Nick Matzke posted Entry 3207 on June 25, 2007 02:47 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3196

2007-07_NG_cover.jpgGiven that malaria is more or less the preeminent case of intelligent design in Michael Behe’s The Edge of Evolution, I think everyone would find it interesting to read the July 2007 cover story of National Geographic, which is on malaria and the history of attempts, failures, and hopes of eradicating it. The story focuses on Zambia, where the infection rates are sometimes over 100% (i.e., people are infected more than once a year). I have a somewhat personal interest in this since when I was seven my family went to Zambia for a year, as my dad was on sabbatical. We all took chloroquine weekly – a nasty-tasting drug to a seven-year old, mind you. And despite religiously taking the nasty-tasting drug, I got malaria in the end anyway (the chloroquine-resistant kind, naturally), came down with it on the plane ride back to the states, and then, sick as a dog, I was paraded around undiagnosed before baffled American doctors who had never seen malaria, until someone had the bright idea that maybe I had picked up the most common disease in Africa. More nasty medicine cured it, but that was an early lesson in evolution for me, let me tell you.

The NG article makes several important points: (1) Malaria isn’t like viruses or bacteria. It is a parasite and has 5,000 genes and elaborate, devious strategies for dodging the immune system. No one has ever developed a successful vaccine for a parasite, so it is not surprising that this is so tough for malaria. (2) Malaria has been around far longer than humans, considering that primate, cows, birds, lizards, and pretty much everything else terrestrial seems to have one or more malaria species specializing on it. (3) The article, for once, actually sensitively discusses the issue of DDT use, and notes accurately (for once) that environmental groups and governmental agencies were not and are not opposed to intelligent use of DDT for malaria control. However, it still has one scientist repeating the anti-environmentalist propaganda that a (mythical) DDT ban killed tens of millions of children in malarious countries. This extremely serious claim is completely unsupported by any study as far as I know. See DDT Ban Myth and Putting Myths to Bed. (4) The best remedies may be the simplest ones. The best ideas in the article seem to be (a) bed nets and (b) a regular vaccine consisting of (here’s the clever bit) killed malaria parasites to get the body’s immunity up and running (malaria is most dangerous to children who have not developed an immune reaction, or to people who have not been infected for awhile and have a weaker immune response). If these are in place then mosquito control and medical attention and drug treatment can curb the crisis situations without being overwhelmed by mass infection. It’s not perfect but it may be a substantial improvement over attempts to eradicate the disease which have failed again and again.

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Comment #184596

Posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams on June 25, 2007 4:57 PM (e)

The article did make it clear that DDT became difficult to procure, and that only recently has it become easier to obtain. The quasi-protection afforded by sickle-cell anemia was only tangentially mentioned.

This same issue has a good article entitled “Iceman Murder Mystery.” Great illustration of the nature of science - new technologies leading to new evidence and insights into the Iceman’s death, overturning/elaborating previous theories - and rather CSI-like. “Were you theeeeere?” becomes even more irrelevant.

Unfortunate for 7-year-old Nick that he was there for Anopheles.

Comment #184598

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on June 25, 2007 5:17 PM (e)

So sad to hear Nat Geo has developed malaria…

Comment #184599

Posted by Alex, FCD on June 25, 2007 5:20 PM (e)

I once had a high-school biology teacher who spent a few years teaching in Africa. He contracted malaria more than once to the great amusement of his supervisor. “You Europeans* are so weak”, he would apparently say. Turns out that the supervisor was heterozygous for sickle-cell anemia, and a carrier for the malaria parasite.

*The gentleman in question was, in fact, born and raised in Canada, but his boss had a habit of refering to all white people as ‘Europeans’.

Comment #184601

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on June 25, 2007 5:28 PM (e)

The article did make it clear that DDT became difficult to procure, and that only recently has it become easier to obtain.

I suspect that this is just a modified version of the DDT ban myth that someone invented once they were informed that DDT was never actually banned for malaria control. If someone were to document that DDT prices went up in the 1970s (reduced demand, increased prices? That doesn’t make sense right there) then there might be an argument. But AFAICT all we get is vague generalities.

Comment #184612

Posted by FastEddie on June 25, 2007 6:24 PM (e)

It’s possible for there to be reduced demand for a product and an increase in the price provided there is also a large decrease in supply. Crazy ass world of economics.

Comment #184617

Posted by David B. Benson on June 25, 2007 7:18 PM (e)

All that I could find was a 1995 paper which stated, in the abstract, that the quality-adjusted price of pesticides used in US agriculture was 2.5 times higher in 1995 than in 1968.

Comment #184619

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on June 25, 2007 7:36 PM (e)

I have been digging around elsewhere – one article in Nature says that anti-malarial agencies moved away from DDT (somewhat but not completely) in the 1970s because of widespread resistance due to agricultural spraying.

Comment #184620

Posted by harold on June 25, 2007 7:39 PM (e)

I suspect that Behe is a double agent.

Recognizing the danger that creationism posed to science, he devoted himself to cleverly imitating a creationist, but in a way that is devastating to creationism.

I’m not endorsing this, but he sure did it well.

Because if there ever is another ID trial (and I suppose there probably won’t be, because supreme court or no supreme court, ID is now over and uncool), but if there ever is, then…

Behe will be on the witness stand explaining that according to ID, Jesus deliberately designed the complex malaria parasite to kill little babies.

And they laughed at the bacterial flagellum.

Comment #184624

Posted by David B. Benson on June 25, 2007 7:47 PM (e)

In 1999 only three countries, China, India and Mexico, manufactured DDT.

Comment #184626

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 25, 2007 8:19 PM (e)

aren’t pyrethrins cheaper and more readily available than DDT anyway?

with the added side bonus that they don’t bioaccumulate, so there wouldn’t be any arguments from ecologists or environmentalists, either.

Comment #184664

Posted by Scott Simmons on June 26, 2007 7:06 AM (e)

Jerome: “By the way, hats off to Rachel Carson for the restricton of DDT and several million dead.
Outstanding scientific foresight.”

You mean the part where she correctly anticipated that the widespread agricultural use of DDT would lead to a rise in DDT-resistant malarial strains? You know, as discussed in the article you’re commenting on, but apparently didn’t deign to read?

Comment #184671

Posted by harold on June 26, 2007 8:23 AM (e)

Jerome -

This is a short thread, and the lack of clear cut direct connection between limiting agricultural DDT use and malaria has been discussed above.

Public health is probably the single most important factor in development, but it has to be based on sustainable methods, otherwise it will benefit one generation, but fail the next.

Comment #184689

Posted by wamba on June 26, 2007 11:34 AM (e)

The National Geographic article calls the development of DDT a miracle. Insects are developing resistance. The National Geographic article calls the development of chloroquine a miracle. Plasmodia are developing resistance. Thus, evolution seems to be more powerful than God.

Comment #184690

Posted by PvM on June 26, 2007 11:37 AM (e)

Yes, it seems that evolution and global warming deniers also seem to believe in other nonsense such as the DDT ban myth. Tim Lamberts on deltoid has spent many postings addressing the ignorance about global warming as well as the DDT ban. It’s sad how ignorance leads people to accept such beliefs as Intelligent Design, Global Warming Denial etc when a few minutes of research would show how most of their arguments quickly unravel and all that is left is ignorance.

Comment #184691

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on June 26, 2007 11:42 AM (e)

You know, citing malaria as an example of intelligent design makes me wonder… do these guys ever think about what such arguments say about God?

Of course maybe malaria was intelligently designed to punish us for the sin of… being outdoors near standing water?

Comment #184701

Posted by CJO on June 26, 2007 1:02 PM (e)

Mmmmhmmmm. What were you doing there, Adam, staring out across that stagnant water, hmmmm?

Coveting your neighbor’s ass no doubt.

Comment #184709

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 26, 2007 1:50 PM (e)

What kind of parent would expose a seven year old to that threat on a “sabbatical”?

funny, but I spent a bit of time in French Polynesia, also with significant risk of exposure to malaria, dengue, etc.

never would have thought twice about bringing any offspring there.

some risks are quite worth it.

Comment #184711

Posted by Coin on June 26, 2007 2:08 PM (e)

By the way, hats off to Rachel Carson for the restricton of DDT and several million dead.

“People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it”

Comment #184727

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on June 26, 2007 3:45 PM (e)

This remind me of my childhood when visiting relatives in the Caribbean. We use mosquito nets at night to avoid/prevent bites and prevent dengue fever. Differently to malaria, dengue is a viral disease but transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.

Comment #184738

Posted by Les on June 26, 2007 5:48 PM (e)

The best way to stop malaria is DDT, but the use was stopped because of course we can’t let the poor pelicans break their eggs so we let 1 million Africans (mostly children) die every year because of the decadence of the west. Thank you Rachel Carson for the “junk science”.

Thankfully DDT is now being used more often because it was discovered that the enivironmental problems with it had been completely overblown years ago.

Comment #184745

Posted by Edward T. Babinski on June 26, 2007 6:55 PM (e)

Changes in genes due to selection pressures from pesticides: The mosquitoes that are resistant to DDT have evolved multiple copies of the esterase genes that enable them to detoxify it; the cotton budworm has altered the target of the poison, and houseflies have altered the proteins that transport the poison. So there are a wide variety of _possible_ mutations that can reduce the killing effects of a pesticide on an organism, and only one of those very different types of mutations has to occur in order for the organism to develop resistance. This increases the odds that such resistance could occur via the same random mutations that naturally occur in every organism during meiotic divisions of its germ cells.

Also…

The evidence of arms races in nature is well attested. Changes of one species influence the other, especially in cases of predator and prey species, or parasites and hosts. Even humans, being massive killers of species from bacterial germs to mosquitoes, has affected their evolution. The bacteria evolved resistance to antibiotics, while the insects evolved resistance to pesticides. Interestingly, there’s a wide variety of ways that a bacterium or insect can evolve resistance to such things. Sometimes a gene is omitted, and that protects them, sometimes a gene is duplicated, and that protects them. Closely related species may mutate in different ways and thus overcome the antiobiotic or pesticide in different ways.

