DDT Discovers an Insecticide - History

The Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Muller discovered the powers of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichlorethane) to act as an insecticide in killing insects.

DDT Regulatory History: A Brief Survey (to 1975)

DDT (Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), for many years one of the most widely used pesticidal chemicals in the United States, was first synthesized in 1874. Its effectiveness as an insecticide, however, was only discovered in 1939. Shortly thereafter, particularly during World War II, the U.S. began producing large quantities of DDT for control of vector-borne diseases such as typhus and malaria abroad.

After 1945, agricultural and commercial usage of DDT became widespread in the U.S. The early popularity of DDT, a member of the chlorinated hydrocarbon group, was due to its reasonable cost, effectiveness, persistence, and versatility. During the 30 years prior to its cancellation, a total of approximately 1,350,000,000 pounds of DDT was used domestically.

After 1959, DDT usage in the U.S. declined greatly, dropping from a peak of approximately 80 million pounds in that year to just under 12 million pounds in the early 1970s. Of the quantity of the pesticide used in 1970-72, over 80 percent was applied to cotton crops, with the remainder being used predominantly on peanut and soybean crops. The decline in DDT usage was the result of (1) increased insect resistance (2) the development of more effective alternative pesticides (3) growing public concern over adverse environmental side effects and (4) increasing government restrictions on DDT use.

In addition to domestic consumption, large quantities of DDT have been purchased by the Agency for International Development and the United Nations and exported for malaria control. DDT exports increased from 12 percent of the total production in 1950 to 67 percent in 1969. However, exports have shown a marked decrease in recent years dropping from approximately 70 million pounds in 1970 to 35 million in 1972.

DDT and the Rise and Fall of Polio

I love watching old black and white newsreels from the first half of the 20th century. It’s a fascinating period of history, and it’s one of the few in which we can go back and revisit almost as if we were there. There was a span of years immediately after World War II, however, that is particularly interesting, because it doesn’t normally get a lot of attention, compared to the war years and the “the fabulous 󈧶s.” The second half of the 1940s often tends to get short-changed, perhaps because it was more of a transitional time of rebuilding and regearing after the war in preparation for getting back to normal life in the United States.

There is a series of five newsreels I recently found that sheds some light on the polio epidemic during the immediate post-war period and offers another perspective to that health crisis, which ultimately fueled the development of Jonas Salk’s inactivated injectable polio vaccine (IPV) in 1954 and its licensure in 1955. To view these films, just click on the following:

To put the polio story into context, it’s important to note the number of reported cases of poliomyelitis during the late-1930s and early-1940s. During 1933-1937, there were a total of 37,463 cases (4,930 deaths), followed by 31,993 cases (4,165 deaths) in 1938-1942, 12,449 cases (1,115 deaths) in 1943, 19,029 cases (1,433 deaths) in 1944, and 13,619 cases (1,189 deaths) in 1945. 1

The number of cases had clearly risen in 1943 but had begun to dramatically drop in 1945, not rise. However, there still existed a fear of the disease in the country due to upward spikes in 1943 and 1944 and the occasional serious epidemics that had been occurring since 1910. One of the worst ones had taken place in New York City in 1916, with more than 27,000 reported cases and some 6,000 deaths. 2 Plus there was the tremendous public exposure that the disease had garnered due to the fact the President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself had polio. His legs had been paralyzed in 1921. In 1938, President Roosevelt sponsored the establishment of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP). 3

Despite the declining cases of polio in the U.S., in 1946, President Harry S. Truman declared war on polio. In a speech from the White House, President Truman said:

The fight against infantile paralysis cannot be a local war. It must be nationwide. It must be total war in every city, town and village throughout the land. For only with a united front can we ever hope to win any war. 2

Almost immediately, the US government stepped up its nationwide mass fumigation campaign using the extremely toxic chemical DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). The goal was to exterminate mosquitoes, which were believed to be spreading polio. In a Universal Newsreel (produced by Universal City Studios) from 1946 showing mass DDT spraying in San Antonio, TX, 4 the narrator can be heard saying:

