“3 billion and counting” — the errors one makes when using Howard Stern as a science advisor


“3 Billion and Counting” premiered at a tiny New York venue a couple of weeks ago, the latest skirmish in the War on Science. Physician-to-the-stars Dr. Rutledge Taylor claims that malaria could be eradicated if only DDT had not been banned from Africa.

What?  No, no, you’re right: DDT has never been banned from Africa, not even under the 2001 Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty.  The film comes out of Hollywood, starring a Hollywood physician.  Perhaps that should clue us in that it is not a serious documentary, and not to be taken at face value.

Nor at any value.

Taylor engaged a publicist and conducted a national campaign to launch the movie.  In that campaign he someone appeared on Howard Stern’s radio show.  [There’s a guy in comments who claims it wasn’t Taylor, though Taylor wrote it in the first person.  Odd as hell.]

How silly are the claims in the movie?

A post at the movie’s blog revealed that Ronnie, Stern’s limousine driver, had a fight with bedbugs, and that Stern thinks DDT should be brought back.  That’s how bad this movie is:  Howard Stern is the science advisor.

Yes, yes, you’re right:  DDT stopped working against bedbugs in the 1950s (see Bug Girl’s recent post).  That doesn’t stop the publicists from defending the movie at the movie’s blog.  “Royce” [who claims not to be a publicist for the movie] said:

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.

I tried, without success I’m sure, to set him straight:

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 mosquito 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.

Rutledge’s movie appears to be sinking from release (it’s played two theaters that I can find, for less than a week at each).  It may be far underwater already.  It would be to DDT whatExpelled” was to creationism, but it lacks the cloying, gullible religious fanatics to push it.

Thank God.

Malaria-fighting pesticide sprayers in Africa - publicity still from "3 Billion and Counting"

Mystery photo: If spraying pesticides to fight malaria isn't allowed in Africa as Rutledge Taylor argues, why are these pesticide sprayers pictured in this photo? Publicity still from "3 Billion and Counting" via Rotten Tomatoes website

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154 Responses to “3 billion and counting” — the errors one makes when using Howard Stern as a science advisor

  1. […] million and counting Which is considerably more than Rutledge Taylor can get to see his crappy movie, even with the assistance of his famous […]

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  2. […] Yeah, it’s a jab at Rutledge Taylor’s ill-tempered mockumentary, “3 Billion and Counting.”  No one can say what the 3 billion things are, and the […]

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  3. James Hanley says:

    Laughing, that is.

    And obviously laughing so hard I can hardly type!

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  4. James Hanley says:

    Peter,

    For the record, I’m laught at you, not with you.

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Peter, I accepted at face value the post at Rutledge Taylor’s blog, which says (still — no correction there) that the limo driver to Howard Stern’s show (taken by guests) told a story of bedbugs. Regardless who was a guest or not, Rutledge Taylor then promoted Howard Stern’s views on DDT as gospel.

    Comes now Peter to argue that Taylor is even less circumspect, having used Stern as a science advisor while not personally conversing with stern.

    So, yes, you’ve successfully established that there is no science in Rutledge Taylor’s claims.

    Now, what was it you were complaining about? Rutledge Taylor needs to apologize for what?

    Peter, can you be more petty and irrelevant?

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  6. Peter says:

    Oh contraire! Pants down is what the “flap” is about. No pun intended. Ed was caught using a form of “lawyer tactics” and got caught. That is what this is about.

    But I do concur with what you said Hanley. lol… Actually I do agree that he should stick to serious posts.

    There is no more that needs to be said. It is obvious that Ed refuses to retract the lies that he peppered throughout the article under a bogus titled article.

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  7. James Hanley says:

    Peter’s upset because Ed Darrell used a humorous headline on his blog post?

    Really? That’s what all this flap is about?

    From now on, Mr. Darrell, I recommend that you use nothing but deadly serious and exquisitely precise headlines for your posts. Lock your sense of humor away tightly in your basement storage room and don’t let it out anymore.

    /tongue-in-cheek

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  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Retracting your non-sequitur title would be a good start. And then take out the ” funny exaggerations “. Just stick with the facts Ed.

    Sure. Taylor Rutledge’s movie gets the facts wrong. DDT is not a miracle cure for anything. DDT is a deadly environmental toxin. Contrary to foolish claims you defend, DDT is not safe, DDT is established as a carcinogen in mammals, cancer-fighters warn against DDT use. Sadly, DDT’s value as a malaria fighter has been compromised by people like you who believe more is better, completely failing to understand how ecosystems and evolution work.

    Malaria death tolls are the lowest in human history, despite your preference for poisoning Africa and Africans and using insults to science and environmentalists instead of real medical care to fight malaria.

    Those are the significant facts.

    That’s all that politicians do constantly. Throw mud at their opponent and hope it sticks just to do a ” character assassination ” number on their opposition.

    Good politicians don’t. Your abuse of mud-throwing tactics is a textbook case of why bad politicians shouldn’t.

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  9. Peter says:

    Ed, you seem very cozy with the psyche of the Red Queen. Your imagination seems to run pretty wild and I don’t know how long before you rise from your bed and your breakfast but let us say I would suggest you eat an earlier breakfast — otherwise, the imagination gets the best of you —- pretty long on that, short of Facts.

    Now Ed you know quite well that Fact never exaggerates. Why should it ? It is precise, exact, changeless. Now 2 + 2 = 4. That’s an established fact. You cannot embellish it, exaggerate it or diminish it in any shape, way or form. Imagination on the other hand seems to conjure up all manner of exaggerations. It’s name is legion. That’s the problem with folks who imagine that they can ” create their own reality ” That’s central to the environmental philosophy. Yet the fact remains that Reality cannot be imagined. It Is.

    So Ed, why do you need to use exaggerations or ” sweet little lies ” a la Feetwood Mac in your writing. And then link these humorous lies to something else in order to evoke a strong feeling and create a strong impression. That’s all that politicians do constantly. Throw mud at their opponent and hope it sticks just to do a ” character assassination ” number on their opposition. Why don’t you just start with fact and leave your imagination out of it.

    Retracting your non-sequitur title would be a good start. And then take out the ” funny exaggerations “. Just stick with the facts Ed.

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  10. Ed Darrell says:

    It occurs to me, Peter, that you’ve bested the Red Queen — at least in her pre-breakfast record.

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  11. Ed Darrell says:

    Now to quote what Ronnie the limo driver and Stern said and misrepresent it as ” Stern is Taylor’s science advisor ” is a HUGE LEAP and a lie.

    No, it’s not a big leap — not a leap at all — and, alas, it’s the closest thing Taylor has to a science advisor.  That’s the point.

    Is it a misrepresentation?  Show us the credits from the film.  Show us the film, for accuracy’s sake! 

    You miss the point of hyperbole.  You’ve been suckered in by an untidy web of deception that most people should be able to see through in a moment.  You’re stuck on a slight exaggeration, for the sake of humor, that appears more and more not to have been exaggerated enough.

    Taylor’s film is a huge pack of falsehoods.  There’s not an accurate statement in it that I have found about DDT, about DDT regulation, and very few accurate points about malaria. 

    Those likes kill kids.  Why are you defending them? 

