Onearth on DDT and malaria

Kim Larsen has an extensive story on DDT and malaria in onEarth. An extract:

DDT proponents are generally reluctant to acknowledge the complicating and protean factor of mosquito resistance. Entomologist May Berenbaum finds this galling. An expert on insecticide metabolism, Berenbaum is director of the entomology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Read the entomological literature of the 1950s," she said in a telephone interview. "Way before Silent Spring, scientists were already trying to understand resistance. That's what insecticide toxicology was all about back then. Resistance to DDT was first detected in Italy, in houseflies, in 1947!"

Environmentalists' objections to DDT, Berenbaum said, were just one piece of an intricate puzzle. In a 2005 Washington Post article that discussed mosquito resistance to DDT, she warned: "Overselling a chemical's capacity to solve a problem can do irretrievable harm not only by raising false hopes but by delaying the use of more effective long-term methods."

After Berenbaum published the article, she said, she was barraged by e-mails demanding that she support her claims. "To get them off my back, I finally culled a list of peer-reviewed articles documenting resistance to DDT and other pesticides in pockets all over Africa. This is not my life's work. I spent 10 minutes--10 minutes--and I found 15 articles. What would I have found if I'd spent an hour?"


More like this

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Last week, in response to more repetition of the false claim that environmentalists had killed many millions of people with a ban of DDT. John Quiggin set out the facts of the matter: DDT has never been banned in antimalarial use. The main reason for declining use of DDT as an antimalarial has been…
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Interesting. But really, I think newspaper articles tend to do terrible jobs of citing sources, which is especially shameful in online versions of the articles.

By Spaulding (not verified) on 12 Feb 2008 #permalink

Spaulding is right that much of the print media is terribly sloppy about cites -- and that there is no excuse for this sloppiness when a source is just a link away.

And Berenbaum is on target in her comment about the laziness of DDT proponents (although, of course, they have no monopoly on sloth).
An excellent overview of DDT's environmental effects, and the economic impact of EPA's decision limiting its use, was released in 1975(!) and has been available online for about as long as there has been an online. Discussion of pesticide resistance and effects on beneficial insect predators may be found on pages 166-168. On pages 69-81, there are 179 citations of articles on eggshell thinning alone. And there have been more than a few confirming studies in the last 32 years. You can cite these as often as you like in response to the tired baloney about DDT and malaria, and it never seems to make a difference. It is tempting to wonder Why bother? They won't read them anyway.

why in the world would they read something that disagrees with them? the rightwing credo, is to parrot things they are fed in unison; this makes it TRUTH. It's been thus for forever, no?

And before it gets alleged that the "lefties" do similarly, I will preemptively state that I make an effort to chase down the primary source of most, if not all, of these rightwing truisms, even when not only the primary source, but even the immediate source is not given. It's usually not hard; and it's usually relatively clear why the primary source is attempted to be kept shrouded, when it is examined.

True enough. It just gets kind of frustrating sometimes. For example, Jennifer Marohasy recently posted a positive review of a book by one Prof. Aynsley Kellow, of the University of Tasmania[1] saying among other things that DDT regulation was overenthusiastic. In comments, Ed Darrell and others attempted to set the record straight. Jennifer got a little peevish in the comments:

Now, on what specific basis was DDT banned in the US in 1972?
I don't want links or quotes, I would like some explaination of the data.

Sheesh. This is the best-documented case of environmental regulation in history. A Google search for "Ruckelshaus DDT" yields as its first hit a detailed history by the EPA. The source documents have all been posted in one location by EPA[2]. And Jennifer Marohasy needs to ask her readers to do even this trivial bit of homework for her. That's the problem. It's laziness compounded with vanity and self-righteousness, I tells yer.

[1] So, Tim, who is this Kellow fellow, anyway? And, more importantly, is my mental image of the U. of T.'s mascot about right?

[2] Had EPA moved just a month earlier, they could have saved me a lot of time and trouble, but that's another story. And anyway, the Ruckelshaus order has been available online for approximately forever.

well, the rapid rise of malaria in the United States after DDT was actually banned there even for nonagricultural use, unlike most of the world, and the subsequent death toll is conclusive evidence as to the hitlerian tendencies of environmentalists.
hard evidence that rate of DDT use is highly negatively correlated with malaria cases.


