Fly your flag at half-staff today, honoring President John F. Kennedy

November 22, 2013

U.S. flags at the Washington Monument fly at half-staff, with the dome of the U.S. Capitol in the background.  Image captured from U.S.

U.S. flags at the Washington Monument fly at half-staff, with the dome of the U.S. Capitol in the background. Image captured from U.S.

November 22, 2013:  A proclamation from President Barack Obama:

Obama Proclamation on Day of Remembrance for President Kennedy

21 November 2013

Office of the Press Secretary
November 21, 2013




A half century ago, America mourned the loss of an extraordinary public servant. With broad vision and soaring but sober idealism, President John F. Kennedy had called a generation to service and summoned a Nation to greatness. Today, we honor his memory and celebrate his enduring imprint on American history.

In his 3 years as President of the United States, John F. Kennedy weathered some of the most perilous tests of the Cold War and led America to the cusp of a bright new age. His leadership through the Cuban Missile Crisis remains the standard for American diplomacy at its finest. In a divided Berlin, he delivered a stirring defense of freedom that would echo through the ages, yet he also knew that we must advance human rights here at home. During his final year in office, he proposed a civil rights bill that called for an end to segregation in America. And recognizing women’s basic right to earn a living equal to their efforts, he signed the Equal Pay Act into law.

While President Kennedy’s life was tragically cut short, his vision lives on in the generations he inspired — volunteers who serve as ambassadors for peace in distant corners of the globe, scientists and engineers who reach for new heights in the face of impossible odds, innovators who set their sights on the new frontiers of our time. Today and in the decades to come, let us carry his legacy forward. Let us face today’s tests by beckoning the spirit he embodied — that fearless, resilient, uniquely American character that has always driven our Nation to defy the odds, write our own destiny, and make the world anew.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 22, 2013, as a Day of Remembrance for President John F. Kennedy. I call upon all Americans to honor his life and legacy with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. I also call upon Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on the Day of Remembrance for President John F. Kennedy. I further encourage all Americans to display the flag at half-staff from their homes and businesses on that day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.



White House photo:  Presidents and First Ladies, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, post a wreath and salute President John F. Kennedy at Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery, November 20, 2013

White House photo: Presidents and First Ladies, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, post a wreath and salute President John F. Kennedy at Kennedy’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery, November 20, 2013

September 12 — Anniversary of the 1962 day JFK challenged all of America to go to the Moon, “because it is hard”

September 12, 2013

President John F. Kennedy speaking to an audience in the football stadium at Rice University in Houston, September 12, 1962.  Kennedy made the public case for why the U.S. should try a Moon shot.  NASA photo.

President John F. Kennedy speaking to an audience in the football stadium at Rice University in Houston, September 12, 1962. Kennedy made the public case for why the U.S. should try a Moon shot. NASA photo.

Kennedy’s speech at Rice University, “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” was delivered in the football stadium (not nearly full), on September 12, 1962.

Obviously, that was back before global warming held such a tight death grip on Texas (it’s so bad here, even Rick Perry is trying to move north, out of the state).

Day in and day out, Kennedy’s speech, the text, the audio, and sources of commentary on it, are among the most popular of the nearly 5,000 posts at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. Go see why:

September 12, 1962, was also the ninth anniversary of JFK’s marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier.  She let him go out of town to talk rockets?

Anything for the nation, I suppose.


Moonwalking astronaut salutes the U.S. flag on the Moon. Twelve people went to the Moon, all of them in the U.S. space program run by NASA.  (My photo source does not identify this astronaut.)

Moonwalking astronaut salutes the U.S. flag on the Moon. Twelve people went to the Moon, all of them in the U.S. space program run by NASA. (My photo source does not identify this astronaut.)

Remember when business leaders supported civil rights?

August 16, 2013

Remember civil discussion?

June 4, 1963:  Business leaders listening to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, with President John F. Kennedy, in the White House.  Photo from the Kennedy Library, public domain

June 4, 1963: Business leaders listening to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, with President John F. Kennedy, in the White House. Photo from the Kennedy Library, public domain

Could one get such a meeting on an issue today?  Probably — and wouldn’t it be nice to see more of them?

President John F. Kennedy invited top business leaders of the nation to the White House on June 4, 1963, to talk about civil rights.  This photo captures the early moments of the late afternoon meeting in the East Room of the White House, with Vice President Lyndon Johnson addressing the group, and President Kennedy waiting to speak.

According to the Kennedy Library, these are people in in the photo:

Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson (at podium, with back to camera) speaks to a group of business executives with establishments in southern cities, at a civil rights meeting conducted by President John F. Kennedy (seated at far right), Vice President Johnson, and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (not pictured). Those pictured include: Milton L. Elsberg, President of Drug Fair Inc.; Carling L. Dinkler, Jr., President of Dinkler Hotel Corporation; Lucien E. Oliver, Vice President of Sears, Roebuck & Company; Louis C. Lustenberger, President of W. T. Grant Company; William B. Thalhimer, Jr., President of Thalhimer Brothers, Inc.; G. Stockton Strawbridge, President of Strawbridge & Clothier; Bruce A. Gimbel, President of Gimbel Brothers, Inc.; and E. D. Martin, President of Martin Theatres of Georgia, Inc. East Room, White House, Washington, D.C.

Few of those companies exist today; those that do are in much changed form.  Just fifty years ago.

The Kennedy Presidential Library in Massachusetts makes this photo available with hundreds of others at its on-line site.

Remedial economics, remedial U.S. history

May 20, 2013

I should set a threshold — five e-mails, or a dozen Facebook posts, and a response will be given.

But then some idiot would work to make the threshold.

You’ve seen this, of course:

5 misleading truths

“5 Truths You CANNOT Disagree With”

It was past the threshold, so I responded:

More truths:

  1. You cannot legislate poverty away by laws that send all the wealth generated by the working poor, to the rich.
  2. What one person receives without working for in capital gains, or productivity increases, another person worked for, without receiving. It is unjust to give the benefits of the sweat of one woman, to another man.
  3. Government subsidies create wealth in nations; most great enterprises have found their roots in government funding, from irrigation in Babylon, to farming along the Yellow River, through Columbus’s voyage of (accidental) discovery, the Transcontinental Railroad, and settlement of America.
  4. When opportunities exist for the poor, hard work makes much wealth. A society is wealthy, and an economy is sound, when the poor spend money. Rich guys spending money doesn’t work — there are not enough rich guys.
  5. When the rich tiny percentage of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, but that the work of others is ALSO their property and the poor will take care of them, then we have conditions for financial collapse (see the Panic of 1908, or 1837, or the Great Depression — or any other); those conditions often lead to revolution, sometimes violent (see Russia in 1917, Germany in 1922, Shay’s Rebellion, the French Revolution — when the rich get the rewards the hard-working man created, it is the beginning of the end of any nation. Some smart nations fix those problems when they occur.

When hard work no longer gets you ahead, and when hard work no longer will feed, clothe and educate your family, you may get angry.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable,” John Kennedy said. He was pretty smart for a young, rich guy.

(Links added above, other than the YouTube video; I hope the JFK Library has video of Kennedy actually saying that.)

People who post these “5 truths” without irony must have slept through ALL of economics in high school, and forgotten everything they may have ever learned about American history in the 20th century.  Income distribution is a serious issue — maldistribution and misdistribution of wealth leads to trouble, either economic calamity, or violent revolution, or both.

It’s fun to say that no person should get ahead on the earnings of another person; it’s more realistic when we understand that a system rigged to give financial players yachts, and working people debt, is the unfairness that those worriers should worry about.

John F. Kennedy waves to a crowd in front of Cobo Hall, in Detroit

Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy waves to a crowd in front of Cobo Hall, in Detroit, during the 1960 American Legion Convention. Image from Walter Reuther Library


A very young John Kennedy asks his father for a raise in his allowance, to cover Boy Scout dues

March 3, 2013

Can your students write this well?  This kid was 12:

JFK asking his father for a raise in his allowance

Letter from 12 year-old John Kennedy, asking his father for a raise in his allowance, in 1929.  Click image for larger view.  Photo from Peter Lenahan

Found the image at the U.S. Scouting Service Project site, part of their celebration of the history of Scouting.

John Fitzgerald Francis Kennedy, President of the United States, was a Scout in Troop 2 in the Bronxville, NY, from 1929 to 1931. This letter was written when he was 12 years old in 1929.

Transcript:   A Plea for a raise

By Jack Kennedy

Dedicated to my

Mr. J. P. Kennedy

     Chapter I

My recent allowance is 40¢. This I used for areoplanes and other playthings of child- hood but now I am a scout and I put away my childish things. Before I would spend 20¢ of my ¢.40 allowance and In five minutes I would have empty pockets and nothing to gain and 20¢ to lose. When I a a scout I have to buy canteens, haversacks, blankets, searchlidgs [searchlights] poncho things that will last for years and I can always use it while I cant use a cholcalote marshmellow sunday with vanilla ice cream and so I put in my plea for a raise of thirty cents for me to buy scout things and pay my own way more around.


John Fitzgerald Francis Kennedy

Contributed by: Peter Lenahan, Bronxville, NY

Use of Pesticides: Report of the President’s Science Advisory Committee, May 15, 1963

December 10, 2012

This is the full text of The Use of Pesticides, the report of the President’s Science Advisory Committee on May 15, 1963, which exonerated Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring of scientific error.

Cover of the publication:  Use of Pesticides, A report of the President's Science Advisory Committee, May 15, 1963

Cover of the publication: Use of Pesticides, A report of the President’s Science Advisory Committee, May 15, 1963

Copies of the report remain difficult to find in many libraries, and unindexed on the internet.  The entire report has been in the public domain since its release.  Ironically, that this document couldn’t be published for profit probably kept it relatively unavailable for the past 20 years.

This is an important historic document.  President Kennedy famously referred to the not-yet-completed study in late 1962, when asked if he had read the book, and what his opinion was (he had read Silent Spring, and he said he’d established a group to check its accuracy and make policy recommendations).  When issued the following May, the report effectively quashed much of the slander campaign against Carson and the book, and led to serious scientific work on pesticides and their safety in all uses.

In the past 15 years, with many of the works vouching for Carson’s accuracy out of print or unavailable, a second propaganda campaign impugning her work, intentions and reputation sprang up.  Much of this folderol would be impossible with the original works available to compare and correct.

This transcription employed optical character recognition software for some of the transcription; one error in the original I have left as is, a misspelling of “millennium.”  But I believe most other transcription errors have been fixed.

Formatting is another issue.  I hope to complete a version that mirrors the format of the original; here I provide page notations in brackets.

Use of Pesticides, STP SB959.U57 1963




May 15, 1963


[blank page]



 This report on the use of pesticides has been prepared for me by my Science Advisory Committee.

I have already requested the responsible agencies to implement the recommendations in the report, including the preparation of legislative and technical proposals which I shall submit to the Congress.

Because of its general public interest, I am releasing the report for publication.

[Signed John F. Kennedy]


May 15, 1963



[Transcribed from a copy found at this library]

University of Minnesota



Statement of the President………………………………………..

I.    Introduction ……………………………………………….. 1

II.  Gains ………………………………………………………………………… 2

III. Hazards ……………………………………………………………………….. 4

A. Classes of Compounds …………………………… 4

B.  Distribution and Persistence in the Environment 5

C.  Biological Effects on Man and Animals ……… 8

D. Toxicity of Specific Compounds ……………………….. 12

IV. Pest Control Without Chemicals ………………………. 13

V.   Role of Government in Pesticide Regulation ……… 15

VI.  Recommendations …………………………………………………….. 19

Members of the President’s Science Advisory Committee Panel

on the Use of Pesticides  …………………………………………… 24

Members of the President’s Science Advisory Committee. . .  25



Man’s primary concerns have always been the struggle for survival and improvement of his lot. As his numbers increased, he attained greater ability to manipulate his environment. In the process he sometimes inflicted damage on himself and on his surroundings. Advances have always entailed a degree of risk which society must weigh and either accept, or reject, as the price of material progress.

A major step in civilization was the domestication of food plants. With the birth of organized agriculture and the resultant concentration of crops and animals, the stage was set for outbreaks of pests. Until that time man had to search for food as did the pests. Afterward neither had to search; instead, pest control became necessary. The welfare of an increasing human population requires intensified agriculture. This in turn enables the pests to increase, which necessitates the use of pesticides with their concomitant hazards. It thus seems inevitable that, as the population increases, so do certain hazards.

In an effort to understand and evaluate these problems, the Panel undertook a review of the information relevant to pesticides, including experimental data and the various administrative procedures which are designed for the protection of the public. The Panel could not have accomplished this review without the assistance it received from the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Defense, and Health, Education, and Welfare, as well as from many individuals throughout the country.

The information provided to the Panel has demonstrated how remarkably effective the modern organic chemicals are in facilitating both the control of insect vectors of disease and the unprecedented production of food, feed, and fiber. The use of pesticides associated with the production of our food is carefully controlled by the growers and supervised by agricultural specialists and the Food and Drug Administration. As a result, the residue levels measured on foods intended for interstate and foreign commerce are low and rarely above Federal tolerance limits.