Nature appears flexible, intrinsically so. So much so, that it appears to me evolution is no more impossible than say, the ability of stars to produce every element in the periodic table from simply hydrogen atoms that continue fusing together into heavier and heavier atoms inside each star.

Also, there are quite a few Christian evolutionists out there who are not jumping aboard the I.D. bandwagon for the reasons given above.

Comment #184748

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 26, 2007 7:11 PM (e)

The best way to stop malaria is DDT, but the use was stopped because of course we can’t let the poor pelicans break their eggs so we let 1 million Africans (mostly children) die every year because of the decadence of the west. Thank you Rachel Carson for the “junk science”.

Thankfully DDT is now being used more often because it was discovered that the enivironmental problems with it had been completely overblown years ago.

holy crap! it’s like people can’t be bothered to read the posts or comments before they poot.

as to the dnagers of DDT and DDE metabolites, they actually HAVEN’T been overblown, as anybody who has studied organochlorine residues in marine mammals or other high trophic level predators like sharks could tell you.

We STILL are finding extremely high levels of DDE metabolites in marine mammals and sharks off of the coast of CA, for example, over 30 years after their banning in the US, and studies have conclusively shown physiological issues from the high levels. the source of contamination now is considered likely to be non-point (IOW, most likely from runnoff and contaminated groundwater), so current ag use isn’t even part of the issue any more.

that DDE metabolites bioaccumulate, and have severe impacts on various populations of animals is not in any question. All one has to do is check the lit on the subject for the last 20 plus years to see. To assume that similar kinds of damage wouldn’t occur in humans who consume animals with high concentrations of the metabolites seems assinine to me.

as to whether small scale usage of DDT causes seepage into groundwater, or otherwise would affect bioaccumulation on a large scale is a more interesting question to ask. Another good question would be to ask why not use pesticides with lesser risk of bioaccumulation to begin with, if they are available and cheap.

Comment #184749

Posted by Coin on June 26, 2007 7:27 PM (e)

holy crap! it’s like people can’t be bothered to read the posts or comments before they poot.

Why would they? I mean, what would be the benefit to them in doing so?

Comment #184769

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 27, 2007 1:18 AM (e)

Jerome wrote:

I yam a maroon.

Les wrote:

I yam a maroon.

Comment #184812

Posted by Laser on June 27, 2007 8:07 AM (e)

The posts of Jerome and Les remind me of a quote from Richard Whatley:

Whatley wrote:

He who is not aware of his ignorance will only be misled by his knowledge.

Comment #184814

Posted by harold on June 27, 2007 9:04 AM (e)

Les and Jerome -

You don’t know anything about malaria.

You don’t know anything about DDT.

You don’t care about children in Africa.

You were psychologically incapable of even reading the posts in the very thread you chose to post on.

It is most comical that you both parroted almost the exact same outdated right wing buzzwords.

Your behavior is about as voluntary as that of a Skinner pigeon. The conditioning, or should I say brainwashing, was done years ago. (Indeed, present day chemical company executives wouldn’t want right wing basement-bots hypocritically arguing for unregulated use of pesticides as the only possible answer to malaria. Not the kind of PR they’re looking for.)

Certain environmental cues trigger an involuntary and irresistable urge to parrot decades old right wing talking points. What’s that like, anyway?

Comment #184853

Posted by harold on June 27, 2007 10:45 AM (e)

Man, I was pretty grouchy when I posted that last comment.

All true, of course, but pretty grouchy.

I guess it was the idea that someone would still be arguing that we should go back to the burning lake days level of environmental regulations that set me off…

Comment #184857

Posted by George Cauldron on June 27, 2007 10:54 AM (e)

‘Les’ and ‘Jerome’ are certainly the same person, probably some troll who posts here under other names as well. Legion is a good candidate.

He claims to care about Africans but it’s obvious his real point is just bashing environmentalists. Yawn.

Comment #184925

Posted by Bob on June 27, 2007 8:14 PM (e)

Since we are talking about DDT and deniers anyway, I have always wondered about ExxonMobil’s support of BOTH the CEI and a South African malaria organization. Milloy also has the DDT ban under his skin; we know that Milloy was paid as a contractor by them and we know that CEI’s heritage is that of a “medical doubt” machine created by Lorilar, R. J. Reynolds and others. Finally we know that CEI acted to create FUD about global warming on behalf of ExxonMobil and feed it to Murdoch’s Fox News. If you have doubts, go here and search for “Milloy”.

On the general assumption that these people never do anything that isn’t central to their mission of making money off the misfortune of others, why do they push DDT?

Chrichton’s misstatements in _State of Fear_ about malaria mortality numbers are what got me looking into global warming denial when I found that he got them from Milloy. I was upset that Chrichton had completely discounted the heroic efforts of WHO staffers and volunteers.

Comment #184993

Posted by raven on June 28, 2007 9:45 AM (e)

DDT was banned in the USA decades ago. So what happened? Malaria is still unknown. DDT and its breakdown products are lower in human tissue and the environment. And several species of birds including ospreys, the bald eagle, and pelicans that were rapidly declining have recovered.

Meanwhile, there are dozens of other insecticides with more being discovered.

In other words, nothing bad and much good. The rest of the world is a different story. Apparently malarial countries have decided the cost benefit favors DDT. OK, the US jurisdiction ends at our borders. Their country, their problem, their decision. But it seems to me if DDT is so valuable for public health reasons, it should never be used in agriculture or other places where alternatives exist. Evolution predicts and experience confirms that sooner or later DDT resistant mosquitos will arise.

Comment #185012

Posted by PvM on June 28, 2007 11:42 AM (e)

The best way to stop malaria is DDT, but the use was stopped because of course we can’t let the poor pelicans break their eggs so we let 1 million Africans (mostly children) die every year because of the decadence of the west. Thank you Rachel Carson for the “junk science”.

This is a lie. DDT was never banned when used to fight malaria. DDT, if carefully applied can be quite effective, however, when poorly applied, it can lead to quick resistance to DDT.

Thankfully DDT is now being used more often because it was discovered that the enivironmental problems with it had been completely overblown years ago.

Your ignorance in these matters is duely noted.

Comment #185017

Posted by raven on June 28, 2007 12:17 PM (e)

we can’t let the poor pelicans break their eggs so we let 1 million Africans (mostly children) die every year because of the decadence of the west.

This doesn’t make any sense. If we spray DDT in California, and wipe out the pelicans, and fish eating raptors, how will this save children in Africa?

It won’t of course. The vectors for malaria in Africa are African mosquitos. Not North American pelicans or eagles.

Thank you Rachel Carson for the “junk science”.

I wouldn’t call claiming that American pelicans are a vector for African malaria, junk science. This is even below delusionary. LOL

DDT was never banned by the US in the rest of the world. For anyone unfamiliar with the concept of “nation-state”, US jurisdiction ends at US borders. DDT has been manufactured and used outside the US continuously since this country banned it. Anyone who read the article at the start of the thread would have noticed that it is being used in Africa at this very moment.

IIRC, India once tried to eradicate malaria with widespread DDT spraying. It worked for a few years and then stopped working. By that time, they had evolved mosquitos who laughed at DDT. There aren’t so many ways to fight malaria that anyone can afford to be dumb about it.

Comment #185036

Posted by Russ on June 28, 2007 2:17 PM (e)

Those of you who insist there is no ban on DDT ought to read the Malaria Capers, or explain why the Philippines banned DDT under pressure from environmentalists and the US who essentially told them if they wanted to continue to get US aid, they needed to ban DDT.I was there a year ago(the Philippines) and read several articles in Manila papers about how the government is fudging statistics to hide the fact that Malaria is again on the rise. They are seeing people buying and using DDT illegally because of malaria, they are seeing people poisoning their water supplies by pouring oil into the water to kill mosquito larvae.

It’s semantics we banned it for agricultural use after we’d managed to eradicate malaria(largely with DDT) in the US. We’re now demanding the rest of the world deal with Malaria without using DDT.

It’s not a magic pill to make malaria go away but it’s absolutely true that if used correctly we could save lots of lives in Africa with DDT, they’re already proving that in South Africa. Even the World Health Organization reversed itself and is now
advocating the use of DDT in Africa to fight Malaria.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/art…

Comment #185052

Posted by harold on June 28, 2007 6:05 PM (e)

Russ -

It is interesting to contrast your dissembling blather, which makes reference to invisible and unmotivated conspiracies that you claim to have read about in unreferenced “Manilla newspapers” (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) and crackpot books, to the rational post immediately above it.

George Cauldron -

You may be right, because every troll thinks that posting under multiple names is a brilliant, original idea that he, and he alone, just invented.

However, it’s also true that every parrot in this particular shop has been trained to mindlessly shriek the same slogan at the same cue. So they may tend to sound alike, yet be different parrots.

(No insult to actual avian parrots intended.)

Comment #185087

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 29, 2007 4:25 AM (e)

raven wrote:

DDT was banned in the USA decades ago.

By William Ruckelshaus (who later resigned from the Nixon adminstration when Nixon ordered him to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox). Rachel Carson wrote her book a decade earlier, in 1962.

Russ wrote:

after we’d managed to eradicate malaria(largely with DDT) in the US.

Where do you guys get this stuff? Take a look at this map. Notice anything significant about the locations of a) malaria and b) the U.S.? And since you probably don’t believe in global warming, you shouldn’t expect that to change (but it will).

Comment #185100

Posted by Nick on June 29, 2007 11:05 AM (e)

Popper’s Ghost:
Where do you guys get this stuff? Take a look at this map. Notice anything significant about the locations of a) malaria and b) the U.S.?

That’s a map of the current distribution of Malaria, so it’s not particularly relevant to Russ’s claim.

Read, and be enlightened:
Eradication of Malaria in the United States, 1947-1951
http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/history/eradication_u…

Comment #185101

Posted by PvM on June 29, 2007 11:11 AM (e)

Now that the myth of a DDT ban has been dispelled, we see some desperate attempts to show how some countries, such as the Philippines have banned DDT. Of course, that was hardly the original argument. In other words, blaming Rachel Carson for millions of deaths is just an example of fudged statistics?

Any evidence to support your claims about fudging statistics?

