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From: (Tracy Aquilla)
Newsgroups: sci.environment,,sci.agriculture,
Subject: Re: Animals as the cause of Sickness
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 96 16:11:52 GMT

In Article <4s0d75$>, (Scott Nudds) wrote:
>Reality: The use (but not production) of DDT was outlawed in the U.S.,
>where there has not been a resurgence of deadly diseases spread by
>insects that would have otherwise been controlled by DDT.

Resurgence? When did the US ever have a high level of insect-bourne
infectious diseases? This ain't the tropics! (Although there was a minor
outbreak of malaria in southern California a few years ago.)

>DDT has notbeen outlawed in other countries where deadly diseases are being
>spread by insects who have become resistant to DDT and other dangerous and
>misused pesticides.

One cannot deny the fact that many millions of human lives (including many
American citizens) were saved directly by the use of DDT. DDT is STILL
saving lives every year in many other countries.

Reality: DDT was a great discovery. It has proved to be quite useful for
many years and is still an effective insecticide. It was outlawed in the US
due to its misuse and bad politics.


Newsgroups: sci.environment,sci.agriculture
From: (Bruce Hamilton)
Subject: DDT - A 1944 perspective
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 08:12:02 GMT

[ Posted to both sci.agriculture and sci.environment, but followups
set back to sci.environment ]

Whilst scavenging around Chemical and Engineering News for an
article, " DDT " popped out from an adjacent page. As I read it,
I thought some of you might just appreciate some quotes. Please
realise that we now have 50 years of experience, and that it's
not a scientific paper. It is reporting on a meeting of the
National Association of Insecticide and Disinfectant Manufacturers.

NADIM Holds 31st Annual Meeting
Harry W.Stenerson, Industrial
Chemical and Engineering News v.22 p.2179-2180 (December 25 1944)

" Late in 1943 the Army was so anxious to obtain the powerful new
insecticide for lice extermination that it flew overseas to a
fighting front the first 500 pounds made in a pilot plant here.
National production has now readed a monthly rate of 2,000,000
pounds, and insecticide manufacturers are eagerly seeking the
means of marketing DDT to civilian consumers in formulations that
are nontoxic, safe to use, and effective.
Three of the major addresses' were devoted to the wartime
insecticidal wonder. The toxicology of DDT was discussed by Paul
A Neal, senior surgeon and chief of the Industrial Hygiene
Laboratory, US Public Health Service, Bethesda. Md.
...... household and industrial insecticides containing DDT
were the subject of a paper read by George W.Fiero, chief of the
Pharmaceutical, Insecticide, and Cosmetic Unit, Office of Civilian
Requirements, Washington.
Dr Neal rendered a detailed report on experimental work with regard
to the toxic effects of DDT on man and animals, the subject of
greatest concern at this time to both manufacturer and consumer.
In spite of its inherent toxicity , the use of DDT in a 1 to 5 %
solution in 10% cyclohexanone with 89-85% aerosol should offer
no serious health hazards he stated, when used under conditions
as required for its use as an insecticide.
The use of DDT in concentrations up to 10% in inert powders for
dusting clothes ( in lice extermination ) appears to offer no
serious hazards because of the relative insolubility of DDT and the
large particle size of the dust. Therefore it did not reach the
alveolar spaces. A large proportion of the dust is retained in the
uppermost sections of the respiratory tract and the remainder is

The objective of the the investigation was the appraisal of health
standards connected with the use of DDT as aerosol, mist, spray and
dusting powder...In further tests, two human subjects were exposed
to a dispersion of DDT in air prepared by dispersing every 15
minutes 10.4 grams of an aerosol containing 5% DDT, 10% cyclohexane,
and 85% Freon in a sealed chamber of 14,750-liter capacity, for one
hour daily, on six consecutive days. This test failed to show any
subjective or objective manifestations referable to DDT.
DDT production has skyrocketed from 60,000 pounds, in January 1994
to a current rate of approximately 2,000,000 pounds, Dr Fiero
of the CCR told the meeting. The Armed Forces are using DDT rather
extensively in malarial sections; hence, he thought, no cutbacks
could be expected on V-E day. Entire islands in the war zone
are being sprayed with DDT from airplanes. With the exception of
small quantities for experimental work, all of the current
production is being allocated to the Armed Forces.

Fiero stated that preliminary research indicates that DDT, in
addition to its effectiveness against body lice, should prove very
valuable as a toxicant for household and industrial insecticides.
It is apparently effective against roaches, fleas, bedbugs,
mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, ants and carpet beetles.

