Bated breath, bated brains, bated sense and DDT

At the root of all the false tales about Rachel Carson and DDT there are a handful of sources, all of them with an axe to grind.  In any discussion where someone tries to make a claim that DDT is good but misunderstood, or that Rachel Carson was evil tantamount to Pol Pot, Mao ze Dong and Lex Luther combined, the sources will turn out to be Gordon Edwards, Steven Milloy parroting Gordon Edwards, Elizabeth Whelan, Roger Bate, or Richard Tren.

Oh, there’s that Driessen guy, but he just quotes these other guys, appearing not to bother to check the accuracy of their statements.

Not one of these sources is an expert on DDT or its class of chemicals.  None of them is an entomologist, other than Gordon Edwards, whose productive work in entomology ended well before he fell in with Lyndon LaRouche and other America-hating groups.

It’s a tight-knit bunch, largely out of the sight of reporters and fact-checkers — and definitely out of the sight of scientists who work in either malaria reduction, wildlife management, or toxics control

If you care about science, about the War on Science (you out there, Mooney?), if you care about health care in Africa, Africa, Asia or generally about fighting malaria and saving kids’ lives; if you have any dog in the wise management of natural resources and especially wildlife; if you care about environmental protection, and wise government policies that will protect your children’s and grandchildren’s health and heritage, you need to read this article on Roger Bate.

Now operating out of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Bate’s signature coup to date has been to spread the myth that environmentalists, by preventing the use of the pesticide DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) to kill mosquitoes in developing countries, have heartlessly caused millions of malaria deaths worldwide. It needs to be said at the outset that this argument is untrue. While some groups have pressed hard to find alternatives, there is little evidence that a concerted effort to abolish anti-malaria DDT spraying ever occurred. Of the few environmental organizations that even pay attention to pesticide use overseas, the ones with any clout all support a clause in the Stockholm Convention that allows DDT use for public health reasons.

The fact that this knowledge has not stopped Roger Bate is not surprising. The wider the untrue story spreads, the worse environmentalists look, and that’s always been his bottom line. For all his personal likeability, he is a man on a mission, and because he doesn’t let anything slow down the pace and scope of his argument, he is very good at what he does.

The story is titled “Bate and Switch: How a free-market magician manipulated two decades of environmental science.”

Adam Sarvana wrote the story for the Public Education Center (PEC), a non-profit center with an investigative journalism experiment based in Washington, D.C.  (Note to newspapers:  You can probably get rights to print this story.)

Quick!  Warn the others:

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5 Responses to Bated breath, bated brains, bated sense and DDT

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Sweeney never issued a 113-page report “on why DDT should not be banned.” In fact his report made a strong case for the ban, but Sweeney interpreted the law to be that EPA lacked authority for a ban since the manufacturers had proposed a label revision which would have had the same effect as a ban (if anyone followed it).

    I dealt with the issue at significant length and detail in a post many months ago:

    What I think is that any one who tells you that Sweeney made the case to save DDT, will lie to you about anything and should be trusted on no issue whatsoever. Either they have not read Sweeney’s decision (I have links to it at the other post) and they are completely unaware of the history of DDT, or they know the facts and they’re trying to hornswoggle you, probably for evil reasons.

    Josh, that Gordon Edwards article you cite from Lyndon Larouche’s site — Lyndon Larouche? Are you kiddin’ me? Are you in with those crypto-fasco-socialist-tinfoil hatters? Couldn’t find a good Three Stooges site? — came after Edwards had lost his touch with data. Almost every claim Edwards makes is dead wrong. Some of them involve inventions of claims that go far beyond anything Timothy Leary ever dreamed up under the influence of his favorite chemicals.

    Again, I have provided detailed responses to several of those claims:
    100 things about DDT #10:
    Fisking “Junk Science,” Point #6:
    Fisking “Junk Science,” Point #8:
    Also see here, “War on science”:

    If you still think Rachel Carson was wrong on any point, go to the search box at this blog, type in “DDT,” and start reading. None of the sources I use come from ex-cons like Larouche, or use citations that are completely bogus like Steve Milloy and Edwards’ work at the Larouche site.


  2. Josh says:

    I would also like to know what you say to Edmund Sweeney’s (the Judge of the EPA hearing on DDT) 113 page report on why DDT should not be banned.


  3. Josh says:

    Roger Bate has already published many articles on fake (‘generic’ as mike called them) drugs. He’s not only about to, he already has…

    It is a lie to believe that Rachel Carson is Credible or telling the truth… Try this link

    I would like to see some proof frome the side that says DDT is harmful before I will accept the claims that all the people you mentioned are not credible!


  4. […] ban on DDT.  It’s not true, any of it, but it sounds true enough that people buy into it and Rachel Carson has become a villainess (Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub) for publishing her work Silent Spring and pushing for a ban on […]


  5. Mike says:

    The effects of what Roger Bate has done with DDT and global warming are disturbing enough, but what also alarms me is that he is about to enter the health care policy frame of targeting generic drugs.


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