The Panel believes that the use of pesticides must be continued if we are to maintain the advantages now resulting from the work of informed food producers and those responsible for control of disease. On the other hand, it has now become clear that the proper usage is not simple and that, while they destroy harmful insects and plants, pesticides may also be toxic to beneficial plants and animals, including man. Their toxic effects in large doses are well known and precautions can be taken to see that humans are [1]  never needlessly exposed. But we must now also take measures to insure that continued exposures to small amounts of these chemicals in our environment will not be harmful over long periods of time.

Review of pesticides brings into focus their great merits while suggesting that there are apparent risks. This is the nature of the dilemma that confronts the Nation. The Panel has attempted to state the case—the benefits, the hazards, and the methods of controlling the hazards. It can suggest ways of avoiding or lessening the hazards, but in the end society must decide, and to do so it must obtain adequate information on which to base its judgments. The decision is an uncomfortable one which can never be final but must be constantly in flux as circumstances change and knowledge increases.


Our material standard of living has been greatly elevated during the 20th century by increased control over the environment. Few recent developments have been so effective or have had application in such a wide range of human endeavor as the pesticide chemicals. Although pesticides have been used for centuries as adjuncts in pest control, the great advances of the last 20 years resulting from the discovery, manufacture, and application of new compounds have changed their role in many instances to that of the principal and, frequently, sole control measure.

Pesticides have made a great impact by facilitating the production and protection of food, feed, and fiber in greater quantity and quality; by improving health; and by keeping in check many kinds of nuisance insects and unwanted plants. Agricultural needs have entailed the largest applications of pesticides in this country. Productivity has been so increased that famine is an unknown experience to the people of the developed nations. Mechanization, improved fertilizers, and the breeding of productive and disease-resistant crops have also contributed importantly. In addition, pesticides have made possible the economical production of many crops which otherwise would be available only to a limited number of wealthy consumers.

While reducing food losses, pest control has also resulted in foodstuffs of the highest quality. Today, for example, sweet corn, potatoes, cabbage, apples, and tomatoes are all available unmarred, and the American housewife is accustomed to blemish-free products. Citrus fruits are seldom damaged or lost because of scale insects, fruitflies, or diseases, and the cost of animal protein is lower because large losses of cattle from tick fever and grubs no longer occur.

Modern agricultural efficiency is maintained not only through the use of insecticides, but also by means of herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, nematocides, plant-growth regulators, and other chemicals. Their benefits extend beyond crops raised for direct human consumption. They permit efficient production of forage and grains, which in turn are needed [2] for a productive livestock economy. In addition, they allow profitable yields of nonfood crops such as cotton, tobacco, and timber. Pesticides have not, however, reached an optimum of effectiveness. More than 100 established pests have developed resistance to one or more previously effective chemicals, and new pests are occasionally introduced by international traffic.

Rapid population growth and concomitant decrease in land available for agriculture necessitate greater crop yields per acre and reduction of losses and spoilage in stored foods. Moreover, many products must be protected during the process of manufacture and distribution.

Besides enabling spectacular increases in agricultural production, pesticides have freed man from communicable diseases to an unprecedented extent. In less developed areas of the world, malaria, typhus, and yellow fever, previously controlled only with great difficulty, are now limited and in some locations eradicated. In each case, pesticides have facilitated control of the insect vector. At some stage of their natural history a number of the major communicable diseases involve an intermediate host or vector. Most successful disease-control programs have been directed at eliminating this link in the chain of transmission, rather than treating man after he has contracted the disease.

However, control programs have not achieved disease eradication. Malaria is still the disease responsible for the largest number of deaths in the world each year, although new cases are rare in the United States. Yellow fever, schistosomiasis, plague, and some rickettsial diseases are almost unknown in the mainland of North America, but they still take a large toll of human lives in the rest of the world. Furthermore, reservoirs of disease in animals, and insects which can transmit them, will remain with us for the predictable future both in this country and in other parts of the world, thus requiring a continued effort to control them.

An additional complication in disease control is that the insect vectors, such as mosquitoes that transmit malaria, may produce resistant populations capable of transmitting their resistance to pesticides from generation to generation. In order to keep up with the successive threats of insect vectors as they develop resistance to one chemical after another, it is important to enlarge and improve our capability for controlling pests.

Pesticides also have made control of many nuisance insects and plants financially feasible. Were the cost higher, the funds for their control would be used by other more critical demands on the economy. For example, it might be too expensive to control the varieties of mosquitoes that breed in marshes and estuaries which do not transmit disease, but limit man’s enjoyment of some of the most desirable recreational areas. Similarly, elimination of roaches from kitchens, aphids from roses, and fungi from golf greens are very desirable but nonessential benefits.

Efficient agricultural production, protection of health, and elimination of nuisances are now required and expected by modern man. The methods [3] used to accomplish these ends must continue to improve, although their present scope and magnitude far exceed the few examples included here. It is certain that coming years will witness sophistication of methods and new uses for which pesticides were not originally conceived.


Evidence of increasing environmental contamination by pesticide chemicals has generated concern which is no longer limited to citizens of affected areas or members of special-interest groups. During two decades of intensive technical and industrial advancement we have dispersed a huge volume of synthetic compounds, both intentionally and inadvertently. Many, such as detergents, industrial wastes, and pesticides, are now found far from the point of initial dispersal.

Today, pesticides are detectable in many food items, in some clothing, in man and animals, and in various parts of our natural surroundings. Carried from one locality to another by air currents, water runoff, or living organisms (either directly or indirectly through extended food chains), pesticides have traveled great distances and some of them have persisted for long periods of time. Although they remain in small quantities, their variety, toxicity, and persistence are affecting biological systems in nature and may eventually affect human health. The benefits of these substances are apparent. We are now beginning to evaluate some of their less obvious effects and potential risks.

Precisely because pesticide chemicals are designed to kill or metabolically upset some living target organism, they are potentially dangerous to other living organisms. Most of them are highly toxic in concentrated amounts, and in unfortunate instances they have caused illness and death of people and wildlife. Although acute human poisoning is a measurable and, in some cases, a significant hazard, it is relatively easy to identify and control by comparison with potential, low-level chronic toxicity which has been observed in experimental animals.

The Panel is convinced that we must understand more completely the properties of these chemicals and determine their long-term impact on biological systems, including man. The Panel’s recommendations are directed toward these needs, and toward more judicious use of pesticides or alternate methods of pest control, in an effort to minimize risks and maximize gains. They are offered with the full recognition that pesticides constitute only one facet of the general problem of environmental pollution, but with the conviction that the hazards resulting from their use dictate rapid strengthening of interim measures until such time as we have realized a comprehensive program for controlling environmental pollution.


The term pesticide broadly includes compounds intended for a variety of purposes. They are used to control insects, mites, ticks, fungi, nematodes, [4] rodents, pest birds, predatory animals, rough fish, plant diseases, and weeds; and also to act as regulators of plant growth, as defoliants, and as desiccants. As of June 1962, almost 500 compound,‘ incorporated in more than 54,000 formulations were registered for use in the United States.

1.  The chlorinated hydrocarbons containing carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine are the pesticides used in greatest tonnage. The most familiar are DDT, dieldrin, aldrin, endrin, toxaphene, lindane, methoxychlor, chlordane, and heptachlor. Among those used extensively as herbicides are 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T for control of broad-leaved weeds in lawns, pastures, cereal crops, and brush growth along highways and fences.

2.   The organic phosphorus compounds, composed of phosphorus, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen, are used principally as insecticides and miticides. Parathion, malathion, phosdrin, and tetraethyl pyrophosphate (TEPP) are examples.

3.   Other organic compounds include the carbamates, dinitrophenols, organic sulfur compounds, organic mercurials, and such natural products as rotenone, pyrethrum, nicotine, strychnine, and the anticoagulant rodent poisons.

4.  Inorganic substances with a long history of use include copper sulfate, arsenate of lead, calcium arsenate, compounds of chlorine and fluorine, zinc phosphide, thallium sulfate, and sodium fluoroacetate.


The worldwide use of pesticides has substantially increased since the development of DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons in the early 1940′s. United States production and use are illustrated in figures 1 and 2. It is estimated that 350 million pounds of insecticides alone were used in the United States during 1962. They are distributed annually over nearly 90 million acres (about I acre out of 20 within the 48 contiguous States). These acreages are composed of farmlands, forests, and insect-breeding areas, including wetlands. Weedkillers are distributed on approximately the same number of acres, with some overlap of areas covered by insecticides. Thus the land area treated with pesticides is approximately 1 acre of 12 within the 48 States. About 45 million pounds are used each year in urban areas and around homes, much of this by individual homeowners. The annual sale of aerosol “bug bombs” amounts to more than one per household. Other compounds, such as fungicides, also are used in substantial tonnage.

In recent years we have recognized the wide distribution and persistence of DDT. It has been detected at great distances from the place of application and its concentration in certain living organisms has been observed. Dar has been found in oil of fish that live far at sea and in fish caught off the coasts of eastern and western North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Observed concentrations have varied from less than 1 part per million (ppm) to more than 300 ppm in oil. [5]

Residues of DDT and certain other chlorinated hydrocarbons have been detected in most of our major rivers, in ground water, in fish from our fresh waters, in migratory birds, in wild mammals, and in shellfish. Small amounts of DDT have been detected in food from many parts of the world, including processed dairy products from the United States, Europe, and South America. The amounts are rarely above Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tolerance limits, but these have probably contributed to the buildup of DDT we now observe in the fat of the people of the United States, Canada, Germany, and England. In the United States, DDT and its metabolites have been found in the fat of persons without occupational exposure at an average of 12 ppm (approximately 100 to 200 mg. of DDT per adult) for the past 10 years. In England and Germany, recent studies revealed an average concentration of 2 ppm in human fat. Data about children are not available.

An important characteristic of several commonly used pesticides is their persistence in the environment in toxic form. The chemical half life of stable chlorinated hydrocarbons in soils, and the time they remain active against some soil insects, are measured in years. The organic phosphorus [6] compounds are more rapidly degraded although, under certain circumstances, they have persisted from one growing season to the next following routine application. Pyrethrum, rotenone, and nicotine are destroyed relatively rapidly after application, but compounds incorporating copper, lead, and arsenic arc persistent.

The distribution and persistence of other chlorinated hydrocarbons have been studied in less detail, although some of these chemicals have been widely applied. One of these, dieldrin, resembles DDT in stability, persistence, and in solubility. Recently, it has been found in the fat of residents of southern England. It has also been found in many wild birds, fish, and mammals in the United States. These facts led the Panel to anticipate that surveys will discover dieldrin and other persistent chlorinated hydrocarbons in man and wildlife throughout most of the United States.



1. Exposure of man

The extent of hazard associated with use of a pesticide is determined by the degree of exposure and the compound’s toxicity. Exposure depends on persistence, the amount applied, the method of application, and availability of the chemical in a biologically active form. Pesticides can enter the body by (a) ingestion, (b) absorption through the intact skin, and (c) inhalation.

(a)   When examining the potential hazards to man from extensive use of pesticides, an early consideration should be the possible effects of chemical residues in the Nation’s food supply. The Panel has received evidence that, before pesticides are recommended for registration, considerable research has been performed on the extent and nature of their residues on foods, and that safeguards exist which can permit pesticide usage without danger to the consumer. These include proper controls over manufacture, commercial distribution, and techniques of pesticide application to crops; strict establishment of tolerance limitations; inspection for residues in produce; and other precautions. When measured in foods entering interstate or foreign commerce, and in total diet studies, residue levels have been very low and rarely above the legal tolerance limits. If illegal residues are found, the foods containing them are removed from the market.

Residues are not so consistently low for food items marketed within their State of origin. Some State authorities sample food for pesticide residues. Data from certain States have shown residues well above the Federal tolerance on 3 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables offered for sale in wholesale markets. Many States do not perform systematic sampling for residues in the produce and dairy products intended for consumption within the State.

Residues of several chlorinated hydrocarbons have been measured in game birds and game fish at levels above Federal tolerance limits. Because few wildlife meals are consumed, this is not an important source for residue accumulation in man. By contrast, household use of pesticides with inadvertent contamination of dishes, utensils, or food may well produce more significant residues in man.

(b)   Most insecticides are readily absorbed through the intact skin. Skin contamination can be an important source of exposure for persons who mishandle pesticides in their formulation or commercial application. Furthermore, since householders usually take few precautions in their home and garden uses of these chemicals, they may receive extensive skin contact both from successive applications and from continuing exposure to residues.

The rate of absorption through the skin depends on the chemical nature of the pesticide and on its formulation. In general, compounds in solution in oils or in organic solvents are absorbed more readily than those in aqueous preparations or in dry powder. Skin absorption [8] can occur from pesticide aerosols, from dusts, from clothing or blankets impregnated with chlorinated hydrocarbons, and from contaminated soil or lawn grass.