Comment #185103

Posted by PvM on June 29, 2007 11:20 AM (e)

As far as the WHO is concerned, here is a different perspective

Chris White who is the Malaria Programme Leader with the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) responds to the new WHO malaria policy:

The World Health Organisation’s new stance on DDT, yet again only goes to show how so many in the West throw out opinions without really understanding the context or culture of Africa….

For effective control of mosquitoes, at least 80 per cent of all households must be covered every 6-12 months by well-coordinated spray teams. Is this possible in Africa? Imagine trying that across the Congo basin! It is not realistic to assume that this will happen. It will just leave the communities vulnerable again.

But now imagine every family in Africa having a net. Nets last four to five years and can be carried around by everyone, including internally displaced people and nomadic groups.

The distribution of nets in a one-off large-scale vaccination campaign is less challenging than trying to reach 80 per cent of all households with a veritable army of spray teams every 12 months.

Like the WHO, Amref supports the continued use of DDT as a means to control malaria, but only in areas where it is cost-effective and possible to spray on a regular basis….

Those who have managed spraying campaigns know that it is very difficult, much like a full-scale military exercise. The new WHO statement is misleading and operationally unsound…

Source: Deltoid

Check Lambert’s full range of articles on DDT

Comment #185121

Posted by dhogaza on June 29, 2007 1:41 PM (e)

Ah, yes, DDT and malaria eradication in the United States.

From the CDC document linked above …

The program consisted primarily of DDT application to the interior surfaces of rural homes or entire premises in counties where malaria was reported to have been prevalent in recent years.

Rachael Carson warned against the widescale agricultural use of pesticides like DDT, but EXPLICITLY endorsed their use for targeted efforts like the eradication program mentioned above.

She opposed widescale agricultural use for two reasons:

1. environmental harm
2. evolution of, or selection for already existing, resistance to the pesticide, making it useless for the controlling of disease vectors, etc.

Her concerns were borne out on both counts.

Comment #185160

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on June 29, 2007 4:59 PM (e)

Kind of OT, but…

Ironically (because I’d never seen it before) on the History Channel a few minutes ago, an advertisement for http://www.nothingbutnets.net/ came up. This is an organization dedicated to controlling Malaria in Africa by supplying as many mosquito nets to the populace as possible. From what I can see by briefly perusing the website, they tend to raise funds at basketball and soccer games (both of which, of course, use nets).

So, to Jerome, Les, and Russ:
Since you are all so concerned about the fate of Malaria victims worldwide, can we assume that you will be donating to this worthy cause?

Parenthetically, I have noticed that none of these drive-byes have answered any of the statements directed to them. Wonder why?

(and an additional note: in another note of irony, the ad ran during a show about the WWII fighting in Guadalcanal, where many servicemen developed Malaria)

Comment #185192

Posted by Russ on June 29, 2007 7:28 PM (e)

Well let’s see, I never said Rachel Carson’s name once, did her book help start environmentalism which ultimately led to the banning of DDT in the US, yes, did I say she killed millions of Africans, no, I never mentioned her.

A map of the current distribution of malaria in the world proves what again? Have you read the malaria capers? if not, I’d recommend it, you’d be surprised since you apparently think there was never malaria in the US. did you know that Mussolini was actually the key guy in getting malaria under control in Italy? Did you even know there was malaria in Italy? Did you know in Europe they used to intentionally infect people with Malaria to fight Syphillis because it warms the body so quickly it can kill syphillis?

Manila papers, yes they have newspapers there, no they don’t look like Manila envelopes, and yes more than one article I read said the government statistics are being fudged so they don’t have to admit there’s a rise in infection since they banned DDT.
There are several islands that were highly malarious that used DDT and now can’t. It didn’t eradicate malaria, but it helped them keep it under control. The same people that accuse others of being irrational always seem to assume that when people say DDT can help fight malaria, we’re advocating stopping everything else, and then literally fogging places with thick clouds of DDT. We’re not, we’re advocating vector control using safe amounts of DDT sprayed on the inside walls of houses where malaria is a problem. I was there in 2002 and never saw a mosquito, I was there again and there were mosquitoes. 2 reasons, one more fresh water on the island i was on(Siquijor) because of new home construction, two because of the DDT ban. Several members of my girlfriends’ family were quite vocal about it they do not like the ban it’s politically motivated they weren’t using DDT for agriculture they were using it for vector control. It was officially banned in 94 but wasn’t widely enforced until many years later. If you ask government officials they insist there has been no rise in malaria connected to the banning of DDT, any rise is cyclical, related to natural events, or due to increases in standing fresh water. If you’ve never been there its’ very easy to sit at your keyboard and say it’s not a problem, if you went I’m betting you’d all go and ask your doctor if you need to take any precautions against Malaria.

It’s misuse of DDT that led to a problem, not any use, there are numerous examples of that in the malaria capers where overuse led to DDT resistant mosquitoes etc. But it’s much easier to just say DDT is bad use something else, especially if you live in a country that can afford to do so. Africa can’t, they spend too much money treating people who have malaria to afford to use more expensive methods of prevention. Or do people really think Africa has no problem with malaria? If you admit they do, and you don’t want to use DDT, what is your solution, why do so many people in poorer countries suffer with malaria did they just pick the wrong place to be born?

Comment #185212

Posted by Henry J on June 30, 2007 12:21 AM (e)

What is misuse, if not simply usage that turns out to cause problems?

(Also - why oh why didn’t Noah SWAT those two mosquitos? Sorry, but somebody had to say that.)

Henry

Comment #185217

Posted by Marek 14 on June 30, 2007 1:33 AM (e)

(Also - why oh why didn’t Noah SWAT those two mosquitos? Sorry, but somebody had to say that.)

Reminds me of a great cartoon I once saw: Noah is fishing from the front of the Ark, and shouts out: “Bring me the other worm!”

Comment #185218

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 30, 2007 1:47 AM (e)

. But it’s much easier to just say DDT is bad use something else, especially if you live in a country that can afford to do so. Africa can’t, they spend too much money treating people who have malaria to afford to use more expensive methods of prevention.

sure about that, are you Russ?

you looked at the cost benefit data and found that DDT was the only cost effective solution for controlling vectors in Africa, did you?

I rather doubt that.

for example, pyrethroids (both naturally derived and artificial), and widely available, work with aerial spraying techniques and local spraying techniques, and have even been modified to use as repellants.

unlike organochlorines, their toxicity to humans is much lower, as is their tendency to persist in the environment. very little chance for bioaccumulation.

so, since nobody has bothered to check on whether pyrethrins could be perhaps an even more economical solution than DDT usage, I at least did enough legwork to find out that they ARE commonly used in vector abatement plans, especially in CA, for example.

so, Russ, what about it?

Can Africa afford alternatives to DDT use?

are you gonna find out for us?

Comment #185301

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 30, 2007 10:54 PM (e)

That’s a map of the current distribution of Malaria, so it’s not particularly relevant to Russ’s claim.

Read, and be enlightened:
Eradication of Malaria in the United States, 1947-1951
http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/history/eradication_u…

Oops. Thanks.

Comment #185302

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 30, 2007 11:08 PM (e)

But it’s much easier to just say DDT is bad use something else

Yes, but I wonder if you read the references that Nick provided in his article that explain that that’s a strawman; you haven’t responded to any of those points:

There were suspensions in the spraying programs, but they were not the result of any “environmental hysteria”. To understand what actually happened, it is necessary to learn about the realities of pesticide use. One of the major problems with using pesticides is that insect populations soon develop resistance to the chemicals. Insects resistant to DDT began appearing one year after its first public health use (Garrett, page 50). As new insecticides were introduced, resistance to them also developed. Much of Silent Spring is a cataloging of reports of resistance to insecticides. With the problem of mosquito resistance to DDT in mind, a plan to eradicate malaria was developed–several years of spraying, accompanied by treating patients with anti-malaria drugs, would be followed by several years of monitoring….Incredible as it might seem, while public health officials were cautiously limiting the usage of DDT, it was being used in increasing amounts in agriculture, especially on cotton, a cash crop (Chapin & Wasserstrom). This heavy use led to resistance among malaria carrying mosquitoes throughout the tropics. In this instance, the unwise use of DDT, rather than improving life, actually resulted in a resurgence of malaria. According to Chapin & Wasserstrom (page 183) “Correlating the use of DDT in El Salvador with renewed malaria transmission, it can be estimated that at current rates each kilo of insecticide added to the environment will generate 105 new cases of malaria.” … There were a number of other problems in addition to insect resistance to DDT and other insecticides. The heavy use of anti-malaria drugs started to produce microbes resistant to them. Non insecticide control measures that had greatly reduced the presence of malaria in many areas were discontinued when DDT arrived (Chapin & Wasserstrom). There was a chronic lack of funds. Many countries had to abandon their control efforts, or they diverted funds to other areas when the number of cases of malaria had been reduced to a low level. The United States bankrolled the eradication program starting in 1958, with the assurance that it would only take five years. When the five years was up, the funding was cut off, even though it appeared that the eradication program was working (Garrett). This cut off of funds occurred just before the alleged bans went into effect. Political turmoil also might have had an effect. 1964 was a year of major political turmoil in Zanzibar, the country used as an example in Eco-Sanity. The country gained independence in December 1963, there was a bloody revolt in January 1964, and later that year the country joined with the much lager mainland country of Tanganyika to form the country of Tanzania (Kaplan). Any of these events could have disrupted the malaria control program.

Reductions in the use of DDT did occur in a number of developing nations after the US ban in 1972. This reflected concerns over environmental consequences of DDT, but was also a result of many other factors. One of the important factors in declining use of DDT was decreasing effectiveness and greater costs because of the development of resistance in mosquitoes. Resistance was largely caused by the indiscriminate, widespread use of DDT to control agricultural pests in the tropics. This problem, in fact, was anticipated by Carson: “No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored … The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse.”

Comment #185423

Posted by Sir_Toejam on July 1, 2007 4:28 PM (e)

hmm.

finally finished reading the nat geo article itself, and while only mentioned in a graphic in the article, it appears based on what is shown there that some species of mosquitoes are far more resistant to pyrethroids than others.

OTOH, the same is true for DDT use; it just depends on the species involved.