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  12. Peter says:

    Ed, as far as I can see on what was posted on the 3 billion and counting website was the exact quote that Ronnie the Limo driver and Howard Stern said. Take note here. It does not say Dr. Rutledge said what Ronnie the Limo Driver said. It’s a quote directly said by Ronnie. Now when you post a quote from a source I assume you don’t claim it’s what you said the quote says. The quote stands alone and has nothing to do with you. Is that not so ? Now if you post a line from the quote of what someone says you are just reporting what they said. Does that mean that you are now associated or connected or receiving advice from them ? You post quotes constantly from various sources on this blog. Are you connected to these sources and are they calling you and giving you advice ? The title of the post on 3 billion and counting website says ” Howard Stern wants to bring back DDT ” That’s just quoting what Howard Stern said. Following that title is the story of what Ronnie and Howard said on that show. Now to quote what Ronnie the limo driver and Stern said and misrepresent it as ” Stern is Taylor’s science advisor ” is a HUGE LEAP and a lie. That Taylor was on Stern is a lie. As we can see that you retracted and crossed out ” HE ” and put ” SOMEONE “. Who is that someone Ed ? I think you already know but didn’t put it in your article. Well according to one of the post below by Dr. Rutledge’s nurse she says: ” Hi, I’m Dr. Rutledge’s nurse. First of all, let’s clear up some information you have incorrect. Dr. Rutledge was NOT on Howard Stern, his website only references the episode where Howard discusses DDT. It was Paul Driessen that Stern used as a reference in that particular episode. Number two, I don’t know who Royce is, and it certainly isn’t Dr. Rutledge’s publicist.”

    So Ed, what else do you need ? Retract this and stop dancing around robin hood’s barn. Just take a look at the title of your article that you wrote. It says it all.
    “3 billion and counting” — the errors one makes when using Howard Stern as a science advisor

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  13. Ed Darrell says:

    Can you explain, Peter, what is false about what I wrote, especially as it now stands — and why anyone should be concerned?

    Did I not accurately cite Taylor’s blog? Are you claiming Taylor did not post what he posted? Did Taylor NOT say that Stern’s limo driver had a bout with bedbugs? Did Taylor NOT say what his blog says, that Stern thinks DDT should be coming back? Could it get more ridiculous than that regardless Taylor’s relationship with Stern, real, faux, imaginary, or none?

    Have you had any water in the past several days, or is there any other reason you may be hallucinating?

    Peter, you’re a prevaricating sac of excrement, you know. For you to call me a liar is high praise, coming from a professional like you. But true to your profession, it’s a false claim.

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  14. Peter says:

    Retract. Yes, when are you,Ed, going to retract the lie that you and you alone, no one else, not a website but you, engendered, propagated and told. WHEN, Ed?

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  15. Ed Darrell says:

    Peter whined:

    So Ed let me ask you. The Stern article which was reposted all over the internet as well as in 3 billion and counting website mentions in it the fact that Stern was quoted about his personal chauffeur’s experience. Is this a source of your fictional representation that Dr. Taylor was on Stern’s show and that Stern is Taylor’s ” science advisor “? Is that correct ? Out of which rabbits hat did you get and pull out the mis-information that Dr. Taylor was on Sterns show.

    I gave you the link. Are you now saying that Rutledge Taylor misleads on his blog?

    We knew that. That’s not the point.

    Why is it important to you whether Taylor did or did not appear on Stern’s show? How does that change the fact that Rutledge Taylor’s science is no better than the offhand, off-color advice Howard Stern renders?

    Are you now saying Rutledge Taylor erred in posting that? I agree. That was a tiny error compared to the dozens of major errors of history and science he makes.

    Are you under some bizarre hallucination that if you can get Taylor to fess up about his appearance or lack of appearance on Stern’s show, that somehow, magically, that will correct all of Taylor’s other errors?

    Or are you just an obnoxious troll defending the evil of slanders against good people?

    Or — dare we even fear it? — are you just genuinely hoping no one does anything to save those kids dying of malaria? Because you must be aware that Rutledge Taylor’s work is designed to throw huge wrenches into anti-malaria campaigns.

    Or is this nothing more than just one of many of your ” extrapolations ” stretching was is true to the realm of untruth ? Which is it ? And to top it off you ask me to demand of Dr. Taylor on your behalf that I demand of Dr. Taylor that he revise his website to suit your skewed, distorted, and untrue assesment of it. That would be yours alone to remedy !

    Rutledge Taylor is the one who lied about DDT and malaria, claiming against the facts that the ban on spraying DDT on cotton in the U.S. somehow caused malaria to spread in Africa. I didn’t say that, I didn’t make a film encasing the lie in celluloid, I didn’t sell tickets to people who thought they might see some vital information and lie to them instead. That’s Rutledge Taylor’s work.

    What is your relation to him? You have none, but were suckered in, and now you just mope along spreading his falsehoods for fun?

    Right.

    On a final note to quote someone who showed great wisdom. ” instead of complaining about the rocks that hurt your tender foot soles, demanding that they somehow be removed from the earth, make yourself a pair of sandals and walk. ” Ed you still have refused to retract what was a lie and is a lie – pure and simple.

    I agree, a lie is a lie. I’m shocked and dismayed at your defense of the lies of Rutledge Taylor’s film. You take them on and wear them as if they were gold, and not the dead fish skin they are.

    Retract? You can start any time. Let your conscience be your guide. Kids die every 30 seconds, most say — you can send $10.00 to Nothing But Nets, or you can turn your head and heart away and try to turn the heads of others, by promoting the falsehoods of Rutledge Taylor.

    You get to choose. Save a kid, or kick a dead woman’s reputation for fun.

    Which will you choose?

    To make up for your misdeeds here, you may want to make that check a lot bigger than $10. Make it out to “Nothing But Nets.” Or use your credit card. (Pick the first button; that’ll be a thousand times more useful than anything Rutledge Taylor has done.)

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  16. Peter says:

    Ed, that Howard Stern article was posted in many news outlets and blogs. I suppose that according to your ” reasoning ” that those numerous websites are now linked somehow through your inuendo to Howard Stern. That they are now guilty by association to whatever Howard Stern is into. Or that they promote his program and all it represents. Heck that would mean that any article ever reposted by all the major news internet outlets and blogs means that they are in bed with the ones who wrote the articles. So just because it is posted on the website what Howard Stern says, does NOT mean that Dr Taylor was on Howard Stern nor was Howard Stern the Medical advisor.

    So Ed let me ask you. The Stern article which was reposted all over the internet as well as in 3 billion and counting website mentions in it the fact that Stern was quoted about his personal chauffeur’s experience. Is this a source of your fictional representation that Dr. Taylor was on Stern’s show and that Stern is Taylor’s ” science advisor “? Is that correct ? Out of which rabbits hat did you get and pull out the mis-information that Dr. Taylor was on Sterns show. Or is this nothing more than just one of many of your ” extrapolations ” stretching was is true to the realm of untruth ? Which is it ? And to top it off you ask me to demand of Dr. Taylor on your behalf that I demand of Dr. Taylor that he revise his website to suit your skewed, distorted, and untrue assesment of it. That would be yours alone to remedy !

    On a final note to quote someone who showed great wisdom. ” instead of complaining about the rocks that hurt your tender foot soles, demanding that they somehow be removed from the earth, make yourself a pair of sandals and walk. ” Ed you still have refused to retract what was a lie and is a lie – pure and simple.

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  17. Ed Darrell says:

    By the way, Peter:

    3 billion and counting

    3 billion what? Calculated how?

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  18. Ed Darrell says:

    Here, Peter: Tell this guy to take down this silly post. This is the source of your complaint. It’s the source of the false claims. It’s the source of bad information.

    In fact, nearly every post at that site could use a refresher course in veritas.

    But don’t whine about my poetic hyperbole until those corrections are made. I’m not the one manufacturing whole cloth lies about the honorable, Honorable William Ruckelshaus. I’m not the one imagining bizarre and completely false claims against a good, but dead, scientist who can’t defend her reputation, and who wouldn’t have to if that guy Taylor would just tell the truth. You take barbed (but accurate) jests too seriously; you take serious matters with too much jest.