I concur. Sri Lanka had 3 million malaria cases when they began DDT spraying in 1946, with a death toll of about 1% of cases. By 1964, the case number dropped to 29. Then they banned DDT. By 1997, the case number was back up to 500,000 (I assume same death %, but couldn't find number). The people were told the mosquitoes had developed resistance to DDT. That is partially true, but only very partially. Similar proportions of peventable carnage were experienced by India, Africa, and other vulnerable regions. The demagogued and fraudulent DDT ban has killed more in the last 40 years than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin combined.

Ironic that many environmentalists side with the mosquitoes on this one. Would the environment be better off without us human pests?

Vaju,m well obviously if I want accurate detailed information about public health, I'd immediately turn to a right-wing think-tank which, to the extent that it has any expertise or credibility at all, is expert in economics.

Similarly, if I start experiencing severe pains in the side, I'll be sure to consult a plumber or horticulturist.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 12 Feb 2008 #permalink

Fradulent DDT ban indeed; unless you're suggesting that agricultural use of DDT eliminates malaria. Otherwise, the fraud is that there is no ban on DDT for disease fighting, nor has there been.

Since you bring up Sri Lanka as your example; from the WHO report on what they are doing re the tsunami malaria problem and why they are not spraying DDT in Sri Lanka:
"Endemic sporadic malaria close to the affected areas transmÂitted by An. culicifacies, which has been considered DDT-resistant for many years"
which is apparently now gone from the Web

If only WHO knew as much about fighting disease as rightwing think tanks, how many lives could we save. Not to mention the great waste of time and effort "banning" (in a somewhat similar sense that DDT is banned) tobacco smoking, which of course has never been proved to cause disease.

bi, your source is essentially making the numbers up. I've done demographic models of Soviet democide myself, and my figure is 80 million dead, which puts Stalin clearly ahead of Mao and Hitler, though not by much in Mao's case (60 million or so). A good source, if anyone's interested, is Antonov-Ovseyenko's "The Time of Stalin" (1982). Antonov-Ovseyenko had access to the records of the Central Statistical Administration of the USSR, so I trust his figures, although I disagree with him on the deficit births issue. Similarly, we have good figures for how many Hitler killed, since the Nazis kept copious records. This "nobody knows" conclusion is historical pseudoscience.

The CEI white paper "When Politics Kills" cited by vaji is shamelessly dishonest. Bate says

Sri Lankan officials had stopped using DDT in 1964, believing the malaria problem was solved, but by 1969 the number of cases had risen from the low of 17 (achieved when DDT was used) to over a half million (Silva,1997). It is alleged that DDT was not widely re-introduced because of mosquito resistance to it, and DDT use was finally abandoned in favor of Malathion19 in 1977 (Spielman, 1980).

But, as you've noted elsewhere, Sri Lanka never banned DDT, or agreed not to use it. Indeed, they started spraying again as soon as malaria cases started rising:

Sri Lanka went back to the spray guns, reducing malaria once more to 150,000 cases in 1972; but there the attack stalled. Anopheles culicifacies, completely susceptible to DDT when the spray stopped in 1964, was now found resistant presumably because of the use of DDT for crop protection in the interim. (Harrison)


Intradomiciliary residual spraying with DDT had been withdrawn in the early 1960s because of the low number of cases (in accordance with the criteria for passing from attack to consolidation). After the resurgence was recognized, administrative and financial difficulties prevented the purchase of insecticides of which there was no residual stock, and the employment of temporary squads for spraying them when insecticides were donated.[1] In 1968, the programme reverted from consolidation to attack phase, but by that time malaria had already taken root again in all previously endemic areas. DDT residual spraying was again applied on a total coverage basis, accompanied in some areas by mass radical treatment. These measures met with limited success, but the malaria situation deteriorated once more between 1972 and 1975. Apart from operational and administrative shortcomings, the main reason for this second increase was the development of vector resistance to DDT, to such an extent that it was necessary to change to the more expensive malathion in 1977. (Gramiccia and Beales)

It is instructive to go back to Roger Bate's quoted passage and note how he weaseled out of admitting that Sri Lanka sprayed DDT like crazy in the late 1960s, but it didn't work. It's about as sleazy a bit of political spin as I've seen. How about you, vaji? Having any second thoughts? No; I suppose not.

