Friday, September 29, 2006

DDT Debate

I'm pleased to see that a small debate has erupted (is there such a thing as a small eruption?) over the legalization of DDT. Already one reader have agreed with my previous DDT post while another has criticized me. The heart of the debate seems to be a 1960s book by Rachel Carson called Silent Spring. In the book, Carson claims that DDT causes cancer in humans and thins the shells of bird eggs. She also stressed this concept of environmental connectedness, which basically states that although a pesticide is designed to kill one organism, its effects are absorbed into the food chain, until it ultimately poisons humans.

Unfortunately for the late Rachel Carson, there has never been any substantial evidence of DDT and other pesticides killing or even hurting humans, and even the impact on widlife is not directly fatal.

Personally, I believe that DDT should be legalized, for two purposes:
1) To use in eradicating bed bugs
2) To do legitimate research on this chemical to verify just how harmful DDT may or may not be

I am a libertarian, which means I don't trust the government to make decisions about what I can do on my property, what I can do with or put in my body, and other personal decisions I make about my life. I believe the government, especially on the federal level, is highly unaccountable and does whatever it wants, including criminalizing things for political reasons rather than concern for the safety and well-being of Americans. I am an advocate for the legalization of marijuana, and not because I'm some huge pothead (I'm not) but because I feel the punishments associated with marijuana possession, trafficking and sales are far more harmful than the narcotic itself. Still, more and more people (especially Baby Boomers) claim that marijuana possesses certain medicinal benefits. Republicans say we must continue our War on Drugs and keep increasing the prison population by cracking down on marijuana. Democrats complain that they can't advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana because there isn't enough legitimate research.

Well, how can you conduct legitimate research on an illegal substance? The current research being done in the U.S. on marijuana is really very little compared to research conducted on the same substance in European universities and laboratories. This is because the U.S. has a War on Drugs and a slew of authoritarian rules and penalties for marijuana possession, trafficking and sales. There are many restrictions on how much research an American laboratory can do on marijuana, plus research can often take years and years for concrete results to emerge.

This is the same problem with DDT. How can research be done on an illegal pesticide? From what I've read so far on the DDT ban, it seems that Silent Spring jumpstarted the Environmentalism Movement in the U.S., some tree huggers formed special interest groups and forced the federal government to ban it completely by 1972. There is no mention of any attempt to research DDT in the 1960s or 70s to determine how true Carson's claims are. All I hear is Silent Spring + angry environmentalists = DDT ban.

Where do you stand on this issue?


Anonymous said...

I am with you 100% on the DDT issue. In fact, in Nigeria, DDT has begun to be judiciously applied to the inside of homes to help control malaria.
DDT became the target of overzealous environmentalism in the late 60s. Think about all the other crap out there that is till being used without any hooplah.
The amount of disease and duress (bedbugs) that can be eliminated with the use of DDT far outweighs any ban on the stuff. If it isn'y used on food crops, it does not readily make egress into the food chain.
Give me a bedful of DDT instead of bugs any day.

Anonymous said...

Without DDT we are going to see bedbugs crawling up the walls of schools, hotels, stores and of course most apt. bldgs. and homes...Banning DDT was wrong. It was and is the most effective , least costly pesticide on the market. Those who don't want to bring it back are socially irresponsible. It was used incorrectly and deposed of incorrectly..that was the problem..Human error ! Not the product. When used as an indoor residual spray it is the best of the best. Alarmist's love to scare us..saying it will create super bugs or that the bugs are immune to it. This is not the truth. DDT is being used now in Africa and it is killing off mosquitos and bedbugs.

nobugs said...

I read that 6 million African children died of malaria in the time the world kept the governments there from spraying DDT. As the OP said, now its being used again to good avail. I understand that bed bugs aren't quite the life or death issue that malaria is, but I am still in favor of carefully bringing it back as you say. If those who say it is useless and BBs are now resistant, then fine, let's verify that. But if it works, it can be used with caution. In past decades, it was used with reckless abandon (spraying from moving trucks and planes), and this is much more DDT being used than would ever be needed for cautious indoor spraying.http://

Anonymous said...

GOT BED BUGS I agree that ddt has gotten the axe and now due to that we are seeing bed bugs on the rise around the usa. I got them and I don't know where but, I have gon through 4 times of moving furniture around emptying drawers and such so they can spray. That translate into 8 sprayings--The first and then the second which I get to move everyting again and I still have the bugs from the end of last winter and here I am many months late and still have bed bugs. If I could find some ddt I would buy it and spray it myself. I have what is tremed as "Bed Bug Physcosis". I wake up everymoring looking for the dark spots of regergitated blood. I also actually feel like something is crawling on me and there is nothing there. I am at my wits end. The agency has them to come and spray but, I think that the need 3 or for sparyings on a reqular basis to insure that they get the adults and the little one that have hatched and the ones that they have laid eggs to get the new ones. It is my own private hell. I have so many scars on my body because, it is an itch that you just can scratch enough until it bleeds leaving scabs on my legs, arms and torso. I'm looking into having someone to can and spary for 4 or 5 times. I am disable and I can't afford it but, if I have to eat peanut butter and jelly for a couple of months then so be it.

Greenie said...

I can't speak for my entire Pest Control Seattle team , but we receive an overwhelming number of calls from people dealing with bed bugs and I believe that the legalization of DDT would help these poor people out immensely!