The death toll is mounting.

Howard Stern wants to bring back DDT

Ronnie the Limo Driver told the crew he was bitten by bug over the vacation–he went to sleep just fine on Sunday and woke up to a nightmare on Monday: “I wasn’t able to move.” Howard hoped it wasn’t bed bugs and repeated his desire to ‘bring back’ DDT, citing the chemical’s use against insect-carried diseases like malaria: “We don’t have malaria here yet but it’s just a matter of time if we don’t bring [DDT] back.”

22 responses

  1. Howard Stern is your science advisor?

    August 31, 2010 at 10:17 pm

  2. Anni Katz

    DDT has now been proven safe, effect and efficient. There is no excuse for any more deaths. Rutledge Taylor had the guts dig in and to question. Kudos to him for seeking out a solution. People all over the world ought to pay attention to this movie and the corresponding articles. To those who are so quick to judge, what will it take? Malaria and bedbugs taking over American? It never seems to matter until things hit home. Lets hope this movie awakens people before the crisis worsens.

    September 17, 2010 at 3:35 am

  3. No one has ever done a study that suggests DDT isn’t a killer of eco-systems. It’s a powerful toxin, and dangerous. It is not safe.

    DDT may be the best pesticide in a few circumstances, but it remains a deadly toxin that is unsafe even under carefully controlled conditions. Ask the medical workers (Did Dr. Taylor interview them?)

    Malaria death rates are at an all time low — lets not sacrifice genuine progress against malaria for an ill-advised diatribe against science and environmentalists.

    September 18, 2010 at 3:11 am

  4. Royce

    The problem with DDT is that it worked too well in stomping out malaria. The science proves that it minimally impacted the environment. But this information was suppressed. Wonder why and by whom? This movies addresses and uncovers the answers to these questions..Questions that many of us had about this issue.

    September 24, 2010 at 12:39 am

  5. Royce, if you have some study that shows DDT worked wonderfully well in beating malaria, by all means bring it forward. Suppressed? Who could possibly be powerful enough to suppress press reports both inside the U.S. and outside? SMERSH?

    This movie is loaded with voodoo history, voodoo science, crank science, and medical quakery.

    See if you can find Malcolm Gladwell’s profile of malaria super-fighter Fred Soper. Gladwell details how the WHO campaign to eradicate malaria was derailed by overuse of DDT by agricultural interests.

    It’s too bad; it’s a tragedy of sorts. But the facts are that DDT is still an uncontrollable toxin, a shortage of DDT has never occurred, there is no ban on DDT in Africa, and malaria rates are the lowest now that they have ever been in human history.

    September 24, 2010 at 4:56 am

  6. Royce

    My question is why was malaria eradicated in the US by DDT yet it is not currently used in Africa and India to eradicate malaria? The science proves that it minimally impacts the environment and is harmless to people but is highly effective in the control of mosquitoes and other parasites.

    September 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm

  7. Royce,

    First, DDT was not the weapon that eradicated malaria in the U.S. We worked for 30 years to improve medical care, beef up the Public Health Service and county public health officers, educate people on how to drain mosquito breeding areas near their homes, be certain people with malari were fully treated to a cure, and to raise incomes to improve housing so that people could live in a home where mosquitoes could not enter at night (the times malaria-carrying mosquitoes bite). By 1939, malaria was essentially eliminated from the U.S. DDT was not available for use for another seven years.

    Earlier we had defeated malaria and yellow fever in Panama, during the construction of the Panama Canal — long before any insecticide existed. Beating malaria is possible with discipline, accurate information, and sustained effort. No pesticide is necessary.

    Second, DDT has never been out of use in Africa since 1946, nor in Asia. DDT is in use right now by the World Health Organization (WHO) and at least five nations in Africa who have malaria problems. If someone told you DDT is not being used, they erred.

    Unfortunately, overuse of DDT by agricultural interests, in the early 1960s, bred mosquitoes that are resitant and immune to DDT. DDT simply is not the effective pesticide it once was, and for the WHO project to eradicate malaria, this problem was the death knell. WHO had to fall back to a malaria control position, because pro-DDT groups sprayed far too much of the stuff, in far to many places, mostly outside.