Referring to the contention that DDT is fatal to beneficial insects,
the speaker felt that this should not deter its use in
nonagricultural insecticides unless it is found to be toxic to
humans or pets. "

        Bruce Hamilton

From: (Paul Savage)
Newsgroups: sci.agriculture,sci.environment
Subject: Re: Pesticides and Reproduction
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 11:12:21 +1000

In article <4sg7ot$>, (Andrew
Taylor) wrote:

> "DDT and its Derivatives - Environmental Aspects", World Health
> Organisation, Geneva, 1989.  It gives a comprehensive overview plus
> about 250 citations.
> >It doesn't move rapidly thorough the soil. If it isn't allowed to
> >contaminate the water directly, it doesn't present a problem.
> Here are some quotes from the above conclusion of the above ref:
> "DDT-type compounds are resistant to breakdown and are readily
> absorbed onto soils and sediments, from whence they can act
> as long term sources of exposure and contribute to terrestial
> organisms.  Accumulation in terrestial organisms is via the food
> chain"

This supports what Tracy said. DDT is readily absorbed onto soil so if it
is in an area where groundwater contamination is unlikely there is no
problem. A long-term source of exposure is only a problem if the exposure
is to something toxic. DDT is not.

> "Becaus of their lack of degradation, their resulting widespread
> persistance in the environment, their high acute toxicity to
> organisms at the base of food chains, and their high potential for
> bioaccumulation,  DDT and its metabolites should be regarded as a
> major hazard to the environment. DDT should not be used when an
> alternative insecticide is available."

Of course it's toxic to organisms at the base of food chains -- it's an
insecticide! DDT is restricted in most developed countries to emergency
use.  True, it does bioaccumulate in the fat of mammals, and with highly
sensitive analytical methods it is possible to demonstrate the presence of
DDT in mammals worldwide but there is no evidence that DDT has done any
harm to any species except some birds and shellfish (oysters).

   "In the 1950s the W.H.O. started a malaria eradication program in 124
countries with a total population of 1724 million. It is believed that
1000 million people in the world are at risk from malaria. DDT has been
and still is the mainstay of this program even though problems have arisen
as a result of evolution of resistant mosquitoes. The reason is that
W.H.O. need an insecticide that is cheap, long-lasting with a very low
mammalian toxicity. Thousands of possible alternatives have been tested by
W.H.O. but not one has emerged which is as cost effective or as safe as
DDT. The use of DDT in the antimalarial program does not present any
environmental hazards to wildlife as the compound is applied to the
interior walls of buildings and W.H.O. have discontinued all outdoor use."

   "The main effect of the restrictions on DDT in the developed countries
has been to transfer its production to the developing countries. The total
amount of DDT used world-wide has not been significantly reduced. The
reason is that the developing countries desperately need crop protection
and pest control but DDT is, with the exception of aldrin, dieldrin,
endrin, and a few cheap organophophorus insecticides, the only insecticide
which they can afford. The Ministries of Agriculture in the various
countries decide which pesticides should be used in their agriculture and,
while it is reasonable for the developed countries to give advice, they
have no right to try to impose their standards on these countries. The
circumstances and needs are different. A risk:benefit analysis gives a
different answer if carried out in the context of a poor, starving
population than in the context of a well-fed, affluent society and the
balance between risks to wildlife and risks to humans assumes a different
perspective." [Chemicals for Crop Improvement and Pest Management, Green,
Hartley, and West, 3rd ed., 1987]

To repeat what I've said before, you can't have social and environmental
equity without fiscal equity. The developing countries will continue to
use DDT (and should in my opinion) until the developed countries find the
political, social, and financial will to offer them cost-effective (even
cost-accessible!) alternatives.

Until such time all the bleating by Mr Nudds and others about the use of
DDT and other low-cost, low-tech pest management agents is, in my opinion,
veiled racism against the people of developing countries.

* *                      Australian Science
*  .            Australia's Future
   *  these comments are personal opinions not official CSIRO policy

From: Oz <>
Newsgroups: sci.environment,,sci.agriculture,
Subject: Re: Animals as the cause of Sickness
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 06:32:14 +0100

In article <>, Jim Scanlon
<> writes
>As I remember the use of DDT during the 1950s, it was another of the
>"wonder products". It may have saved lives, but the main use I saw was to
>kill ants in the kitchen and flies in the patio. It was a very effective
>insecticide that was over sold. If the product broke down quickly into
>harmless substances, it would not have caused so much damage. But didn't
>and did.
>Profit was made by the manufacturer over the cost of producing the

And by the farmers using it.
And by the consumers who got cheaper food without insects in it.
(I can remember the 50's picking caterpillars out of cabbages, lots!)