The rates of skin absorption have not been adequately studied in man. It is particularly important to determine the rates at which mothproofing insecticides are absorbed through human skin in contact with impregnated clothing or blankets. Such impregnation is performed during the manufacture of mothproofed garments and materials, and routinely during dry-cleaning. Many of these articles, such as sweaters and blankets, may be in direct contact with the skin for prolonged periods. Clearly, studies are needed to understand possible sensitization and allergic responses.

(c) Man’s exposure to pesticides can also occur through inhalation. Airborne insecticides are sources of exposure when released during fogging operations directed against nuisance insects in public areas, buildings, and homes. Pesticides may be inhaled in dusts from treated soil, from house dusts contaminated by applications for household pests, or from mothproofed rugs and blankets.

2. Effects on man

There have been few systematic studies of people occupationally exposed to pesticides. In one such investigation, a small group of volunteers with an intake up to 35 mg. of DDT per day over a period of months was reported to show no apparent ill effects during 18 months of gross observation. DDT and its metabolites averaged 270 ppm in their fat, more than 20 times the average level found in adults sampled in this country. Limited groups of adults occupationally exposed to the more toxic pesticides are also being studied, and there is evidence of neurologic impairment, usually reversible, in those individuals heavily exposed to certain chlorinated hydrocarbons and organic phosphates. Unfortunately, possible long-term effects of other compounds cannot be predicted on the basis of experience with DDT, or even predicted for DDT itself, on the basis of the limited clinical studies available.

Accidental acute poisoning in man has been caused by about 50 pesticides, including at least 1 compound from each major class. Each year, approximately 150 deaths are attributed to misuse of pesticides in the United States. About half of these occur in children who were accidentally exposed at home. The number of nonfatal poisonings can only be estimated. A Special Committee on Public Policy Regarding Agricultural Chemicals, appointed by Gov. Edmund G. Brown on June 15, 1960, reported that in California, which uses 20 percent of the nationally consumed pesticides, 3,000 children per year ingest various amounts of these compounds. In that State during 1959 there were also 1,100 cases of occupational disease due to agriculture chemicals, mostly among agricultural workers. These figures include acute illnesses, whether the reaction was very mild, or severe enough to require hospitalization. One difficulty in estimating the incidence of poisoning is that the symptoms caused by pesticide toxicity are little different from those of many common illnesses.


Little is known about the consequences to man when he accumulates more than one pesticide in his body. Synergism, or potentiation, is the joint action of two agents which results in an effect which is greater than the sum of their individual effects. Some combinations of two organic phosphates have produced effects 10 times those observed when either compound was fed separately. Preliminary FDA data show only additive effects from mixtures of chlorinated hydrocarbons included in diets of experimental animals.

Physicians are generally unaware of the wide distribution of pesticides, their toxicity, and their possible effects on human health. Diagnosis of pesticide toxicity is apparent when a patient with acute asthma has to be resuscitated in the middle of the night following exposure to commercial fogging. However, diagnosis is difficult in patients with nonspecific symptoms that may result from unsuspected contamination with pesticides. The Panel was unable to find any federally sponsored research in this area of potential medical importance.

3. Effects on wildlife

Many kinds of insect-control programs have produced substantial mortalities among birds and other wildlife. Some fatalities have been the result of carelessness or nondirected use others have followed programs carried out exactly as planned. Mortalities among birds have approached 80 percent in areas heavily treated with DDT for Dutch elm disease control, with heptachlor for imported fire ant control, and with aldrin or dieldrin for controlling the Japanese beetle. Fish losses have been extensive even with lower rates of application in programs such as spruce budworm control using DDT. Losses following agricultural operations are more scattered and less well documented.

Most insecticides are toxic to a wide range of animals, and certain classes are consistently more susceptible than others. Insecticides tend to be more toxic to invertebrates than vertebrates, because the target insects are more closely related to other invertebrates. For example, pink shrimp have been experimentally poisoned by 0.9 parts per billion of heptachlor. Other marine organisms are also highly sensitive. The growth of young oysters has been inhibited by concentrations as low as 3 parts per 100 million of chlordane, heptachlor, or rotenone. Five other commonly used pesticides inhibit oyster growth in concentrations of 1 part per 10 million.

An entire year’s production of young salmon was nearly eliminated in the Miramichi River in New Brunswick in 1954, and again in 1956. This resulted from DDT applications of one-half pound per acre for control of the spruce budworm. Stream insects, which are a most important food for young salmon, disappeared and failed to return within 2 years. Surviving young salmon were very thin. In British Columbia, mortality of coho salmon approached 100 percent in at least four major streams after the surrounding forests were sprayed with 1 pound of DDT per acre for control  [10] of the black-headed budworm. This mortality occurred despite preventive measures to avoid treating the streams themselves.

Among vertebrates, fish are generally more sensitive than birds, and birds are more sensitive than mammals. Reptiles and amphibians vary greatly from species to species, but their susceptibilities usually fall between those of fish and birds. Variations in sensitivity may result in the elimination of certain forms from the food chain. While some organisms may be decimated, resistant organisms which survive exposure may concentrate and store pesticides at levels higher than those found in the environment. Such biological magnification on the part of resistant species may ultimately damage more sensitive organisms which are higher in the food chain. At Clear Lake, Calif., for example, waters containing 0.02 ppm of TDE produced plankton containing 5 ppm, which in turn produced fish with fat containing hundreds to thousands of parts per million. Grebes that fed on the fish died although their fat contained somewhat smaller residues than the fish.

Robin populations declined drastically after Dutch elm disease spraying in certain communities in Wisconsin and Michigan. Earthworms, resistant to DDT, fed on fallen elm leaves and accumulated substantial amounts of the pesticide. Robins, for whom worms are a principal food, fed on the worms and died.

The process of biological magnification has less impact on man because human food is produced by a two- or three-link chain in which the process, if recognized, can be controlled, For example, residues are permitted on feeds for domestic animals only in amounts that will not ultimately yield unacceptable levels in meat, in milk, or in other animal products. Thus, excessive levels of pesticide residues in agricultural products used for human food result only from accident or misuse, while damaging levels in the food of wild animals may be unwanted effects resulting from recommended practices. When contaminated fish and shellfish are harvested commercially, any residues they may contain are of concern to the fisherman and the consumer. Yet the commercial fisherman cannot control the sources of such contamination.

Wild animal populations are affected differently by pesticides residues than are domestic animals and man. Unlike the latter, wild animals cannot be kept from treated areas long enough for the chemical residues to degrade or otherwise dissipate. Because birds and mammals are free to range over relatively large areas, they are exposed to a variety of different compounds. Insectivorous birds are likely to be attracted to areas with dense insect populations, and may be exposed when chemicals are applied. Furthermore, birds reoccupy a depleted area very rapidly; thus a treated area may constitute a trap into which successive waves of birds move and are killed. Fish in streams are generally less mobile than birds and mammals, but they, too, may be subject to multiple exposure to pesticides.


Flowing waters contaminated by accidental drifts or run-offs can affect the fish even though they do not move into treated areas.


1. Chlorinated hydrocarbons

In very small doses (some cases less than 1 ppm) chlorinated hydrocarbons have caused liver damage to experimental animals, and in large doses they have caused acute central nervous system effects, occasionally followed by death. The mechanisms leading to these effects are unknown.

The biological effects of DDT have been studied more fully than those of other pesticides. Its toxicity to man and other mammals is low. People ingesting large amounts of DDT usually suffer no apparent ill effects. In chronic feeding experiments with rats, 5 ppm produced characteristic chlorinated hydrocarbon changes in the liver, but no evidence of tumor induction. Reproduction studies in rats showed that 50 ppm reduced the number of young that survived the nursing period. There was no effect on reproduction at 10 ppm. However, many useful insects and other valuable invertebrates such as shrimp, crayfish, and crabs are highly susceptible to DDT. Decimation of these useful populations may be a costly side effect of extensive applications.

Dieldrin and aldrin are many times more toxic to vertebrates than DDT. Since aldrin is converted to dieldrin in man and in the environment, a discussion of dieldrin applies to both.

Dieldrin is present in the body fat of residents of England (average 0.2 ppm) and is probably also present in the fat of the U.S. population as a result of extensive applications of the chemical in this country. There have been many cases of acute poisoning in people exposed to dieldrin in their work. Signs of intoxication involve the central nervous system, and may include electroencephalographic changes, muscle tremors, and convulsions. Individuals have suffered recurrences of these symptoms after they have been free of them for more than a month following their last exposure.

Our knowledge of toxicity at lower doses comes chiefly from FDA feeding experiments in which mice were fed varying concentrations of dieldrin and aldrin in their diet. Chronic exposure to as little as 0.5 ppm produced histological liver damage while increase to 10 ppm caused a fourfold increase in the frequency of liver tumors. There are virtually no data on the effects on embryonic development. In one of the few experiments known to the Panel, the feeding of dieldrin (at 0.6 mg./kg. of body weight) to several pregnant dogs resulted in 100 percent mortality of 14 nursing puppies. The mothers were fed the pesticide during pregnancy but none during lactation. In another study, rats fed dieldrin at 2.5 ppm in the diet showed a significant reduction in number of pregnancies and an increased mortality in suckling young.


Although most insecticides do not kill wild mammals in the field even when they kill birds and fish, 1 to 3 lbs. per acre of dieldrin or aldrin produces high mortality among mammals in the treated areas. Dieldrin is also highly toxic to many birds, amphibia, reptiles, and fish. It reduces the reproduction of captive quail by decreasing egg production, decreasing the percentage of eggs that hatch, and increasing the mortality of chicks. Many beneficial and useful invertebrates are very susceptible.

Other chlorinated hydrocarbons in common use have shown marked acute toxicity to rats in feeding experiments. Chronic effects have been noted with chlordane and heptachlor at the lowest level fed to experimental animals. Chlordane at 2.5 ppm produced liver damage and 0.5 ppm of heptachlor epoxide produced liver damage and increased mortality in the laboratory mice. Field use also suggests high toxicity to birds and mammals. Although these substances are used in large quantities, there have been no studies to determine whether they accumulate in the human population, nor are there adequate studies of their genetic, tumorigenic, teratogenic, or reproductive effects in mammals or birds.

2. Organic phosphorus compounds

Among their effects, the organic, phosphorus compounds inhibit cholinesterase activity and thereby interfere with transmission of impulses from nerve to ganglion and nerve to muscle.

Most organic phosphorus insecticides have relatively high acute toxicities and have caused many fatal and nonfatal poisonings in man. In cases of poisoning, removal from exposure to the compound usually permits rapid recovery. Many of them are degraded rapidly and thus seldom persist in the environment, but some, such as parathion, have persisted for months in soils and have recently been found in trace amounts in water drawn from deep wells.


Methods for controlling pests without the use of pesticides were known to farmers even in ancient times. Crops were planted in areas least liable to pest damage; crops were moved to virgin territory to ,leave the pests behind ; rotation was practiced and crops that were less prone to disease were planted ; if the pests came late in the season, crops were planted early, and vice versa. Many of these methods are used today.

The environment can also be modified indirectly; for example, we use screens on windows to keep out mosquitoes, and flood or drain marshes to destroy their breeding areas. In certain cases parasites, predators, and diseases control the pests without chemicals. In the United States and many other countries of the world parasites and predators have been successfully introduced to combat scale insects on citrus fruits, apples, and sugarcane; and in Australia the myxomatosis virus was introduced to kill rabbits.

Entomologists have long been interested in the use of insect enemies for pest control. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been active in this [13] area since 1888. It has imported more than 500 species of insect-destroying organisms, of which about 36 have had partial or complete success. Introduced insects have succeeded in controlling cactus in Australia and Klamath weed in the Western United States. However, biological methods of insect control have received relatively little attention in the United States by comparison with the great emphasis on chemical control.

An effective method of biological control is the discovery or breeding of resistant varieties of crops. This method has worked best for plant diseases, and several varieties of wheat which are resistant to rust have been bred in this country. Another example of the use of plant resistance was provided by the grafting of French wine grapes to resistant American rootstocks when the French grapes were severely damaged by the root insect Phylloxera in the middle of the last century.

Other examples of effective biological control can be cited, but success has not been frequent. Continued and extensive searches will undoubtedly yield more, and the Panel believes this approach should be expanded.

Although nonchemical methods for pest control are intriguing, they also have weaknesses. Two are particularly important. In the first place, parasites and predators have adjusted over the millenia to a dynamic balance with their hosts such that they kill some but not all of them; complete host destruction would eliminate the parasite or predator by destroying its food supply. Thus, control of the pest is seldom complete enough to prevent economic damage. Furthermore, reduction of the pest population is rarely sufficient to prevent its becoming dense again. A second limitation to the use of natural enemies is that the host may become resistant, just as it may develop resistance to chemical controls.

Australian rabbits, for example, are becoming resistant to myxomatosis, and their populations once again are on the increase.