[1] Emphasis added. Anyone else notice a conflict between the donated insecticides and Bate's unsupported smear that "pressure not to use DDT may have
been applied by western donors using resistance as a convenient argument."? God, what a sleazeball.

> (On a totally tangential tangent, the number of people killed by tyrannical dictators depends quite a good lot on which particular definition of "killed" you use...)

True, but it depends a lot more on who is doing the counting. On the other hand, one has to wonder why do we narrow the field a-priori to tyrants. Elected governments, as well as private enterprises, have mounted impressive potentially record-breaking tallies and should not be unfairly excluded.


Right-wing or left-wing biases aside, DDT was and is still the most cost-effective defense against malaria.

Here's the WHO's words:

"There are currently no alternatives to DDT and pyrethroids and the development of new insecticides will be an expensive long-term endeavour. Therefore, immediate sound vector resistance management practices are required to assure the continued utility of the currently available insecticides. At present there is only limited evidence of the impact of various resistance mechanisms on the efficacy of vector control interventions, whether they are implemented singly or in combination."


It goes on to say there is limited data on DDT resistance.

My point was that no matter what political motivation that anti-DDT campaigners had in the 60's and 70's, the result was millions of deaths by a tortured "precautionary principle" application ('maybe cancer, maybe low birth weight, maybe thin bird eggshells, so let's ban it'). I understand the campaigners themselves could not prevent DDT use in countries that needed it, but the decision makers in many of those countries banned it because they were influenced by the propaganda.

I thought z had indicated agreement with this.

The larger lesson: the "precautionary principle" (regulate and ban without solid evidence of danger) is a responsible course only in a short term crisis until the problems are contained. But it is today used by environmentalists across the technology spectrum to justify a pre-emptive war against imagined disasters. Their enemy is industry, not the actual natural threats (malaria, global warming, asteroids...). But it is industry and economic growth that will increase our ability to survive natural calamities. The DDT story proves this out.

... the decision makers in many of those countries banned it because they were influenced by the propaganda.

Wrong. Didn't you read any of the sources given above? Even Roger Bate has not produced a scrap of evidence to support this claim; he just asserts it over and over again. You started out by saying that

The demagogued and fraudulent DDT ban has killed more in the last 40 years than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin combined.

You've now been confronted with a large body of evidence showing fairly conclusively that this is pure moonshine. Unless you can come up with something to the contrary, you may want to ask yourself if you've been swindled.

What the DDT-pushers claim to want is already allowed. China and India are both on the list, and account for nearly half the world's population. Some ban!

So how bout if Vaji would tell us what s/he and the rest of the DDT-pushers really want.


Here's an article by a quite credible African malaria victim on the subject. Thankfully African policies are changing towards the life-saving direction.…

I hope you are not suggesting

1. That the African countries affected were not influenced by the anti-DDT campaign in the US and Europe, and therefore used their own science and native activism to stop DDT spraying, or

2. That African mosquitoes all of a sudden developed DDT resistance and the widespread spraying was ineffective, so they gave up

I have read studies from the 70's where some local resistance was developed, or limited species resistances were shown. These were obviously wildly extrapolated by the activists to discourage DDT use, or else the WHO and the USAID wouldn't be doing a 180 degree policy turn on DDT. How do you explain that?

Does it make sense that there WAS resistance, and now there is LESS resistance, so all those millions of lives would have been lost anyway? Not to me. What makes sense is that limousine liberal scare-mongers, collectivists, nativists, animists, and beast-o-philes collaborated to demagogue into disuse the greatest life-saving pesticide in history. DDT pesticide scientist Paul Hermann Müller was the most deserving Nobel Prize winner in terms of lives saved.

Incidentally, Al Gore is the least deserving, if you're scoring at home, even less than Yasser Arafat).

Ray C.

Thank you for the link. What I want is for the human species to survive, and for anti-tech activists to stop parasiting off of productive people, and create something besides entropy. I am happy to see DDT has recently been authorized for use in countries where it had previously been restricted. The Uganda entry corroborates the news story in my last post.