    Third, all serious studies indicate that DDT greatly affects environment, with doses of the stuff multiplying from application through the top of the trophic levels in the ecosystem. A minimal dose of DDT to kill mosqsuito larva in an estuary, for example, multiples many times as zooplankton and the mosquito larva soak it up. The next level of consumers get about a ten-times dose from what was sprayed, and that multiplies exponentially as other creatures consume the lower-level consumers. By the time an insect or crustacean-eating bird gets the critter, the dose is millions of times stronger, often to fatal levels for the bird.

    If the dose is sub-lethal, it screws up the reproduction of the bird. DDT in the egg kills the chick before it can fledge from the nest, often before it can hatch. If by some miracle the chick does not die from acute DDT poisoning, the eggshells produced by a DDT-tainted female bird are often too thin to survive the growth of the embryo — either way the chicks die. (There are a couple of studies done on plant-eating birds which showed that the chicks did not die before hatching — they died shortly after hatching.)

    DDT is astoundingly effective at screwing up the reproduction of birds.

    Fourth, studies show that humans exposed to DDT rarely get an acutely toxic dose, but that their children get screwed up reproductive systems, and there is a definite link from DDT exposure to the children of the mother — the cancer goes to the next generation. DDT is not harmless to people at all — it is just not acutely toxic, generally.

    Fifth, as I note above, DDT is no longer highly effective in controlling mosquitoes. Where once it killed them dead, they have developed immunity, and now digest the stuff as if it were food. There are studies that show DDT is also weakly repellent, but there are better, less-toxic repellents, and there is no reason to use something so deadly to all other creatures in the ecosystem to get a weak repellent effect.

    Because of the biomagnification, DDT kills the predators of mosquitoes much more effectively, and for a much longer period, than it kills mosquitoes. This sets the stage for mosquitoes to come roaring back, with all the natural checks on mosquito population out of commission.

    Why use a poison that is not very effective, but very deadly, when there are better alternatives available?

    Malaria death rates are the lowest they have been in human history. There is no good case to be made that more DDT could provide any benefit.

    DDT is still manufactured in astonishing quantity in North Korea, for one. DDT is used in Africa and Asia, but no one with any sense uses it to eradicate malaria — DDT screwed up that chance 50 years ago.

    September 25, 2010 at 2:12 am

  8. Royce

    Ed, If malaria rates are at such an all time low why is Bill Gates spending millions to fight malaria in Africa? Someone should tell him malaria is not a problem.

    September 25, 2010 at 6:59 am

  9. You’re misreading what I wrote, and excuse me for feeling you’re doing that intentionally.

    I didn’t say malaria is not a problem. I said the claims made in this movie are incorrect. Malaria rates did not rise with the reduction in DDT use.

    The work of the Gates Foundation has reduced the malaria infection and death rates, both. That progress is not recognized by DDT advocates. The further reduction of malaria infections and deaths depends on action other than poisoning Africa and Africans. Gates is working to achieve those reductions.

    DDT is not the answer to malaria.

    September 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm

  10. Royce

    This author Paul Dreissen states the case for the use of DDT quite well.

    We will eradicate malaria by 2010, stricken families were promised a few years ago. Well, 2010 is nearly gone and, instead of eradication, we have more malaria than before … and a new target date: 2015.

    Unless malaria control policies change, that date too will come and go. Billions will still be at risk of getting malaria. Hundreds of millions will continue getting the disease. Millions will die or become permanently brain-damaged. And poverty and misery will continue ravaging Third World communities.

    For years, malaria strategies have been dominated by insecticide-treated bed nets, Artemisia-based drugs, improved diagnostics and hospitals, educational campaigns, and a search for vaccines against highly complex plasmodium parasites. All are vital, but not nearly enough.

    Notably absent in all too many programs has been vector control – larvacides, insecticides and repellants, to break the malaria victim-to-mosquito-to-healthy-human transmission cycle, by reducing mosquito populations and keeping the flying killers away from people. Dr. William Gorgas employed these methods to slash malaria and yellow fever rates during construction of the Panama Canal a century ago.

    They are just as essential today. But well-funded environmental pressure groups vilify, attack and stymie their use, callously causing needless suffering and tragedy. They especially target the use of DDT.

    Spraying the walls and eaves of houses once or twice a year with this powerful spatial repellant keeps 80-90% of mosquitoes from even entering a home; irritates any that do enter, so they don’t bite; and kills any that land. DDT is a long-lasting mosquito net over entire households. No other chemical, at any price, can do this. And no one (certainly not any eco pressure group) is working to develop one.