A new method of biological control is the laboratory production of sterile male insects in very large numbers, using either gamma rays or specific chemical sterilants. The males are then liberated into the natural population where their matings produce infertile eggs. Although this procedure eliminated the screwworm fly in Florida, it has not yet been investigated extensively for controlling other insects.

A still newer method is the use of sex attractants to lure male insects into traps and thus to their death. With certain species this technique has great promise, and developmental research is being expanded.

The variety of methods that has proven useful for biological control of certain pests, and the indication of potential value for others, lead to the conclusion that more active exploration and use of these techniques may yield important benefits for the national economy and for the protection of health.




Public interest in the protection of the Nation’s health and its resources has led to the enactment of legislation and the establishment of administrative procedures to regulate the marketing and use of pesticides. The Public Health Service has general responsibilities for the health of man and the Fish and Wildlife Service for the protection of wild animals. In addition, two fundamental laws, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, assign responsibility for pesticide control to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and responsibility for the safety of foods containing pesticide residues to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). The Secretary has delegated this responsibility to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

When a new pesticide is developed in an industrial laboratory an application is submitted to USDA requesting that it be registered for use. If the proposed use does not include application on a food crop, USDA reviews the experimental data submitted with the application. The compound is registered for use if it is concluded that no undue hazard to man and domestic animals is associated with the proposed use when applied according to the instructions on the label.

When a pesticide is proposed for use on food crops, the application for registration must list each crop on which it is to be applied and must present the necessary data on effectiveness and toxicity. If it can be demonstrated to USDA that the produce leaves no residue on a particular crop when used in the proposed manner, the specific pesticidal formulation covered by the application is registered for use on that crop on a “no residue” basis. The product may then be legally shipped in interstate commerce. If, however, the compound leaves a residue, USDA delays registration until a residue tolerance has been established by FDA.

To initiate this procedure, the manufacturer files a petition for tolerance with FDA. The USDA then certifies to FDA that the product under consideration is useful and offers an opinion on whether the petitioner’s proposed tolerance reasonably reflects the residues to be expected from its use according to directions. Until 1955, tolerances were established by FDA on the basis of testimony presented in public hearings. Present law requires the petitioner w present FDA with experimental evidence on toxicity to establish what tolerances, if any, will be safe, to show that the tolerances can be met under the practical conditions of the pesticide use and to provide practical methods of analysis for enforcement of the tolerances.

The concept of “zero tolerance” should be distinguished from that of no residue.” “No residue” is a determination by USDA, based on experimental data, that none will remain from a particular pesticide use, irrespective of toxicity. “Zero tolerance” is an FDA prohibition of any residue on [15] a crop because the compound is too toxic to permit a residue. The concepts of “zero tolerance” and the “no residue” registration have been modified as more sensitive detection methods became available. In practice, “zero tolerance” is interpreted by FDA in some cases to include a detectable level of residue, lower than that believed to be pharmacologically significant.

In addition to toxicity data, the petitioner must also submit information on the chemistry of the compound, reference to related uses, and residue measurements on the crop involved. If the raw agricultural product is to be used for animal feed, data must be submitted on residues in meat and milk. A method of analysis suitable for enforcement purposes also must be submitted.

When a tolerance has been set by FDA, USDA registers the pesticide which can then be marketed with approved labeling. No pesticide can be shipped in interstate and foreign commerce without USDA registration; however, by law USDA must grant registration “under protest” upon written demand of a petitioner subsequent to registration refusal by USDA. At present, the purchaser cannot distinguish such a product from one which has been accepted for registration because the label does not carry any indication of its unsanctioned status.

A pesticide registration must be renewed every 5 years. Within that interval petitioners may apply for increased tolerances or for extension of existing tolerances to additional crops. Similarly, FDA may alter residue tolerances if new information warrants. Lower tolerances are not set unless the FDA believes it could prove in court that the hazard is greater than formerly determined.

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for establishing safe tolerances of pesticide residues on food products and for enforcing such tolerances by preventing illegal residues on interstate and foreign food shipments. The Department of Agriculture has sole responsibility for approving registration for pesticide use on any agricultural product other than food crops, on food crops where no residue results, and for all nonagricultural uses.

Both USDA and FDA have enforcement programs. The USDA is responsible for insuring that the marketed pesticides are properly labeled. The FDA is responsible for ensuring that tolerances are not exceeded. In addition, individual States may directly control pesticides uses, and enforce their own tolerances for produce sold within the State.


Federal laws and administrative practices relating to pesticides are intended to assure both efficacy of the product and safety to the purchaser, user, and the public. Decisions on efficacy appear to be based on reliable evidence. Experiments are well designed, meaningful controls are used, sample sizes are adequate, and conclusions reached are supported by the [16] data obtained. However, efficacy alone is not an adequate criterion for judgment. Unless a pesticide proposed for registration is equally effective in a less hazardous way than methods already available, the Panel believes registration should be considered conservatively. As a corollary to cautious registration of new pesticides, more hazardous compounds might well be removed from the market when equally effective and less hazardous substitutes are found. The Panel believes that it is necessary to modify the use of some especially hazardous and persistent materials now registered.

The Panel has found that decisions on safety are not as well based as those on efficacy despite recent improvements in the procedures required by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for the establishment of safe tolerances for pesticide residues on food. Until 1954, the evidence of safety was submitted in the form of testimony at public hearings, and tolerances were established when the evidence appeared to support the application. At that time, the manufacturer was not required to provide an analytical method for the practical enforcement of the tolerance. Moreover, FDA had no subpoena power to require testimony not voluntarily offered. Amendments of the act in 1954 materially improved these procedures. In addition to requiring the submission of data on chemistry, toxicology, and residues, it also required the petitioner to provide a practical analytical method for use in enforcement. The result was the provision of more data from animal experiments and, in some cases, information on human pharmacology.

As an administrative principle, tolerances are set by FDA at 1/100 of the lowest level which causes effects in the most sensitive test animals whenever data on human toxicity are not available. However, tolerances have been set for some compounds such as dieldrin, aldrin, heptachlor (epoxide), and chlordane, although a “no effect” level in animals has never been determined. After reviewing the data on which tolerances are based, the Panel concludes that, in certain instances, the experimental evidence is inadequate. Recent review by FDA has also demonstrated several such examples and the tolerances are being reassessed.

The Panel believes that all data used as a basis for granting registration and establishing tolerances should be published, thus allowing the hypotheses and the validity and reliability of the data to be subjected to critical review by the public and the scientific community.

The FDA has responsibility only for setting tolerances for pesticides which remain on foods. Decisions on all the other uses of these compounds and registration for all other compounds are the responsibility of USDA. Thus the Department of Agriculture regulatory staff evaluates and approves uses that bring pesticides into intimate contact with people, such as mothproofing of clothes and blankets, and applications to households, lawns, and gardens. The Panel believes that decisions on registrations, clearly related to health, should be the responsibility of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.


Current registration procedures are primarily intended to protect people and domestic animals from damage by pesticides. The protection of fish and wildlife resources will require affirmation of this intent by Congress. Following such action by the Congress, the Panel believes the Secretary of the Interior should actively participate in review of all registrations that may affect fish and wildlife.

Federally operated or supported programs are subject to review by the Federal Pest Control Review Board. In addition, an Interdepartmental Committee on Pest Control exchanges information regarding control programs. An Armed Forces Pest Control Board provides liaison and coordination within the Department of Defense and regulates sales of pesticides in military stores. There are no provisions for Federal control of use after sale except in Federal programs and by indirect means such as enforcement of residue tolerances.

The Federal Pest Control Review Board was established in 1961 through joint actions of the Secretaries of Agriculture, Interior, Defense, and Health, Education, and Welfare, and is composed of representatives from each of these departments. Technical matters are referred to staffs within the agencies for consideration and advice, and occasionally to the Interdepartmental Committee on Pest Control. The Board has not used consultants from outside the Government. The basic responsibility for Federal pest control operations is placed by statute in various departments and agencies. The fact that these same agencies constitute the Federal Pest Control Review Board restricts the Board’s effectiveness in reviewing the programs of member agencies. The Board carefully considers programs before giving clearance and, when appropriate, offers recommendations for altering proposed procedures. Although many programs have been modified as a result of such reviews, particularly by the incorporation of additional safeguards, the discontinuation of a program has not been recommended.

More than half of the insecticides used in Federal programs are applied for the control of pests introduced from foreign areas. Quarantine is a first defense, but there are opportunities for pests to spread. Through prompt action, the Mediterranean fruitfly has been eradicated on three occasions during the last 33 years, following introduction into Florida. In these cases, prompt eradication of the fly prevented its spread and the need for more extensive use of chemicals.

Although eradication of a pest population is a laudable goal, it is seldom realistic. Control programs by contrast, apply pesticides in less volume, to a smaller land area, with fewer undesirable side effects at any one time, yet produce the same economic results. The gypsy moth, fire ant, Japanese beetle, and white-fringed beetle programs, which have been continued for years, are examples of failures of the “eradication” approach. The acceptance of a philosophy of control rather than eradication does not minimize the technical or economic importance of a program, but acknowledges the realities of biology. As new control techniques such as male sterilization [18] or highly specific attractants are developed for practical use, the elimination of some of our alien pests may become technically and economically feasible.

In 1962, the Federal Government supported control programs involving the application of pesticides to more than 4 million acres, at a cost of about $20 million. Although the federally supported programs represent only a small pan of the total national use of pesticides, individual programs may involve thousands of acres of populated urban areas.

The Panel feels that Federal programs should be models of correct practice for use in the guidance of States, localities, and private users. They should, therefore, be conducted not only with attention to maximum effect on the target organisms, but with further evaluation of the associated hazards. It would, in these terms, be reasonable to expect that every large- scale operation be followed by a complete report which would appear in the public literature.


The Panel’s recommendations are directed to an assessment of the levels of pesticides in man and his environment; to measures which will augment the safety of present practices; to needed research and the development of safer and more specific methods of pest control; to suggested amendments or public laws governing the use of pesticides; and to public education.

A.  In order to determine current pesticide levels and their trends in man and his environment, it is recommended that the Department of Health, Education and Welfare:

1.    Develop a comprehensive data-gathering program so that the levels of pesticides can be determined in occupational workers, in individuals known to have been repeatedly exposed, and in a sample of the general population.  As a minimum, the survey should include determinations on fat, brain, lever and reproductive organs in adults and infants; examinations to determine if placental transmission occurs; and determination of levels which may be excreted in human milk.  These studies should use samples sufficiently large and properly drawn to obtain a clear understanding of the manner in which these chemicals are absorbed and distributed in the human body.

2.    Cooperate with other departments to develop a continuing network to monitor residue levels in air, water, soil, man, wildlife, and fish.  The total diet studies on chlorinated hydrocarbons initiated by the Food and Drug Administration should be expanded.  These should, for example, include data on organophosphates, germicides, and the carbamates in populated areas where they are widely used.

3.    Provide Federal funds to assist individual States to improve their capabilities for monitoring pesticide levels in foods which are produced and consumed within the state.

B.   In order to augment the safety of present practices, it is recommended that:


1.    The Food and Drug Administration proceed as rapidly as possible with its current review of residue tolerances, and the experimental studies on which they are based.  When this review is completed, it is recommended that the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare select a panel from nominations by the National Academy of Sciences to revaluate toxicological data on presently used pesticides to determine which, if any, current residue tolerances should be altered.  Of the commonly used chemicals attention should be directed first to heptachlor, methoxychlor, deldrin, aldrin, chlordane, lindane, and parathion because their tolerances were originally based upon data which are in particular need of review.  Upholding the same standards, the Secretary should ensure that new compounds proposed for registration by rigorously evaluated.

2.    The existing Federal advisory and coordinating mechanisms be critically assessed and revised as necessary to provide clear assignments of responsibility for control of pesticide use.  The Panel feels that the present mechanisms are inadequate and that it is necessary to provide on a continuing basis for:—

(a)     Review of present and proposed Federal control and eradication programs to determine if, after consideration of benefits and risks, some programs should be modified or terminated,

(b)     Development and coordination of a monitoring program conducted by Federal agencies to obtain timely, systematic data on pesticide residues in the environment.

(c)      Coordination of the research programs of those Federal agencies concerned with pesticides.

(d)     Initiation of a broad educational program delineating the hazards of both recommended use and of the misuse of pesticides.

(e)      Review of pesticide uses and, after hazard evaluation, restriction or disapproval for use on a basis of “reasonable doubt” of safety.

(f)       A forum for appeal by interested parties.

3.    The National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council be requested to study the technical issues involved in the concepts of “zero tolerance” and “no residue” with the purpose of suggesting legislative changes.

4.    The Secretaries of Agriculture, Interior, and Health, Education and Welfare review and define their roles in the registration of pesticides that are not present on food, but that may impinge on fish and wildlife or come into intimate contact with the public.

5.    The accretion of residues in the environment be controlled by orderly reduction in the use of persistent pesticides.

As a first step, the various agencies of the Federal Government might restrict the wide-scale use of persistent insecticides except for necessary control of disease vectors.  The Federal agencies should exert their leadership to induce the States to take similar actions.