The anti-DDT activist community still have blood on their hands, no matter what slick denials they may fabricate. Some of the denials are based on saying that private DDT use was not banned. But in poor areas, people cannot afford DDT. It must be a public health program to be successful in those areas.

Tim Lambert,

I will defer to your statistics on Sri Lanka completely for argument's sake. Let's say resistance was the sole reason malaria cases went back up there.

Do you have evidence that the same resistance built up at the same time in Africa, and that public DDT spraying was ended without influence from western "scientists"/activists, and do you believe that the WHO and USAID are wrong in pushing for public pro-DDT policy, and that all the lives lost to malaria between 1975 and now could not have been saved by DDT?

Precautionary politicians than put demagoguery ahead of rationality are leading us backward. The paranoid militant right is as guilty as the anti-industrial left on this count.

"No other chemical, at any price, does what DDT does"


Gee, a lot of folks would have postulated that Western capitalistic industristic policies were what devastated Africa, with environmentalism attempting to salvage something from the wreck. How wrong could they be. They probably believe that there might be other chemicals that do what DDT does.

Vaji, you are not paying attention. The quoted passage from Gramiccia and Beales addresses your question head-on. In the 1950s and early 1960s, DDT spraying was stopped in areas where the vector appeared to be under control. This was consistent with the best practices of that time, before the dynamics of resistance were well understood (we still have a lot to learn today). The result was a resurgence of DDT-resistant mosquitoes, all descended from a small (and resistant) residual population. WHO has never done a "180 degree policy turn on DDT." Instead, public health policy re/ DDT has evolved from a wild enthusiasm in the 1950s and early 1960s, to deep discouragement in the 1960s and 1970s, to a more sophisticated understanding of pest management strategies (and a grudging respect for the enemy's toughness) continuing to the present day.

You have done a good job of presenting the simple and satisfying narrative so beloved of Bate, CEI and the anti-environmental right, viz.: "limousine liberal scare-mongers, collectivists, nativists, animists, and beast-o-philes collaborated to demagogue into disuse the greatest life-saving pesticide in history."
It is internally consistent, harmonious with your other political views, and ... how shall I put this? It's bullshit. Unfortunately for that story, none of the actual facts of the case want to cooperate with it.

The world does not exist to make you feel superior to your political enemies. It is messy, and complicated, and surprising. You have to do your homework to understand it, and once you have, any hope you might have tried to preserve for a simple, satisfying political narrative has vanished.
You have a choice: you can feel warm and fuzzily superior with the "Rachel Carson is worse than Hitler" narrative, or you can try to understand the subject.

A good starting point is Gordon Harrison's Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man. It is the single best reference on the subject, and comes from no particular political vantage (note that Roger Bate cited it).

Then, if you want all the details of DDT's regulatory history, you can find more than you ever wanted to know at the EPA's central reference site.

Or you can continue smug in the belief that "[t]he anti-DDT activist community still have blood on their hands." It's up to you.

"limousine liberal scare-mongers, collectivists, nativists, animists, and beast-o-philes collaborated to demagogue into disuse the greatest life-saving pesticide in history."

even if it were true, do not a ban make.

vaji, the malaria eradication program never even got started in Africa. Try getting your information about WHO policies from WHO rather than astroturf groups like CORE.

PS If anyone in Sydney or Melbourne would like to show up and query the astroturfers, their official launches of the book are happening here & here:

Melbourne launch:

Speaker: Alan Oxley, Chairman of the Australian APEC Study Centre
Date: Monday 18 February, 2008
5.30 to 7.00pm
Venue: The Australian Institute of International Affairs
Dyason House
124 Jolimont Road
East Melbourne
RSVP: Annette Nicol
P: 03 9654 7271 or Annette nicol @ aiia asn au

Sydney launch:

Speaker: Bill Bowtell, Director of HIV/AIDS Project at the Lowy Institute
Date: Thursday 21 February, 2008
5.30 to 7.00pm
Venue: The Australian Institute of International Affairs
The Glover Cottages
124 Kent Street
P: 02 9247 2709 or aiiansw @ bigpond com

I'd go, but I live in Canberra.