It does, however answer the question of whether pesticides based on pyrethroids can and have been used in Africa, even if the mention is so short that it’s still unclear as to the overall effectiveness wrt to all species and in different places. So there is a bit of supporting evidence to indicate that cost issues aren’t all that relevant wrt to choosing DDT or pyrethroid treatments.

I would also expect the effectiveness to have a lot to do with the breeding environment as well, as DDT lingers far longer than pyrethroids do, so different breeding habitats/rainfall patters/etc. will likely have a large influence on effectiveness as well.

Also, having now read the article, I understand why Nick felt the need to post this thread and discuss the myths surrounding the banning of DDT, as the article DOES tend towards supporting the myth, rather than disabusing readers through facts.

but then, that’s why I typically don’t read nat geo all that often.

great pictures, often intersting stories, but typically a bit short on hard data.

Comment #185442

Posted by Russ on July 1, 2007 7:38 PM (e)

Ghost, since you posted a map that you clearly thought proved there was never malaria in North America, I find anything else you say on the subject to be from someone who clearly knows nothing about it. Read some more and then maybe I’ll respond to you. If you read the Malaria Capers you’ll get first hand information from a guy who was right there when this was all going on both pre Silent Spring and post.

Toejam,Do I know a cost comparison?Do you, you asked the question again I asked if you want to ban DDT what is your alternative, if that’s your alternative you should at least know if it’s cheaper or not. South american countries switched from DDT to newer alternatives and saw a rise in malaria, only Ecuador didn’t see a rise, Ecuador never stopped using DDT. The same thing happened in South Africa. There are places where DDT is simply more effective and more cost effective because it doesn’t have to be sprayed as often. Not every place but there are distinct instances when DDT is part of the best solution, even the WHO has said so, citing one person from the WHO who disagrees is disingenuous, do you really think EVERY person in WHO agrees on anything let alone DDT? Did I even once say I think DDT is the ONLY solution, no, but it’s much easier to debate if you throw out things the other person didn’t say and then trample him on those points, we call that rigging the game, again it’s disingenuous. How about you only comment on things I have said?

Again misuse in agriculture was the problem, not vector control. People have been effectively using DDT around the world safely for years to control malaria, costs go up for a number of reasons including the fact that DDT is persona non grata and it’s harder to obtain now although as the article said, that’s now changing since orgs like WHO are now behind it again in limited use.

And since people are incapable of not mentioning Rachel Carson, she made good points in her book but remember, she wrote that book because she was dying of cancer and she blamed chemicals, specifically pesticides despite having no real evidence of a link to HER cancer. If you read Silent Spring you’ll not that EVEN Carson didn’t advocate banning DDT, she said to limit it’s use “Spray as little as you possibly can” rather than “Spray to the limit of your capacity.” Even Carson understood that DDT had a role in vector control, that it was dangerous when abused for agriculture.

When people talk about DDT to control malari there’s a knee jerk reaction from people who don’t understand that the problems with DDT before were not caused by vector control.

Comment #185452

Posted by Sir_Toejam on July 1, 2007 8:38 PM (e)

Do you, you asked the question again I asked if you want to ban DDT what is your alternative, if that’s your alternative you should at least know if it’s cheaper or not.

actually YOU were the one who claimed that:

But it’s much easier to just say DDT is bad use something else, especially if you live in a country that can afford to do so. Africa can’t, they spend too much money treating people who have malaria to afford to use more expensive methods of prevention.

which obviously implies that you thought DDT usage was the only cost effective method of prevention (vector control).

I asked you to back that up, and even went as far as to show that other methods HAVE been used, here as well as in Africa.

citing one person from the WHO who disagrees is disingenuous,

where did I cite a person from the WHO?

There are places where DDT is simply more effective and more cost effective because it doesn’t have to be sprayed as often.

I have little doubt that you are correct in your assumption here. Just as much as I am sure that there are other areas where alternatives might be even more cost effective.

as to abuse of pesticides, unless there is good oversight, overusage is always a concern, and much more so with DDT and organochlorine pesticides than with others. did you factor the costs of proper oversight into your cost assumptions?

as to the effectiveness of alternative vector control methods, can you cite the data showing they are universally ineffective, especially in areas where vectors have adapted to the use of DDT?

no?

I can certainly cite studies showing the effectiveness of using pyrethroids in controlling mosquitos, specifically, right here in my own state.

perhaps the “Malaria Capers” shouldn’t be your sole source of information?

Did I even once say I think DDT is the ONLY solution,

you did essentially say it’s the only COST EFFECTIVE solution, based on your direct quote above.

so WTF EXACTLY are you trying to say?

Again misuse in agriculture was the problem, not vector control.

refocus: MISUSE is the problem, sure, but when a pesticide is used on a large scale, it matters not whether the misuse is agricultural or for vector control.

And since people are incapable of not mentioning Rachel Carson, she made good points in her book but remember, she wrote that book because she was dying of cancer and she blamed chemicals, specifically pesticides despite having no real evidence of a link to HER cancer.

well, funny, since i didn’t even bring up the arguments she raised in Silent Spring, but rather on my own experiences researching DDT metabolites and organochlorines in marine mammals and sharks, I don’t find your accusation that I am incapable of mentioning Rachel Carson particularly relevant.

as to whether she wrote the book because she was dying of cancer… that’s also completely irrelevant.

so, stand still for a moment, Russ, and make a clear point not based on hyperbole, eh?

When people talk about DDT to control malari there’s a knee jerk reaction from people who don’t understand that the problems with DDT before were not caused by vector control.

actually, you have to provide at least SOME evidence to back that point up.

have you looked at whether DDT tends to bioaccumulate in areas where it used primarily for vector control?

what are the levels of DDE metabolites in higher level fauna in areas where it has been used for vector control on a large scale for a long period of time?

how much resistance has developed from large scale usage within specific populations of mosquitos?

can you answer these questions, Russ?

they’re far more relevant that whatever you think Rachel Carson had to say.

Comment #185501

Posted by Russ on July 2, 2007 10:42 AM (e)

Toejam if you couldn’t tell, and apparently you couldn’t, not every comment in my post was to you. I was responding to numerous posts that slammed my prior post. For example the person who tried to refute my WHO reference by citing one member who doesn’t agree with DDT use.

And no I did not IMPLY that DDT is the only cost effective solution, I implied that it is ONE cost effective solution, at one time it was THE cost effective solution but poor countries like Africa couldn’t use it due to political pressure. That’s the “ban” people deny existed. Malaria Capers is not my only source I’m merely suggesting it as reading to someone who was so uninformed he/she didn’t think we’d EVER had malaria in North America.

Yes I’m aware that other chemicals are used now to fight malaria, DDT is just one, but since the article was specifically mentioning DDT that’s what we were discussing.

The problems with DDT use were due to agriculture, if you deny this point it’s not worth debating with you because you’re obviously not interested in the truth. They used to spray DDT in high volumes over populated areas. If you remember when California was spraying malathion to kill fruit flies, that was nothing compared to the amounts of DDT that used to be sprayed for agriculture, that was NOT to control malaria. That’s where all the problems with bioaccumulation occurred. Rachel Carson noticed it because she was a marine biologist and saw it in fish.

Even one of the links cited above, DDT ban myth quite clearly comments that one of the things that lead to resistant mosquitoes in the past was agricultural abuse, they even cite a statistic that said each kilo of insecticide used in El Salvador added 105 cases of Malaria because it was being misused for agriculture and was leading to resistant mosquitoes. They were using it to spray cotton, not for vector control at the time.

DDT has a terrible reputation to live down. Even in places that have never heard of Rachel Carson. There’s a story in Malaria capers about I think New Guinea where after years of being refused they were finally allowed to spray DDT in one village ravaged by malaria. They sprayed the huts and then within a week or two all the thatch roofs of the huts collapsed. The primitive villagers took this as a sign that DDT was evil and they threatened to kill anybody who tried to spray their village again. Researchers quickly figured out what had happened, they used a specific plant to bind the thatched roof so it stayed in place, and there is an indigenous insect that eats that plant used for the bindings. DDT spraying killed an insect(IIRC it was a wasp) that ate that insect, so with those dead, that insect population boomed, ate the bindings, and the ceilings all collapsed.

Misuse has always been the problem, most car accidents are caused by speeding which is misuse of a car, we don’t see people calling for the banning of cars though.

Comment #185516

Posted by harold on July 2, 2007 12:35 PM (e)

Russ -

You appear to modifying or clarifying your statements in response to feedback, which is a good sign.

And no I did not IMPLY that DDT is the only cost effective solution, I implied that it is ONE cost effective solution,

Naturally no-one would have any problem with this statement. No-one here has remotely suggested an inflexible DDT ban in Africa.

at one time it was THE cost effective solution but poor countries like Africa couldn’t use it due to political pressure. That’s the “ban” people deny existed.

This is where I have a problem, and for two reasons.

1. You provide no evidence.

2. Perhaps more importantly, this looks like an attempt to smear every person who has ever advocated any kind of environmental or public health regulation.

There was an anniversary related to Rachel Carson about a week or so ago, and the right wing airwaves lit up with inaccurate, overgeneralized, slanderous claims that she should be blamed for malaria deaths in Africa. Their apparent broader implication was that all people who advocate any protection of the environment whatsoever are wrong. Some of the posters here were clearly “parrots”, triggered to mindlessly repeat slogans from Rush Limbaugh or someone similar by a stimulus, literally without understanding the words they utter. (Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I stand by it.)

If you are not such a poster, you may have been associated with them.

Malaria Capers is not my only source I’m merely suggesting it as reading to someone who was so uninformed he/she didn’t think we’d EVER had malaria in North America.

I’m not sure that poster was uninformed, but at any rate, I can assure that I was well aware of the well-known presence of malaria in the US in historic times.

The high prevalence of malaria in Italy, in particular around Rome, from the middle ages to early modern times, is common knowledge.

Of course, there are multiple different species and strains of malaria parasites. But I don’t have time to get into that right now. Probably Wikipedia has an excellent explanation.