Elimination of the use of persistent toxic pesticides should be the goal.

C.   Research needs:


1.    In order to develop safer, more specific controls of pests, it is recommended that Government-sponsored programs continue to shift their emphasis from research on broad spectrum chemicals to provide more support for research on—

(a)     Selectively toxic chemicals.

(b)     Nonpersistent chemicals.

(c)      Selective methods of application.

(d)     Nonchemical control methods such as the use of attractants and the prevention of reproduction.

In the past few years, the Department of Agriculture has shifted its programs toward these specific controls. The Panel believes this trend should be continued and strengthened. Production of safer, more specific, and less persistent pesticide chemicals is not an unreasonable goal, but its attainment will require extending research efforts beyond empirical approaches to more fundamental studies of subjects such as: the mode of action of pesticides; comparative toxicology; the metabolism of compounds in insects, plants, and higher animals; and the processes of chemical degradation and inactivation in nature. Such studies will also provide the information necessary to control those pests which are rapidly becoming resistant to currently available chemicals. Intensified effort is needed in the search for selective methods of pesticide application. Compounds are often applied in excessive quantity or frequency because of such inefficiencies as drift, uneven coverage, or distribution methods insufficiently specific to reach the target pest.

2.    Toxicity studies related to man

The toxicity data upon which registrations and tolerances are based should be more complete and of higher quality. Although data are available on acute toxic effects in man, chronic effects are more readily demonstrated in animals because their generation time is shorter, and thus the natural history of pesticide effects is telescoped chronologically. However, there will continue to be uncertainties in the extrapolation from experimental animals to man, and in the prediction of the nature and frequency of effects in humans on the basis of those observed in other forms of life.

The Panel recommends that toxicity studies include determination of-

(a)     Effects on reproduction through at least two generations in at least two species of warmblooded animals. Observations should include effects on fertility, size and weight of litter, fetal mortality, teratogenicity, growth and development of sucklings and weanlings.

(b)     Chronic effects on organs of both immature and adult animals, with particular emphasis on tumorigenicity and other effects common to the class of compounds of which the test substance is a member.

(c)      Possible synergism and potentiation of effects of commonly used pesticides with such commonly used drugs as sedatives, tranquilizers, analgesics, antihypertensive agents, and steroid hormones, which are administered over prolonged periods.


3.    Toxicity studies related to wildlife

The Panel recommends expanded research and evaluation by the Department of the Interior of the toxic effects of pesticides on wild vertebrates and invertebrates.

The study of wildlife presents a unique opportunity to discover the effects on the food chain of which each animal is a part, and to determine possible pathways through which accumulated and, in some cases, magnified pesticide residues can find their way directly or indirectly to wildlife and to man.

4.    Amplification of research resources

Only by stimulating training and basic investigation in the fields of toxicology and ecology are research needs likely to be met. An increased output of basic research data and a continuing supply of capable research personnel could be ensured by a system of grants and contracts. Training grants, basic research grants, and contracts to universities and other nongovernmental research agencies funded by the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Health, Education, and Welfare would stimulate this research. In order to accelerate immediate progress, it might prove useful to explore the contributions which can be made by competent research people and their facilities in other countries.

D.  In order to strengthen public laws on pesticides, it is recommended that amendments to public laws be requested. These should:

1.    Eliminate “protest” registrations.

The Panel concurs with the Department of Agriculture that these technically evade the intent of the public laws. Industry needs an appeal mechanism, however, to protect it from arbitrary decisions. Public hearings could be held on such appeals.

2.    Require that every pesticide formulation carry its official registration number on the label.

The Department of Agriculture has recommended such an amendment as a means of increasing the protection of the consumer.

3.    Clarify the intent of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to protect fish and wildlife by including them as useful vertebrates and invertebrates.

4.    Provide, as a part of the operating budgets of Federal control and eradication programs, funds to evaluate the efficiency of the programs and their effects on nontarget organisms in the environment. Results of these studies should be published promptly.

Approximately $20 million were allocated to pest control programs in 1962, but no funds were provided for concurrent field studies of effects on the environment. The Department of Agriculture has repeatedly suggested that other interested agencies participate in the control programs, but funds have not been available except by diversion from other essential agency functions.


E.   To enhance public awareness of pesticide benefits and hazards, it is recommended that the appropriate Federal departments and agencies initiate programs of public education describing the use and the toxic nature of pesticides. Public literature and the experiences of Panel members indicate that, until the publication of “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, people were generally unaware of the toxicity of pesticides. The Government should present this information to the public in a way that will make it aware of the dangers while recognizing the value of pesticides.


Panel on the Use of Pesticides

H. Stanley Bennett, Dean, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Chicago

Kenneth Clark, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Colorado Paul M. Doty, Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University

William H. Drury, Jr., Director, Hatheway School of Conservation Education, Massachusetts Audubon Society

David R. Goddard, Provost, University of Pennsylvania

James G. Horsfall, Director, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station William D. McElroy, Chairman, Department of Biology, The Johns Hopkins University

James D. Watson, Professor of Biology, Harvard University

Colin M. MacLeod (Chairman), Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, New York University

Technical Assistants, Office of Science and Technology

Peter S. Bing

John L. Buckley

James B. Hartgering

Gay E. G. Luce



Harvey Brooks, Dean, Division of Engineering and Applied Physics, Harvard University

Paul M. Doty, Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University

Richard L. Garwin, Watson Research Laboratory, Columbia University— International Business Machines Corporation

Edwin R. Gilliland, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Donald F. Hornig, Professor of Chemistry, Princeton University

George B. Kistiakowsky, Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University

Colin M. MacLeod, Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, New York University

William D. McElroy, Chairman, Department of Biology, The Johns Hopkins University

Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky, Director, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University

John R. Pierce, Executive Director, Research, Communications Principles Division, Bell Telephone Laboratories

Frank Press, Director, Seismological Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Edward M. Purcell, Professor of Physics, Harvard University

Frederick Seitz, President, National Academy of Sciences

John W. Tukey, Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University

Jerrold R. Zacharias, Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jerome B. Wiesner (Chairman), Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, The White House


Parkland Hosptial weathered the crises – November 27, 1963

November 27, 2012

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins* wrote a piece for the Dallas Morning News, published November 25, 2012, describing the qualities he hopes the search committee will find in a new leader for Dallas County’s massive medical care institution, Parkland Hospital“Parkland needs an inspiring servant leader.”

Parkland Hospital, Dallas - Dallas Business Journal image

Parkland Hospital, Dallas – Dallas Business Journal image

For more than a decade the hospital has been hammered by a massive load of charity cases, including tens of thousands of people forced to used the emergency room for primary care because they cannot get into the health care system in other ways.  Such crowds, such budget pressures, such pressures on staff, force mistakes.  Parkland has not been immune.

Parkland emergency room wait times for non-critical care are legendary.  I’ve had students miss most of a week waiting for care there.  At the same time, I’ve had students return to class in what I considered record time after being patched up from problematic baby deliveries, auto accidents, and gunshot wounds.

Problems in billing and record keeping for Medicaid and Medicare forced the resignation of a long-time hospital director.  Much of the past two years have been crisis mode for the hospital, laboring frantically not to lose its federal funding (Dallas County underfunds the hospital as a matter of tax-restraint policy).

Friends tell me morale is not great.

I stumbled into this letter at a great site for historical items, Letter of Note.  In times of crisis, those appointed or anointed to lead may do several things to rally workers to do their best, to carry an institution through the tough times.

I wager this letter, in 1963, did more to build Parkland Hospital as a quality institution than all the audits, investigations, and exhortations to abide by federal policy and stop losing money, in the past decade.  What do you think?

November 27, 1963, was less than a week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who died in a Parkland operating room, the wounding of Texas Gov. John Connally, who was operated on in another operating room, and the shooting of presumed assassin Lee H. Oswald, who also got care at Parkland at his death.

We were not found wanting, thank you letter to employees of Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Nov. 27, 1963

We were not found wanting, thank you letter to employees of Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Nov. 27, 1963; (Source: Dallas Observer; Image via Wired.) (Click for larger image)

Transcript, from the Dallas Observer, via Wired, via Letters of Note:

Transcript [links added here]

Office Memorandum
November 27, 1963

To: All Employees

At 12:38 p.m., Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy and Texas’ Governor John Connally were brought to the Emergency Room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being struck down by the bullets of an assassin.

At 1:07 p.m., Sunday, November 24, 1963, Lee. H. Oswald, accused assassin of the late president, died in an operating room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being shot by a bystander in the basement of Dallas’ City Hall. In the intervening 48 hours and 31 minutes Parkland Memorial Hospital had:

1. Become the temporary seat of the government of the United States.

2. Become the temporary seat of the government of the State of Texas.

3. Become the site of the death of the 35th President.

4. Become the site of the ascendency of the 36th President.

5. Become site of the death of President Kennedy’s accused assassin.

6. Twice become the center of the attention of the world.

7. Continued to function at close to normal pace as a large charity hospital.

What is it that enables an institution to take in stride such a series of history jolting events? Spirit? Dedication? Preparedness? Certainly, all of these are important, but the underlying factor is people. People whose education and training is sound. People whose judgement is calm and perceptive. People whose actions are deliberate and definitive. Our pride is not that we were swept up by the whirlwind of tragic history, but that when we were, we were not found wanting.


C. J. Price

The people of Parkland Hospital in 2012 will bring it through the current, slower series of jolting events, I predict.

When that happens, will the administrator think to thank them?



* In Texas, the lead commissioner in the county commissions is called “judge.”  To distinguish between this executive branch judge and court judges, judges of courts are usually identified by the court in which they preside.  Clay Jenkins is the leader of the Dallas County Commission.

Dallas honors assassin’s second victim, policeman J. D. Tippit

November 21, 2012

Forty-nine years.

That’s how long it took people in Dallas to get around to erecting a memorial for police officer J. D. Tippit, killed in the line of duty on November 22, 1963.

07-27-2011 Colo Bend to 6th Floor, Pentax K-10 158 - 10th & Patton in Oak Cliff, where J. D. Tippitt died

Residential street in Oak Cliff, a section of Dallas, Texas, where police officer J. D. Tippit died on November 22, 1963; photo from July 27, 2011.  Officer Tippit was discovered about the location of the Crime Watch sign.

For the first 20 years, most people probably thought the idea too raw, to mark the place where Officer Tippit died.  More recently people complained that there was no other memorial to Tippit, whose actions may well have smoked out the assassin of President John F. Kennedy that day.

With pressure from the Dallas Police Department, and assists from the Dallas Independent School District, the marker was installed on school property at the intersection, across the street from the spot where Tippit was shot.

Tippit died near the intersection of 10th Street and Patton Street, in Oak Cliff, a section of Dallas across the Trinity River from downtown.

Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit's patrol car, on E. 10th St, in Dallas, on November 22, 1963

Wikipedia caption to Warren Commission photo: Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit’s patrol car, on E. 10th St, in Dallas, on November 22, 1963 – now via Mary Farrell Foundation.

Dallas ISD’s Adamson High School is about two blocks away, to the northwest; the campus has been expanded to come within a block of the site.  The marker sits next to tennis courts recently installed by the district, in a small park cut out from the athletic complex.  Dallas ISD acquired many of the residences in the area.  Renovations in the past two years included closing part of 10th Street west of Patton.

A brighter though still-somber mood pervaded the marker’s dedication on November 20, 2012.  About 200 people gathered for the ceremony, including a lot of police officers and school officials.

Roy Appleton described it at a blog of the Dallas Morning News:

Brad Watson, a reporter for WFAA-TV, Channel 8, questioned the lack of recognition for Tippit in a broadcast two years ago. Michael Amonett, then president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, took up the cause, with help from Farris Rookstool III, a Kennedy assassination historian.

The school district provided the land. And the Texas Historical Foundation donated $5,000 to the project.

The crowd of about 200 people Tuesday included Tippit’s widow Marie; his children, Allan, Brenda and Curtis Tippit; his sister Joyce DeBord; other family members; and police officers past and present.

Standing and sitting under a cloudless sky, they watched members of the Adamson ROTC present the colors, heard the Dallas police choir sing God Bless America and listened while speakers praised the slain officer and his family.

Watson covered the ceremony for his station.  The ceremony might be noted for its lack of higher dignitaries; it was a working cop’s ceremony, with Dallas Police Chief David Brown being the top rank present.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 013  Marie Tippit answers questions, dedication of marker to her late husband, J. D. Tippit - photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Marie Tippit, officer Tippit’s widow, answered questions from a reporter Tuesday at the dedication of the marker to her husband. Photos by Ed Darrell except where noted.

2013 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, in Dallas.  Proponents wanted to get the tribute to Officer Tippit installed in time for the anniversary year.  Particularly with the aid of scholars at the 6th Floor Museum, tourists and historians have been retracing routes taken that day 50 years ago, the parade route of President Kennedy from Love Field, with the emergency reroute to Parkland, and the route Oswald is thought to have used to flee after the shooting, from the Texas School Book Depository, through the bus station, across the Trinity River to his boarding house in Oak Cliff, and from there to the Texas Theater where he was captured.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 017 plaque honoring J. D. Tippit, photo by Ed Darrell

Plaque from the Texas Historical Commission explaining the history of the spot in Oak Cliff where Officer Tippit confronted suspected assassin Lee Oswald.

