Instapundit screws up again (Uganda, cotton, DDT)


Instapundit loves to roil waters, but he’s low on content, and everytime I see it, low on accuracy, too.

This is the entirety of Glenn Beck’sReynolds’s post linking to the rabidly anti-Rachel Carson, RWDB with a rant about DDT that lacks several key points of accuracy:

THE HIGH COST OF fighting malaria.

Six words and he’s wrong already. That’s quite a skill to be dead wrong in six words.

Our friend, Mr. Beck, at RWDB, has a news report from Uganda, and rather than note it and check for accuracy, he uses it as a tee for numerous shots and mulligans against science, scientists, environmentalists, health care workers, the EU, and anyone else who inhabited his latest delerium.

The story out of Africa is that a buyer of organic cotton refused to buy Ugandan cotton due to DDT contamination. True to the line of recent events, it’s not environmentalists who do anything , though the news story finds a way to blame them in the last paragraph. Instead, it’s a businessman.

But here are problems with the story:

  • There is no indication EU has anything to do with this failed purchase.
  • There is no indication that any environmentalist ever played a role — this is a Dutch purchasing company, shopping for organic cotton.
  • There is no indication that Uganda farmers can’t sell their cotton to other buyers.
  • There is no reason to presume that the cotton must be sold as “organic.”
  • There appears to be no indication of any DDT contamination.
  • It’s illegal to spray DDT on cotton in Uganda, as I understand it — if this cotton is contaminated, the problem is that DDT was diverted from malaria control. That’s not a problem for environmentalists — and, according to the PAN story cited above, farmers have incentives to keep it from happening.

Are we to believe that marauding anti-insect people roam Uganda, forcing farmers to steal DDT from health authorities and spray it on their cotton instead, against the farmer’s better interests?

Neither Glenn BeckReynolds at Instapundit nor the other Beck at RWDB bothered to check the facts, nor even to see whether the first face story passes the smell test. Where would DDT contamination come from? Why would a buyer refuse cotton if there’s no DDT contaminant? Why wouldn’t there be tests? Where are the test results? If EU is so down on DDT on cotton, where is the document that says so?

The company in the news story, ineptly named as it is, Bo-Weevil, does exist, it appears, either there or in the Netherlands. That surely is not the only cotton buyer for the EU. The first BoWeevil isn’t an EU company, since it’s headquartered in Tennessee. From their website:

Welcome to Bo-Weevil Eco Sportswear Mfg. LLC., nestled in the hills of Tazewell, Tennessee.

Producers of the most earth friendly clothing on the planet.

Bo-Weevil Eco started manufacturing and supplying clothing with one main vision: “Provide our customers with the highest quality clothing that integrates current fashions with timeless style, to create lifestyle clothing that brings awareness to care what you wear.”

We are a company that practices to restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. Doing so by being at the forefront of U.S.A. factories producing a line of women’s, men’s, kids and k-9 apparel made by pre-consumer recycled fibres. We are working to create change in the textile industry; to offer one step on the path to more sensible and sustainable use of resources in the production of basic commodities.

So, how does the EU get into this story at all? The second company, I can find listed only through a post at Pesticide Action Network, a source that is not always reliable on such issues.

Smell test: Does this sound accurate to you? When was the last time you saw anyone at Wal-Mart demand organic cotton?

The use of DDT has now affected cotton prices in the region. Patrick Oryang from Lango Cooperative told All Africa, “We are buying cotton at sh500 per kilogram instead of sh750. The country will lose about US$20 million because EUREP-GAP, an EU exporters body, has suspended buying products from the region because the consumers in Europe and America want purely organic products.”

What’s the real story?

Neither Beck nor Reynolds seems to care. They get a dig at environmentalists, so what if Ugandans get malaria?

Update, sorta: News from Uganda, in New Vision, seems to indicate that the EU has okayed the wise use of DDT in Uganda, contrary to claims of an EU ban (July 10 story). You can’t help but wish there were some good, clear reporting of this issue, from BBC or Reuters, or someone in Kampala besides these few, shallow news dailies.

12 Responses to Instapundit screws up again (Uganda, cotton, DDT)

  1. […] Seriously strange Ed Darrell, a Lambert acolyte and fellow educator, completely loses the plot in a post attacking me and Glenn Beck (aka Glenn Reynolds) for linking to me:Instapundit screws up again […]

    Like

  2. […] be surprised if consumers boycott your products.Best of all, Lambert seeks support in linking to idiotic nonsense from Ed "water is carcinogenic" […]

    Like

  3. Peter Tard says:

    This is good page and I love this content, I recommended this to shop more of Apparel and Accessories in low price http://apparel-and-accessories-stores.blogspot.com thank for visit.

    Like

  4. Marion Delgado says:

    Ed put a strike through through glenn beck and put reynolds in the original post. it looks silly otherwise.

    Like

  5. […] from Uganda? DDT, cotton, misreporting In continuing efforts to slam environmentalists and Rachel Carson, Instapundit and RWDB complain (whine?) about the European Union’s efforts […]

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  6. Ed Darrell says:

    JC, there’s a list of problems with Mr. Beck’s claims above. Show me how stupid I am, and respond to each, specifically. Use real data, specific evidence, and make a cogent case.

    Got wits?

    Like

  7. JC says:

    Ed

    You really are a very stupid person. No wonder Shiny Lambet relies on you.

    Like

  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Oh, Mr. Beck! So many idiots enraged and seething about Rachel Carson, I have a difficult time keeping the ranters straight. Glenn Beck is with CNN, Glenn Reynolds is the guy with Instapundit. You’re the other Beck in Australia.

    Between the three of you, you can’t get it right about fighting malaria. Why is that?

    There’s a list of problems with your claims, in the post above. How clever of you to ignore them all completely. When we pin you on the facts, or on your failure to check out the facts, your arguments really collapse.

    Like

  9. pobept says:

    I don’t know about Uganda, but DDT is not banned in many countries. It is a very effective insecticide. It’s low cost when compared to other insecticides adds to it use.

    Cotton has ‘many’ insect pest that can destroy a crop. Top on this list is bole worms and bole weevils. Both can be effectively controlled with DDT.

    Cotton like any other crop has different grades “quality” standards and as such this effect who can use that product and the price they are willing to pay for that produce.

    Many cotton mills now insist on ‘organic’ cotton, that is what there customers are buying!

    As for your assumption that farmers have a choice to use or not use DDT is faulty. Using insecticides very well may mean the difference in making enough cotton to feed your family and buy seed for next years planting or going hungry.

    Heavy infestations of insects can reduce a cotton crop by as much as 90 percent if left untreated.

    Like

  10. Bug Girl says:

    Nicely done, Ed!

    Like

  11. simon ferrigno says:

    I’ve just been to the area affected in Uganda. The government has sprayed houses with DDT against malaria in some organic cotton disricts, and as a result some purchasers are now refusing to buy cotton from these areas in case organic cotton ends up stored in affected houses – a preemptive move in case some cotton gets contaminated, although nothing has been checked with the relevant organic certifiers. The DDT spraying is currently suspended due to a legal challenge against the use of DDT when other alternatives exist. neighbouring countries have used these alternatives against malaria rather than DDT
    This affects currently at least 15,000 farmers, who may be able to sell their cotton as conventional but will lose their certification.
    This is an intensely political situation exacerbated by interests from the chemical industry as well as within the cotton sector generally in Uganda.

    Like

  12. J F Beck says:

    Who’s this Glenn Beck guy?

    Like

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