    This miracle chemical had helped prevent typhus and malaria during and after World War II, and completely eradicate malaria in the United States, Canada and Europe. It was then enlisted in an effort to rid the entire world of malaria. After initial successes, DDT ran into an unexpected roadblock in 1969.

    As physician Rutledge Taylor chronicles in his pull-no-punches new film, “3 Billion and Counting,” Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Environmental Defense Fund enlisted DDT in their own campaign, to get it banned. They said the chemical posed unacceptable risks to people, wildlife and the environment – and used pseudo-scientific cancer and ecological horror stories, like those in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, to spook people, politicians and bureaucrats.

    Along with Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, Pesticide Action Network and other eco activists, they portrayed themselves as white knight planetary guardians. Their true motives were far less virtuous. “If the environmentalists win on DDT,” EDF scientist Charles Wurster told the Seattle Times, “they will achieve a level of authority they have never had before.”

    In short, the war on DDT was never about protecting people or birds. It was, and is, about power, control, money and ideology – regardless of the resultant human misery, disease and death.

    For the new Environmental Protection Agency, it was about power and politics. As the greens’ campaign to ban DDT intensified, EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus convened a scientific panel, which held six months of hearings, compiled 9,312 pages of studies and testimony, and concluded that DDT was safe and effective and should not be banned.

    Nevertheless, without attending a single hour of hearings or reading a page of the report, Ruckelshaus banned US production and use of DDT in 1972 – at a time when over 80% of the chemical was being exported for disease control. He later said his decision had nothing to do with cancer. He had a political problem, he said, and he fixed it. How nice for malaria victims.

    Carcinogenic? The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists DDT as “possibly carcinogenic” – right up there with coffee and pickles. Among products that “definitely” cause cancer, it includes birth control pills and ethanol. Mice fed DDT got 26% fewer cancers than control mice. Another study found that DDT actually cured malignant brain tumors in rabbits. Millions of war survivors were sprayed directly on their bodies, without any harmful effects.

    Bird eggshells? The original Bitman DDT studies involved diets that were 80% deficient in calcium; when the birds were fed proper diets, there was no thinning. Audubon Society annual Christmas bird counts recorded that bald eagle populations rose from 197 in 1941 to 891 in 1960, while robins increased from 19,616 to 928,639 over the same period – when America’s DDT use was at its historic high.

    Resistance? Mosquitoes have never become resistant to DDT’s life-saving repellency properties, but they are developing resistance to the pyrethroids used in agriculture – and bed nets.
    Poisonous? People have tried to kill themselves with DDT – and failed. Its most common replacement, parathion, killed hundreds of people, who safety experts said were too used to handling DDT. But as Dr. Wurster once observed, it “only kills farm workers and most of them are Mexicans and Negroes.”

    This modern, eco-style eugenics has since been broadened to the impoverished developing world, where DDT could reduce agony, brain damage, lost work hours, poverty and death – if it weren’t so frequently banished due to green ideologues like Wurster and the Club of Rome’s Alexander King, who worry more about over-population than human rights.

    Thus the vicious cycle continues. Infected people are too sick to work, too poor to afford sprays or nets or get proper treatment. Ugandan activist Fiona Kobusingye lost her son, two sisters and four cousins to malaria. American expatriate Patrick O’Neal says every household in his Tanzanian village has lost at least one member of its extended family to malaria. On Sumba Island, Indonesia, one-third of all women have lost at least one child to malaria.

    EDF and EPA lied. Millions of children died. How convenient, then, that UN Environment Program’s Nick Nutter can deadpan, “when someone here dies from malaria, they say God has taken them” – not baby-killing policies. How convenient that Al Gore can blame malaria on manmade global warming.

    This is environmental justice? The kind championed by President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson? Eco activist groups get billions. The world’s poor get disease and death. And EPA and the greens want to be put in charge of our energy, economy, jobs, living standards and lives.

    How inconvenient for them when folks like Dr. Rutledge raise questions they really don’t want to address. No wonder Ruckelshaus, Pesticide Action Network, USAID and EPA refused to grant him interviews. Stephanie from Pesticide Action did want to know who was funding the film. But when Dr. Rutledge said he was, she ended the conversation, without mentioning who funds PAN. (The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation, among others.)

    Three billion humans dead so far from malaria … and counting. And green ideologues work tirelessly to ensure that the callous, needless global death toll continues to rise.

    See this film. Tell your friends about it. Bring it to your college, club and local theater. It will make your blood boil, and change your perspectives forever about DDT and the radical environmental movement.