Particular striking in this history is the role played by ordinary citizens — Officer Tippit on his rounds, witnesses in the surrounding homes and the people who used Tippit’s radio to notify Dallas Police of Tippit’s shooting (in an era before cell phones, and probably before most local phone lines even had Touch Tone™ dialing), the alert salesman at the now-defunct Hardy’s shoe store, and the ticket seller at the Texas Theater who phoned police after Oswald stiffed the theater on a ticket price.

2012-11-20 Home and Tippitt Memorial 036 Street sign at 10th and Patton, site of confrontation between Lee Oswald and Officer Tippit - photo by Ed Darrell

Even the street signs and stop signs have been updated at 10th and Patton, the site of the new historical marker.

Hardy’s Shoe Store was a Quinceanera dress shop in 2011 and may have gone through other incarnations since 1963.   Assassination histories note that students playing hooky from W. H. Adamson or Sunset High Schools were in the Texas Theater when Oswald was arrested, though most of them ran out to avoid being questioned by police and outed for having skipped school.  Adamson’s campus is greatly expanded recently.

But for the intervention of ordinary citizens along the path, it is entirely conceivable that the assassin of the president of the United States might have gone undetected long enough to dispose of evidence that linked him to the crime, or escaped from the country.

My students over the past five years, all residents of Oak Cliff, knew very little about the Kennedy assassination, nor especially the links to Oak Cliff.  We need to do a better job as parents, teachers, newspapers, broadcast organizations, community associations and municipal government, in preserving and commemorating our local histories.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 019 Marie Tippit next to the memorial plaque to her husband, Officer J. D. Tippit

Marie Tippit standing next to the historical marker for her husband, J. D. Tippit, at the marker’s dedication, November 20, 2012.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 030 crowd devoid of dignitaries - Brad Watson at right

Other than the police chief and a couple of Dallas ISD board members, the crowd was pleasantly devoid of dignitaries; it’s a monument to a working man doing his job. WFAA Channel 8 reporter Brad Watson is the tallest man on the right; his reports several months ago spurred the action to carve out the memorial site from Dallas ISD-acquired land, greatly boosting the work to get a marker put up.

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 037 Dallas Police cruiser 2012, at site of 1963 shooting - photo by Ed Darrell

History of technology: Compare this photograph of two Dallas police with the photo of Officer Tippit’s car earlier in this post. This squad car comes equipped with full-time dash-mounted cameras, instant radio and computer links; police also carry their own personal communication devices, such as the pink smartphone being used to photograph another officer. The car itself carries the phone number for emergency calls, and some carry the URL of the Dallas Police website. The traditional lights atop the car in Dallas have been updated to LEDs, which did not exist in 1963. How many other significant changes in technology can be found in these photos?

2012-11-20 Tippitt Memorial 039 10th St at Patton, Oak Cliff, Texas, at Tippit ceremony 11-20-2012 - photo by Ed Darrell

Dallas school district construction changed much of the neighborhood over the past five years; note the absence of trees shading the street that were present in 1963; they may have been elms struck down by blight decades ago.  Compare this photo with the first photo in this post, taken about 16 months earlier.


50 years ago today, Kennedy explained the Moon project to the nation

September 12, 2012

Statement this morning from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden:

50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s Speech at Rice University

Posted on Sep 12, 2012 09:47:27 AM | Administrator Charles Bolden

English: Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr

NASA Administrator, Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr (Wikipedia image, probably from official photo; photo added here)

Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s “Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort,” when the young president shifted our efforts in space from low to high gear. In proclaiming, “We choose to go to the moon,” Kennedy propelled our space program to the forefront of American culture and consciousness, galvanizing an historic effort on which we continue to build today.

Accomplishing Kennedy’s goals, both tangible and intangible, we have taken on his vision to create new challenges and now reach toward new capabilities and destinations. Neil Armstrong first left humanity’s footprint on the moon, and more importantly helped raise the “banner of freedom and peace,” fulfilling Kennedy’s vow to “not see [space] governed by a hostile flag of conquest.”

And we now stand on Armstrong’s shoulders to create a sustainable vision for the future exploration of space. Much like those aboard the Apollo 7, 8, 9, and 10 missions cleared the path for Apollo 11 and Armstrong to land on the moon, our Curiosity rover on Mars is clearing the path for humans – Americans – to land on Mars. Our space program has developed new technologies that made human expansion into the solar system a reality. It created a global enterprise, now spinning off into the private sector, which continues to advance our nation and our world.

We realize now as we did then that we are not just on a mission to discover the universe; we are on a mission to discover ourselves. As astronaut Bill Anders, one of the first three humans to see the far side of the moon, put it, “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.” We cannot forget that the purpose of space exploration is to make life on Earth better, even as we “increase our knowledge and unfold our ignorance,” as Kennedy said, and as we continuously raise the bar of human achievement.

As Kennedy hoped for greater achievements in science and education, in culture, and for peace, he could not have foreseen the degree to which we have unfolded our ignorance. He envisioned “new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school.”

There are literally thousands of examples of exploration technology being adapted for life on Earth, and a few areas where we have surpassed Kennedy’s greatest dreams: artificial hearts; retrofit systems that convert gas-powered vehicles into gas-electric hybrids, used in such trucks as mail delivery trucks for the U.S. Postal Service; health and fitness monitoring technology capable of measuring and recording vital signs of soldiers, first responders, professional athletes, and consumers seeking to get in shape; and parachutes capable of rescuing entire planes.

Our fleet of Earth observation satellites track hurricanes and wildfires and are able to analyze landslide motion and keep watch on agricultural fields. They provide continuity of data over the long term to help us see how our planet continues to change as a unified system. Our research on the International Space Station has helped us understand processes such as bone and muscle loss especially applicable to our senior citizens.

All this innovation has saved countless lives and billions of dollars, all the while creating thousands of jobs.

And we continue to reach higher. We have opened a new door to commercial space, for instance, helping facilitate a new space transportation industry to low Earth orbit.

Today, to “organize and measure the best of our energies and skills,” as Kennedy charged us, we’re doing things like landing that small SUV-size rover on Mars, now transmitting high definition images and information, which will lead to a better understanding of the Martian environment and the different ways Mars and Earth evolved. By 2018 we will launch our new James Webb Space Telescope, which will serve as our eye in the sky, peering deeper into the universe than ever before.

We’re building our Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket in history, and Orion, the new multi-purpose vehicle crew capsule, which will lead to the first-ever crewed missions beyond the low Earth orbit and the Moon into deep space. President Obama charged us with increasingly difficult challenges, beginning with sending astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by the mid-2030s. The journey there will be full of discoveries and new technological breakthroughs.

So while President Kennedy christened our sails on the new sea of space exploration, our work is far from done. Thanks to President Obama, this generation’s young president, we are witnessing a christening of a rejuvenated space program, where we will traverse previously untouched terrain, learning from our past and building on it to forge a bright future.

To watch President Kennedy’s historic speech, visit:

Also, see the next post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Proud to be a liberal, JFK

May 5, 2012

Somebody made a poster out of it:

JFK, proud to be a liberal

Quote from Sen. John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1960

You can read the entire original speech by Sen. John F. Kennedy here, at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.  There’s more defense of his being considered a liberal, and the good that liberals do.  It’s almost quaint the way he defends Adlai Stevenson.

Why do you wave the flag, help old ladies cross busy streets, keep children safe, and sing the “Star Spangled Banner?”

Tip of the old scrub brush to, PBS and American Experience, and everyone who sent me a link to this today.

6th Floor Museum, Dallas — go see it

November 23, 2011

The 6th Floor Museum in Dallas presents in-depth studies of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963.

There’s a lot more to such a study than you might think.  It’s a relatively quick tour — you can view the museum’s displays and films in about two hours, comfortably, stopping to read exhibit cards and really analyze objects on display.  A couple of the films present a great deal of history quickly and well (Walter Cronkite narrates one).

One cannot avoid a great deal of history of the Civil Rights Movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War, and the start of the Vietnam conflict.  Kennedy’s administration covered only three years, but a very active and important three years in the 20th century.

Increasingly the 6th Floor Museum is a stop for researchers and scholars.  The recent addition of a good reading room for scholars is a great asset.

Curator Gary Mack offers a quick introduction in this video:


Plan to spend three or four hours.  You’ll find the place very interesting.  After the museum, most likely you’ll want to spend some time exploring Dealey Plaza, the road where Kennedy’s car was when he was shot, and the famous grassy knoll.  It’s a part of downtown that is almost always filled with people in daylight in all but the absolute worst weather.  (Check out the EarthCam at Dealey Plaza.)

Old Red, the old Dallas County Courthouse, with its own museum, is just a half block away.

Teaching with original documents, at the 6th Floor Museum

July 29, 2011

6th Floor Museum Seminar - teachers in the Dallas Police Station, at Oswald's interrogation room

Teachers inspect the Dallas Police station, where accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was held. The door at left opens on the room where Oswald was interrogated by police. Panorama photo by Ed Darrell, use encouraged, with attribution; click for larger version

It’s been a good week of finding sources, for history issues across the spectrum, not just about the Kennedy assassination in Dallas.

Certainly one of the highlights was a bus tour that carried us from Dallas’s Love Field airport, along the route of Kennedy’s motorcade, to Parkland Hospital, and then through Oak Cliff along the route accused assassin Lee Oswald is believed to have traveled after the assassination to his capture at the much restored Texas Theatre on Jefferson Boulevard.

In the photo above we discuss the actions of Dallas Police after Oswald’s capture.  This room is in the old homicide division of the old Dallas Police Station, a building still in use for municipal offices and being renovated after the police department moved to a newer building a few years ago.  The door at the left leads to the room where Oswald was questioned about his actions and his knowledge of the day’s events.

Oswald's interrogation room in the old Dallas Police Department - photo by Ed Darrell, 6th Floor Museum teachers seminar

Cops and their desks departed years ago, but Oswald's interrogation room holds a fascinating, film noir atmosphere; view from inside the room, as teachers discuss events of November 22, 1963, in the larger office outside. Photo by Ed Darrell; click for larger view

Quote of the moment: John Kennedy, “What do our opponents mean . . . ‘Liberal?’”

June 24, 2011

From the website of PBS’s American Experience:

Acceptance of the New York Liberal Party Nomination

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
September 14, 1960

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

But first, I would like to say what I understand the word “Liberal” to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a “Liberal,” and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.

John F. Kennedy during the 1960 campaign

John F. Kennedy during the 1960 campaign - Kennedy accepted the nomination of the New York Liberal Party on September 14, 1960; this photo may be from that event

In short, having set forth my view — I hope for all time — two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:

I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.

Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in their time of influence and responsibility.

Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world’s history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.

Tonight we salute Governor and Senator Herbert Lehman as a symbol of that spirit, and as a reminder that the fight for full constitutional rights for all Americans is a fight that must be carried on in 1961.

Many of these same immigrant families produced the pioneers and builders of the American labor movement. They are the men who sweated in our shops, who struggled to create a union, and who were driven by longing for education for their children and for the children’s development. They went to night schools; they built their own future, their union’s future, and their country’s future, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, and now in their children’s time, suburb by suburb.

Tonight we salute George Meany as a symbol of that struggle and as a reminder that the fight to eliminate poverty and human exploitation is a fight that goes on in our day. But in 1960 the cause of liberalism cannot content itself with carrying on the fight for human justice and economic liberalism here at home. For here and around the world the fear of war hangs over us every morning and every night. It lies, expressed or silent, in the minds of every American. We cannot banish it by repeating that we are economically first or that we are militarily first, for saying so doesn’t make it so. More will be needed than goodwill missions or talking back to Soviet politicians or increasing the tempo of the arms race. More will be needed than good intentions, for we know where that paving leads.

In Winston Churchill’s words, “We cannot escape our dangers by recoiling from them. We dare not pretend such dangers do not exist.”

And tonight we salute Adlai Stevenson as an eloquent spokesman for the effort to achieve an intelligent foreign policy. Our opponents would like the people to believe that in a time of danger it would be hazardous to change the administration that has brought us to this time of danger. I think it would be hazardous not to change. I think it would be hazardous to continue four more years of stagnation and indifference here at home and abroad, of starving the underpinnings of our national power, including not only our defense but our image abroad as a friend.

This is an important election — in many ways as important as any this century — and I think that the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party here in New York, and those who believe in progress all over the United States, should be associated with us in this great effort. The reason that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson had influence abroad, and the United States in their time had it, was because they moved this country here at home, because they stood for something here in the United States, for expanding the benefits of our society to our own people, and the people around the world looked to us as a symbol of hope.

I think it is our task to re-create the same atmosphere in our own time. Our national elections have often proved to be the turning point in the course of our country. I am proposing that 1960 be another turning point in the history of the great Republic.