We almost all shared in the advantages.

>But the real cost, was hard to determine and impossible to
>collect over the lifetime of the product in the real world out there.

Being rational it was the loss of raptors in the UK. They have never
recovered, and likely never will because nowadays the hygine imposed on
farms means that dead/dying sheep and lambs are not there for the
taking. We could REALLY do with some rabbit hunting birds, though.
Plenty of food for them.  :-(

>The mass market sales of DDT and similar products made rational use
>impossible. A similar situation exists with the overuse of antibiotics.

Quite true. They are all rather well controlled in the UK, and in Europe
too, I am sure. This is not, however, true worldwide.

'Oz     "When I knew little, all was certain. The more I learnt,
        the less sure I was. Is this the uncertainty principle?"

From: (Paul Savage)
Newsgroups: sci.agriculture,sci.environment
Subject: Re: Pesticides and Reproduction
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 16:50:04 +1000

In article <4siu1g$>, (Andrew
Taylor) wrote:

> In article <>,
> Paul Savage <> wrote:
> >there is no evidence that DDT has done any
> >harm to any species except some birds and shellfish (oysters).
> "Research and monitoring have concentrated on a few effects of DDT
> observed in the wild.  This could give the mistaken impression
> that the effects of these compounds are restricted to a few
> species.  Other effects could be predicted but have received little or
> no attention from the scientific community." [1]

Possible effects. I would be surprised it there are *any* toxicological
data on DDT yet to discover :-) Thanks to the environmental lobby it must
be one of the most studied of pesticides. There are over 12700 references
to DDT in the chemical literature (2600 related to toxicity studies of
some sort) and another 5800 papers on DDE. If you think this is little or
no attention form the scientific community you are mistaken.

> >Thousands of possible alternatives have been tested by W.H.O. but not
> >one has emerged which is as cost effective or as safe as DDT.
> I have seen papers claiming permethrin-soaked mosquito nets are
> as effective if not more so than DDT spraying of house walls and
> have similar cost.

Permethrin is of course an organochlorine compound so would be on the
hit-list of GreenPeace and others. Permethrin also has a slower knock-down
action (it exerts both contact and stomach action) so that might be a
problem when trying to control mosquitoes in the home. Although they are
generally pretty good you are probably aware that the biggest strikes
against synthetic pyrethroids like permethrin is the cost and resistance.
I personally don't believe that permethrin comes close to being as
cost-effective as DDT but I'll believe you since you have seen
documentation to that effect.

> >Until such time all the bleating by Mr Nudds and others about the use of
> >DDT and other low-cost, low-tech pest management agents is, in my opinion,
> >veiled racism against the people of developing countries.
> The nine memebr the panel producing [1] included scientists from
> Mexico, Egypt, Philippines and India.  So people from developing
> countries can certainly have grave concerns about DDT.

Of course they do, as do I. That's not the point. Until there is a
substitute that is cost-available to these people they will and should
protect themselves with whatever they have access to.

> I've no idea what Mr Nudds said,  he's in my killfile, in fact he's
> the only person in my killfile.

Not a bad idea, but then you miss out on a lot of fun.

Paul Savage
* *                      Australian Science
*  .            Australia's Future
   *  these comments are personal opinions not official CSIRO policy

Newsgroups: talk.politics.misc,talk.environment,sci.environment,,,alt.activism,talk.politics.libertarian,
From: (Bruce Hamilton)
Subject: Re: DDT Human Toxicity Results
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 1996 09:16:42 GMT

[ Followups set to sci.environmen ]

"Mike Asher" <> wrote:

>Many here have challenged a prior post on DDT, it's toxicity and risks,
>and the results of the DDT ban.  This post addresses the issue of
>HUMAN toxicity, as this issue is the least complex.  Subsequent posts
>will address tertiary issues.

Human toxicity is of no lesser complexity than other species toxicity, and
as a complex organism, we have a wide range of systems that have
the potential to be affected. Research is continuing, but as DDT/DDE
levels are decreasing, the funding is probably limited...

>For the record, I do _not_ state that DDT is 'harmless', i.e. has zero
>heath implications.

This debate is akin to jelly wrestling, your post that inspired our
responses stated
   "Of course, 8 million dead per year might be worth it, if DDT is harmful.
   However, all research has proven to the contrary.  (Jones, Pamela,  1989,
   'Pesticides and Fod Safety', American Council on Science and Health, and
   Jukes, Thomas H., 'Insecticides in Health, Agriculture, and Environment',
   Naturwissenshaften, 1974)"

Now, somebody will correct me if North Americans don't consider that
harmless is contrary to harmful, but that's how we view it down here.
No tenny-weenie qualifications in your post, just a nice absolute statement,
which now has  changed to " a low order of toxicity". Low compared to what?
Water, milk, sugar, shellfish toxin? Anyway...., Tally Ho!...