    September 25, 2010 at 6:04 pm

  11. Royce, Dreissen claims that malaria deaths are up — but we know better. He claims that EPA held six months of hearings, but it was nine months, not counting the two years of litigation prior to the hearings. He claims Ruckelshaus didn’t attend any of the hearings, but he fails to note that, under the law, he was required not to attend a single moment (Ruckelshaus was the first appeals level, and appellate administrators and judges do not attend trials).

    So far as I can see, every claim made in that piece you quote is exactly wrong, or misleading enough to fail a Tenderfoot Boy Scout from advancement.

    Which claim from Dreissen can you defend as not a whole cloth falsehood?

    Pick one, and offer any evidence you can find that isn’t from Lyndon Larouche or pure junk science.

    September 26, 2010 at 4:48 am

  12. Royce

    Ed, I think you need to go see the movie!

    September 26, 2010 at 5:27 am

  13. So, then, you can’t defend any of those statements?

    September 26, 2010 at 5:43 am

  14. Royce

    Absolutely I can. But I think it is best if you go see the movie.

    September 26, 2010 at 6:06 am

  15. Allison

    Royce, let Ed Darrell spout his biases. He’s incurably angry at something… He hasn’t seen the movie, yet he “knows it all.” Waste no further time with someone who loves to fight and doesn’t bother with research. Old data or made-up data are all equal to Ed Darrell. Just let him blow it off without any further audience. His emotionalism makes it obvious that he’s grinding his teeth over all this. I’ve seen his venom spewed on numerous sites. Ed, I dare you to go see 3 Billion and Counting. Of course, if you go with the attitude you generally present, you won’t be able to hear or see anything but what you already believe.

    September 26, 2010 at 7:41 am

  16. Fortunately for the facts, this movie won’t survive to Dallas, and the makers certainly won’t send me a copy to view.

    Let’s just leave it at this: Industry-funded firms have been slandering Rachel Carson and trying to resurrect DDT since 1962. Through a review by the Nobel-winner-packed President’s Science Advisory Committee in 1963, through threatened libel suits (not filed because truth is an absolute defense), through two federal court trials on the safety of DDT (DDT lost), through a ten-year label investigation by USDA switched to EPA, through nine months of hearings in which 32 different DDT manufacturers presented their best cases, through two more federal court appeals, and through 70 years of scientific investigation well documented in science journals, the facts are well-known, better than etched in stone: DDT is a dangerous wildcard, killer of ecosystems in the wild; DDT abuse took it away as a great weapon against malaria, but new methods have reduced malaria and malaria deaths to the lowest levels in human history.

    That’s what the facts show — the movie shows nothing different, right?

    September 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm

  17. Allison

    Royce, let Ed Darrell spout his biases. He’s incurably angry at something… He hasn’t seen the movie, yet he “knows it all.” Waste no further time with someone who loves to fight and doesn’t bother with research.

    Allison, I’ve cited the only research cited in this thread. Royce grows silent when I ask him to cite anything supporting his claims.

    It appears to me you’ve got things exactly backwards.

    Can you cite research supporting anything Royce said?

    Please do.

    September 27, 2010 at 6:51 am

  18. Pingback: “3 billion and counting” — the errors one makes when using Howard Stern as a science advisor « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

  19. Three billion humans dead so far from malaria … and counting.

    How is that total reached? If we assumed 4 million dead from malaria every year through the 20th century — which may be considerably high for most of the century — we’d have a total 400 million, less than a sixth of the total you claim with 3 billion.

    Who counts to 3 billion? 3 billion what?

    February 22, 2011 at 3:00 am

  20. silverfish

    I am amoung the people that wants DDT back. I have very limited funds and have faught bedbugs twice now. My children bring them home from school off of there back packs that lay on or next to other bookbags on the wall. I have three children in my home that were forsed to have bedbug bites because I could not afford to fight it constantly. So we had to save money just to fight them. Both times and if you have ever had bedbugs you know how uncomfortable they make you and your family. I AND MY FAMILY WANT DDT BACK!!!!

    May 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm

  21. Carlos Alberto Oliveira

    It’s all a cost / benefit relation: we all are Ecology adepts in some way, but in front of bed bugs, malaria, paludism, and other diseases increase, the cost is indeed much high! We want live in the 21 century, not at Middle Age! Wellcome back, DDT! We love you! You are a lifes” savior!

    July 9, 2013 at 5:50 am

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