Critics of Rachel Carson and sponsors of the anti-science, anti-environmentalist campaign to bring back DDT as a major killer, frequently misinform in very selective ways. For example, they like to mention DDT’s role in causing human cancers, because, they claim Rachel Carson was dead wrong about that link. Therefore, they say, DDT is a nice chemical and bans should be lifted.
In reality, carcinogenicity played a very small role in banning DDT. DDT was banned because it kills indiscriminately, killing beneficial insects along with the bad, killing untargeted species, like songbirds, along with the insect targets; and DDT was banned because once released into the wild, it is very long-lived, and its ultimate destructive effects cannot be known or controlled — though some harms, such as the devestation of America’s birds of prey, are extremely well documented.
Similarly, the anti-science crowd doesn’t like to talk about the third big area where DDT produces harms: Hormone disruption. In fact, Steven Milloy’s “100 things you should know about DDT” at the site that peddles junk science, JunkScience.com, does not even contain the word “hormone.”
They play down the fact that DDT and its by-products disrupt reproductive processes, and sometimes disrupt and deform reproductive organs, of nearly every animal it touches. They don’t want you to know about the hormonal effects of DDT and its breakdown products.
So, they never mention books like the National Academy of Sciences’ compilation of the harms of such chemicals, Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment.
Milloy will misquote the NAS when NAS mentions slightly the benefits of DDT; Milloy will not quote NAS when they cite the dangers of DDT. So this book on hormonally active agents, which mentions DDT specifically in 16 chapters for a total of 309 times, will never be mentioned in a discussion of DDT’s dangers — unless you bring it up.
Go see what the book says in the Executive Summary. If you debate the anti-Rachel Carson crowd, use this book frequently — they will have no answers.
And, Sen. Tom Coburn, are you listening? Since when do your constituents want you to defend a chemical which will ruin their farm animals, and especially the ducks they want to hunt? It’s time to quit trying to tarnish the memory of Rachel Carson, Sen. Coburn, and let that post office in Pennsylvania be named after her.