>My statement-- which has not been challenged by
>any of the serious debators here'-- is that DDT has a low order of
>toxicity in humans, and presents no health risks when used appropriately.

I'm obviously a frivolous debator, because I have claimed that we don't
have all the information to make that claim unambiguously, and I've
referenced some peer-reviewed science articles ( with associated
commentary articles ) that also state more research is required.
As well as the examples, here is how the National Cancer Institute
reported the negative findings of Kreiger et al.. Note the call for
more research...

[ begin article pilfered from WWW ]

DDT and Breast Cancer
National Cancer Institute
National Institutes of Health

In a study reported in the April 20, 1994 issue of the Journal of
the National Cancer Institute, (JNCI) researchers conclude that
their data do not support the hypothesis that DDT is associated
with breast cancer.  [Note:  The article is " Breast Cancer and
Serum Organochlorines:  A Prospective Study Among White, Black,
and Asian Women. ' Nancy Krieger, Mary S. Wolff, Robert A. Haitt
et. al.  JNCI, April 20, 1994.]

The finding, reported by Nancy Krieger, Ph.D., at the Kaiser
Foundation Research Institute, Oakland, Calif., and colleagues
runs counter to two recent studies, but is similar to other
studies and supports the concept that further research is needed
to clarify the relationship, if any, of DDT and breast cancer.
[Note: The other studies are " Pesticides and Polycholorinated
Biphenyl Residues in Human Breast Lipids and Their Relation to
Breast Cancer." Frank Falck, Jr., Andrew Ricci, Jr., Mary S.
Wolff et al. Archives of Environmental Health, March/April 1992
and " Blood Levels of Organochlorine Residues and Risk of Breast
Cancer." Mary S. Wolff, Paolo G. Toniolo, Eric W. Lee et al.
JNCI, April 21, 1993.]

DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, but because it was
ubiquitous in the food chain and has a long half life, residues
still persist in the environment.  In recent years, the
pesticide, which is stored in human fat and is released slowly,
has been detected in breast tissue and breast milk.  Thus far,
only a handful of epidemiologic investigations on the possible
DDT-breast cancer connection have been completed, but the
question is of considerable research interest.

In Krieger's study, stored blood samples that were taken from
women in the late 1960s as part of health examinations were
analyzed.  A random sample of 50 white women, 50 black women, and
50 Asian women in California who developed breast cancer six
months or more after the examinations were studied.  Each woman
was matched by age, sex, and race, with a woman who did not
develop cancer and followed through the 1980s.

When data on the three racial groups were combined, no strong
association was seen between DDE, the compound to which DDT is
metabolized in the body, and increased risk for breast cancer.
For whites, there was an increasing risk with increasing level of
DDE which was not statistically significant; that is, the
increases could be due to chance.  For blacks, there was evidence
of a slight trend -- a "borderline" statistically significant
increased risk associated with increased blood levels of DDE.
And for Asian women, there was a decreased risk associated with
increasing blood levels of DDE that was not statistically

Analyzing the data according to lowest, middle, and highest DDE
blood levels, there was an increase in relative risk between
white women in the lowest tertile of exposure and the middle
level, but a smaller increase in risk to the highest level.  But
for black women, the increase in risk was consistently higher
with each level of DDE exposure.

A limitation of the study was lack of availability of information
on breast feeding.  Breast feeding can reduce levels of DDE and
could be protective against cancer.

Commenting on the study, Robert Hoover, M.D., Sc.D., chief of the
Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, said, " The study
is somewhat provocative in that there is a positive dose-response
relationship in blacks and whites."  Sometimes too much can be
made of statistical significance when looking for clues, he added.
"I disagree not with the analysis, which is a fine analysis, but
the interpretation.  I wouldn't have written it so strongly
negative," said Hoover.

[ end WWW extract ]

>A summary of the 19 research studies quoted below is:

Wow!, some more absolute statements.

> - Humans exposed to large, longterm doses have had little
>   or no symptoms.