With a possibility of a grave infantile paralysis epidemic, San Antonio health authorities attack germ carriers on a citywide front. With war-discovered DDT and special sprayers, sections of the city are literally fogged with the insecticide in the fight to stop the spread of polio. Every suspected spot is sprayed. The drastic cleanup is ordered as polio and alive diseases show alarming increase. Even streams come in for disinfecting, and in the parks precautions are taken to prevent gatherings of youngsters. Literally tons of DDT are used on this dread disease that attacks our young. Again, war, destructive in parables, contributes one of its discoveries to save life. 4

The DDT fumigation effort in the U.S. had actually been going on since at least 1945. In another Universal Newsreel, narrated by Albert Grobe, you can see a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber aircraft loading up with DDT and then flying over Rockford, IL on August 27, 1945 releasing the toxic chemical. 5 The narrator can be heard saying:

Today’s target for this B-25 is Rockford, Illinois—a peacetime mission to spread 500 gallons of DDT, the Army’s miracle insecticide over the city, stricken with an infantile paralysis epidemic. By spraying the city, authorities will test the theory that insects are carriers of the dread germ. Air Force pictures show the method devised by the Army’s branch of preventive medicine. Flying at an average altitude of 150 feet, the plane sprays a strip more than 150 yards wide at the rate of 215 gallons a minute. A bomber turns to the ways of peace, becomes an instrument of science, and may become the means of saving countless lives. 5

As the DDT campaign proceeded, the incidence of polio began to sharply rise in the U.S. The number of reported cases of polio in the country in 1946 hit 25,191—nearly twice the number as in the previous year. 1 In 1947, the number of cases dropped to 10,737 (580 deaths), but then rose again to 27,680 (2,140 deaths) in 1948. 6

The number of cases remained high during 1949-1951, with a total of 103,719, or an annual average of 34,573. 7

In 1952, the number of polio cases peaked at 52,879, and then began to decline to 35,592 in 1953, 38,476 in 1954 and 28,985 in 1955. 8 The rates of polio were already well on a downward trend by the time the Salk vaccine was licensed in 1955 and began to be used on a mass scale.

Interestingly, DDT fumigation in the US had reached its peak in 1951. In 1952, the fumigations were subsiding. In 1953, polio cases were also subsiding at about the same rate. By 1953, the number of polio cases had dropped by nearly 40%. 9 After 1954, even though DDT was still produced in the U.S., the distribution of the chemical shifted to developing countries. 9 Large quantities of DDT began to be bought by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations (UN) and exported. 10

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “DDT exports increased from 12 percent of the total production in 1950 to 67 percent in 1969.” 10

During the 30 years before DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, a total of approximately 1.35 billion pounds of the chemical was sprayed throughout the country 10 … based on a false theory that mosquitoes carried a germ that spread polio, and under the false assumption that DDT was completely harmless to humans—so much so that one of the popular advertising slogans of the 1940s and 1950s was, “DDT Is Good For Me-e-e!”

1 Dauer CC. Incidence of Poliomyelitis in 1946. Association of Schools of Public Health, Public Health Reports (1896-1970) June 20, 1947 62(25): 901-909.
2 Beaubien J. Wiping Out Polio: How The U.S. Snuffed Out A Killer. NPR Oct. 15, 2012.
3 Wilson DJ. Living with Polio: The Epidemic and Its Survivors.University of Chicago Press 2005.
4 Universal News Volume 19, Release 506, Story #2, May 27, 1946. May 5, 2014 (published date).
5 DDT is sprayed over Rockford, Illinois to combat polio epidemic. August 27, 1945. Aug. 27, 2013 (published date).
6 Dauer CC. Incidence of Poliomyelitis in 1948. Association of Schools of Public Health, Public Health Reports (1896-1970) June 10, 1949 64(23): 733-740.
7 Incidence Rates of Poliomyelitis in US. Post-Polio Health International.
8 U.S. Polio Cases 1952-1962. The History of Vaccines.
9 West J. Pesticides and Polio: A Critique of Scientific Literature. The Weston A. Price Foundation Feb. 8, 2003.
10 DDT Regulatory History: A Brief Survey (to 1975). United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers. The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.