    I’m not the one who makes the bizarre miscalculation that mosquitoes somehow migrate from Texas, where DDT spraying is banned, to Africa, where DDT spraying is not banned. I’m not the one who claims, against time’s arrow, that EPA’s ban on agricultural use of DDT in 1972 somehow traveled back in time to make WHO stop using DDT heavily in 1965.

    Your claims are so divorced from reality that they are not even wrong. I know Eugene Ionesco is dead, but Taylor’s absurd claims are not artfully absurd, nor usefully absurd. They can’t replace Ionesco’s work. They are just stupid and mean.

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  19. Peter says:

    Ed, what is your source for the non-sequitur that you created by falsely linking ” 3 billion and counting ” to these words “using Howard Stern as a science advisor. ” Where did you get that Taylor is citing ” Stern as a science advisor ? ” As you well know for you seem to be an expert at creating manipulative non-sequiturs. You seem to have under your auspices much more than ” a mere oversight or a minor glitch ” considering your expertise on writing and posting all over the blogosphere. The blatant lie ( which means a lie fabricated with no substance to back it up) is seemingly considered by you to be just ” business as usual ” unless you are called on it. And blatant lying is not a minor thing, at least to someone who prizes fact over fiction. So I would ask if you are going to retract it or prove that Dr Taylor was on Howard Stern or that he used Howard Stern as his science advisor in making the film 3 billion and counting? Which shall it be?

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  20. Ed Darrell says:

    Peter,

    What have you been smoking? “Blatant lie?” Surely you jest!

    Had you bothered to read the post, you’d see that I adjusted it for the still-unevidenced claim made that it wasn’t Taylor on Stern — as if that mattered at all to any of the substance.

    You have a lot of gall to defend those who tell fantastic falsehoods that endanger people’s lives, by claiming a minor goof made on their poor editing is “a blatant lie.”

    When Rutledge Taylor lives so deep in falsehood, why in the world would he be afraid to be affiliated with Howard Stern as a guest? He’s citing Stern as a science expert!

    You defend immense evil with minor and silly evil. God save us, please.

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  21. Peter says:

    Ed, when are you going to retract the blatant lie and insinuations about Dr. Taylor having been on Howard Stern.? When do you intend to retract?

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  22. Ed Darrell says:

    you asked specifically about Soto’s reference to breast cancer and DDT – “Does anyone have a rebuttal to the findings of Dr. Ana K. Soto — this testimony is from 2002 — about DDT causing breast cancer in women exposed before they are 15 years old?”

    Soto specifically focused on the issue of DDT as an endocrine disruptor, an area that was essentially unstudied before about 1990. None of the studies done prior to 1980 dealt with that issue at all. We were looking for hard-core carcinogens, substances that cause cancer upon exposure with a high degree of frequency. Soto pointed out that most studies focused on women exposed to DDT later in their lives — as adults, when DDT was sprayed, or at some time shortly prior to the cancer’s diagnosis.

    One point that’s become even more clear is that cancers appear to be “skipping” a generation. The woman who has DDT in her breastmilk doesn’t get breast cancer. But her children suffer from endocrine disruption — and on the issue of breast cancer, one of the toughest cancers to find an environmental cause for, the correlations to exposure in utero, as an infant, and, in Soto’s cautious science-speak, prior to age 15, show that DDT has a significant causal correlation.

    I probably shouldn’t have restricted it to breast cancers there, since that’s really a lesser concern. Breast cancer is Very Scary. People are more sanguine about the many other serious problems cause by endocrine disruption, including the non-cancerous, but mentally and physically crippling ones.

    Breast cancer is premiere bait-and-switch disease of DDT advocates. Breast cancer is a great concern, but there never was a strong connection to breast cancer for DDT, nor for any cancer. There was a great concern about DDT, since it was known as a mammal carcinogen early, and humans are mammals — and there was USDA concern about DDT in foodstuff, and whether FDA should regulate foodstuffs with DDT under the Delaney Clause, which requires that no carcinogen be used as a food additive (the Delaney Clause applies ONLY to food additives, however — and FDA basically stayed out of the fight). DDT was not banned for its carcinogenicity, which was established by a few studies, but difficult to make a strong case for, in 1972. So the claim made by pro-DDT types that “contrary to Rachel Carson’s claim, DDT does not cause cancer, and so EPA acted rashly,” is false on many fronts: Carson didn’t claim DDT as carcinogenic; DDT is carcinogenic, however; DDT was not banned as a cause of cancer in humans.

    You’ve offered a study in keeping with that same dishonest (whether intentional or not is immaterial) bait-and-switch form of argument. The cohort to be looked at would be women exposed from conception to 15 years of age.

    You offer a response, a study pulled almost at random. That is not a rebuttal.

    I refered you to the paper by Tarone specifically on breast cancer and DDT.

    A paper which doesn’t address Soto’s concern at all, her concerns focusing on exposures prior to age 15. Yes, you did refer me. You didn’t offer an on-point rebuttal.

    Soto’s concern was women exposed from conception to 15 years; Tarone’s cohort was women born from 1930 to 1945, thereby excluding any in utero exposure, and making the youngest member of the cohort age 15 in 1960, a peak year of use of DDT, but not a peak year of exposure. Most of these women would have been past the age of 15 when exposed to DDT significantly.

    So Tarone’s paper simply misses the population Soto is concerned about. It’s interesting, but it’s specifically not a rebuttal to Soto’s claims.

    Now you throw in a left fielder on ” What about shrunken penises, reproductive organ disruption, and breast and penile cancers among their children? The evidence shows that cancers strike the children of those exposed. Read the papers, will you?”

    This is basic deflection and a red herring.

    It would have been a red herring, had you offered a paper looking at exposures prior to age 15. You offered, instead, a red herring of your own. The cohort in the paper was not in a group that Soto was talking about, mostly. I suggested your red herring is no excuse. I should have been more clear.

    And I should be more clear here: Not only is the Tarone study NOT a rebuttal to Soto, it also leaves untouched all the other physical harms to humans from DDT.

    Is that better? Not only do you offer a non-response, the other harms are still sitting out there.

    You may not like what Tarone had to say ….and Karl is quite right, the “observed birth cohort trends in breast cancer rates do not refute a possible association between childhood DDT exposure and breast cancer risk” – but, that is as far as it goes – a possibility.

    So, Tarone refuses to say that his paper clears DDT as a carcinogen for women of any age exposed to it; that’s pretty weak tea to make a rebuttal.

    But more critically, Tarone wasn’t looking at women exposed before the age of 15.

    And to put this cancer issue into focus, visitors to this site should know that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)has grouped DDT in the same category as coffee – possibly carcinogenic to humans. The group definition in full is “This category is used for agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. It may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. In some instances, an agent, mixture or exposure circumstance for which there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but limited evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals together with supporting evidence from other relevant data may be placed in this group”.

    If the same approach was taken to coffee as DDT, then YOU, DEAR READER , would not be able to buy coffee.

    It’s in the same group as coffee, but not the same risk as coffee.

    Coffee’s analysis from WHO, for example, is this:

    The first and most extensive monograph evaluates the large number of studies designed to assess the carcinogenic potential of coffee. On the basis of available data, the working group concluded that coffee is possibly carcinogenic to the human urinary bladder. Evidence further suggests that coffee may actually protect humans against cancer of the colon and rectum. The risk for breast cancer was shown, with remarkable consistency, to have no association with coffee drinking.

    No risk for breast cancer shown in the the studies, and evidence that it may protect against several cancers.