Really?. What symptoms were considered?. Also from the WWW

[ Begin extract ]

THR: Human poison by ingestion and possibly other routes.  Experimental
poison by ingestion, skin contact, subcutaneous, intravenous and
intraperitoneal routes.  A suspected human carcinogen.  An experimental
carcinogen, neoplastigen, tumorigen and teratogen.  Experimental repro-
ductive effects.  Human systemic effects by ingestion.  Experimental
reproductive effects.  Human mutagenic data.  A dose of 20 grams has
proved highly dangerous though not fatal to man.  This dose was taken by
5 persons who vomited an unknown portion of the material and, even so,
recovered only incompletely after 5 weeks.  Smaller doses produced less
important symptoms with relatively rapid recovery.  Experimental inges-
ion of 1.5 g resulted in great discomfort and moderate neurological
changes.  Recovery was complete on the following day.  The fatal dose
for humans is not known.  Judging from the literature, no one has ever
been killed in the absence of other insecticides and/or a variety of
toxic solvents.  However, these common solvent formulations are highly
fatal when taken in small doses, partly because of the toxicity of the
solvent, and perhaps because of the increased absorbability of the com-
pound; several fatal cases in humans have been reported.  Little is known
of the hazard of chronic poisoning.  Human volunteers have ingested up
to 35 mg/day for 21 months with no ill effects.

[ End extract ]

Basically, most historical studies have looked for immediate symptoms
( as above ) after poisoning, not long-term effects. Regardless, I don't
think DDT will catch on a substitute for sugar on breakfast cereals.

> - DDT does not cause chromosomal damage

But it may cause chromatid abberations, as reported one of your references.

> In one small group of severely exposed workers, a small increase in
> chromatid aberrations was found.

> - DDT has not been shown to be a human carcinogen.

Refer above, the studies are incomplete, and as Hoover notes above,
the evidence is not unambiguous. From a search on DDT on the WWW

[ begin extract ]
   Review: IARC Cancer Review: Animal Sufficient Evidence
          IARC Cancer Review: Human Inadequate Evidence
          IARC possible human carcinogen (Group 2B) [015,610]
  Status: NCI Carcinogenesis Bioassay (Feed); Negative: Male and Female Rat,
           Male and Female Mouse [610]
          NTP Fifth Annual Report on Carcinogens, 1989; anticipated to be
           carcinogen [015,610]
          EPA Carcinogen Assessment Group [610]
[ End extract ]

>  - Dermal irritation from DDT is minor and presents no health risks

This is not confirmed by one of your cites...


The provided references can be quickly summarised,

1. Pharmaceutical and medical texts
    CT:  APPLETON AND LANGE, 1987. 99
  JOHN WILEY SONS, 1981-1982. 3697)
      C. THOMAS PUBLISHER, 1986. 306

These texts tend to summarise information relevent to health professionals
that might encounter case of significant acute or chronic exposure. They are
not part of the overall research assessment of the harmfulness of a chemical.

2. General Pesticide research

Although I would like to know the relevance of the following
I'm not certain what exposure to 2,4-D has to do with DDT toxicity.

Three case studies ... of alveolar-cell carcinoma were performed among
men occupationally engaged in 2,4-D handling/manufacture ... mortality
rates were within control limits.   (HAYES, WAYLAND, PESTICIDES

3.  Cancer review
(MULTIVOLUME WORK).,P. S7 186 (1987)

4. Remainder are peer-reviewed science.

As far as I can ascertain from the information supplied, the authors have
reported no significant specific effects ( that they were measuring ) were
detected down to the concentration tested, not that DDT is harmless.

Anyway, I've already posted the reference to the article by W.R.Kelce
suggesting that p,p'-DDE is a potent androgen receptor antagonist
( Nature v.375 p.581-585 15 June 1995 ). Just in case anyone is confused
about potency, the concentrations necessary for 50% inhibition or
displacement  of  androgen receptor binding were reported as

17beta-Oestradiol ( natural oestrogen ) 	0.5 uM
Diethylstilboestrol ( synthetic oestrogen ) 	10 uM
5 uM

Note that p,p'-DDE had an inhibition constant of 3.5 uM, which is similar
to that of the sythetic oestrogen, diethylstilboestrol  ( 4.6 uM ) , and
approx. 30 times weaker than the natural oestrogen , 17 beta-Oestradiol.
These are still levels of concern though...

The concentration of p,p'-DDE required to inhibit androgen receptor
 transcriptional activity in cell culture ( 0.2uM or  64 ppb ) is less than
levels that accumulate from the environment such as in the eggs of
demasculinized male alligators in Florida's Lake Apopka (5,800 ppb )
and in humans in areas where DDT remains in use...

I suppose that next week I should post an article on why
we should contnue to use wonderful DDT, as it's
equally as easy to find articles that don't discuss
adverse enviromental or health  effects..