Maybe he hasn't yet had a chance to smell what he's trodden in. Maybe he really believes in the importance of IP and patents for pharmaceuticals to curing diseases; lots of health professionals (are subsidised to) do that. It is admittedly a more defensible position than the DDT crap IMHO.

Maybe he really believes in the importance of IP and patents for pharmaceuticals to curing diseases...

Aren't they? Don't they lead to much greater investment in pharmaceutical research, since the companies can then recover their investments in these products, most of which cost a fortune to develop, yet yield useless results?

I think we need some IP protection to fund drug development. But that does not mean that the present level of protection is optimal.


Thank you for the references. Your explanation of resistance is plausible, but the 60's-70's demagoguery of DDT and the junk science-based activism by the EPA is well documented.

We apparently disagree on the effects of the demagoguery (you apparently believe it was insignificant, which is either an act of blind allegiance or naivete), but I agree that any opinion on demagoguery is not useful to any debate on the scientific merits, it only serves political debate. I believe a political narrative which shows the environmentalists as aiding and abetting anti-DDT policies that led to unintended but very deadly consequences is useful to deter future environmentalist hijinks.

z and others like to quibble about whether there were actual bans or not, but it is obvious that use of DDT was banned in effect by not only a misunderstanding of eradication and resistance, but the strong influence of EPA, USAID, and trade negotiators on 3rd world governments, and other pressures, such as threats from Europe to not import agricultural goods from countries who did not ban agricultural DDT.

At the risk of sounding as patronizing as you do, the political narrative is useful because politics is inseparable from culture, and competitive cultures survive within the species, and competitive species survive on the planet. DDT is one important (and hopefully transient) technology for survival, and some politicians and environmentalists in the collectivist sub-culture are against it because they do not see private sector technology as a tool for THEIR survival. They see technology as an enterprise they want to control, ideally by nationalization. But tyranny/fascism like that has proven to be an uncompetitive institution for our species as a whole. I am narrating the shenanigans of the tyrannical subculture in order to keep them a subculture, and not become the dominant culture. If they do, our survival is at more risk.

re 29:
As I said, it's a defensible position. However, the fact that the people defending it are a bunch of former tobacco industry lobbyists raises doubts in my mind about its integrity.
My personal opinion is that the current IP system is being systematically abused by mickey-mouseketeering (lobbying congress to extend copyright whenever something is about to become public domain), greenfielding (repatenting the same drug over and over again by describing it differently), and other such legal manouevers, which have a severe cost in lives to the people who can't afford the medication. This abuse has gone so far that wholesale reform is necessary.

The pharma industry says that the major problem is public health delivery in the developing world. This is true, but it's not an "either-or" problem, and they are making things worse, not better.

Re 32. First vaji decrys "demagoguery" (sic) and then denounces everyone who disagrees with him as tyrannical fascists. Physician, heal thyself!

Vaji, I see you have at least been paying sufficient attention to know you are being patronized. The reason, if you're curious, is that
you do not know what you are talking about. I do not for a moment expect that you will actually track down and read Gordon
Harrison's book, or Edmund Sweeney's opinion and William Ruckelshaus' order in the DDT case, or the 1975 survey of DDT's environmental
effects, or any of the 157 articles published since then in the
journal Science on the single topic of DDT and malaria, to
choose a few examples. It was clear with your first comment that you
saw the topic of DDT and malaria as an essentially political one.
The dry facts of regulatory history, or biochemistry, or public health
management, are not only irrelevant to that point of view, they are actively dangerous to it. You have nothing to gain, and
quite a bit to lose, by learning anything material about
how Plasmodium has been fought, and DDT's role in that
fight. Nothing you might learn would add to the comfort you already
derive from your present world-view, and most would subtract from it.
A rational actor under those conditions would refuse to learn
anything more -- and so, very reasonably, have you.
So why should I, or anyone, spend time and effort trying to talk you
out of a position you are comfortable with, and which you have already
described as ideological and immune to objective disproof anyway? It
is because the facts matter.