Malaria Capers is reviewed as a very “angry” book, although from the reviews, it seems that researchers, rather than environmentalists, bear the brunt of the anger. I can confirm that the controversies cited in the reviews exist. Nevertheless, a single, popular book with an agenda may not be the best SOLE source of information.

You say you have other sources, but what are they?

Comment #185520

Posted by Russ on July 2, 2007 1:31 PM (e)

Harold, wouldn’t you say relying on book reviews(Maybe from Amazon) is an inaccurate way of judging a book? It’s not even just a book about malaria it’s also about another disease(think it’s dengue fever I only flipped through that part).

What it’s not is a Rush Limbaugh driven book (not that you said it was). I read it because it’s listed on a list of books relating to Malaria on Malaria.org. When I came back from the Philippines in May of 06 I had a newfound interest in Malaria since it was a hot topic of conversation around where i was for nearly 3 weeks. People saying for the first time in over a decade they were actually concerned about malaria on their island(Siquijor) because there were so many more mosquitoes. I think part of that is due to new construction, water comes from wells or water tanks and I think there was simply more fresh water to breed mosquitoes in, but they were all pointing to evidence of DDT banning having an impact. One of my girlfriends’ uncles has a farm on a nearby island that raises worms of all things, and he’s acutely aware of agriculture and pesticides as a result, he brought an article from a Manila paper that specifically referred to accusations made against the government falsifying data to suggest the DDT ban had no effect on malaria. If you’re not familiar they’ve had widespread corruption issues in the Philippines so you can find similar accusations about just about anything, that’s not proof they are falsifying data.

I’ve read extensively about malaria on the web. In general discussions on malaria inevitably go back to DDT, Rachel Carson and someone always throws in something about global warming. There’s always a stereotype that anybody who doesn’t think DDT is the spawn of satan, must be a denier of the truth.

From Popper’s ghosts mea culpa it sure sounded like he/she posted that because they didn’t realize malaria had ever been a problem in North America, the original post even quoted my mentioning we’d used DDT to help eradicate it by saying where do people get this, as if we never eradicated it because we never had to. That’s why I gave the example of Italy and Mussolini I was trying to figure out just how much that one person knew or didn’t know about malaria.

It’s a fairly fascinating topic, just yesterday on tv my girlfriend and I were watching a show on the engineering of the Panama canal and there you go they mentioned the French abandoned building it in large part due to losing like 2000 people many of whom succumbed to malaria. It tends to popup in history over and over in similar scenarios.

I’m not claiming to be the leading expert in the world on Malaria and DDT but I do think my original post was met with a bunch of responses based on “oh this again” that ironically didn’t even read my post before responding and yet more than one asked me if I’d even read what I was responding to.

There’s no question there is exaggeration with DDT right now, and ironically it does tend to be linked to global warming people say the overreaction to GW is similar to the overreacting to DDT and that has led to millions of deaths.

There’s a fairly famous quote from a guy who worked for USAID that essentially said when asked about the number of deaths in Africa to Malaria that some people are better off dead. In other words he was saying some people in poor countries are better off dead, that it’s better to let them die of malaria than to consider the use of DDT. I don’t have the immediate quote in front of me I could find it with a little searching.

What first got me interested in Malaria was reading the Hotzone and a couple of other books about Ebola and hantaviruses, since much of the work done in those fields is based on work done with malaria (although they have yet to find the host species for
ebola).

Comment #185525

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 2, 2007 1:52 PM (e)

Just as an aside, most car accidents are not caused by speeding, they are caused by following too closely.

Whether the most severe auto accidents are caused by speeding might be more fairly debatable, though once one gets into the more severe accidents, alcohol use also becomes a considerable factor.

“Misuse” is a pretty broad category. All the different “uses” of insecticides being mooted here would probably qualify under one definition of the term or another.

So it’s important to have some factual support for your claimed species of misuse. Based on the auto example given above, my faith that this particular debater understands this critical point is not strong.

Comment #185533

Posted by Sir_Toejam on July 2, 2007 3:04 PM (e)

There’s a fairly famous quote from a guy who worked for USAID that essentially said when asked about the number of deaths in Africa to Malaria that some people are better off dead. In other words he was saying some people in poor countries are better off dead, that it’s better to let them die of malaria than to consider the use of DDT. I don’t have the immediate quote in front of me I could find it with a little searching.

yes, I would suggest that you indeed do look up the quote you think you are reffering to, IN CONTEXT, and see just how much it supports your interpretation.

what you are doing is starting off with a third party dissection of a quote, and then adding multiple layers onto it that simply are not supported.

then you backpeddle and say things like “well, what I REALLY meant was…”

it’s pretty clear to me that you really don’t know WHAT you really mean.

you accuse everyone else here of not being up on the subject, but your frequent use of rhetoric like that quoted above suggests that instead of checking the primary sources, you prefer canned analysis of quotes. perhaps you should look in the appendix of the “Malaria Capers” and see if they cite any actual primary source work for you to gander at.

There’s no question there is exaggeration with DDT right now,

hyperbole. you simply don’t have the evidence to support this. Moreover, you haven’t the slightest clue as to how DDT works in the environment, let alone how it compares to alternatives.

saying that “overreacting to DDT and that has led to millions of deaths.”

is just recycling the same damn myth that was the very focus of Nick’s post.

Did you even bother to check out the links he provided?

here, just so you don’t have to strain yourself:

http://info-pollution.com/ddtban.htm

http://kenethmiles.blogspot.com/2004_02_01_kenet…

Comment #185535

Posted by Russ on July 2, 2007 3:08 PM (e)

Stevie, would you agree that following too close is also an example of speeding? Afterall if you were going slower, you wouldn’t be too close to the car in front of you. but since you want to get technical NHTSA says distracted drivers are the #1 cause of accidents, and they then list a bunch of different sub categories. Of course speeding is 4 and aggressive driving is 5 and their own definition of aggressive driving admits there is a crossover from speeding. and their own definition of distracted drivers concedes that often it’s a combination of distraction and speeding. Then there is weather, which is 6 and again it’s conceded in that description that the most common cause in bad weather is driving TOO FAST for the conditions. Which is why many experts disagree with NHTSA and assert that the leading cause is excessive speed for the situation, which is speeding under the definition of basic speed law. Happy?

And again even the links above mention misuse with respect to agriculture, not vector control. There are clearly cases where it was overused for vector control in the past, thus the problems with resistant mosquitoes, but the problem with DDT was largely one of overuse for agricultural reasons. When people start wanting to split hairs on that point it’s because they don’t want to concede there is a distinct difference in the 2 uses. Much of the use for vector control is indoors, you spray on the walls, the mosquito lands on the wall, it winds up dead. They don’t just go into swamps and unload DDT in the swamp, as someone else mentioned draining swamps is a very common method of vector control.

Comment #185540

Posted by Science Avenger on July 2, 2007 3:58 PM (e)

Russ said:

Which is why many experts disagree with NHTSA and assert that the leading cause is excessive speed for the situation, which is speeding under the definition of basic speed law. Happy?

No, because now all they’ve done is define speeding and causing accidents into a nice little circle. It means little to say “speeding causes accidents” if your definition of “speeding” is “that speed which is liable to cause accidents”.

“Speeding” means going faster than the posted limit, at least that’s the only definition I ever heard until this moment.

Now what this has to do with DDT I have no idea.

Comment #185541

Posted by harold on July 2, 2007 4:09 PM (e)

Russ -

There’s no question there is exaggeration with DDT right now, and ironically it does tend to be linked to global warming people say the overreaction to GW is similar to the overreacting to DDT and that has led to millions of deaths.

Since global warming is complex, and no-one can be sure of what the future holds, our current forecasts could be either exaggerated or understated.

However, to state in this way that it is “exaggerated” suggests that you may view reality through the distorted glasses provided by the “conservative movement” cult ideology (which is not the same thing as having an independent mind but some “conservative” opinions on subjective issues). This certainly would reduce your credibility, to say the least, as would a revelation that you belonged to a rigid communist party or any other political movement that commands drone-like obedience. It would guarantee that you would argue against “environmentalism”, that is to say, any effort to reduce human damage to our common environment, under any circumstances, no matter what the context or facts. (Almost all non-ideologues now concede that human-caused climate change is a serious issue, so your comment here is telling.)

Harold, wouldn’t you say relying on book reviews(Maybe from Amazon) is an inaccurate way of judging a book? It’s not even just a book about malaria it’s also about another disease(think it’s dengue fever I only flipped through that part).

No, I’d say that reading several intelligent reviews is a good way to get an idea what a book is about. In many cases it is not a substitute for actually reading the book.

In this case, for me, it probably is. The reviews revealed that the book concerns itself with things I was already very familiar with, but pumps them up in an effort to create extra controversy.

There’s a fairly famous quote from a guy who worked for USAID that essentially said when asked about the number of deaths in Africa to Malaria that some people are better off dead. In other words he was saying some people in poor countries are better off dead, that it’s better to let them die of malaria than to consider the use of DDT. I don’t have the immediate quote in front of me I could find it with a little searching.

This is irrelevant if true, but I suspect that it isn’t true.

It is relevant to test your credibility. Please provide the quote, in context, and justify that the speaker clearly meant that it is “better to let them die than to consider the use of DDT”.

You may be sincerely outraged by what you took to be an insensitive comment, or then again, you may be an obedient “conservative movement” ideologue trying to smear any person or institution that could be described as “liberal”. Or just repeating something that you heard on Rush Limbaugh.

I wonder why anyone who thought that Africans were better off dying of malaria would bother to become a USAID official. How very strange.

I’ve read extensively about malaria on the web. In general discussions on malaria inevitably go back to DDT, Rachel Carson and someone always throws in something about global warming.

But perhaps you haven’t read anywhere near extensively enough on the web. From wikipedia on up, there are numerous sites that could have taught you a great deal of accurate information about the fascinating and complex subject of malaria. Such reading can be tough and might require some background reading in basic science, I suppose.

Certainly, an intelligent discussion of malaria will note that insect control is part of the picture.

If anybody mentions “Rachel Carson”, however, that’s proof positive that what you’re dealing with is a troll-infested blather blog, where you won’t learn a damn thing.

There’s always a stereotype that anybody who doesn’t think DDT is the spawn of satan, must be a denier of the truth.