    The greatest risks of cancer from coffee seem to have come from processing in the past. Excuse me if I get the order of discovery wrong here, but coffee used to be decaffeinated with a solvent, trichloroethane. When that solvent was discovered to be carcinogenic, coffee processors switched to trichlorethylene. That was later found to be carcinogenic, too. Hypothetically, the solvents should not have remained in or on the coffee beans, so it should not have been found in the coffee. I’m sure someone, somewhere, did a chemical analysis to see whether that was so — when we had hearings on those chemicals before the Senate Labor Committee when I staffed there, the studies were too obscure for us to find. The experts said coffee itself was highly, highly unlikely to be more than a weak carcinogen in humans.

    As a carcinogen in animals, it’s very weak, too — so weak that it’s possible to discover any correlation only statistically, and even then it’s not strong, and rebuttable.

    In contrast, DDT is a known carcinogen in mammals. It comes from a group of chemicals that contains some powerful carcinogens, and it mimics estrogen, which is carcinogenic in high doses and in prolonged exposures. DDT is known to cause non-cancerous liver destruction in all mammals, including humans — liver damage that can be precursor to liver cancer. Most victims of this damage who were exposed to DDT died of other diseases, some related to impaired liver function, before cancer formed.

    Here’s the WHO listing for DDT:

    The first and most extensive monograph evaluates data from descriptive and ecological studies, cohort studies, and case-control studies suggesting an increased risk of cancer, most notably lung cancer, multiple myeloma and other tumours of B-cell origin, in workers exposed to insecticides during their application. On the basis of this evaluation, the book concludes that the spraying and application of nonarsenical insecticides entail exposures that are probably carcinogenic to humans.

    The remaining monographs evaluate the carcinogenicity of aldicarb, atrazine, captafol, chlordane, DDT, deltamethrin, dichlorvos, fenvalerate, heptachlor, monuron, pentachlorophenol, permethrin, picloram, simazine, thiram, trifluralin, and zitram.

    Of these, captafol, a fungicide used on plants, for seed treatment, and as a wood preservative, was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans. Atrazine, chlordane, DDT, dichlorvos, heptachlor, and pentachlorophenol were classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

    One can tell just from the tone that caffeine is not regarded in the same league as DDT.

    If DDT is not a carcinogen to humans, I believe it would be the only carcinogen ever to affect all other mammals, and not humans. Frankly, such an agent is probably a fiction.

    So, it’s listed as a “probable carcinogen” by all cancer-fighting agencies. (Is coffee listed that way by the American Cancer Society? I don’t think so. See also this article on coffee and ovarian cancer, and note the affiliated articles with it.).

    That’s significant chiefly for this reason: It exposes as false the claim by pro-poison advocates that DDT is not carcinogenic. If they’ll lie about the mild, irrelevant stuff, you know they’ll lie about the big stuff.

    Coffee isn’t regulated the same way DDT is regulated, and consequently it would still be available even were it to contain stronger carcinogenic properties, as I read the law. But looking at the scientific data, coffee isn’t even close to the league of DDT, as a carcinogen. DDT looks positively dangerous.

    And that’s on an area where DDT was not evaluated for restrictions on use.

    If DDT, in its cleanest area of health effects, is rated a suspected danger to health, why bother with it?

    Like

  23. Answer1 says:

    @Ed – you asked specifically about Soto’s reference to breast cancer and DDT – “Does anyone have a rebuttal to the findings of Dr. Ana K. Soto — this testimony is from 2002 — about DDT causing breast cancer in women exposed before they are 15 years old?”

    I refered you to the paper by Tarone specifically on breast cancer and DDT. Now you throw in a left fielder on ” What about shrunken penises, reproductive organ disruption, and breast and penile cancers among their children? The evidence shows that cancers strike the children of those exposed. Read the papers, will you?”

    This is basic deflection and a red herring. You may not like what Tarone had to say ….and Karl is quite right, the “observed birth cohort trends in breast cancer rates do not refute a possible association between childhood DDT exposure and breast cancer risk” – but, that is as far as it goes – a possibility.

    And to put this cancer issue into focus, visitors to this site should know that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)has grouped DDT in the same category as coffee – possibly carcinogenic to humans. The group definition in full is “This category is used for agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. It may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. In some instances, an agent, mixture or exposure circumstance for which there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but limited evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals together with supporting evidence from other relevant data may be placed in this group”.

    If the same approach was taken to coffee as DDT, then YOU, DEAR READER , would not be able to buy coffee.

    Like

  24. Ed Darrell says:

    ” found no evidence of increasing breast cancer rates among young U.S. women born between 1930 and 1945″

    What about shrunken penises, reproductive organ disruption, and breast and penile cancers among their children? The evidence shows that cancers strike the children of those exposed. Read the papers, will you?

    Like

  25. karl says:

    @Answer1

    From the final paragraph or Tarone (2008) you reference:

    “The observed birth cohort trends in breast cancer rates do not refute a possible association between childhood DDT exposure and breast cancer risk, and contrary to the implication of Cohn et al. (2008), no such claim was made in my earlier letter (Tarone 2008).”

    In other words, “I’m not saying the Cohn et al. is wrong.”

    Like

  26. Answer1 says:

    Re: DDT and breast cancer.

    You might want to check out the following paper by R E Tarone of the International Epidemiology Institute Rockville, Maryland, who ” found no evidence of increasing breast cancer rates among young U.S. women born between 1930 and 1945″. The paper is here:

    http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.11562

    Like

  27. Ed Darrell says:

    Hey, Peter, or Kathy, or anyone:

    Does anyone have a rebuttal to the findings of Dr. Ana K. Soto — this testimony is from 2002 — about DDT causing breast cancer in women exposed before they are 15 years old?

    The most compelling evidence linking chemicals and breast cancer is based on the fact that lifetime exposure to natural estrogen increases the risk of breast cancer, and that the use of hormone-replacement therapy and oral contraceptives also increases the risk. It has recently been proposed that this cumulative risk starts during fetal development. In fact, animal studies showed that exposure to DES during fetal life increases the risk of mammary cancer. Similarly, fetal exposure to dioxins also results in increased risk.

    There are strong epidemiological data linking the synthetic estrogen DES and the estrogenic pesticides dieldrin and DDT to breast cancer. Several studies have found significant correlations between exposure to a given chemical and breast cancer, while others did not. It is becoming clear that many studies showing negative results measured exposure at the time of cancer diagnosis. However, we know that causal agents must have acted many years before cancer was diagnosed. For example, recenly published data on the Seveso, Italy dioxin accident measured TCDD dioxin blood levels at the time of the accident in 1976 and correlated it with breast cancer incidence, which occurred decades later. A 10-fold increase in TCDD blood level was associated with a 2.1 increase in risk for breast cancer (95% confidence interval, 1.0-4.6). More recently, at the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology in Vancouver in early August, Cohn et al. reported on a study that examined DDT and DDE levels in blood samples taken between 1959 and 1967. They demonstrated a significantly increased risk of breast cancer among women with higher levels of DDT (and not DDE), but only among women who were exposed to DDT before age 15.

    (Testimony of Ana M. Soto, M.D., Professor, Program of Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology at Tufts University; U.S. Senate Health and Human Services committee, and Assembly Health Committee Joint Informational Hearing on Breast Cancer and the Environment, October 23, 2002; “Overview of: ‘State of the Evidence: what is the Connection Between Chemicals and Breast Cancer?'”)

