Straight talk: Berenbaum on DDT and malaria


Plus, she’ll answer your questions.

But hurry.

One of the world’s great authorities on mosquitoes, May Berenbaum at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, spends this week talking about mosquitoes and malaria, and answering your questions.

Public Radio International runs a feature this week with Dr. Berenbaum answering questions.

(Hey, Beck!  Are you decent this week?)

(Steven Milloy?  Got the guts to ask a real scientist a question?)

You should see these first:

Life Cycle of Malaria, WHO and Campaign to Roll Back Malaria

Life Cycle of Malaria, WHO and Campaign to Roll Back Malaria

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13 Responses to Straight talk: Berenbaum on DDT and malaria

  1. […] comment would be posted.Fact averse American educator Ed Darrell and I discuss the Berenbaum post here. Read it and marvel at a leftist DDT-hater's twisted […]

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  2. J F Beck says:

    My apologies for incorrectly describing Norris McDonald’s broadcast spraying comment as “oblique”; he actually favors widespread outdoor use of DDT. Do you think this will prompt the WHO and USAID to fund/implement outdoor spraying programs?

    Whereas Berenbaum appears to have no issues with Roberts as a scientist, you, Bug Girl, Tim Lambert and other anti-DDT crusaders do. In the PRI discussion entomologist Bug Girl attempts to discredit him by alleging he’s closely linked to the LaRouche crap factory. (By the way, Bug Girl is, like Berenbaum, not an authority on DDT, mosquitoes and malaria, whereas Roberts is.)

    Roberts and others, including Arata Kochi, head of the WHO’s anti-malaria program, think DDT is safe and effective when sprayed indoors. You on the other hand are on record saying indoor spraying will “poison Africa”. You also describe DDT as “the epitome of ineffective dithering that kills millions” also claiming that a recent unspecified study shows that “DDT kills as many children as it might possibly save”. Thus, you, a layman, are effectively accusing persons with actual expertise in such matters of advocating a solution (DDT) that is worse than the problem (malaria). So what do you reckon, do those advocating DDT use take delight in poisoning African, or what?

    Further, you recently wrote: “Turns out that DDT is a regular poison for suicides across Asia.” This is, of course, incorrect: not a single person is known to have died as a result of acute DDT poisoning, anywhere, ever. This is because DDT is not acutely poisonous: even when mixed with kerosene –– itself quite poisonous — the estimated lethal DDT dose is 150 mg/kg.

    I could spend hours providing further examples of your errors and misrepresentations.

    You have an interesting and informative blog; your DDT posts are rubbish, however. Very disappointing coming from someone claiming to be an educator.

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    So based on an oblique comment from Norris McDonald you conclude that Paul Driessen, CORE and African American Environmentalist Association advocate broadcast use of DDT. That’s quite an imagination you have Mr Darrell.

    There’s no imagination that can overcome your allergic-style reaction to information, Mr. Beck. On the basis of that exchange, you can tell that McDonald calls for more broadcast spraying. Driessen is CORE’s guy on the topic (no, I can’t imagine why), and maybe I’ll be able to resurrect that exchange, too. You asked, I provided the data. No imagination required. Reading required.

    As far as I can tell Berenbaum has no issues with Roberts.

    Praise God! You got the point! Paul advised us to be ever hopeful.

    I am quite familiar with integrated pest management and was just asking Berenbaum’s opinion, thank you.

    Then you asked my opinion. The polite version is, there’s the EPA definition and figure it out. The more accurate but blunt version: Yeah, we figured it was a troll question on your part.

    Some organisations, including the WHO, want to use a variety of strategies and insecticides, including DDT. How did you come to know more about DDT than the experts? You know, that using it for IRS will poison Africa’s children.

    First sentence: You’ve got a second point! Two in one day. Two in one post!

    Second sentence: Where ever did you get such a fatuous claim? All my views on DDT are grounded in expert opinions. I didn’t say it would poison Africa’s children, though there was that study last year that showed DDT would kill more than malaria, just take longer. DDT simply isn’t the weapon of choice against malaria: First, it’s ineffective in too many cases (every mosquito on Earth now possesses genes to digest DDT); second, outdoors it is a blunderbuss or grenade-style weapon, taking out a lot of beneficial species, most often predators of mosquitoes; third, in water it kills fish that Africans depend on for food and, strangely enough, some Africans choose to suffer malaria rather than starve to death; fourth, DDT can never be more than one link in a chain of actions necessary to beat malaria, but when DDT is sprayed, the other links tend to be ignored, allowing malaria to rage; fifth, I tend to agree with Berenbaum, that IRS can be done with DDT — but it’s more expensive by far than bednets alone, and much less effective than other strategies, and it doesn’t offer any significant advantage over a number of other pesticide alternatives.

    That ought to cover it.

    I have written many DDT posts and again challenge to to go through them seeking a single significant error. On the other hand, I can point out many of your clangers. Would like me to remind you?

    Take it to your therapist where it could do some good.

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  4. J F Beck says:

    So based on an oblique comment from Norris McDonald you conclude that Paul Driessen, CORE and African American Environmentalist Association advocate broadcast use of DDT. That’s quite an imagination you have Mr Darrell.

    As far as I can tell Berenbaum has no issues with Roberts.

