see higher rates of male infertility. We may see poor neurodevelopment in children. We may also see more spontaneous abortions.
Or, maybe not. Eskanazi is the lead author of a recent report on a review of DDT studies which concludes (my bold):
The use of DDT historically may have resulted in preventing millions of infections and deaths from insect-borne diseases. Based on recent studies, we conclude that humans are exposed to DDT and DDE, that IRS can result in substantial exposure, and that DDT may pose a risk for human populations. However, few studies have measured body burdens of both DDE and DDT and studies have rarely investigated the effects of DDT/E exposure at levels observed in populations exposed through IRS. Furthermore, information on exposure to DDT/E during critical periods is limited for outcomes such as cancer.
Again, maybe not.

The Seed article is intentionally misleading, inaccurate and irresponsible. Lambert's link to it is proof enough that the article is a crock.


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