That’s what you wish, perhaps. So that you could be the “conservative anti-environmentalist maverick”. However, no-one who has responded to you has taken a rigid view. Everyone seems to be quite familiar with malaria and DDT.

What first got me interested in Malaria was reading the Hotzone and a couple of other books about Ebola and hantaviruses, since much of the work done in those fields is based on work done with malaria (although they have yet to find the host species for ebola).

This is a fascinating area and worth reading about. Popular books can be a good first step toward scientific literacy, for all their flaws.

Unfortunately, a determination to argue obsessively against “environmentalism” will interfere with your ability to gain from such reading.

Comment #185542

Posted by Russ on July 2, 2007 5:22 PM (e)

Uh Toejam my comment was there is hyperbole claiming DDT not being used is leading to millions of deaths. I was saying that you often hear it said during warming debates people say the same kind of overreaction led to a ban on DDT that has killed millions of people. Please try to debate what I actually say not what you incorrectly read between the lines. I’ll do far less backpedalling if people stop attacking things I didn’t actually say.

Comment #185544

Posted by David B. Benson on July 2, 2007 5:37 PM (e)

Somewhat off-topic, but I’ll call for banning cars. Especially those that run on fossil fuels…

Comment #185545

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 2, 2007 5:47 PM (e)

Yep, speeding probably doesn’t have much to do with the ongoing DDT discussion.

Except as an example of an over-extension of a concept.

One of the definitions of speeding, frequently found in “rules of the road” statutes and ordinances, is indeed “speed too fast for the conditions.” In this very broad sense, excessive “speed” is involved in almost every accident (and, uh, if you were going just a little slower in thr first place, whether your speed was “appropriate” or not, the two vehicles would never have occupied the same space at the same time…). This definition is simply too broad to be helpful to the average motorist.

But the common meaning of “speeding” is “speed over the posted limit.” And it’s by far and away the reason most motorists actually get ticketed for speeding.

“Following too close” can be done well under the posted limit. Nor does a person have to have raised their speed in any sense to find themselves too close to the car ahead: the car ahead may have slowed down.

While relative speeds are undeniably involved, the more “useful” way to look at it is that one no longer has the time and distance needed to avoid a collision if the vehicle ahead makes an unexpected stop.

This is why following too closely is “deceiving,” and results in by far the most accidents (not accidents of whatever level of police involvement and “reporting” triggers an NHTSA statistic, but of all unwanted contacts between vehicles, including those fender-benders–many never reported to the police of NHTSA–that generate the great mass of insurance claims, repair bills, and whiplash complaints)–the reduction of space between the vehicles happens “insidiously” and often innocently (as opposed to speeding over the limit) as a result of traffic density, the actions of the victim driver, or whatever.

And the “trigger”–the unexpected slowdown or stop that actually precipitates the accident–is usually not caused by the following driver.

But the following driver still picks up the tab–and the post-accident ticket, if the cops do respond, because that driver shouldn’t have allowed that critical reaction distance to have been “lulled” away from them…

Relatively obscure, compared with the sexy and revenue-generating “speeding,” but highly preventable. Good early instruction in maintaining a safe following distance–and perhaps the occasional preventative enforcement–would be much more effective at preventing accidents, lowering insurance costs, and lowering legal costs costs, than all the MADD scares, than all the speeding tickets, and all of that…

So, don’t know whether any of that has further relevance to the DDT debate, but definitions of terms, threshholds for statistical recording, etc., often do figure into these sorts of thrashes.

Comment #185546

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 2, 2007 5:55 PM (e)

Well, David Benson’s approach would work as well…

Though maybe first we should hook all the tailpipes up to the DDT sprayers, and give the mosquitoes a radically-different blend of chemicals to adapt to.

[/attempts at humorous distraction]

Comment #185549

Posted by Russ on July 2, 2007 6:26 PM (e)

I will look for the direct quote when I have more time this evening or tomorrow, I thought I had it saved but I don’t.

Apparently Harold made the same mistake as Toejam regarding my comment about hyperbole so my original comment wasn’t clear. I was saying that those who are saying a ban on DDT is killing millions are clearly using some hyperbole at the moment it’s a very common analogy at the moment in Global Warming debates people say the reaction to global warming is the same as what led to the ban on DDT.

And again, I didn’t bring up Rachel Carson here, my first post never mentioned her but several responses accused me of blaming her for deaths in Africa, that’s why I commented on her.

Science avenger, I don’t know where you live, but in California there is something called the basic speed law which basically says any speed above what is safe for the conditions, is speeding. You can be cited for going 45 in a 65 zone if CHP feels due to conditions 45 is unsafe.So in California, speeding does not mean driving above the posted speed limit, it means driving above what is safe for the given conditions. Many examples, such as traffic is stopped and you’re driving on the shoulder, weather etc. My oldest sister had traffic school 3 weekends ago that’s why it’s fresh in my mind. One of the first questions asked was what causes most accidents, they then gave the NHTSA answer and said it’s open to considerable debate there are many people who will argue if you pick apart their data it’s quite clear that speeding is the cause of many things they attribute to something else. With cellphones though it’s quite possible inattention to driving is now the #1 cause.

Comment #185555

Posted by Russ on July 2, 2007 7:11 PM (e)

The quote is from Edwin Cohn and it’s referenced in the Malaria Capers, you can find numerous references on the web but I’ll try to find the exact quote in the book and type it in. Cohn is listed as a former USAID official. He said something to the effect that those in malarious regions might be better off dead than alive and riotously reproducing. But that’s a paraprhase I will post the exact quote from the book when I get a chance. Virtually any citation you find on the web will cite that book for the quote.

Comment #185611

Posted by harold on July 3, 2007 9:26 AM (e)

Russ -

I couldn’t find the quote anywhere.

It’s irrelevant if it’s true (who cares if one guy was a jerk?).

If it’s false, or taken out of context, it makes either the author of Malaria Capers and/or you look bad, depending on whether you’re accurately describing how it appears in Malaria Capers. Even if you’re accurately describing the way the quote appears in Malaria Capers, but the author of the book used the quote in an unfair or inaccurate way, it makes you look a little bit bad for not being more critical and skeptical of what you read.

I’ll concede that I haven’t read Malaria Capers, but rather, only some reviews.

The reviews suggested that the book was NOT concerned with the false argument that “environmentalists caused Africans to use less DDT and therefore caused millions of deaths from malaria”. Rather, the book is about some controversial behavior by malaria researchers, which I was already aware of. (This makes the author look good; he may be “angry” but his book seems to be about controversies that really exist, not right wing anti-environmental BS - of course, I’d have to read it to be sure.)

Now, what is YOUR point?

Are you claiming that “environmentalists” are “responsible” for “millions of deaths from malaria” because they unofficially pressured Africans to use less DDT? Are you making that claim? Yes or no?

Or are you merely making the point that, despite its known harmful effects, DDT may need to be considered as one element in malaria control for the foreseeable future, at least until clearly superior alternatives can be found? If that is your point, please clarify.

Also, how do you feel about the general idea of limiting human damage to the common environment, through government regulation and international treaties where appropriate, at least to the extent that human life can proceed sustainably into the foreseeable future, and no-one suffers excessively from another person’s selfishly uncontrolled pollution? Do you think that this is a good idea?

Comment #185623

Posted by Russ on July 3, 2007 10:24 AM (e)

Harold, first off how can you in good conscience criticize a book that you haven’t even read? How can you with a straight face say that because you read a few “intelligent reviews” you know the book? Surely you realize that reviews simply give you the opinion of the reviewer. And just because you can’t find the quote anywhere does not mean it’s not in the book. Page 217 The Malaria Capers by Robert S Desowitz, bear with me as I’m typing this not scanning it.

AID had used similar arguments in obtaining the money and confidence from Congress for underwriting the Global Eradication of Malaria Program. An AID apologist when that program failed was not a malariologist or anyone even remotely associated with malaria, but an economist, Edwin J Cohn, of the AID Office of Policy Development and Analysis. He contended that not only did’t the failure of the campaign matter but it may even have been a blessing in disguise. The Third World didn’t require a healthy labor force because there was a surplus of workers; better, some people should be sick with malaria and spread the job opportunities around. He said in effect, on behalf of AID, “better dead than alive and riotously reproducing.”

That program took place in the 1970’s it failed completely in 1972, Desowitz used Cohn as an example of why it failed so miserably, because at the time they weren’t really committed to it. The book is NOT just about DDT, and the reason the author is “angry” is that he chronicles in great detail how money was essentially wasted or stolen for decades, money intended for malaria that went right into people’s pockets. Chapter 18 is called the Vaccine Felonies, he goes into detail about how an AID grant for 2.38 million was squandered and led to 6 indictments charging the manager, scientists and affiliates with theft, conspiracy, crimimal solicitation and tax evasion. This was in the early 1980’s and no I’m not going to type in the entire chapter for you so that you won’t accuse me of making it up.

You made an incredible leap from I haven’t read the book but it sounds like you’re either misquoting it or taking it out of context or the author did. I had pegged you for one of the few here who didn’t invent things you think the other person thinks and then attacks them, but now you’re attacking me on a book you haven’t read because you claim you can’t find the quote.

I’ll give you just one link of hundreds that pops up if you type in better off dead than riotously reproducing to google.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,194332,00.ht… I give you this one because I know it is in fact still a valid link there are many more if you couldn’t find them, maybe you weren’t looking very hard?

I’ve already stated my point, the reason you don’t get it is because virtually every response has ignored it and attacked me for things I didn’t say forcing me to go back and point out what I actually did say. I think DDT is not a panacea but it is one part of a viable defense against malaria. I think in many parts of the world it has been unavailable due to poltical pressure much of which has come from the US and environmental groups. For years USAid didn’t even have money in its budget for DDT, it does now and is just starting to spend it largely because of the reversal by WHO. There are plenty of cases where it’s been shown DDT has helped to control malaria.

