Re: DDT, malaria, India, and Julian Simon (was Re: Antienviromentalist data)

From: Ralph Lewis (
Date: Sun Jan 16 2000 - 13:32:38 MST

DDT and many other similar toxins may not cause immediate poisoning of
mammals but that does not by any means implies it is safe.

Check out Deborah Cadbury's "Altering Eden : The Feminization of Nature"St
Martin's Press, 1999 for a good popular review of the endocrine toxins.

Best Ralph

At 10:27 PM 01/15/2000 PST, you wrote:
>Eliezer quoted Julian Simon, from
>>1945: DDT, sensationalized by Rachel Carson in 1962. Said to cause
>>hepatitis. Discontinued in U.S. in 1972. Known then to be safe to humans
>>(caused death only if eaten like pancakes). Some damage to wildlife under
>>special conditions. With the aid of DDT, "India had brought the number of
>>malaria cases down from the estimated 75 million in 1951 to about 50,000 in
>>1961. Sri Lanka...reduced malaria from about three million cases after
>>World War II to just 29 in 1964". Then as the use of DDT went down,
>>"Endemic malaria returned to India like the turnaround of a tide". By 1977
>>"the number of cases reached at least 30 million and perhaps 50 million".
>>In 1971, amidst the fight that led to the banning of DDT in 1972, the
>>president of the National Academy of Science - distinguished biologist
>>Philip Handler - said "DDT is the greatest chemical that has ever been
>>discovered". Commission after commission, top expert after top Nobel
>>prize-winning expert, has given DDT a clean bill of health.
>Like most people, I suppose, I think of DDT as a dangerous
>poison. The passage above asserts that it's safe for humans
>and suggests that the post-Sixties resurgence of malaria has
>something to do with the banning of DDT in the USA. A little
>research shows that it had everything to do with the growth
>in pesticide resistance, and nothing to do with pesticide
>Reasons for the resurgence of malaria:
>Pesticide resistance, growth of mosquito breeding grounds,
>expansion of human settlement into malaria-friendly areas,
>budget restraints. No reference to environmentalist scaremongering
>as a factor.
>DDT's use in India:
>states that pesticide production in India peaked in the 1980s, and
>DDT was banned there only in 1997, long after the resurgence quoted
>DDT's effects on human health:
>'Some of the recent scientific findings summarised in the report
>provide evidence that DDT can damage the developing brain, causing
>hypersensitivity, behavioural abnormalities and reduced nerve function.
> 'It has also been shown to suppress the immune system, which causes
>slower response to infections.'
>>From _A growing problem: pesticides and the Third
>World poor_ by David Bull (OXFAM, 1982), p30:
>'In India malaria incidence was down to just 49,000
>cases in 1961 (from 75 million or so in the early '50s)
>but was back to over a million by 1971 and nearly 6.5
>million by 1976...
>'In the final years of the 1970s there has been
>some recovery... In India, for example, malaria
>incidence fell from its 1976 peak to 4.4 million
>in 1977, 2.84 million in 1978 and 2.7 million in
>After listing various inadequacies of health
>infrastructure which contributed to the resurgence,
>the author states:
>'The most significant cause of the resurgence of
>malaria, however, is the resistance built up by
>the mosquitoes to the insecticides which have
>been relied upon for malaria vector control.'
>The number of pesticide-resistant species of
>insects and mites known (p31):
>1967: 119.
>1975: 139.
>1980: 171.
>And consider the first edition of _The Ultimate Resource_
>itself (Princeton University Press, 1981). The version on
>the web, I assume, is that of the 1998 revised edition.
>There is one reference to DDT in the index of the 1981
>edition, and this is what it leads to:
>'Because of DDT and other synthetic pesticides,
>medical technologists thought for a time that
>population density was no longer necessary to prevent
>malaria. Malaria was considered beaten. But
>throughout the world the disease has bounced back...
>Due to the evolution of pesticide resistant strains
>of carrier insects and the concomitant daage to the
>insects' natural predators, pesticides soon lost
>their effectiveness...
> 'Once again the only sure weapon against malaria
>may turn out to be increased population density.'
>(p252-253, Chapter 18, 'Population Density Does Not
>Damage Health, or Psychological and Social Well-Being')
> [Apparently population growth helps the fight
>against malaria because (i) swamps and other mosquito
>incubators get paved over, (ii) there are more people
>to run the health infrastructure.]
>Eliezer wrote
>>Is Rachel Carson still alive? Let's have her tried at Nuremburg and hung.
>and thereby fell for *someone's* spin-doctoring.
>Whoever supplied Julian Simon with his facts surely
>knew what they were doing.
>Get Your Private, Free Email at
Ralph Lewis, Professor of Management and Human Resources
College of Business
California State University, Long Beach
Long Beach, California

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