Tuesday, October 13, 2009


A very scary prediction:
South Africa's use of the pesticide DDT for malaria control in the Limpopo River basin is likely to lead to an increase in babies being born with deformed sex organs or being born with both male and female genitalia.

This is the view of former CSIR scientist Anthony Turton, who delivered a lecture on the "Crisis in our Rivers" when he was awarded the Habitat Council's Conservation Award in the city on Saturday.
Caster Semenya was born and raised in Limpopo province. More from Turton:
We know from published peer-reviewed research that a high correlation exists between the application of DDT as a (malarial) control measure and the birth of babies with deformed genitalia, either being born with both male and female organs, or with abnormalities associated with what we can broadly call gender-defining organs, and we also know this is affecting male fertility.

The common denominator is the Limpopo area and abnormalities associated with gender arising from endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as the use of DDT to control malaria ... This means a national propensity to androgyny for future generations, specifically if they were conceived in areas of high risk such as the Limpopo River basin.
Turton's scientific specialty? Political science. So here we have an environmentalist in the Rachel Carson mold using bogus science in hope of creating an hysterical anti-DDT backlash – there is no better way to scare parents than to make them think having thier houses sprayed for mosquitoes will wreck their babies' genitals, obliquely using Caster Semenya as an example. It's both irresponsible and pathetic.

Update: I can find no studies linking DDT exposure to androgyny: anyone finding such a study should post the information in comments so I can update. Studies linking DDT to genital malformations are contradictory so the juries still out on that.

Anyway, I'm reasonably aware of alleged DDT related health issues and can't recall anyone other than Turton linking DDT to androgyny. Just coincidentally Caster Semenya's apparently indeterminate gender recently got lots of play in the media, especially in South Africa. Semenya was born and raised in Limpopo province.

Now we have Turton specifying that Limpopoans are especially vulnerable to DDT induced androgyny. Whereas he doesn't refer to Semenya by name, he's obviously trying to create a mental link between Semenya's apparently indeterminate sexuality and DDT's alleged ability to cause androgynous defects in babies.


Anonymous J F Beck said...

No they didn't. Show me the studies Turton refers to.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re-read the posts by the bloggers I mentioned. Also read the comments. There were several studies linking DDT with a range of medical problems. Turton is neither here nor there.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry, Beck will soon be burying this post (like he did his more recent DDT FAIL) underneath double-spaced puff-pieces on light globes, knives and, if we're really lucky, a wank piece on Jeremy Sear.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toaf, why do you hate africans so much that you are willing to allow them to die from malaria? does it spring from a deep-seated ludditism?

6:57 PM  
Anonymous J F Beck said...

Toaf, how does a single study of sperm motility bolster Turton's argument that DDT has produced a "propensity to androgyny for future generations"?

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Toaf said...

Beck, that study is only one of many that Turton cites when discussing the endocrine disrupting effects of certain substances. Again, you'd know this if you bothered to read Turton's work.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Mehaul said...

If it's not Lataan, it's Toaf. Bad luck Beck.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous J F Beck said...

A brief interlude while Toaf frantically searches for imaginary studies. Smoke 'em if you have 'em.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 6:57 it was actually on knife sharpeners, tosspot

8:11 PM  
Anonymous alex said...

"Have at look at Wiki for starters..."

Ah yes, Wikipedia, that well-known bastion of scientific integrity.

Name the studies, like a big boy. Then we'll talk. Until then, you and the other schoolchildren are welcome to abuse Wikipedia all you like.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Leaping Avenger said...

PS your chances of hermaphrodism are far greater through indiscriminate use of certain plastics BTW, for eg. bisphenol A etc. and precursors and/or breakdown products in the environment.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Leaping Avenger said...

I believe off hand that DDE or dichlorodiphenyldichloroethyene a breakdown product of DDT interferes with calcium deposition in the eggshells leading to the much advertised thin shelled eggs breaking. Also at the specific time there was a great deal of other environmental pollution (heavy metals, plastics) contributing to bald eagle decline not to mention hunting. By pin heads in helicopters I believe.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous J F Beck said...

Okay leftards I'm off to bed, so you guys have plenty of time to hunt for the imaginary science. Knock yourselves out, kiddies.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how is bringing Caster Semenya into this in any way valid? Weren't the left claiming all mention of her masculine appearance is racist? Even if DDT has the effect claimed, how on earth could anyone ever show that a specific instance of a condition that effects millions around the world is linked to DDT - science doesn't operate that way. Obviously, what would I know, I only have a science degree and not a political science degree. Lattecat

6:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who brought Semenya into this? That would be Beck. The news story makes no mention of her, even though Beck claims Turton used Semenya as an example. Did you even bother to click on the link?

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"South Africa's use of the pesticide DDT for malaria control in the Limpopo River basin is likely to lead to an increase in babies being born with deformed sex organs or being born with both male and female genitalia."

What is missing here is an actual statement about the level of risk. It turns out the risk is either very low or non existant -the literature is not clear- for the level of exposure one would receive from a malaria abatement program. I would like to echo the sentiments above that I would rather risk the exposure to DDT than to malaria.

PS please tone down the insults, guys.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beck, don't bother feeding the trolls. They have nothing. They know it and will try and obfuscate the issue with garbage wiki entries - like the recent Rush Limbaugh is a racist wiki entries.

12:09 PM  

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