                 Bruce Hamilton

From: Oz <>
Subject: Re: GMO soy feeds people more herbicide
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 1997 06:48:44 +0100

In article <5i9nd2$cqc@News.Dal.Ca>, Ruth Bailey <>
>The copyright date in my copy of Silent Spring is 1962.

I have to say that this is about the date I thought it came out.
Mid 1960's allowing for publication etc.

Banning DDT immediately would have been irresponsible given the
previously high levels of insect borne diseases that couldn't have been
controlled until alternatives became available and produced.

Upon reflection one of the reasons for the particularly adverse effects
of DDT in the US as against Europe may well have been the extensive
aerial spraying of wetlands, urban areas and other potential insect
breeding sites in the US. This did not occur in the UK, and so the
effects were very much more muted.

From memory DDT was banned in the UK around the early 1970's.

'Oz     "Is it better to seem ignorant and learn,
         - or seem wise and stay ignorant?"

Subject: Re: GMO soy feeds people more herbicide
From: Oz <>
Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 06:54:04 +0100

In article <>, Torsten Brinch
<> writes

>Ruth is correct, Rachel Carson's "The Silent Spring" came out to the
>public in 1962.
>But she was the first one to do it coherently, strong, and with
>effect. Please note that Rachel Carsons message was not
>the simple: BAN DDT. With the words of Robert Rudd: Rachel Carson
>issued a biological warning, a social charge, and a moral reminder,
>to the technological man and urged him to hesitate and consider
>carefully what he was (and is) doing to the ecosystem he is part of.

I think we have cause to be grateful that DDT was the pesticide that
came out first, and was heavily (grossly) overused in at least one
country so that humans could be warned that Pandora's box contains evils
as well as good. So far as I am aware no species has been made extinct
by DDT and certainly millions of lives have been saved.

So a big thanks to the USA for grossly overusing this product early to
allow the rest of the world to see the problems and how to avoid them.
Actually I am being serious here.

>Shamefully, my own country, Denmark, came very late with
>a ban (after a lot of talking, in 1984).

And the guilt has made them so traumatised that they would now like to
ban all agrochemicals (I'm sure their is a nice german word that
expresses this, shradenfreud??, no that's not it). This is just as silly
as splashing them about all over.

> Those who had become
>addicted managed to buy up 2.5 tonnes the last year (1983) it was
>available to consumers. I remember the last Danish bastion was
>propagation of coniferous trees; the producers maintained to the last
>minute that the ban would make future propagation
>of coniferous trees impossible -- a very familiar whining
>song, isn't it?

Yes. Beware though, because sometimes the warnings are correct.

'Oz     "Is it better to seem ignorant and learn,
         - or seem wise and stay ignorant?"

Subject: Re: GMO soy feeds people more herbicide
From: Oz <>
Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 07:21:00 +0100

In article <>, Torsten Brinch
<> writes

>The scientific community (whatever _that_ is?) that _should_
>have been, was far from keenly aware of the DDT issues,
>when "The Silent Spring" was publicized.
>It is IMO falsification of history to assert that DDT was
>used because it was felt that it had positive qualities
>that _outweighed the well known risks_ pointed to by Rachel Carson,
>i.e. that the use of DDT was based on a careful risk/benefit analysis.

I think much of the problem was it's extensive use in asia and during
the war on troops and refugees, and quite early on in mass spraying of
mosquitoes (I believe this is still done in the US using other
products). Insects were in those days common in and around the home and
very many people had personal experience of it's extensive use and few
(if any) ever saw any adverse effects. It thus got a folk myth that it
was completely safe. This was incorrect. Nowadays the folk myth is 'all
agrochemicals are a serious danger' which is equally incorrect and
liable to produce similar irrational illogical behaviour.

>DDT was used undiscriminatingly for any insect killing purpose;
>the watch out for risks were done with blind eyes.

I'm not entirely sure about this, however it is true that in many
countries there was no (or even negative) will to restrict it's use so
the warnings were rather muted. This was particularly true in countries
where it's use was very limited, such as the UK where it was really only
used for vegetable production.

>But for the vast amount of DDT use .. well thanks for nothing.
>We had been better off without it.

Oh Torsten. You should be ashamed. You would shoot the messenger of bad
news instead of appreciating his message. We could have been using a
highly persistent *and* very tetrogenic one as humankind's first mass
agrochemical. Now that would have been very much worse.

'Oz     "Is it better to seem ignorant and learn,
         - or seem wise and stay ignorant?"

