Sunday, April 22, 2012

"DDT: A Case Study in Scientific Fraud"

From J. Gordon Edwards seminal paper in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Fall 2004)

J. Gordon Edwards, Ph.D. 
Value of Pesticides to Humanity 
The chemical compount that has saved more human lives than any other in history, DDT, was banned by order of one man, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Public pressure was generated by one popular book and sustained by faulty or fraudulent search. Widely believed claims of carcinogenicity, toxicity to birds, anti- androgenic properties, and prolonged environmental persistence are false or grossly exaggerated. The worldwide effect of the U.S. ban has been millions of preventable deaths.

Fraud in science is a major problem. A2002 report published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on fraud in science in Germany stated the International Scientific Misconduct Rules should punish deliberate or grossly negligent falsification or fabrication of data, and that failure to cooperate with investigations will be considered an admission of guilt. Ombudsmen will be appointed to probe for examples of misconduct, including falsification, fabrications, selective use of data, and manipulation of graphs and figures. Upon reading this article, I prepared a 34-page list of frauds published in U.S. scientific journals and sent it to the editor of . Although he responded courteously, he evidently did not wish to publicize this. The most common examples of fraud in the United States appear to be environmental, including acid rain, ozone holes, carbon dioxide, ultraviolet radiation, global cooling, global warming, endangered species, and pesticides. This article will primarily concern the last, especially DDT.

DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was first produced in 1874 by German chemist Othmar Zeidler, but he did not suggest any actual use for it. Sixty years later, Paul Müller duplicated the procedure and discovered the chemicals insecticidal potential. For this, he received the Nobel Prize in 1948.

DDT has been effective in controlling mankinds worst insect pests, including lice, fleas, and mosquitoes. This was of enormous importance for human health because at least 80 percent of human infectious disease worldwide is arthropod borne. Hundreds of millions have died from malaria, yellow fever, typhus, dengue, plague, encephalitis, leishmaniasis, filariasis, and many other diseases. In the 14th century bubonic plague (transmitted by fleas) 1 2 Science killed a fourth of the people in Europe and two-thirds of those in the
British Isles. Yellow fever killed millions before it was found to be transmitted by mosquitoes. It infected British troops in the Louisiana Territory in 1741, killing 20,000 of the 27,000 soldiers. In 1802, French troops arrived there but departed after 29,000 of the 33,000 soldiers died of yellow fever. More than 100 epidemics of typhus ravaged civilizations in Europe and Asia, with mortality rates as high as 70 percent. But by far the greatest killer has been malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes.

In 1945 the goal of eradicating this scourge appeared to be achievable, thanks to DDT. By 1959, the U.S., Europe, portions of the Soviet Union, Chile, and several Caribbean islands were nearly malaria free. In 1970 the National Academy of Sciences stated: To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. In little more than two decades DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths due to malaria that would have otherwise have been inevitable.

Today, however, after the U.S. ban on DDT, there is a global malaria burden of 300 to 500 million cases and 1 to 2.5 million deaths annually, mostly among young children. Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds. Many South American countries suffered more than 90 percent increases in malaria rates after halting DDT use, but Ecuador used DDT again and enjoyed a 61 percent in malaria...

Happy Earth Day. Folks in the developing world can be excused if they don't join the festivities.


  1. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons? Is that the sorry rag that sees it fit to publish crackpots like Andy Schlafly? It's not even indexed on PubMed. LOL.

  2. Are you a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Mike? If not, are planning to join them? That would be totally awesome! These guys oppose not only government intervention in health care, they are against mandatory vaccination. At some point, the organization declared social security evil and immoral. You'll fit right in!

  3. And your reply to the substance of the argument?

    1. No. Your arguments lack substance. You don't reply to my criticisms, anyway. So I will merely poke fun at your crack-pottery. Do you mind?

  4. I love it. And you have no replies. Just evasion.

    1. I used to reply, but then you typically ran away. Like here, for instance. It got boring after a while, so I decided that there was no point.

      In any event, backfiend has already dealt with your DDT claims on another thread and I have nothing to add to that.

      It's fun, however, to see you quote a crackpot journal as if it were a legitimate source. It would be even more fun to see you join those crackpots.