Some pundits are saying it’s 1928 all over again. I say it’s 1932 all over again. I say this is the great opportunity that we will have in our time to move our people and this country and the people of the free world beyond the new frontiers of the 1960s.

Did Kennedy say it? Why is it on the minds of thinking people from Tehran to Madison?

February 21, 2011

Banner of Kennedy quote, Pueblo, Colorado, by Wavy1

Banner photographed by Wavy1 in Pueblo, Colorado, featuring quote from President John F. Kennedy

Stuck away from my library, I can’t confirm that John Kennedy actually said it, only that he is reputed to have said it:

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

[March 13, 1962, White House reception for Latin American diplomatic corps,
on the first anniversary of the Alliance for Progress]

The ruling families of Libya and Wisconsin pledge to fight to hold on to power, splitting their nations if necessary rather than concede to democratic forces.

Was Kennedy right?

(What did he really say, where and when?)

Photo of banner from Pueblo, Colorado, by Wavy1.

Climate change, and DDT: Monckton’s inconvenient and inaccurate history

December 31, 2009

Oh, Christopher Monckton raves on, and gullible or horribly ignorant journalists let him.  Maybe Michael Coren is both gullible and horribly ignorant.

Monckton’s grotesque errors of history suggest that he’s probably wrong on the science, too, considering that his studies were in the classics, and not science.  If he can’t get stuff right in his area of expertise, it’s almost impossible that he’d be right far afield.

I don’t know Coren’s other work, but the way he turned his microphone over to Monckton in the interview below is disturbing, with no challenge given to wild flights of imagination Monckton took, posed as history.  The Kennedy administration wasn’t that long ago; Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring had a 40th anniversary edition that is still on the shelves.  Bald eagles, the national bird of the United States, climbed off the endangered species list just a few months ago with accompanying dozens of news stories that explained DDT had nearly wiped the species out.

Coren slept through all of that?  Monckton thought no one would remember the accurate history?

Monckton’s appearance on Michael Coren’s program on CTS (a Canadian network) obnoxiously slapped my browser.  You may recall I had checked out Monckton’s speech to an unquestioning group of students at a religious college in Minnesota.  At about the same time, he showed up on Coren’s program, saying much of the same things he’d said earlier in Minnesota.

Have you ever interviewed a truly pathological liar?  Hoaxsters tell falsehoods, and the truly pathological ones keep exaggerating as they tell, testing the waters to see how much the audience will believe.  I think Monckton is one of those.

Consequently, the falsehoods grow grander as the hoaxster finds the audience gullibly lapping up the milk of human imagination.

Take this example, Monckton in part 5 of his interview comedy routine with Coren.  Coren doesn’t question any of the confabulations Monckton comes up with, apparently having been born after 1975 and never read much history of science or the enviornmental movement, and apparently having somehow missed the dozens of news stories in recent years on the recovery and removal from the Endangered Species List of the bald eagle and brown pelican, and recovery of osprey and peregrine falcons (does Canada have Google?  does Coren know how to use it?  does Coren have no producer, no fact checkers?)

Nor, apparently, does Monckton have any ability to control his ability to say patently offensive and absolutely impossible things to blame others.  Monckton blames Jackie Kennedy for killing 40 million kids with malaria; never mind that he’s wrong, he pushes on to call President Jack Kennedy “her foolish husband;” never mind that he’s got all his facts wrong, he proceeds to call William Ruckleshaus “an environmental nincompoop”:

[At 2:50 of the video]

LORD MONCKTON: I think it is particularly sad that what is essentially a scientific question has been politicized.  In Britain it’s different.  All parties have sort of gone along with the bedwetting theory.  They’ve all said, “Oh, yes!  We’re doomed!”

The Conservative Party — which is nominally the right-wing party, though now it’s kind of center-left, really — it has come out and said — in fact it has produced the stupidest document on climate change that I’ve ever seen, it’s even stupider than Al Gore’s film; it’s unbelievable how half-witted it is.  It isn’t universal that it’s right-left.

Certainly it is true to say that the left are more enthusiastic about this, worldwide, than anyone else.

But, you see, then, they’ve got it wrong before.  Let’s take the DDT example, where 41 years ago, Jackie Kennedy read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.  And the thesis of this book was that because of DDT and other chemicals we were pouring into the atmosphere, the world was going to be so grossly polluted that every species other than humankind would die, and then eventually we would die, too.  And it was all going to be terrible.

From where did Monckton get the idea that Jackie Kennedy read Carson’s book, and that she initiated action? Famously, President Kennedy took a question about DDT in one of his popular afternoon press conferences.  He said he had read the book, and that he was looking into it.

President Kennedy did in fact task his science advisers to check out the book.  The President’s Science Advisory Council (PSAC) reported on May 15, 1963.  They said Carson’s book was accurate, and that the government should act immediately to investigate harms from synthetic chemicals including DDT.

Carson didn’t write anything about ‘pouring chemicals into the atmosphere.’  One of the great concerns among wildlife biologists was the damage done in water — where, it turned out, DDT was quickly absorbed into all living things, which then multiplied the dosages of DDT several million times as it climbed up the trophic ladder (food chains).  The problem with DDT is that it doesn’t go into the air, or water, but is instead rapidly absorbed by living tissue.  DDT sprayed in an estuary is taken up by first-level producers, including zooplankton, phytoplankton and plants, as well as any other creature that happens by.  As these producers are consumed by creatures higher up the food chain, the dosage multiplies geometrically.

Carson didn’t whine as Monckton claims she did.  She coolly and calmly laid out the facts.  The facts were, and are, that DDT and its sister compounds pose serious dangers to living things.

And Jackie Kennedy read this, and shivered, and plucked at the sleeve of her husband — who was then President of the United States — and said:  “Look.  You’ve got to do something about this!  We’ve got to save the planet from DDT!”

Isn’t that a remarkable coincidence?  Jackie Kennedy’s husband was president of the United States! He always had such cute cuffs to tug on, too.  Monckton’s infantilizing the First Lady and President of the U.S. lacks the charm Monckton must think it adds.

Jackie Kennedy was a smart and capable woman, a journalist who went on to a long and successful career as an editor at a major publishing house.  Monckton’s disparaging of Mrs. Kennedy here is uncalled for, untoward, and ugly — and factually wrong.

I’m sure that if the president’s wife told him to look into an issue, he did.  She was not in the habit of being frivolous or silly.  There is film of President Kennedy at a press conference, being asked by a reporter if there is any official reaction on Carson’s book (hardly the pillow-side sleeve tug Monckton imagines); and anyone can check the presidential papers to see the report from the science advisors.  As we know now, Carson was right.  The Nobel winners  and others on the PSAC agreed.  Incidentally, they won their Nobels for hard research, not by writing letters to the editor of an publication from an organization that won a Nobel and then getting a sycophant to manufacture a replica Nobel, as Monckton claims with his dime-store “Nobel pin” (like a man whose mother refused to buy a deputy sheriff star for his cowboy games).

In his efforts to make the story entertainingly memorable, Monckton gives us the equivalent of passed gas in a crowded elevator.

But, Dear Reader — Dear God! — brace yourself:

And so Kennedy appointed a friend of his who was an environmental nincompoop, to take charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.

How can we know Monckton is lying? Well, John Kennedy died in November 1963.  The Environmental Protection Agency took form seven years later, in the administration of Richard Nixon, the man Kennedy defeated for the presidency in 1960.  John Kennedy was dead, and his younger brother suffered assassination, too.  Monckton’s English — U.S. history is not his forte.

So, EPA did not exist in John Kennedy’s life.  Unless Monckton claims Kennedy came back from the grave and wrested the pen from Nixon’s hand, it would have been impossible for Kennedy to appoint anyone to be in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.

To whom is Monckton referring as director?  William Ruckelshaus, the old Republican political operator?  Monckton’s slip of the grip on history is so severe that it can’t be restored.  He’s so far out in fantasy land it’s difficult to tell.

But let’s take the next line:

Result:  Unfortunately; they banned DDT.

Ruckelshaus was Director of EPA when DDT was banned.  Ruckelshaus signed the documents.  Monckton could only be referring to Ruckelshaus.  To make his case for DDT, Monckton must bend time and all of politics.

And then, Monckton, of all people, refers to Ruckelshaus as a “nincompoop.” Um, Monck, this is one of the heroes of the Saturday Night Massacre, one of America’s better lawyers of that time or any time, a committed man of reason and solid environmental credentials.  If Ruckelshaus is an environmental nincompoop, Monckton is a lobotomized environmental pisant with a bad attitude.  (Regardless whatever he may be, Monckton has a bad attitude.)

We confront the reality here that Monckton is not engaging in any discussion about science, where simple facts of history got wrong can be subject to swift and gracious correction.  He’s off in Faux Propagandaland, making up nasty things to say as he bulldozes through the facts and truth, pushing them out of the way of his rant.  Facts, history and science be damned!, Monckton froths.  This is a crusade against the evils of socialism, and Monckton will carry on the war even when there are no socialists and no evil!  So what if they are not socialists!  Monckton will label them so and that will be that!

Oy.  Monckton’s so far out in left field at Wrigley that he’s in the bar across the street.

This was copied worldwide, because the left got going.  “Aha! We can show who’s boss!  We can ban DDT!”

Nope, sorry.  Sweden banned DDT, and then the U.S. banned DDT from use around babies, and then in 1972 the U.S. banned use of DDT in agriculture.  Most European nations eventually followed with tighter regulations.  History shows, however, that DDT was never banned in most of the world.  In the U.S., sadly, DDT manufacture for export continued until 1984 (to the day before the enactment of the Superfund bill), and DDT manufacture continues today in India and China.

Not only did the left not ban DDT around the world, no one did.

Not content to merely rape history and stuff its bloody body in a garbage can, Monckton then invents a whole new class of evil for environmentalists to do:

And of course a lot of them were in league with people who were producing chemicals other than DDT, which they wanted to replace, so they were making money out of it the usual — unfortunately the usual money-packed story, and inglorious story.

Got that?  He says Kennedy, though dead for nearly a decade, conspired to ban DDT so he could get kickbacks from companies who manufactured competing pesticides. And so did Ruckelshaus, one of the few men who stood up to Richard Nixon and refused to fire Archibald Cox.  Monckton says Ruckelshaus was crooked, and taking kickbacks from chemical companies.

So, they banned DDT.  Now, DDT is, in fact, safe enough you can eat it by the tablespoonful — I wouldn’t recommend that, but you can do that, it won’t hurt you if you do.  It’s completely harmless to humans.  It’s completely harmless to birdlife and animals.

In 1975 a committee of the House of Representatives asked for a history of EPA.  Among other topics, the DDT restrictions were discussed — here’s a 312-page document showing which harms were of greatest concern, and what was the science that backed the analysis of those harms.  It’s 312 pages that Monckton hopes you will never read.  He probably hopes it doesn’t even exist anymore.

By 1975 all the harms of DDT worried about by Rachel Carson 13 years before had been confirmed, with the slightly happy news that DDT is not a potent human carcinogen, but a weak one.

The only thing it’s harmful to is the anopheles mosquito, which is the vector that carries the falciparum parasite that causes malaria.  And to the aedes egyptii mosquito, which carries the yellow fever parasite.  It’s fatal — and really fatal — to both of them.

DDT acutely kills fish, birds and bats.  Had Monckton done his research, he’d have seen the plea from the U.S. Army to keep DDT available for poisoning bats in old, dilapidated barracks.  (EPA did not keep that use.)  DDT manufacturers bragged about how deadly the stuff was, in trying to make a case that it should be left on the market for unrestricted use.  40 years later, wild populations of bats are beginning to recover from collateral poisoning from DDT.  Bats fall into that branch of the animal kingdom known as mammals, where humans also fall.  Generally, if a poison is toxic to one mammal, it will be toxic to all others if dose is altered to consider body mass.  But also, if a substance is carcinogenic to one mammal, it will be cancer-causing to other mammals, too.

In mosquito control DDT is problematic.   It kills mosquitoes, but it also kills all other small creatures.  Especially, it kills those things that prey on mosquitoes — other insects, birds and arachnids, fish and small animals especially.  Since mosquitoes recover from DDT rather quickly, and predators take much longer to recover, this means an outdoor dose of DDT will result in a dramatic population explosion of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in a few weeks, as the mosquitoes recover more quickly than their predators do.

Monckton appears to think DDT is selective to mosquitoes.  DDT is a broad-scale killer, not selective in any way we know.

And the guy who invented it, who was German, got the Nobel Prize, because before DDT was introduced, a million people a year around the world, nearly all of them children, were dying of malaria.  It was one of the biggest killers.

Paul Muller won the Nobel in Medicine in 1948 for discovering that DDT kills insects.  But he was not the guy who invented the stuff more than 50 years earlier. Once again, where it’s easy to check facts, Monckton just doesn’t get the facts straight.