    See also:
    Tufts University press release, 2002:

    http://enews.tufts.edu/stories/1016/2002/10/28/AreEnvironmentalToxinsCausingBreastCancer

    Audubon Magazine, “Pandora’s Water Bottle,”

    http://www.audubonmagazine.org/currents/currents1003.html

    “Toxic Origins of Disease,” Public Library of Science (PLOS):

    http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.0050193

    Like

  28. James Hanley says:

    the chief trial counsel for the DDT industry

    Hmm, basically the chief lawyer for the defense? No reason to doubt that source, eh? I mean, why would a defense attorney ever do anything but give us the perfect, unvarnished, objective, truth?

    I’ll admit, when I first started coming to this site, I was pretty dubious about Ed Darrell’s fairly rabid opposition to DDT. But not knowing S**t from Shinola on this topic, I kept my mouth shut and observed the debate. And what I’ve seen is a classic science vs. anti-science debate. E.D. continually refers to the peer-reviewed literature, while his opponents blatantly mis-represent it, fail to cite it, or put up as reliable sources someone–like the chief counsel of the DDT industry–someone who has every incentive to misrepresent the truth.

    I’ve observed enough of these battles before (particularly from creationists and anti-vaccers) to know exactly who to place my trust in when I lack the expertise myself.

    It turns out that nutjobs look and act like nutjobs, no matter what domain they’re operating in.

    Like

  29. Ed Darrell says:

    Hey, Birdquestions: Have you ever studied DDT, I mean studied the work of real scientists and not pro-poison propagandists?

    Take a look at this excerpt on DDT, from a speech by Nancy Langston, the president of the American Society of Environmental Historians:

    But is forest management really changing in the region? What are the legacies of history that we need to consider before embarking on ambitious new plans to manage boreal forests for climate change mitigation? Will the new management regimes really look any different from the old management—or will they only be more of the same, with new language to justify them? Looking at changing rhetorics of disturbance can help us approach these questions.

    Disturbances have always been part of boreal forest ecology. Eastern spruce budworm moths lay their eggs during the summer on conifer needles, particularly balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and white spruce (Picea glauca). Caterpillars overwinter and in the spring feed upon the trees, killing the trees if enough budworm are present. Large-scale infestations of the eastern boreal forest occur in cycles of roughly thirty-five years. The timing and extent of those infestations depends on many things: spring weather (the caterpillars particularly like warm dry springs); host populations (large expanses of mature balsam fir provides an excellent food source for an exploding caterpillar population).

    While these insect cycles are natural, after World War II, they began to complicate commercial efforts to “fully utilize” the boreal forest for pulp and paper production. Dead trees and massive fires signaled an unhealthy forest that required the presence of scientific foresters who could step in and restore the forests to health. When the spruce budworm populations exploded in the late 1940s, foresters were armed with new technologies made possible by the war. DDT could be sprayed over millions of acres from planes released from military service. Aerial spraying of DDT did indeed suppress budworm populations, but only temporarily. By killing off 95 percent to 98 percent of the spruce budworm in an area, DDT spraying kept the budworms from killing off all the local spruce and fir. But for the 2 to 5 percent of budworms that had managed to escape each DDT spraying, those surviving trees offered a super-abundant food source that stimulated insect reproduction. Budworm epidemics had, historically, collapsed quickly, when budworm killed off their own food supply. But now DDT actually prolonged the budworm cycles, leading to ever more defoliation and ever more spraying of DDT in an attempt to control the outbreaks.6

    When foresters tried to manage the boreal forests by removing small-scale natural disturbances, they appear to have increased the intensity and frequency of large-scale disturbances. Clear-cutting, replanting with susceptible species such as white spruce, fire suppression, and pesticides may have only led to bigger budworm outbreaks. For example, the infestation of 1910–1920 defoliated 10 million hectares. The infestation of 1945–1955, when DDT was first used heavily, defoliated more than twice the earlier infestation: 25 million hectares. And the infestation of 1968–1985 defoliated even more: 55 million hectares. As a comparison, the combined area of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina is about 57 million hectares.7

    DDT spraying didn’t stop the budworm, but it did ignite concerns about the environmental effects of massive spray campaigns in the boreal forests. In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson wrote of the “rivers of death” created by the intense DDT spraying in the boreal forests of New Brunswick that began in 1952. The Miramichi River, once the most abundant Atlantic salmon run in the world, became what Carson called “a picture of death and destruction.”8 She described the spraying: “So in 1954, in the month of June, the planes visited the forests of the Northwest Miramichi and white clouds of settling mist marked the crisscross pattern of their flight. The spray—one half pound of DDT to the acre in a solution of oil—filtered down through the balsam forests and some of it finally reached the ground and the flowing streams. … Soon after the spraying had ended there were unmistakable signs that all was not well. Within two days dead and dying fish, including many young salmon, were found along the banks of the stream. … All the life of the stream was stilled. Before the spraying there had been a rich assortment of the water life that forms the food of salmon and trout. … But now the stream insects were dead, killed by the DDT, and there was nothing for a young salmon to eat.”9
    After Silent Spring was published in 1962, another five years would pass before aerial spraying of DDT ended in New Brunswick. In those five years, 12.5 million pounds of DDT were sprayed each year over the boreal forests of that one province alone. Not until 1985 did the Canadian government completely ban the use of DDT in forestry (although existing stocks could be used until 1990).

    In the chapter “Rivers of Death,” Carson focused on DDT’s acute poisoning of fish and insects, while noting that DDT and other pesticides might possess the potential to alter sexual development and reproduction. In Carson’s era, no one understood how pesticides might be affecting sexual reproduction, but we now know that DDT is one of many endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can unravel the networks that weave together hormone systems and fetal development. DDT was only the first of many endocrine-disrupting pesticides sprayed in the boreal forest. In New Brunswick alone, some 220 million pounds of pesticide were sprayed between 1952 and 1990 in the effort to combat spruce budworm. Other synthetic chemicals continue to leach into Carson’s Miramichi River. As the biologist Inka Milewski notes, “effluent from the pulp and paper mill, plywood mill, groundwood mill, leachate from former and current industrial chemical dumps, and sewage outfalls create a formidable soup of chemicals through which fish must pass on their way up the river or out to sea. In addition, while the magnitude of pesticide spraying has declined, herbicides are still sprayed to control “nuisance” vegetation in upper reaches of the Miramichi watershed.”10 Many, if not all, of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, so while they may not directly kill fish, they can compromise their immune systems and change reproduction.

    DDT clearly affected wildlife within the boreal forest, but it also had profound effects on creatures living continents away. In the 1950s, George Woodwell was a young botany professor at the University of Maine, when the forests he was studying in northern Maine were doused with DDT. Woodwell grew concerned, and his investigations showed that only half the DDT sprayed from the planes actually landed in the forests below. The rest seemed to vanish, and Woodwell set out to figure where it went. He learned that the DDT solution dried into tiny crystals that could be easily dispersed on air currents, and eventually be deposited tens of thousands of miles away. DDT residues, Woodwell learned, were appearing not just in boreal lakes, but also in the tissues of seals as far away as Antarctica.11

    Much of the DDT used in the 1950s and 1960s within the boreal forests quickly made its way into the bodies of fish and people. Some of it, however, landed on the snows of Antarctica and the Arctic, where the crystals froze into the ice sheets and were immobilized, unable to cause harm. Until recently, that is. Global warming is now releasing those legacies of history back into the flesh of polar wildlife and from there into people. The scientist Heidi N. Geisz and her colleagues estimate that up to 2 to 8.8 pounds of DDT are released into coastal waters annually along the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet from glacial meltwater—a discovery with potentially profound consequences for ecosystem health.12

    (Cite as: Nancy Langston, “Paradise Lost: Climate Change, Boreal Forests, and Environmental History,” Environmental History 14 (October 2009): 641-650. Find footnotes there.)