As best I can tell, every single assertion of fact you have made in
this thread is mistaken. But let's not try to boil the ocean by
arguing the whole thing at once. I propose that you back up at
least one
with a primary reference. You think that Sri Lankan
public health officials banned DDT under pressure from environmental
groups, or because they were persuaded by anti-DDT propaganda? Great.
Can you point to a letter, a memo, a press release, anything
contemporaneous that might suggest they were doing anything other
than trying to use all the tools they had to fight malaria? And if
you can't, doesn't that suggest that the whole idea of an evil
envrironmentalist conspiracy to sacrifice Africans to malaria is just
a fever dream?

"z and others like to quibble about whether there were actual bans or not, but it is obvious that use of DDT was banned in effect by not only a misunderstanding of eradication and resistance, but the strong influence of EPA, USAID, and trade negotiators on 3rd world governments, and other pressures, such as threats from Europe to not import agricultural goods from countries who did not ban agricultural DDT."

as can be seen by the repercussions and reprisals taken out on those who used it, such as....?

I should add that the experience of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in the 1960s does not exactly mirror that of Africa. But it was the most dramatic early reversal of malaria eradication, and the lessons learned there do translate. Today, every single species of malaria-carrying mosquito in Africa is resistant to DDT to some degree, a fact that Roger Bate somehow forgets to mention.


Of course facts matter to support opinions, but your opinions are scientific, and mine are political. We're both winning in this exchange because we have different audiences. You're scoring scientific points because I'm not able to rebut your scientific arguments, and I'm scoring political points because you're not able to rebut my basic political assertion that leftist activism has had SOME influence on worsening the malarial death count between about 1960 and 1980.

It's easy to persuade on this point, because "some" could be 50% or 0.2%. My target audience (potential libertarians) should see by now that your failure to acknowledge ANY responsibility of environmentalists in the affliction count is a sign that you might be in the tank with the prevailing environmentalist ideology (anti-technology collectivism, etc). It is this denial that strikes us libertarians as dogmatic, and potentially adherent to tyrannical anti-tech policy.

[BTW James, I do not call all people who disagree with me tyrants, just people who openly aspire to seize control of industry through overregulation]

So I am conceding the scientific argument (an easy win for you, I'm an engineer) and I am now giving you an opportunity to at least stalemate me politically by admitting some culpability by the environmental left in this case. This has been my goal all along: either gain a non-scientific concession from an intelligent commenter that leftist activism has SOME responsibility for malarial deaths, or show resistance by an otherwise intelligent (but perhaps politically radicalized) commenter to making that non-scientific concession. No answer suggests that radicalization has seized you.

Your choice. I achieve my goal either way, but your political credibility is at stake. Take your time, I know such a concession may be difficult if you grew up as a flower child.

vaji writes:

[[I'm scoring political points because you're not able to rebut my basic political assertion that leftist activism has had SOME influence on worsening the malarial death count between about 1960 and 1980. ]]

He doesn't have to rebut your assertion. You have to provide some proof for the assertion. So far I've seen nothing convincing from you at all.

By how much did "left activism" "worsen[] the death count" 1960-1980? Care to cite a figure, and then explain how you derived it?

This is like trying to convince a room full of Rain Men to get on an airplane.

Not all points need to be supported by hard data, especially political ones. Some things are common sense inductive conclusions.

Would all of you refuse to accept my assertion that "most Americans do not eat spiders" without citing a scientific study? I realize you are probably all scientists, and perhaps Mr. Lambert has penned some rules of engagement somewhere that I didn't read, but arguers that require backup for every assertion are pedantics, consumed by the process without regard to productivity.

I admit baiting you all by making a few overreaching assertions that seemed to blame anti-DDT activists for ALL malarial deaths after WWII. Then I backed down, conceded the science, and chose jre to either agree or disagree with the common sense political assertion that anti-DDT activists have SOME (if only 0.0001%) culpability for malarial resurgence due to premature stoppage of spraying.

This is a radicalization test. It's like a DUI test. Refusing it implies guilt. I don't need studies to apply such a test, but I did need to pose (poorly) as someone knowledgeable on the subject, and overstate the case to set the conditions of my test.