Before DDT was introduced, and for a long time thereafter, malaria killed about three million people annually.  When WHO conducted its eradication campaign, malaria deaths fell to about two million per year by the middle 1960s.  Once DDT use in that campaign was stopped, malaria death rates continued to fall to about a million a year today.  Malaria incidence and deaths rose in the 1980s when the malaria parasites themselves developed resistance to medicines used to treat and cure malaria in humans.

The chief barrier to lower malaria infection rates is education on barriers against mosquito exposure.  The chief barrier to lower malaria death totals is the development and delivery of pharmaceuticals to treat infected humans.  DDT is a panacea in neither theatre.

DDT came along and deaths fell to 50,000.

Monckton is flat out wrong.  He’s off by a factor of 20.  He’s making this stuff up.

We were on the point of wiping it out.

Flat out wrong again.  The World Health Organization (WHO) undertook a very ambitious program to eradicate malaria in the 1950s.  By the mid-1960s it was clear the program could not work:  In Africa, overuse of DDT (in agriculture) bred mosquitoes resistant to and immune to DDT.  Worse, in most of Subsaharan Africa, governments were not stable enough to have the discipline required to mount an effective campaign against the disease, knocking down the insect carriers briefly, then furiously treating humans with the disease so that when the mosquitoes returned there would be no pool of human infection from which to draw the disease.  This is all detailed in one of those fascinating New Yorker profiles of the legendary Fred Soper, by Macolm Gladwell.  For most of the world, we’ve never been to the point of wiping out malaria, and in those places where we’ve been successful in wiping out the disease, DDT was not the chief weapon.

When the left got in on the act — it’s exactly the same people:  the Environmental Defense Fund — you know — people who have got hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank!  Goodness knows where they get it from!  Foreign governments, possibly!  I don’t know!  I haven’t looked.  But it’s certainly an alarming question:  Are the environmental movements being backed by China or India so they won’t have to compete with us for natural resources because we will have shut our industry down.  It’s a question that the security services, I hope, are looking at, because it certainly worries me.

Monckton at his most scurrilous, and most distant from the facts.  Are environmental groups funded by China?  No.  In any case, the environmental groups don’t have nearly the funding of the pro-DDT groups, with their corporate funds. While we’re thinking about it, we should think about which side China would intervene on, were China to follow through on its historic reluctance to do anything about global warming.  Who is running around the world claiming we need to do nothing, and should do nothing?  Christopher Monckton.

If Monckton is worried about who is funding him, I’m sure the CIA and FBI would be happy to let him tell them about his well of money  he uses to frustrate the United Nations and treaty obligation of a hundred nations.  (Bill Dembski?  Are you still alive?  Why don’t you turn Monckton in — you’ve still got the number of Homeland Security, don’t you?)

Perhaps most egregious, or most funny, is this:  Environmental Defense has been a leader among all agencies, governmental and NGO, to urge the extremely limited use of DDT in indoor residual spraying - and yet, they are the one group Monckton complains about.

It’s a wonder to me that Monckton can figure out which part of his foot goes into his shoes first, in the mornings.  He has such a flair for getting the facts exactly wrong, and then getting into a dudgeon about his own error.  Monckton:  Not only wrong, but 180 degrees precisely wrong.

But there was the Environmental Defense Fund, and it came in and said, “Right, we’re going to press for a ban on DDT.” They succeeded.

The number of deaths went back up, from 50,000 a year to a million a year, and it stayed there for 40 years, while the likes of me were saying, “This is killing millions.  It ought to be stopped.  What on Earth is the World Health Organization doing?”

And eventually, just three years ago, on the 15th of September, 2006, Dr. Arata Kochi of the World Health Organization said, “Right.”  He said, “In this field, politics usually predominates.  Now we are going to take a stand on the science and the data.”  He ended the ban on DDT and declared that once again it would be the frontline of defense against the mosquito.

DDT has never been banned in most of the world — especially not in Africa.  WHO never banned DDT, they simply stopped using it when it ceased to be effective. Plus, you’ll recall from just a few paragraphs above, Environmental Defense (formerly EDF)  led the campaign to get DDT restored to use in IRS campaigns in Africa.

Monckton’s game is worse than blaming the messenger — he’s blaming the heroes.

COREN:  40 million people died . . .

MONCKTON:  Children!

COREN:   . . . because Jackie Kennedy read a silly book.


COREN:   . . . and her foolish husband bought into it.

So, Coren’s bought Moncktons rude infantilizing of the Kennedys and all the false claims that went into it.  Anybody know how old Coren is?  Was he even alive in 1962?  If not, can he read?  Does he?  Carson’s book is out now in the 2002 40th anniversary edition, still available for anyone interested in the facts.

MONCKTON:  And then, the entire international left came in on the act.  And that was what did the damage.

And so the problem is that you have this political faction which likes to show who’s boss.  That’s the characteristic of the left.  They are instinctive interventionists.  And I know this is a little much of a political point, but it is unfortunately true that it was they who pushed the DDT ban.  And it was they who — to this day! — will say that David Suzuki and others who advocated this ban — and David Suzuki will tell you today that he regards this as one of the most successful campaigns he ever conducted.  That killed 40 million people, nearly all of them children. And it took 40 years before this decision could be reversed.  Why?  Because we had to wait until all the people responsible for the original decision had either retired or died, and were no longer in the way of doing the decent thing.

COREN:  Because they thought it was harmful to people, to animals . . .

MONCKTON:  They didn’t think any such thing.  It was purely to show who was boss.  There was never any scientific case for this.

Well, it’s in Canada, after all, so Monckton feels obligated to take a swipe at the most prominent local scientist who urges environmental protection.  David Suzuki was probably active in Canada on pesticide regulation, but of course he played only a tangential role in the U.S. action, which is what Monckton complains about here.  Suzuki was no personal confidante of the Kennedys.  Suzuki was 27 in 1963, probably completing graduate school.  Monckton’s swipe at Suzuki is almost completely gratuitous.

This is where the serious charges come.  Monckton accuses Carson, and all environmentalists, of ignoring human conditions.  He accuses us — he accuses you, since you were not active to stop the DDT ban — of being mass murderers, because, he claims, DDT would have been a safe and effective way to fight malaria, which has killed about a million people a year worldwide over the past 40 years.

Monckton is dead wrong.

First, malaria fighters stopped using DDT heavily in Africa in the early 1960s, years before any nation banned the substance.  There were three problems that contributed to the cessation of DDT use, as outlined by Malcolm Gladwell in his heavily researched and authoritative tribute to malaria fighter Fred Soper in The New Yorker:

  1. Many nations in Africa did have governments capable of conducting the regimented campaign necessary to successfully eradicate malaria — and in fact, most of the nations in Subsaharan Africa didn’t participate in the campaign at all.  Soper’s goal was to knock down mosquitoes for at least six months, and in that time cure malaria in every human.  When the mosquitoes came roaring back — as everyone in the program knew they would — there would be no pool of malaria in humans from which the mosquitoes could get infected.  The program was to break the chain of transmission required for the life cycles of the malaria parasites.  But that meant that governments had to have health care systems that could accurately diagnose malaria, and often which malaria parasite, and complete a cycle of treatment needed to flush the parasites out of the infected humans.  In the end, many entire nations simply did not participate.
  2. Malaria fighters were well aware of the race they were running:  Mosquitoes breed quickly, and consequently evolve quickly.  WHO’s malaria fighting teams understood it was a simply matter of time before mosquitoes became resistant or immune to DDT.  If that happened before malaria could be eradicated in a country or region, the game was over.  Resistance to DDT in mosquitoes started showing up as early as 1948 in Greece; by the 1960s several populations of mosquitoes were highly resistant.  (Today, every mosquito on Earth carries at least one of the two alleles that produces DDT immunity — and some carry as many as 60 copies of the two alleles, leaving them completely unaffected by DDT.)
  3. Industry didn’t get on board with the campaign.  Over-use of DDT out of doors by agricultural interests speeded the evolution of DDT-resistant mosquitoes.  Industrial use competed against, and ultimately frustrated, health care use of DDT.

Gladwell describes how WHO abandoned the eradication campaign with DDT as the key element, in the middle 1960s.  This was done not as a reaction to Carson’s book, but because the mosquitoes showed resistance.  Malaria fighters couldn’t build medical care in several nations at once while racing agriculture to use DDT.  WHO turned to other methods of fighting the parasites.

It’s important to note that WHO cannot dictate to nations what they do, nor did WHO ever “ban” DDT.  There are a lot of claims that there was pressure applied by environmentalists to get DDT use stopped, but the facts remain that DDT manufacture for export to Africa continued in the United States for more than a decade after DDT use was stopped in the U.S.  Manufacture of DDT moved to Africa and Asia — India and China make the stuff today.  Any African nation who wished to use DDT could have gotten it cheaply and in great quantity.

Second, there is no indication that DDT could have saved any more lives.  Simple mathematics tells the story:  The WHO eradication campaign reduced world-wide deaths from a high of 4 million annually, to about 2 million annually.  Each nation that eradicated malaria did so by raising incomes and improving the housing of poor people, making effective screening from mosquitoes the central part of the campaign.  Also, nations copied what the U.S. had done prior to the discovery that DDT killed insects:  They institute improved public health campaigns to educate people how to avoid being bitten, and to diagnose the disease and deliver knock-out pharmaceuticals quickly.

But, since heavy DDT use was stopped, the malaria rates continued to fall until recently.  Over the last decade, annual deaths numbered under a million, lower than when DDT use was at its greatest.  It’s impossible to square decreasing death rates with Monckton’s claim that DDT is a panacea against malaria, still.

Finally to this point of DDT and malaria, we have a conundrum:  Those nations who still use DDT, still have epidemic malaria.  If, as Monckton says, DDT is a miracle weapon against malaria, those nations that use DDT should be malaria-free.  If we think through the process, we see that malaria eradication is a much greater task that simply killing mosquitoes, and too complex to be cured simply by poisoning Africa and Africans.

Monckton ultimately tries to reduce the complex science, medical, geographical, political and education issues of malaria to a political question.  He accuses everyone who ever worked to reduce DDT use of being part of an out-of-control, monolithic and unthinking “left.”  It’s a popular idea among loud talkers from the right, including Monckton, Limbaugh, Rockwell, Hannity, the Hoover Institute, and most people who resist the science of global warming.  Monckton’s crude revisions of history away from accuracy might be justified as proper propaganda, if there were a noble political goal behind his work.  No noble goal can be discerned, latent or patent.

Many on the western left, in North America and Britain, urged tighter controls on DDT, especially once it became clear that the stuff was dangerous.  They got this from a long tradition of conservation in the U.S., for example, and not from any particular political orientation.  Fact is, the radical, socialist left who took over Russia and created the Soviet Union, who dominated Eastern Europe after World War II and who created the Peoples Republic of China, have always been unfriendly toward environmental protection, including the banning of DDT.  There was no ban on DDT use in the Soviet Union, nor in China.

Conservation, and the fight against pollution, is a product of western, capitalist nations.  It may be surprising news to a few, but the American conservation movement was led by people like John D. Rockefeller II, and Laurance Rockefeller, the Vanderbilts, and other people who were wealthy enough to have time to look around to see what was happening to America’s wild resources — or who appreciated the value of wilderness and conservation and the role it played in making America great.  Monckton is turning his back on one of the greater achievements of American capitalism, the strong desire to preserve the wild, and have clean air and clean water, for the health and benefit of all citizens.  Monckton completely shuns this great heritage of western civilization.  It’s quite astounding.

Ultimately, the decisions to reduce the use of, and now to phase out DDT (under 2001′s Persistent Organic Pesticides Treaty (POPs)) were scientific decisions.  In the U.S., the National Academy of Sciences wrote about DDT early on, noting (with an egregious typographical error) the great utility and benefit DDT provides to humans, but finally weighing the harmful effects and finding that they outweigh the benefits.  The number of assessments of DDT by august scientific and policy bodies is impressive, each deciding DDT had to go:  The 1958 U.S. Forest Service, the 1963 President’s Science Advisory Council, two federal courts in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration in 1969, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972, two more federal appellate courts ruling on the appropriateness and scientific soundness of EPA’s rule, the National Academy of Sciences, Congress under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA, the Superfund Act), and finally an international treaty between nearly 100 nations.  At each step science was the driving force.  At most steps, an absence of sound science would have made the ruling go the opposite way.

But all that is legal “mumbo-jumbo” to Monckton.  All that science is for naught, to Monckton’s classics trained mind.  What Monckton wants, Monckton should have, damn the facts, damn the courts, damn the scientists, damn history.

It’s really astonishing to add up the error Monckton piles on.

It’s the same with global warming.  There is no scientific case for this, either.  It’s the same people, trying to assert themselves in the same way.  They have succeeded, yet again, in getting the entire classe politique . . .

COREN:  I wish we had another hour.

So, with Monckton dead wrong or hallucinating on DDT, we should now trust him on global warming?

Monckton will not understand those issues, either.  They are even more complex.

Update:  Monckton continues to smear the Kennedys in Australia, nearly two months later.

Help others to remember history, so as not to be condemned to repeat it:

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