    Like

  30. Ed Darrell says:

    What do we find in whatever publication it is you’re referring to?

    I quoted to you what the Hawk Mountain people said they saw — declining numbers of birds.

    Have you, and the DDT counsel, made the same error that Gordon Edwards did? Edwards took numbers of sitings, and assumed that meant more birds. That’s not so. Sitings increase as more people watch from more locations. The ornithologists know that, and use a measure like “sitings/watcher/hour,” adjusted for seasons on occasion.

    So, we have the bird count experts who tell us the numbers of birds declines. Then we have a lawyer who has sold his soul to defend DDT misinterpreting the counts, an entomologist suffering from DDT-poisoning misinterpreting the counts, and you, failing to cite your sources with enough accuracy that anyone could find it.

    I asked you earlier for what was said, by whom, where — and you ducked out of that argument entirely, instead reappearing with another rabbit trail claim, but one which was already rebutted by my previous comment. Instead of sending us on more wild goose chases, can you tell us what the “chief trial counsel” for DDT said, and why we shouldn’t regard that as a complete falsehood, whatever it was?

    And, left over from my previous comment: Can you cite for us Dr. Hickey’s testimony, and the EPA guy’s stuff?

    Have you even bothered to see whether your claims about the testimony have any accuracy?

    There really is nothing to defend DDT, nor those hoaxsters who make films claiming DDT is safe and effective, I presume?

    Like

  31. Bird Questions says:

    @Ed re Hawk Mountain
    Perhaps you should take a look at the reflections of the chief trial counsel for the DDT industry, Robert Ackerly, “DDT A Re-evaluation Part I”, Chemical Times and Trends (Oct 1981).

    Like

  32. Ed Darrell says:

    So, you’re saying Dr. Hickey was making s— up about the Hawk Mountain numbers?

    According to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, at page 4:

    The greatest 20th Century threat to Peregrine Falcon populations was the widespread use of organochlorine pesticides including DDT. From the mid 1940s until the early 1970s, the widespread use of DDT and similar pesticides for forestry, agriculture, and human disease control resulted in high pesticide levels in most of the prey that peregrines feed upon. These toxins also accumulated in the Peregrine Falcon’s fatty tissues and subsequently reduced the reproductive success of this species by causing eggshell thinning. As a result, Peregrine Falcon numbers declined significantly in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In 1970, the Peregrine Falcon was listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act, which was the precursor to the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The widespread use of DDT was banned by 1972 and in 1973 peregrines received protection under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

    and at page 6:

    Counts of migrants at hawkwatches like Hawk Mountain can be one of the best means of assessing population trends of a species. During the DDT era, counts of migrating peregrines declined precipitously at Hawk Mountain. Since their recovery, increased numbers of peregrines have been observed. The longterm average autumn count for Hawk Mountain (from 1934-2002) is 26 birds. The average count for the past 10 years (1993-2002) is 44.

    I’d say from the evidence you presented that the DDT defense team committed fraud. In this case, that would probably be a felony.

    What exactly was Dr. Hickey trying to do, and why didn’t he tell the truth about Hawk Mountain counts?

    Or, is it possible you’ve been badly misled? Can you cite for us Dr. Hickey’s testimony, and the EPA guy’s stuff? That story sets my Hemingway Excrement Detector to clanging something fierce.

    Like

  33. Bird Questions says:

    Well, how about the data trends on raptor populations (ospreys and peregrines) compiled at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary which were placed into the hearing record by the DDT defense team? I understand that Dr Hickey, the EPA witness attempted to discredit the significance of the Hawk Mountain counts (which showed that osprey and peregrine falcon populations were not in decline). However, he later had to admit that he had used the same counts as a credible source of population data in his own work.

    Like

  34. Ed Darrell says:

    Perhaps this isn’t then referring to the references at the back of the toxicological report but to something else?

    A thousand studies that say DDT is poisonous and kills birds in two, three or four different ways should be sufficient, don’t you think?

    Especially considering that there is not a single study to the contrary — at least, none that are honestly reported.

    Like

  35. Ed Darrell says:

    1. I have read here that DDT causes egg shell thinning. What other factors contribute/cause egg shell thinning?

    The whole family of organophosphates that DDT belongs to could cause eggshell thinning, and some heavy metals may. Early on there was concern that other PCBs might be causing thinning and DDT was not to blame. Spectrophotometric studies determined that DDT alone would do the trick, and was doing the trick, and samples of tissues from wild birds confirmed that it was DDT that was the culprit. To pile on the evidence, the recovery of the most-affected raptors and top predators proceeded on a predictable pace as the residual DDT in the tissues of the birds decreased, a good confirmation on the backside of the studies on the upside.

    DDT worked in other insidious ways, too, as you know. Early studies of non-insect-eating and non-predator birds showed that DDT simply killed chicks in the eggs. Later studies have confirmed that DDT is an endocrine disruptor, mimicking estrogen. This by itself can render birds, especially males, unable to reproduce.

    2. What was the bald eagle population in the USA in the years prior to the introduction of DDT? Was it rising or falling?

    The quick and dirty story is this: From 1607 to 1918, hunting and trapping decimated eagle populations. The ban on hunting in 1918 slowed the decline. Adding teeth to the ban on hunting in 1941 (the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, passed in 1940)appeared to stop the decline in numbers, for a brief period. From about 1941 through the late 1950s, however, bird watchers and especially bird counters noted that there were dramatically reduced numbers of young eagles. While the numbers of eagles had stopped declining, young from hatches in 1941 through 1949 provided some modest increases in a few populations. But the eagles could not reproduce. On those rare occasions that hatchlings were observed, the hatchlings generally died young. This continued through 1972 and the ban on broadcast spraying of DDT in the U.S.

    From 1941 through 1972, there was a modest rise into the 1950s, and then constant declines in numbers of eagles, especially nesting newly-adult birds, until after the DDT ban.

    3. How much money has been spent on programs to save the bald eagle since the banning of DDT for agricultural use in the USA?

    A lot, but not enough. Eagle recovery took off and took care of itself after the ban on broadcast DDT spraying.

    4. Was there ever a hunting ban imposed on bald eagles? When was this introduced?

    1918, and 1941. As I noted above, this stopped the steep slide, but it did nothing to fix the reproduction issues. Eagles couldn’t reproduce, because DDT was killing the chicks outright, scrambling the sex organs of the young males, and thinning the eggshells so, even a healthy chick would be crushed in incubation, or die from infection introduced when the shell cracked.

    Perhaps some keen ornithologists might enlighten me on the above. Thanks.

    You could read about it in Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring. Here’s a good rundown of eagle recovery from Audubon:

    http://www.audubon.org/newsroom/press-releases/2007/bald-eagle-back-brink

    Read about it in the USFWS FAQ on eagles from 2004.

    And more here:

    http://www.fws.gov/midwest/eagle/

    RESURGENCE OF A NATIONAL ICON. Bald eagle populations declined dramatically in the last century, attributed mostly to the accumulation of the pesticide DDT in fish, a staple of the eagle’s diet. The pesticides gradually poisoned females, causing them to produce thinly-shelled eggs that broke easily, preventing the embryos from growing. Years of hunting, accidental poisoning and habitat loss took an additional toll.

    In 1960, Audubon took the lead in studying the eagle’s declines through its’ Continental Bald Eagle Project. The project revealed that DDT was in large part responsible for population declines among several raptor species including the bald eagle.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 1967 listed the bald eagle as endangered, a designation that gave the bird legal protection from harmful human activities and in 1972, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned most uses of DDT.

