Roger Bate’s simple lie about DDT


In the last two weeks we’ve seen a virtual-world assault by Richard Tren, Roger Bate and Don Roberts, alternately telling fantastic tales about how Rachel Carson from beyond the grave organized a mass murder that rivals Joseph Stalin, or saying that environmentalists conspire to keep life-saving chemicals from getting to Africa and Asia.

This morning’s e-mail brought a release from the often-fact-challenged American Enterprise Institute, under the by-line of Roger Bate — “The UN’s Scientific Fraud Against DDT.”

Fraud?  That’s all on Bate.  Here are things Bate will not tell you:

  • No malaria fighting organization claims it needs more DDT.
  • DDT has never been banned in Africa, nor Asia.
  • If any nation wishes to use DDT to fight malaria, that nation need only write a letter to the World Health Organization informing WHO of that fact.
  • If anyone violates the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty (POPs) and uses DDT without telling WHO first, there is no penalty.
  • Malaria death rates are, now, at the lowest level in human history.  While there is a threat of a resurgence of malaria, the threat comes because the malaria parasites themselves develop resistant to the pharmaceuticals used to treat the disease in humans — no connection to DDT.
  • DDT use cannot stop malaria.  Consider:  India is one of two or three nations today who still manufacture DDT, and India uses more DDT than all the rest of the world’s nations put together.  Malaria is still a problem for India.
  • Beating malaria requires more than poisoning the hell out of Africa.

Roger Bate:  Walking science, history, law and policy fraud.  His claims are hoaxes.

Update: Tim Lambert at Deltoid looked at the claims of Bate and Roberts, and found that they appear to have made many errors in simple math and statistics.  Read about it here.

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4 Responses to Roger Bate’s simple lie about DDT

  1. [...] Milloy, Roger Bate, Richard Tren, Henry I. Miller and others hoax us when they say DDT can save mankind, or even help [...]

    Like

  2. Nick K says:

    To quote:

    On another note, most people working in malaria control including me, do not ask for DDT because we know the lengthy process one has to go to get the political motivation and public sentiment towards using it. The murky air created about DDT by Silent Spring can never be undone unless UN owns up that the use is safe and promotes its use.

    So…you have absolutely no problem if we use it around you, your family and your children’s children just to see if you’re right, yes?

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Although you are right in pointing out the mechanisms present in the Stockholm convention for DDT use, in reality it is not as simple. Most malaria challenged nations in Africa, Asia or South America are agriculture based economies. Using DDT actually ends up negatively affecting these economies considering the strict norms for insecticide content in food in Europe and USA and the general perception of agricultural products from such countries using DDT. Just a simple google search will lead you to many news reports citing this problem in African nations!

    Tell me what to Google, please, Mr. Singh. I can’t find it. I know that Roger Bate’s colleagues in Uganda sued to stop DDT use claiming that cotton would be contaminated, and therefore unsaleable as “organic cotton,” but there is no EU regulation Bate can point to, and there is no indication from most of the European cotton users that they are concerned — in short, it’s a wild allegation with no evidence.

    By the way, here in the U.S. we don’t even check imported crops for DDT. No agricultural supplies have ever been refused import for DDT contamination that I can find. I think that’s a spurious claim by whoever gave it to you.

    IRS doesn’t get outdoors, if done well (which is why it is expensive). The bigger reason DDT isn’t used is that Subsaharan nations don’t have the government moxie to run a campaign that militantly sprays 80 percent of houses and homes. Unless an IRS campaign can do that, it won’t do much good against malaria in the short run or long run.

    If you have evidence, I’d like to see it. Consider this a challenge, please: Where is the evidence of the commercial chaos you claim? Bring it here so we can see, please

    On another note, most people working in malaria control including me, do not ask for DDT because we know the lengthy process one has to go to get the political motivation and public sentiment towards using it. The murky air created about DDT by Silent Spring can never be undone unless UN owns up that the use is safe and promotes its use.

    Can you provide evidence that the UN has ever done anything different? In 2005 UN even held a press conference and issued a press release stating exactly what you want — obviously with no effect.

    It’s not the UN’s fault that people like Tren and Bate spread lies about DDT, Rachel Carson, and the UN. You do have some responsibility to be accurate, however, if you take up the cudgel of Bate and Tren.

    Silent Spring created no “murky air.” It properly and accurately indicted the overuse of DDT on crops, and it warned that we did not in 1962 know all the health effects of DDT. Of the few harms Rachel Carson cite, all of them have borne out to be accurate, or understated by her.

    Carson didn’t call for a ban on DDT, but rather for wise use, to preserve it for important things like fighting malaria. Too few people listened. UN had to discontinue its program to eradicate malaria in 1965 because too many nations in Subsaharan Africa simply could not organize anti-malaria campaigns, let alone beef up medical care to make the programs successful. Malaria fighters then held out some hope, but that hope was dashed when mosquitoes in far too many places turned up that were resistant and immune to DDT. DDT wasn’t killed by Rachel Carson, but by her hecklers.

    And now you join them.

    Until then, DDT will remain on the shelf and used by countries with no other resort or strong international presence.

    Nations not intending to fight malaria, in other words. International aid and international knowledge of how best to fight malaria are greatly increased over 1962. DDT is usually on the shelf because it doesn’t work well enough to justify the dangers of its use. I do not believe, as you implicitly do, that Africans are too stupid to act in their own best interests. When DDT was greatly effective but dangerous, a case could be made to use it. Not that it is only very dangerous but not very effective, the case for DDT is very, very weak.

    Maybe Africans are making the best choice.

    Can you point to anyplace, at any time, where there was a shortage of DDT?

    You are aware, I hope, that those nations that use DDT the most, tend to be those that still can’t beat malaria — and that increasing DDT use does not decrease malaria. India is the world’s greatest user of DDT today. India uses more DDT than all other nations combined. If DDT were effective, malaria should be wiped out, no? Instead, there is a huge debate about whether malaria is six times worse than the 200,000 deaths a year counted now.

    DDT isn’t the answer to any question that I can find, and I haven’t seen any evidence to make me question that judgment. Can you provide any evidence? Please do.

    It pains to know that DDT works yet people have to die because probably DDT is unsafe.

    It is very painful to know that people refuse to fight malaria because they believe, in error, DDT is magic pixie dust, and only meanie greenies keep it from being deployed.

    Like

  4. Prabhjot Singh says:

    Dear author,

    Although you are right in pointing out the mechanisms present in the Stockholm convention for DDT use, in reality it is not as simple. Most malaria challenged nations in Africa, Asia or South America are agriculture based economies. Using DDT actually ends up negatively affecting these economies considering the strict norms for insecticide content in food in Europe and USA and the general perception of agricultural products from such countries using DDT. Just a simple google search will lead you to many news reports citing this problem in African nations!

    On another note, most people working in malaria control including me, do not ask for DDT because we know the lengthy process one has to go to get the political motivation and public sentiment towards using it. The murky air created about DDT by Silent Spring can never be undone unless UN owns up that the use is safe and promotes its use. Until then, DDT will remain on the shelf and used by countries with no other resort or strong international presence.

    It pains to know that DDT works yet people have to die because probably DDT is unsafe.

    Like

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