One of the points Desowitz makes in his book is that he’s not sure they’re ever going to be able to make a vaccine and that they may have gotten so driven to prove they could make one that they, the scientists, ignored what their own science was telling them and let a bunch of crooked politicians distort and misstate their work for their own financial gain. That they did irreparable harm because they created such misstrust in the 3rd world. He goes into great detail about a colleague who spent millions of AID money working on a vaccine completely ignoring other experts who pointed out his entire premise was flawed and even his method of testing(he was using monkeys) was flawed. IN the end that guy got nowhere, wasted millions, and the outcome was precisely what people like Desowitz had been telling him it would be all along since he was simply going down a wrong path.
He’s angry because he thinks millions of people have died in part due to greed and ego.

And for the record it is not a “popular book”, Desowitz is not Stephen King he’s a parasitologist and he’s been actively campaigning for years to get the restrictions on use of DDT in vector control to be eased so that it can be used in 3rd world countries where it can save lives. Do I think environmentalism is bad, no, do I think there are people with good intentions who are making bad decisions because of environmentalism, sometimes yes, I think DDT has been one of those cases. It needs to be regulated but not banned. Mexico banned DDT for one reason, they were forced to as part of NAFTA. I already mentioned what is happening in the Philippines as a result of pressure from the Unites States.

DDT has been used effectively all over the world, there are people who want it completely banned and IMHO not for valid reasons, but for hysteria.

That’s just classic Harold, I haven’t read the book but I have read some reviews and based on that I think you made up that quote and the author of the book is angry? What a crock. I do get why the other poster asked me for the quote by the way, he assumed I was talking about the infamous Charles Wurster quote which has been around for years and which Wurster has categorically denied ever making. I wasn’t talking about Wurster which is who Toejam thought I was mentioning, that’s why he asked for the quote so he could jump all over me and cite links that show Wurster never said it. You guys are still bashing me because you misunderstood my comment about hyperbole over DDT, I was saying people like John Stossel and Limbaugh have gone too far to the point where they’ve taken a legit complaint about DDT and made it ridiculous. Stossel with a striaght face said 1 million a year die because of a DDT ban, that’s like saying if we used DDT NOBODY would die from malaria, which is ridiculous. People still die of malaria in North America of course they’d still die in Africa even with more widespread use of DDT, less would die but many would still die.

So what exactly is YOUR point? I’ve been running around looking up quotes for you for long enough, why don’t you tell me your point on all this and what you think should or shouldn’t be done with respect to DDT and Malaria?

Comment #185634

Posted by harold on July 3, 2007 1:16 PM (e)

Russ -

I notice that you didn’t answer my question.

No-one has attacked you. I have responded to you in a somewhat skeptical yet polite way; that is not an attack. Nor did I even say anything negative about the book, nor make any exaggerated claim about the value of reviews.

You can’t find anyone here who actually recommends an inflexible ban on DDT without any consideration of other factors.

You can’t produce any evidence that DDT was ever “banned” in malaria regions of Africa, or even that any prominent “liberal” or “environmentalist” pushed for such a ban. Because those things never happened.

You can’t admit that you oppose the idea of any regulation whatsoever of human damage to the common environment, because when I state it clearly like that, you see how extreme and irrational that position is. Yet to oppose every single environmental regulation, agreement, or recommendation individually, in a knee jerk way, is logically the same thing.

So you keep looking for something to get outraged at.

Comment #185647

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 3, 2007 2:23 PM (e)

Russ:

There’s no question there is exaggeration with DDT right now, and ironically it does tend to be linked to global warming people say the overreaction to GW is similar to the overreacting to DDT and that has led to millions of deaths.

There’s a fairly famous quote from a guy who worked for USAID that essentially said when asked about the number of deaths in Africa to Malaria that some people are better off dead. In other words he was saying some people in poor countries are better off dead, that it’s better to let them die of malaria than to consider the use of DDT. I don’t have the immediate quote in front of me I could find it with a little searching.

Russ, I gotta say it’s not very clear to me where you’re going with your overall comments or what exact point your citing of the controversial quote was supposed to be in aid of…

Is it or is it not your contention that “exaggeration” of the ill effects of DDT by “environmentalists” has led to bans which has led to the death of millions?

If not, it’s not clear what the heck you are contending for here.

If so, you need to provide some hard evidence for this contention beyond merely quoting an AID economist/policymaker. Why? Because, even if accurate–and however insensitive the quote may be–it doesn’t provide one whit of substantiation of your environmental-exaggeration-death claims.

Here’s the quote itself from Desowitz’s “The Malaria Capers,” pages 216-17, courtesy of amazon.com’s “Search Inside the Book” feature:

AID had used similar arguments [healthier people make better consumers] in obtaining the money and confidence of Congress for underwirting the Global Eradication of Malaria Program. An AID apologist when that program failed was not a malariologist or anyone even remotely associated with malaria but an economist, Edwin J. Cohn, of the AID Office of Policy Development and Analysis. He contended that not only didn’t the failure matter but it may even have been a blessing in disquise. The Third World didn’t require a healthy labor force because there was a surplus of workers; better, some people should be sick with malaria and spread the job opportunities around. He also said in effect, on behalf of AID, “better dead than alive and riotously reproducing.” This was malaria and the Big Bang all over again: freedom from malaria lowered the crude death rate with sustained high fertility, which caused the rapid population growth, which led to the decline of economic development.

(My bracketed phrase.)

I would note, first, that the phrase in quotation marks doesn’t even purport to be a direct quote–the giveaway words here being “in effect.”

Second, no footnote or other source information is provided to substantiate the quote or the other positions attributed to Cohn.

Third, the entire paragraph is incoherent as to AID’s purported attitudes: we start out being told the motivation behind the eradication program was to create a population healthy enough to make good consumers. We end by being told, through the statements attributed to AID via Cohn, that AID actually didn’t want a population of healthy consumers; what it wanted was an ailing population to bring down population growth to drive up economic development.

Was AID motivated to create a thriving population or a sick population? If this one paragraph is a fair example of the “incisive investigative journalism” to be expected from the rest of this tome, I’ll give “Malaria Capers” a pass, thanks all the same.

In any event, as I said above, how does the allegedly-insensitive attitude of some economic policy wonk in a US government agency furnish any sort of support for a claim that “environmentalists” have somehow sabotaged national or global efforts to eradicate malaria.

I’ll conclude by noting–again entirely O/T, other than as it exemplifies your integrity in these discussions–that you didn’t deal reply at all to my followup as to your “speeding” claims, Russ: while “speed to fast for conditions” is one of various definitions of “speeding,” it’s neither the most common understanding or the most-cited flavor of that offense.

Comment #185655

Posted by Russ on July 3, 2007 3:06 PM (e)

Harold, I’m through being polite with you, what in the hell are you talking about? When did I ever once say I opposed

“the idea of any regulation whatsoever of human damage to the common environment, because when I state it clearly like that, you see how extreme and irrational that position is. Yet to oppose every single environmental regulation, agreement, or recommendation individually, in a knee jerk way, is logically the same thing.”

What in bloody hell are you talking about? You’re just throwing out non sequiturs and then saying I win you lose, complete nonsense. You’ve been polite? You’ve openly accused me of inventing quotes or taking them out of context because you can’t use google well enough to find them when I gave you the quote and the person who said it.

Seriously and I noticed YOU didn’t answer my question?

For the record Harold, you haven’t answered any of my questions and you respond to each post with another series of questions. Like I said, I’m tired of running around answering your questions, how about you respond to one of mine? What is your opinion here, where do you stand, what should be done about malaria in the 3rd world? Or do you think everything is fine and dandy as it is now?

Comment #185656

Posted by Russ on July 3, 2007 3:25 PM (e)

Stevie just because I am not using your own personal definition of speeding doesn’t mean I lack integrity. Get over it, you tried to correct me and in fact your correction was wrong since even government agencies don’t agree with you on the most common cause of accidents. Note they don’t agree with each other either, but they clearly don’t agree with you.

The “in effect” if you read it refers to the notion that Cohn was saying that as a representative of AID. He’s not saying to paraphrase he said this, he’s saying he said this in effect as a spokesman for AID. If you read the sentences directly after what you quoted you’ll understand his point. That Cohn and AID were saying that if they get malaria under control, the people will simply reproduce out of control and wind up with a decline in economic development. So in his opinion they were better off before they tried to eradicate malaria than they would be after. If you read that entire chapter it’s quite clear what the point is and it’s not incoherent at all unless you’re only reading one or two paragraphs and trying to discern from that what the point of the whole book is. See my comment to Harold about the wisdom of relying on reviews to tell you the point of an entire book.

And for the last time, quit putting words into my mouth and then asking me to defend them. I said DDT is one case where an overreaction led to a chemical that could have been used to help people, not being used to help them in many countries for many years. I didn’t say environmentalists are killing people. But people like Cohn WERE killing people because they were making decisions they had no business making. Decisions that led to a lot of money that could have gone to vector control programs but instead went into people’s pockets or into bureaucracy. That’s one of the main points in the book that you would prefer to bash rather than read. That one of the reasons Malaria is still such a problem in many places is that politics got in the way of a good eradication program, and still are to this very day.

Sorry tried being polite, just got a bunch of I think you’re going to say this so I’m going to attack you before you say it nonsense, through being polite.

Comment #185673

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 3, 2007 5:35 PM (e)

Russ:

I said DDT is one case where an overreaction led to a chemical that could have been used to help people, not being used to help them in many countries for many years.

An “overreaction” to concern about the environment, yes or no?

Whatever your answer, your claim above is simply not supported by the statement below:

I didn’t say environmentalists are killing people. But people like Cohn WERE killing people because they were making decisions they had no business making. Decisions that led to a lot of money that could have gone to vector control programs but instead went into people’s pockets or into bureaucracy.

But how does your claim–if that’s what it is–of an “overreaction” to environmental concerns causally link up in any way whatsoever with the entirely-separate claim that AID frittered away money that could have been better spent saving people?

How is the claim of AID’s mendacity, even if accurate, an example of or evidence for your “overreaction” claim?

Answer: it’s not.

For all your claims of the benefits of reading, you have failed to correctly parse the usage of “in effect” in the key sentence of the language which I (not you) provided from the book. “In effect” quite clearly signals a paraphrase, rather than an exact quote:

He also said in effect, on behalf of AID, “better dead than alive and riotously reproducing.”