43 Responses to " DDT and the Rise and Fall of Polio "

It would be interesting to see the infection rate of those already vaccinated in comparison to the unvaccinated population.

The neurological damage we call polio can very easily be induced by a combination of toxic chemicals and nuclear radiation. Both were abundantly present in the years after WW-II.
I would not be surprised at all when at that time this was already known to those in the “top of the food chain” as a profitable opportunity to create an impressive pharmaceutical clientele among the babyboomers…

I wouldn’t be surprised either. I remember growing up in the 50’s in Mpls MN with pick up trucks driving in the neighborhoods with that spray coming out of the gadget in the bed of the truck. It was OK to jump around in the fog behind the pick up truck, but don’t eat the snow full of fall out from testing in Siberia.
Glad to see your still around. Thank you for your part of waking me up years ago.

polio has been a threat to humans for millennia and is easily transmittable. it has affected hundreds of thousands of children severely, some fatally. but because it is a virus that has been identified it has been virtually eradicated globally thanks to vaccines.

ddt yeah, pure poison and we’ll never know the number of diseases and deaths caused by it. but i don’t equating ddt stats to polio is very scientific.

that said, EVERY med and vaccine should be scrutinized extensively and frankly the fda and cdc are no match for big pharma….

I grew up in the suburban Chicago from 1954 onward. They sprayed DDT liberally for mosquitos. In 1990, I found a lump in my breast Invasive carcinoma. Treatment was cut, burn and poison. After this treatment and the usual re-occurance, I had both breasts removed and was put on Tamoxifen. Now that I am off of Tamoxifen, I have fatty liver tissue. Too bad I was not more aware years ago, but thanks to the Internet information, I am more aware.
I am certainly more aware of the increased load of vaccines that pHARMa wants to push is NOT good and I worry for my grandchildren.

I worry for my grandchildren as well regarding all the mandatory vaccines that our government is forcing on them in order to get an education. I also am concerned that vaccines will soon be forced on me.

Let us not forget that around 1948 doctors started telling women to use infant formula (for healthier babies)rather than breast feed,as my mother was told. That was before we learned that breast milk contains all the mother’s immunity and gets passed on to the baby with their developing immune system,leaving the newborn babies with little or no immunity to any diseases. This seems to have doubled the polio infection rate by 1950, according to statistics.

Twice around 1949 I had gotten a rash from eating lettuce.
If a 2nd grader could figure it out, somebody would have had to know.

Correction: Too many mistakes in comment in my comment. Here’s a rewrite –

Let us not forget that around 1948 food corporations started telling doctors to tell pregnant women, to use infant formula (in order to have healthier babies)rather than breast feed, as my mother was told before I was born, in 1948.

That was before science discovered that breast milk contains all the mother’s immunity, which gets passed on to her baby, because the newborn’s own immune system is not yet developed. Infant formula (with no breast milk)leaves newborn babies with little or no immunity to any diseases (for several year until their own immune systems develop.)

Consequently, between 1948 and 1950, there was a direct association between the massive use of infant formula and a spike in the polio infection rate.

The polio infection rate doubled between 1948 and 1950 (according to CDC statistics) after the massive global introduction of baby formula around 1948, as a replacement for mother’s breast milk.

Actually in our cozy USA we were “lucky.” Babies in developing countries were dying unnecessarily because of contaminated water mixed with the formula. The mothers had developed immunity to the dirty water, but the newborns didn’t have a chance.

The corporate response is never to clean up the dirty water. It is always just “more vaccines.”

polio was CURED in 1949. google polio was CURED in 1949.
since polio was CURED in 1949 why was anyone allowed to suffer polio after 1949. greed.