From: Oz <>
Subject: Re: GMO soy feeds people more herbicide
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997 07:34:13 +0100

In article <>, Torsten Brinch
<> writes
>Oz wrote:
>Pandora's box???? hmm certainly applicable: According to the myth
>Pandora opened her box when she was given to Epimetheus; she
>must have disliked him or something...dunno.
>Anyway: out from the box came: Evil, evil, *ONLY* evil, Oz!
>-- after this hilarious joke, the little playful goddess closed
>her box safely again -- leaving only one thing still caught inside
>Pandora's box, which cannot get out: HOPE.

I must look up the original but my greek is pretty rusty :-)

In the version I remember knowledge both good AND bad escaped from the
box and the only thing she managed to catch was hope. Actually I seem to
remember it wasn't her box anyway. The moral of the story is that
nothing is all good or all bad, indeed which it is depends on how *we*
use it. Fire kills and saves, iron can be ploughshares or swords etc

There is another myth where the main character destroys what he does not
understand, and destroys exactly what he is seeking. The moral being not
to destroy what you don't understand because it may be good as well as
(apparently) bad. Just another version of Pandora really.

The Greek philosophers were pretty smart.

I have to say that this is my view. Nothing is all good (even Torsten)
or all bad (even me). The balance may well change over time depending on
how things change, this is to be expected. Of course when I was young
things seemed much more black and white but as I matured and learned
more I found that the simplistic black and white arguments were very
poor ones and was forced to choose between the various shades of grey.

Of course grey is boring and you never have that evangelical zeal of
purity of purpose but who said the truth had to be interesting. Anyway
evangelical zealots have indisputably been the cause of a whole lot more
wars and death than DDT.

Ahem, I digress.......

>So, Oz, now you must be waiting (hoping?  =:-) for someone
>to gracefully produce the first large-scale GMO disaster?
>USA is up front once again, it seems.

No. I don't, although there will be minor panics from time to time.
GMO's have been tested and examined because humans DID learn from DDT.

I suspect, as ever, that the disaster will come from an area that only a
few identify, but has not properly impinged on the public consciousness.

A new fatal influenza or similar easily transmitted untreatable disease
with an incubation and infection period of a few weeks is probably
inevitable sooner or later and may kill billions, if you want a possible

>Undoubtedly this was caused by the gross stupidity that was
>put on display with the organochlorine pesticides.
>Wonderful hindsight, when foresight had been possible.

Different criterion then. Different era. They were in those days really
only concerned with human safety. We have learned. The balance point has
moved, quite correctly too.

>Outphasing all pesticides is actually now the party-line
>of one of the governing parties in the Danish
>Parliament. The proposal is supported by other parties, and
>by a very large proportion of the Danish population.
>Like it or not, the Danish population does
>not accept pesticides in groundwater. That's the reason,
>certainly not a late-DDT-ban trauma.

Good, if that's what they want then fine. However don't try to thrust it
down other people's throats who might disagree. We have had this
discussion many times and frankly it's pretty boring by now. You cannot
accept even minute traces of pesticides in water (or presumably in food
either) out of quasi-religious scruples and despite the evidence that
this causes no harm at all. OK, that's your unchangeable view and it's
not worth arguing about it.

'Oz     "Is it better to seem ignorant and learn,
         - or seem wise and stay ignorant?"

From: Oz <>
Subject: Re: GMO soy feeds people more herbicide
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997 08:26:37 +0100

In article <>, Torsten Brinch
<> writes
>Oz wrote:
>>It thus got a folk myth that it
>>was completely safe. This was incorrect. Nowadays the folk myth is 'all
>>agrochemicals are a serious danger' which is equally incorrect and
>>liable to produce similar irrational illogical behaviour.
>You can't just slab everyone together generalizingly
>as 'humans' 'folk' or 'people'. There are certainly
>groups of people with different angles to things.
>Then, and now.

Oh come on. If you deny the existance of 'folk myth' or 'perceived
wisdom' (although it has many different names) then you cannot make
sense of much of what societies have done over the ages. Religion,
witchcraft, racial divisions, nationalism, the list is endless and
everchanging. The fact is that the popular belief is often not a very
good guide to what is right, in the UK a particularly glaring example is
capital punishment. The problem is that 'folk myth' is usually black or
white, and this is almost NEVER the rational, optimal or even sensible
solution. Again DDT is a good example, it went from "DDT the wonder
product" and everyone used it, to "DDT the evil" in about 20 years. Both
descriptions and views were clearly wrong.

>It is correct that UK suffered less than other countries
>with DDT. Around 1970 the average British person had only
>2 ppm DDT in fatty tissue, while Americans had 12 ppm and
>Israelis soared at 19 ppm.