In the sentence above, “in effect” doesn’t meaningfully modify the phrase set off by commas (“on behalf of AID”) at all. The author is combining two distinct claims in the same sentence: Cohn’s statement was made on behalf of AID (an unqualified claim); and Cohn was, in effect, saying that malaria sufferers were “better dead than alive…”

That’s simply the grammatical consequence of separating the AID phrase off with commas–you can drop it from the sentence entirely, and the remaining words make perfect sense (and the “in effect” phrase is used in its usual sense to signal a paraphrase): “[Cohn] also said in effect, ‘better dead than alive…’”

Now try it the other way, dropping out the “in effect”: “[Cohn] also said on behalf of AID, ‘better dead…’” Still makes sense.

To get your strained reading, you’d need to move the commas around: “[Cohn] also said, in effect on behalf of AID, ‘better…’”

I note you produced no evidence that the words put into Cohn’s mouth were quoted exactly from some identified source (much less that Cohn was, in fact, speaking in his official capacity on behalf of AID when he allegedly spoke the words). We aren’t told when, or on what occasion, or in what context, much less in what capacity, Cohn allegedly made this statement.

Indeed, despite your claim to have read the whole book, you haven’t even affirmed that the book documents any of its factual claims, much less this one.

In any event, none of this matters, since whether accurate or not, Cohn is not an environmentalist and his purported statement cannot be construed as any sort of “overreaction” to environmental concerns.

Your initial claim was that “speeding” was the primary cause of accidents. You yourself showed that there is no official agreement that that is the case, regardless of how “speeding” is defined.

While the definition you eventually resorted to–any driving behavior that’s inappropriate for the prevailing conditions can, yes (as I’ve now several times agreed), be found among the definitions of speeding, it is not the usual definition understood by motorists or cited by cops. Your failure to acknowledge these facts, or my responsive post at all (until I pointed it out) is where your discussional integrity broke down.

I defend automobile accident claims for a living. I have done so for thirty years. I am well aware of the categories of driving behavior that generate the most accidents that get reported to insurance companies, that result any property damage or personal injury claims, that get settled before lawsuit, and that get taken to lawsuit. This is a far broader category of motor vehicle accidents than ever gets reported to the police or that make it into governmental statistics. Speeding, in the commonly-accepted and understood (as opposed to hypertechnical, “legal”) sense of the term, is not the cause of most of those accidents. Following too closely is (and again you have not bothered to respond to my discussion distinguishing that activity from “speeding”).

Please deal with the points made above with evidence or citation, or drop the matter.

Comment #185674

Posted by David B. Benson on July 3, 2007 5:51 PM (e)

Steviepinhead — Maybe I’ve been following this thread too closely?

:-)

Comment #185679

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 3, 2007 7:08 PM (e)

And maybe I should just stop following it: all right, pal, back your head slowly away from that brick wall.

What part of stating a claim clearly and providing evidentiary support for your claim are we not communicating adequately.

Leading to that all-time internet favorite: frustration being reinterpreted as hostility.

Ah, well.

Comment #185875

Posted by harold on July 4, 2007 10:25 PM (e)

Russ -

I’m going to answer your question (this is the first time I’ve understood that you were asking one).

Other than this question, which I can answer, I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. That’s not a snide remark, it’s the literal truth.

What is your opinion here, where do you stand, what should be done about malaria in the 3rd world? Or do you think everything is fine and dandy as it is now?

I think that public health is critical to the development of societies that respect human rights and allow full development of human potential.

I strongly favor serious international efforts to address malaria, AIDS, and other devastating public health problems in Subsaharan Africa (I would feel the same way if Poland or Japan were experiencing these problems). The emphasis should be on eliminating or minimizing these threats to human life and dignity, but in a way that is sustainable and will not fall victim to predictable biological developments, nor create problems that are worse than the current situation.

I believe that an intelligent combination of insect control and drug treatment is the best current way to control malaria.

I believe that ethical vaccine research need not conflict with these approaches, and with the caveats that there are a number of very difficult technical problems to be overcome in such research, and that present lives should not be sacrificed for unproven dreams, I personally support the funding of intelligent, ethical vaccine research as well, past controversies notwithstanding.

When we use insecticides and drugs, we should be aware of the environmental impact or side effects that may ensue. Far from hampering the intelligent use of insecticides, ecologists and other scientists who study their effects allow us to understand this approach better. More knowledge is better. It does not hurt to know if pelican eggs are affected by an insecticide that may be beneficial against Anopheles mosquitoes; it can only be harmful not to know. Knowledge does not dictate our actions, it merely allows us to make them in a more informed and empowered way.

Comment #186211

Posted by Russ on July 6, 2007 12:56 PM (e)

So in effect you’re saying you’re fine with what we’re doing now? We’re already using an intelligent combination of
drug treatment and insect control, but in the form of nets not DDT. The main problem with the nets is they have to be re-impregnated with chemicals very so often which is a huge ordeal and not particularly cost effective. That’s why some places are now using DDT in the mix now that WHO has changed their minds and now AID organizations are actually funding DDT again in some places.

As for demanding evidence, everyone here including the bit at the top says the guy from the National Institute of Health is wrong when he says the word ban in relation to DDT, there was no actual ban. So how come people around the world who live in malarious countries like Africa insist that until recently they couldn’t get DDT? Why is it so many people who don’t live there are so quick to assume these people are all lying when they say that? I’ve yet to see any of you cite evidence to support your claims these people are lying.

Comment #186224

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 6, 2007 1:51 PM (e)

Russ:

So how come people around the world who live in malarious countries like Africa insist that until recently they couldn’t get DDT? Why is it so many people who don’t live there are so quick to assume these people are all lying when they say that? I’ve yet to see any of you cite evidence to support your claims these people are lying.

Last I checked, Russ, Africa was a continent. Again, a minor point, if it didn’t fit so well with the clouds of vagueness which infuse your attempts at reasoning with us.
What countries, precisely?
Who the heck are “these people”? How the heck can we claim they’re lying, when you’ve never told us who we’re talking about in the first place?
What we’ve never seen yet is any evidence for your claims, other than some anecdote about your several-week visit to the Philippines, where you read something in the newspaper.
Stop being so fricking vague, dude. Find us a cite to a reputable source, and–who knows–maybe we’ll be convinced that there’s something to your claims…
Until then, nah.

Comment #186230

Posted by Russ on July 6, 2007 2:56 PM (e)

Stevie, in 1999 the World Wildlife Fund proposed a worldwide ban on DDT by 2007 stating “As long as it is used in the world, nobody is safe.” They eventually agreed that South Africa had a legitimate need to use DDT. When South Africa stopped using DDT in 96 malaria rose, when they started using it again in 2001 they saw a 90% decrease in incidence of malaria. South Africa had 27,000 cases of malaria in 96 before they banned DDT, by 1999 they had 62,220 cases, more than double in 3 years. Eventually even WWF conceded that South Africa was justified in using DDT for vector control in limited use.

Mozambique had a similar problem, with mosquitoes that were resistant to pyrethroid insecticides, the obvious answer was DDT, but Mozamique would not use DDT because officials said it would alienate international donors. When asked on the record
why they rejected it they instead said it had nothing to do with alienating donors, they simply weren’t sure what the long
term effects would be. Who says they rejected it because of donor concerns, only the malaria program manager of Mpumalanga, South Africa, who was asked for help by his colleagues in Mozambique. When he offered DDT, they refused for the above cited reasons.

“Donors are very reluctant to fund any kind of spraying using DDT because it’s
politically incorrect,” said Richard Tren, director of the Johannesburg, South
Africa-based Africa Fighting Malaria, which advocates the limited use of DDT.
“They have this strange idea that because DDT isn’t being used in Sweden or the
U.S., that they can’t use it in Africa. But people in Sweden and the U.S. are not
dying before the age of 5 of preventable diseases.”

But what does he know just look at his job title he clearly knows less about Malaria and
DDT than you do right?

This is from a 2003, Feb article in the LA Times.

Even the king of idiots, John Stossel, got a US AID official to admit on camera that for years we would not provide DDT
to countries in Africa who asked for it because they had a policy of not providing a chemical to another country that was
illegal to use in the US. She said it, they aired it, I heard it with my own ears.

All the WWF was trying to do in 1999 was make official what had been an un-written rule for years.

Comment #186237

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 6, 2007 3:31 PM (e)

I have submitted a response to the foregoing, but it is apparently being held for moderation due to the inclusion of links (to such insidious sources as wikipedia and the LA Times…).

Moderators, if we wish to encourage our guests to provide evidence for their positions, discouraging the posting of links appears to be a rather strange way to go about it.

Comment #186458

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 7, 2007 12:39 PM (e)

…Bah!

Comment #188695

Posted by Ed Darrell on July 18, 2007 2:16 PM (e)

In debate, in staffing Congress, and in law, I learned that “what everybody knows” is often wrong. So hit the library.

On the internet, one can discover that some agencies complained about potential public backlash if they used DDT. Notably, USAID in the current Bush administration appeared to be looking for reasons not to send money to Africa to fight malaria as promised (I’m being very cynical, perhaps too cynical, with any luck). At the Environmental Defense website you can find ED’s letter urging USAID to use the money to purchase DDT if local African health authorities preferred DDT.

So there you have it: The very organization that FIRST sued to stop DDT use on Long Island (then known as the Environmental Defense Fund, or EDF), in 2004 urged the wise use of DDT against malaria in Africa.

The critics of Rachel Carson get it bass ackward every blessed time. They spin such a web of deceit they can’t tell when they get caught in it.

This has been a hot topic over at my blog, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. (www-dot-timpanogos-dot-wordpress-dot-com)

Nick: Has anyone actually ever seen the “Sweeney” hearing information that CEI and others keep referring to with the bogus citation? They claim Sweeney held 7 months of EPA hearings, then recommended DDT use be not banned, or maybe expanded, and that Ruckelshaus “unilaterally” overruled him. Of course, such an action by Ruckelshaus would be illegal under the Administrative Procedures Act and EPA’s own rules … but what did the hearings actually conclude? What did Sweeney rule? Anybody know? I’d sure love a copy if anyone has one.