    I am quite familiar with integrated pest management and was just asking Berenbaum’s opinion, thank you.

    Some organisations, including the WHO, want to use a variety of strategies and insecticides, including DDT. How did you come to know more about DDT than the experts? You know, that using it for IRS will poison Africa’s children.

    I have written many DDT posts and again challenge to to go through them seeking a single significant error. On the other hand, I can point out many of your clangers. Would like me to remind you?

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Beck:

    Here’s where Norris McDonald of the African American Environmentalist Association advocates broadcast spraying — which doesn’t become clear, really, until the comments:
    http://aaenvironment.blogspot.com/2009/05/burn-bed-nets-flush-vaccines-spray-ddt.html (” . . . if we had Bill Gates’ money . . .”)
    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/norrismcdonald/6730105346507240275/#211955

    Here’s where Dr. Berenbaum addresses the issue of Dr. Roberts, politely not pointing out that the question was asked by a Larouche operative, pushing Roberts’ appearance in a Larouche publication.

    You’d do well to check out what she says here, too.

    What is integrated pest management? EPA defines it here — how does the program used in Panama 100 years ago (nearly) qualify? Bug Girl is a certified expert in bugs and IPM. I’d be inclined to listen to her.

    Here’s a post with links on fighting malaria without DDT. I can find no paper which suggests DDT is nearly as effective as bed nets, today.

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  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Will you now address the points in my earlier comment? Hit me with some facts, please.

    Perhaps in due time. You could read the stuff at the public radio site for yourself, no?

    Hit you with facts? When has that ever done any good?

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  7. J F Beck says:

    Facts are facts. Unfortunately, you, Lambert and Bug Girl do not present DDT facts.

    Will you now address the points in my earlier comment? Hit me with some facts, please.

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  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Do you think all science facts are “smoke, mirrors and deception,” or just the ones that contradict your biases?

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  9. J F Beck says:

    Berenbaum studies insects but is not as far as I can determine a mosquito expert. Specifically, she is not an authority on mosquitoes as malaria vectors. Further, she is not an authority on DDT.

    Where does she explain why PRI chose to interview her?

    Please provide links to Paul Driessen, CORE and African American Environmentalist Association advocating broadcast use of DDT.

    Please provide links to studies showing that DDT IRS producing resistant mosquitoes is a problem. In any event, DDT resistance should not be a problem if resistance is monitored with insecticides rotated regularly.

    The yellow fever question relates to an argument with bug girl, who refuses to acknowledge that mosquito control efforts in Panama were a form of integrated pest management.

    By the way, do you think bug girl is accurate in claiming Donald Roberts, who Berenbaum seems to regard highly, is “closely tied to Larouche’s organization” simply because he allowed himself to be interviewed by them?

    Finally, the anti-DDT campaign you, Tim Lambert, Bug Girl and others have going is based on smoke and mirrors deception.

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  10. Ed Darrell says:

    Witless, maybe, but not gutless.

    Here are a few things you may want to make note of to get a better shot if they keep this up a few more days:

    1. She’s an authority on insects, which order includes mosquitoes.

    2. In an earlier question she explained why PRI picked her. Incidentally, Roberts agrees with Berenbaum on DDT use for indoor residual spraying. What makes you think Roberts is more of an authority, in his emeritus status, than Berenbaum, who is still active?

    3. She’s already addressed the issue of Uganda fears of DDT — not from scientists, not from environmentalists. Did you read her response?

    4. Citations on resistance are many; WHO’s IRS program requires monitoring of the mosquitoes to see whether local populations develop resistance — and frequent rotations of the IRS chemicals to avoid it.

    5. Only Driessen and his associates at CORE and the African American Environmentalist Association advocate broadcast spraying of DDT — but why should Berenbaum care, or know?

    Who knows how she’d answer the yellow fever question — and can you tell us why it’s important?

    Good luck. Sorry I didn’t get a note to you sooner.

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  11. J F Beck says:

    I took up your challenge — “Got any guts? Why not go ask a question?” — by lodging a comment that has yet to be posted after over 14 hours.

    My missing comment (edited to correct a spelling error):

    “It appears that you are not an authority on DDT, malaria and mosquitoes. Why then do you think PRI [Public Radio International] chose to interview you for a “reality check” on the need for, and dangers of, DDT, rather than someone with actual expertise in such matters, Donald Roberts, for example?

    “In his introduction the PRI interviewer says that environmental activists are worried that DDT use in Uganda will kill people. Are you aware of any human deaths directly attributable to DDT? How likely is DDT IRS to kill people or even make them ill, in your opinion?

    “Your 2005 Washington Post essay says that indoor DDT spraying led “to the evolution of resistance 40 years ago and will almost certainly lead to it again in many places unless resistance monitoring and management strategies are put into place.” Please cite some of the many examples of DDT resistance, and elaborate on the magnitude of the problem of resistance, resulting from indoor spraying of DDT.

    “Can you think of anyone likely to influence malaria policy either at a national of international level who advocates DDT spraying for malaria to the exclusion of all other insecticides and methods (for example, bed-nets)?

    “On a separate but related topic, is it correct to regard yellow fever control strategies implemented in Panama associated with the construction of the canal as the first well-documentent example of integrated pest management? ”

    I’m not the gutless one, obviously.

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