Typical pragmatic British registration and education and mean
impoverished farmers.

>When "Silent Spring" arrived
>in the UK, the soil was well prepared (pun intended), by
>the disastrous wide spread use of dieldrin-treated seeds,
>which killed a horrible amount of British wild birds and predators
>from 1956, when the dieldrin-treatment started, until 1961,
>when the cause was elucidated, published, and dieldrin
>treatment of autumn sown seeds was abated.

Before my time as a farmer. The predator problem is an interesting one.
If I remember correctly myximatosis came to the UK in '56 and the rabbit
population plummetted to 1/1000 th of it's previous (plague) level. As
the only abundant food species for many of these predators one wonders
if this had any effect? Certainly re-introduction of the predators has
pretty well failed until recently, despite very low levels of pesticides
in UK birds (see another post giving US & UK DDT levels in people).
Recently it has been more successful and this interstingly coincides
with a BIG increase in rabbit levels since they are now effectively
immune to the disease.

>BTW: what
>are you killing birds with now? Carbofuran? Methiocarb?
>Yes, I know. It is much better now.

As Torsten knows perfectly well I use no seed treatment on my homegrown
seed, except for the one field growing next years seed. I wouldn't treat
my rapeseed if it was not required by the UK interpretation of EC
regulations. So he can go blame someone else. OK most UK farmers do
treat their seed, but they do manage to bury it so it grows rather than
being eaten by birds (smart, huh?) and I am pretty sure that the modern
seedtreatments are not worryingly toxic. Heck, years ago we used mercury
dressing and we still had plenty of birds.

Methiocarb? OH yes, the very expensive OP slug pellets. Never used them
in 20 years. Actually I have only spread slug pellets on two fields in
my 20+ years of farming, and of course I used cheap old metaldehyde
pellets. I was under the impression that birds avoided eating methiocarb

>>Oh Torsten. You should be ashamed. You would shoot the messenger of bad
>>news instead of appreciating his message. We could have been using a
>>highly persistent *and* very tetrogenic one as humankind's first mass
>>agrochemical. Now that would have been very much worse.
>As long as we are not talking about an end-of-the-world event
>we can always imagine something worse :-) But that does
>not make bad good.

Remember Pandora's box. Why should you expect knowledge to always come
for free? Stop advancing and return to the trees, or learn from your
mistakes. Actually in the long scheme of things DDT caused negligeable
long term damage (ie nothing made extinct) because the problem was
indeed spotted early enough and action taken.

>Interestingly the thalidomide teratogenic disaster
>preceded "Silent Spring" with just a few years. I suppose
>you could say that what we couldn't do with one compound
>we did with a few combined.

This is a very interesting subject, not least because it was the first
time I came across both sides and I was forced to think, instead of
accepting 'perceived wisdom'.

A little story.

In the late 60's I worked (after leaving school) as assistant chemist in
an alcohol distillery owned by Distillers, the makers of Thalidomide.
One of the chemists there knew (well) members of the group involved in
Thalidomide. Now they were aware that there was a potential problem in
it's use for pregnant women and the original UK label counterindicated
its use in this situation. The US distributor took the product up with
enthusiasm and did further work where he claimed it was safe even for
pregnant women. Distillers scientists were alarmed about this (they
didn't believe it actually) an applied for a license to do in vivo tests
to check (disprove) this. The application was TURNED DOWN because the
work had (apparently) already been done in the US and anti-
vivisectionists were very strong in those days. All they could do was
sit and wait for the inevitable tragic consequences. As an enthusiastic
anti-vivisectionist this came as a shock whether true or not, clearly
this situation could genuinely occur. I had to move to a shade of grey
(painful at the time).

Note that any woman of childbearing years *can* be pregnant whether they
know it or not, so this product was not that smart.

>Quite funny that you perceive it as LUCK, that we managed
>to smear the globe into a highly persistent, highly chronically
>toxic but not very teratogenic compound. Harum-scarum.

Well, I don't think it was luck, it had been pretty well tested by the
standards of the day but nobody really appreciated what would happen
when vast quantities would be used worldwide. I don't think we should
condemn our fathers and grandfathers too heavily for this, they did what
they thought was right, saved many millions of lives, and set in motion
testing and approvals to hugely reduce the chance of these (and other)
problems happening again. Similarly I don't condemn the inventer of
fire, iron, horseriding etc for all the many millions that have died
through these inventions.

'Oz     "Is it better to seem ignorant and learn,
         - or seem wise and stay ignorant?"

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