Still waiting for jre. If you want to take the test, Barton, you are free to, but I'm not challenging you. I'm challenging jre because he has both high knowledge and a particular "resistance" to neutralizing himself politically, seeming to want to overwhelm the opponent with science and avoid denying political radicalization.

"anti-DDT activists have SOME (if only 0.0001%) culpability for malarial resurgence due to premature stoppage of spraying."

In contrast, I assume, to the so currently vocal proDDT folks, such as your own self and AEI (percentage of responsibility being a zero sum game by definition) who, at the time, were so strenuously arguing the case of DDT use for malaria prevention, while conceding that its use for agriculture was devastating to its usability against malaria?

If pro-DDT activists made a concession that ag spraying was building significant resistance at the same time that they opposed an ag spraying ban, then they would bear guilt of malaria increase as well.

See how easy it is to admit your allies might be flawed?

I understand "pro-DDT" or "anti-DDT" is a generalization that does not break down pro-ag DDT and pro-indoor-spraying and whatever else. Again it is not my purpose to find actual percentages of blame.

It is to find the elusive boundaries between radical political thinking and accountable political thinking within influential communities of experts and advocates. What do I do with this information? It gives me a leadership detector. When someone in a thread steps up and makes a common sense political concession that their side may have supported poor policy from time to time, AND they demonstrate knowledge and persuasive skill on the issue, then I have found a leading resource I can trust, and I will come back to that forum just to read that person's posts.

Sorry to put you all through the centrifuge, but I don't get much out of straight tech talk without knowing if a person is flexible politically. Politics matters in science IF the scientist is commenting on policy. "Don't ask don't tell" only applies to generating the science itself.

>If pro-DDT activists made a concession that ag spraying was building significant resistance at the same time that they opposed an ag spraying ban, then they would bear guilt of malaria increase as well.

Wow, so as long as they deny evolution of resistance, they are not quilty? Your double standard is showing.

I'll confess that I didn't see that one coming. So all of Vaji's over-the-top rhetoric about anti-DDT activism having killed more people than this century's genocides combined was just a test designed to flush out those willing to concede flaws in their "side"? I guess that may be different from trolling, but it's not a very sharp distinction. For my part, I don't identify with one side or another regarding DDT. It's a tool, nothing more, that should be used as wisely as possible. The hooey about Rachel Carson is irritating not because she represents good and DDT evil, but precisely because it is impossible to understand the facts of the case when they are framed that way. Historically, it is impossible to say for sure how things would have played out had DDT not been restricted when it was, but it seems at least likely that the cutback on agricultural use actually saved lives, by reserving DDT for public health applications and slowing the spread of resistance. If pointing that out is seen as partisan by some, so be it.

If trolling means sorting politics-first experts from science-firsters, then I plead guilty.

There are those in the "expert" community whose recommendations somehow always restrict technological choice and economic growth.

I guess your agnosticism on "how things may would have played out had DDT not been restricted" is as close as you'll get to an admission that restriction can indeed cause death.

Scientists vetting their politics on an issue is not a waste of time. There is a lot of mistrust of science for mostly reasons of political bias. My provocation tends to reveal bias better than if I asked directly.

All free of charge, Tim. Thank you for actively moderating this forum.

vaji, You are coming from an ideologically held position based on propaganda, and accusing people who have examined and provided the evidence of having an ideological bias.

Remember; Science is not about coming up with a conclusion, then looking for evidence to support that conclusion. Science is about looking at the evidence, coming up with a conclusion then actively trying to disprove and debunk that position.

Faced with evidence of resistance, the existence of alternate insecticides, the effectiveness of alternatives, the conclusion of "Environmentalists are killing people by Banning DDT" is simply not a sustainable premise. I would put it to you that your ideology is the only one that's superceeding the evidence.

"See how easy it is to admit your allies might be flawed"

Ah, but I very easily admit the flaws of my allies and my self. I am happy to agree that many at the time demanded the end of DDT use for disease fighting. However: They Lost. The DDT Ban is a dream they had, which died stillborn, only to be reincarnated as the righwing boogey man. A ban requires that the use of something be punished, at a minimum. The fact that some folks weighted the pluses and minuses and came to a different decision than you feel they should have Had They Only Known All The Facts, doth not a ban make.