    Listing the bald eagle afforded greater protection for important habitat, and saw the beginning of intensive monitoring and management of bald eagle populations in the wild as well as introduction of eagles from Alaska, Wisconsin, and other state to areas of the country where they had disappeared.

    By the mid-90’s, the eagle was well on the road to recovery and the FWS “downlisted” the bald eagle from endangered to threatened in most states under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

    Today, the FWS estimates there are over 7,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the continental United States.

    Also, be sure to see the FWS sheet on DDT:

    http://www.fws.gov/contaminants/Info/DDT.html

    Like

  36. 1000s of references says:

    Thank you for the quick response. However I quote from your comment dated October 11 at 3.48:
    “Since Carson published in 1962, there have been more than 1,000 studies done which verified her fears that DDT harms birds, with no clearly substantiated studies to the contrary”.
    Perhaps this isn’t then referring to the references at the back of the toxicological report but to something else?

    Like

  37. BIrd questions says:

    Have been reading lots about bird populations and the impact of DDT. So I have a few questions:

    1. I have read here that DDT causes egg shell thinning. What other factors contribute/cause egg shell thinning?

    2. What was the bald eagle population in the USA in the years prior to the introduction of DDT? Was it rising or falling?

    3. How much money has been spent on programs to save the bald eagle since the banning of DDT for agricultural use in the USA?

    4. Was there ever a hunting ban imposed on bald eagles? When was this introduced?

    Perhaps some keen ornithologists might enlighten me on the above. Thanks.

    Like

  38. Ed Darrell says:

    Nor did I say there were a thousand studies on eggshell thinning. What I said was there were a thousand studies confirming that DDT damages birds.

    Not quite understanding what is said is a key problem among critics of Rachel Carson. I may be biased, but it seems part and parcel to their ways of assuming things that have not been said, assuming things that did not happen, and assuming an evil force behind things they just don’t understand.

    Contrast any number of the studies confirming damage to birds with the vanishingly small number of studies showing that DDT does NOT harm birds, nor bats, nor beneficial insects, nor fish, nor mammals, nor any living thing.

    We have a thousand studies showing harm to birds. One would do.

    From the Carson critics and pro-DDT side, we have misunderstandings of the Audubon Christmas bird count.

    There is no serious case to be made in favor of more DDT. All groups who have studied DDT seriously, and those who use DDT to fight disease (WHO, for example), have called for DDT use to stop.

    No malaria fighters ask for more DDT. Pro-DDT forces have no scientific leg to stand on, and their moral case is weak, too.

    Like

  39. 1000s of references... says:

    Re: xmfclick’s query “have there really been over 1000 studies on the effects of DDT on birds?” and Ed’s response “Here’s the post in this thread. Go see. Discover Magazine did the search”.

    Well, I did and the link is to the toxicological profile for DDT, DDE and DDD, which does include lots of references, but not a thousand on egg shell thinning.

    Like

  40. Ed Darrell says:

    For example, have there really been over 1000 studies on the effects of DDT on birds? One new study published every week, between 1950 and 1970 (or the equivalent)? Who paid for them all? Did they really all conclude that DDT and DDT alone led to eggshell thinning? It seems to me Ed is probably being a bit disingenuous here.

    Here’s the post in this thread. Go see. Discover Magazine did the search.

    Or, you could start with a PubMed search for DDT +egg (201 hits) or DDT +thin (194 hits), and see if we’re in the ballpark. (PubMed probably excludes most of the ornithological journals, and it doesn’t include a lot before 1990 — so any total there will be low.)

    Like

  41. Ed Darrell says:

    He makes comments that Dr Taylor’s nurse has refuted, yet those comments remain unchanged, so anyone stumbling across the post and not reading the hundred-odd comments would not see they were challenged.

    With due respect, there has been no offer of proof of the specious claims made in the film. While I’ve offered links to sources, nothing I’ve offered has been “refuted.” Very little has even been rebutted. Gross errors of law and history populate the film, and there are scurrilous, irresponsible and false charges made by Taylor.

    I have called Taylor out on those issues. We await any evidence to support Taylor’s claims. He’s not made his point.

    He makes snide comments which have no foundation, e.g. implying that “Royce” really is a publicist for Dr Taylor, even though this has also been denied.

    I changed the post two days ago, in deference to the possibility that Royce was just snookered. If you don’t recognize the public relations campaign signs, that’s your loss. Is it snide? Since when is accuracy snide?

    And the other snide comment about the film “sinking without trace” should also be removed or amended, as it was explained that that the opening runs of one week each in NY and LA were part of a requirement for submitting the film for some kind of award [not that Ed will like the idea].

    So far the film has sunk without a trace. If that ever changes, I’ll lament that in another post.

    Ed is usually quite measured in his comments, but it seems this film has gotten under his skin and led him to make intemperate remarks that therefore throw doubt on the veracity of other things he says. I therefore call on him to revise the original post, in the interests of fairness and for the sake of his credibility.

    My credibility is not the issue here. Rutledge Taylor has made scurrilous, libelous and scandalous claims against scientists, health workers and government officials that are simply false.

    When we seen errata forms and apologies from Dr. Taylor, we’ll note his corrections.

    The correcting needs to start with those false claims.

    Like

  42. xmfclick says:

    It has been interesting, and at times confusing, to follow this long and heated thread. Clearly, those on both sides feel strongly about this issue. Personally, I have no axe to grind either way. I think some of Ed’s points carry a lot of weight (e.g. pointing out that DDT was never formally banned from use) but others I find hard to swallow. For example, have there really been over 1000 studies on the effects of DDT on birds? One new study published every week, between 1950 and 1970 (or the equivalent)? Who paid for them all? Did they really all conclude that DDT and DDT alone led to eggshell thinning? It seems to me Ed is probably being a bit disingenuous here.

    However, what I really wanted to ask was whether Ed would change the body of the original post. He makes comments that Dr Taylor’s nurse has refuted, yet those comments remain unchanged, so anyone stumbling across the post and not reading the hundred-odd comments would not see they were challenged. He makes snide comments which have no foundation, e.g. implying that “Royce” really is a publicist for Dr Taylor, even though this has also been denied. And the other snide comment about the film “sinking without trace” should also be removed or amended, as it was explained that that the opening runs of one week each in NY and LA were part of a requirement for submitting the film for some kind of award [not that Ed will like the idea].

    Ed is usually quite measured in his comments, but it seems this film has gotten under his skin and led him to make intemperate remarks that therefore throw doubt on the veracity of other things he says. I therefore call on him to revise the original post, in the interests of fairness and for the sake of his credibility.

    Like

  43. Ed Darrell says:

    We need some hard facts on both sides to make since of the DDT issue.

    (Who is “Tim?”)

    Read Silent Spring. Nothing Carson wrote has ever been challenged by research. You can take her words to the Bank of Veracity.

    Like

  44. Leonard says:

    Tim, this was a very interesting post. I just wish that you had referenced your sources so that I could verify you points. I know that there is much controversy over the truth of the book: The Silent Spring”. We need some hard facts on both sides to make since of the DDT issue.

    Like

  45. Ed Darrell says:

    Ed .. your WHOLE life work has been dependent on millions of people dying. Have you ever thought of that? Wouldn’t you like to be FOR people living instead of AGAINST life?

    My life has been dedicated to expanding life, extending life, and improving life.

    DDT is a deadly toxin that destroys ecosystems, destroys food sources, and is an ineffective placebo against malaria, which kills far too many children and cripples national economies across Africa and Asia.

    When you get the facts, Kathy, and you can make a case without false claims, outright lies, and character assassination against heroes like Bill Ruckelshaus, Fred Soper, Rachel Carson and all of science, you’ll begin to understand why your current position is immoral.

    Not to mention false claims against me:

    Please STOP the old bromide about “chemical companies wanting DDT to come back”. Where have you been Ed? The MOON?

    DDT is out of patent, a substance whose presence prevents commercial development in the U.S. due to its toxicity, and a stalking horse for other political issues. Tobacco companies, especially, would love to have the World Health Organization regarded as foolish, the better to stop WHO’s anti-tobacco campaign. You’re contributing to a smear campaign against science and health care.

    Like

  46. Ed Darrell says:

    I don’t and I believe she was wrong in “Silent Spring” and the world should know it.

    Please cite for me any error Carson made in Silent Spring. Claim and page number, please.

    I’m appalled at the hysteric, and hysterically incorrect claims made by pro-DDT people. Either you’re nearly completely ignorant of what Carson wrote, or you are a character assassin.

    Like

  47. Ed Darrell says:

    You are great at accusing people of doing exactly what you are doing. You are being completely dishonest when you imply that the US ban on DDT was not the lead factor in the worldwide ban.

    There has never been a worldwide ban on DDT. DDT is readily available for use in Africa and Asia today, for any nation who chooses to use it. DDT is relatively cheap, reflecting the abundance of the stuff.

    It’s racist to claim that Africans don’t use DDT because of some environmental concerns, while their children die. Africans are not stupid. DDT is used where it is effective and safe — but it is no panacea against malaria.

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  48. kathy says:

    I have some questions for Ed and those of you who “think” like him:
    To start: Ed .. your WHOLE life work has been dependent on millions of people dying. Have you ever thought of that? Wouldn’t you like to be FOR people living instead of AGAINST life? Have you ever considered that HUMANS are God’s Nobelest Invention? Think about this Ed…if there are no people then theres no Ed to know or talk about the eco system that you and the enviro’s are so determined to save .. at the cost of human lives! YOU are human Ed, are you not? If you are for people dying, because you are in support of the ban on DDT which could save lives, you have to realize you are for Ed DYING! Deep questions Ed. Please consider them. And finally Ed, PLEASE contact Dr. Rutledge at http://www.3billionandcounting.com and request to view the documentary. It would be refreshing to hear you speak about this .. AFTER you have viewed it, instead of this constant repeating of old propaganda that is being exposed to be the lie that it is. Thanks!!

    Like

  49. kathy says:

    Ed..in response to your 10-10 12:44 remark:
    Please STOP the old bromide about “chemical companies wanting DDT to come back”. Where have you been Ed? The MOON? Dr. Taylor has an email, a private, in house email, from a MAJOR chemical co (not with their wanting him to have it I can assure you) that says they DO NOT WANT DDT back. They have much more toxic brews at a very high price which they wish to continue to sell. You have used that old worn out argument for years and it has been THOROUGHLY “de bunked”, so get some other accusations outta your arsenal. That one is a “whimper” now! You have brainswashed and been brainwashed with the best of them. Time is up. Calf rope!

    Like

  50. James Hanley says:

    Antoine,

    I’ve never used the figure 800,000 in reference to yearly malaria deaths.

    Yes, you did. See here/. And then you said “millions per year” here.

    As to a worldwide ban, there isn’t one. Countries that signed the Stockholm agreement agreed not to use it for agricultural use, but can still use it for vector control. So there is no “worldwide ban” preventing use of it for the purposes you advocate. You’re still pushing a lie.

    But it’s funny how often liars on blogs respond to being caught out with the, “no, you’re the one who’s lying” response. Not impressed, Antoine. Perhaps you should try some lies that aren’t so easy to falsify.

    But now I have to hit the road and will be out of internet access until next week. Cheerio–you’ll get the last word.

    Like

  51. karl says:

    Antoine,

    For the sake of making sure we’re all on the same page, in your view, is or was there a ban on DDT that prevents its use against malaria in Africa and other parts of the world ? If so, when did it come into effect and who imposed it? Is it still in effect? If not, when was it lifted? Love to hear your thoughts on these questions.

    Like

  52. Antoine says:

    Ed,

    DDT is an effective tool. I’ve given several examples in previous posts.

    I understand you revere Rachel Carson. I don’t and I believe she was wrong in “Silent Spring” and the world should know it.

    Therefore, I’m very grateful to Dr. Rutledge for bringing forth information which is long overdue.
    http://3billionandcounting.com/ is a very necessary film.

    Like

  53. Antoine says:

    James,

    You are great at accusing people of doing exactly what you are doing. You are being completely dishonest when you imply that the US ban on DDT was not the lead factor in the worldwide ban. You’re also being dishonest in how you speak of DDT being used now in certain parts of the world. They are ignoring the ban because it was killing their people.

    You are also good at playing with words. My mistake was not in the word I used (did you even read my post). The mistake was assuming you would understand the context. Honestly, I believe you did understand the context. You demonstrated that in your adherence to your cost-benefit tangent. Which basically says that in order for DDT to be an EFFECTIVE tool, all cost and benefits should be considered. Again, you appear to be dishonest.

    What else makes you appear dishonest? You say — “First it was 800,000, you said. Now you say it’s millions. You’re not being honest.” James, the comments in my very first posts reference a million people dying a year — “This fight against DDT is becoming a fight against protecting people (one million deaths a year and mostly pregnant women and children) from a deadly disease.”

    I’ve never used the figure 800,000 in reference to yearly malaria deaths. The 880,000 figure is a WHO estimate. Most people agree that it is very conservative at best.

    So James, it’s you who’s being dishonest and twisting words.

    I also think it’s very interesting that you’ve avoided answering any of my questions concerning the malaria death toll. Yet, you suggest that I may be a shill.

    No, a child did not die because I did not donate money for a bed net. He died because he contracted malaria — a completely preventable disease.

    Like

  54. James Hanley says:

    Antoine,

    I’m so sorry that I made an assumption early on. I assumed that when I said I believe DDT is an EFFECTIVE tool that it was obvious that I looked at all sides in coming to that conclusion. My mistake — have at it.

    Maybe there was a sincere mistake there, but I try to use words carefully. “Effective” just means something will do the job, not that it’s on net a good strategy. Burning down the house is an effective way to drive away house guest, but… So, no, when you use the wrong word it’s not at all obvious what you mean. I’d like to think you’re being honest here in admitting to just a mistake in word choice, but what follows persuades me you’re not very honest.

    when we have millions of people dying every year

    First it was 800,000, you said. Now you say it’s millions. You’re not being honest.

    Then, all of a sudden and thanks to Carson and Ruckelshaus, a ban on DDT comes along. Four decades later the people of those same neglected countries are still dying of malaria to the tune of more than 1 million a year.

    As Ed Darrell has repeatedly pointed out, the U.S. did not ban DDT in other countries. You’re being dishonest in suggesting that the U.S. ban on DDT keeps it from being used in other countries, leading to more deaths there.

    This is the part of the discussion that bothers me most. Again, I don’t know much about DDT. I do know law and politics, and consequently I know that a U.S. ban on DDT cannot lead to increased malaria deaths in Africa, because failure to spray DDT in the U.S. won’t increase the number of mosquitoes in Africa.

    Anyone who wants to take this line demonstrates that they are a dishonest shill.

    James, it’s wrong. While you and I sit here debating the costs-benefits analysis of DDT a child somewhere in Africa died.

    But did they die because DDT isn’t being used in Africa? As I understand from the discussion here, it is being used. Or did that child die because you didn’t donate money to buy mosquito nets?

    Like

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