Dissolving Illusions has a fascinating, lengthy chapter concerning polio. For example, the index case for the 1916 New York outbreak lived only a few blocks from the Rockefeller Institutes where “scientists” were working on a polio vaccine.

It is VERY hard to break through dis-information when it is HUGE and widespread. Can you consider the possibility that DDT has been falsely maligned? I’m anti-vac and anti-pollutant. I mistrust many chemicals — vigorously! BUT, there is honest and thorough research that shows the DDT issue (an exceptional one) was falsified in order to get a public agenda going. The EPA was founded in 1972 and DDT was claimed (by works of non-scientist Rachel Carson) to be dangerous. Studies were done with improper information. Medical doctors rebelled and gave testimony that DDT was not dangerous. There is a young preventive medicine doctor (MD) who has broken through the lies. He has a documentary of the history of the fraud perpetrated in the Nixon administration. You can watch the documentary, for free. I know it takes guts to question a major hoax like this, but I honestly challenge you to watch the FULL EXPOSURE of what went down. The documentary is well done, not “flakey” — thoroughly showing EVIDENCE that exonerates DDT. You don’t want to miss this!—

DDT in the documentary 𔄛 Billion and Counting”? Wait a minute. I’m open to evidence that DDT is OK but a couple of things. First, insects develop resistance to pesticides– this was one of the problems with the widespread use of DDT. Second, I believe the WHO official in the documentary said that scientists are in agreement that DDT isn’t good for the environment. So do we save the people, these poor people, by harming their environment? Or is part of the subtext of the documentary that you need pesticides, as was mentioned in the opening scenes of the doctor growing up on a farm? If someone starts to tell you that you need pesticides that should be a red flag: we have plenty of organic farms in my area, and we most certainly could feed everyone with organic food if we wanted to. Third, it was mentioned that unless we get rid of the disease, we can’t get rid of the poverty. Let’s try it the other way around: when we get rid of the poverty, we can get rid of the pools of standing water in those slums, people can afford netting, they can selectively spray areas if necessary, they can afford screens on doors, etc., or they can just plain move away from the swamp areas with the most mosquitoes. Fourth, why can’t we find a nontoxic substance that targets mosquitoes or the causative agent, Plasmodium falciparum? We can do all kinds of wonderful biochemistry but we can’t do this? And we have to rely on a pesticide that disrupts biological processes in many organisms? The documentary makes the claim that people were asking for DDT, and not pyrethoids which are less toxic, because you can tell the DDT is there by the residue but not the pyrethoids. You really mean to tell me there is no workaround to that problem? Give me ten minutes and I think I might be able to come up with some sort of dye.
No, whenever anyone wants to tell you that we need pesticides be a little skeptical, because environmentally the basic problem we humans have is that we seem to want to spread toxins around and pretend there’s no big problem.
Lastly, who sponsored this documentary? Who funded it?
I don’t see any evidence in the documentary that DDT is the answer to the problem of malaria that afflicts the poorest of the poor the hardest. I do see evidence that someone is promoting DDT use, despite reasonable alternatives. Yes, alternative may cost more but if pharmaceutical companies, for example, can pay out billions in fines and count it as just the cost of doing business, maybe someone should hit them up for a couple hundred million–or a spare billion– for a good cause?

I wrote a rather lengthy reply to the DDT documentary (𔄛 Billion …”) raising a number of questions such as: do we really need DDT for the poor people depicted in the documentary or do we need to raise them out of poverty so they can afford mosquito netting, improve drainage to eliminate standing water, use safer alternatives to DDT, etc? I also questioned who funded the documentary– as did others in the documentary itself. But my comments weren’t published, which I find strange. I kept my discourse civil and was merely pointing out some questions we should ask ourselves when viewing the documentary. So what’s going on?

I watched the whole documentary on DDT via cultureunplugged. It all seems to make sense. It’s unbelievable that one man at the EPA could wield so much influence over the lives of millions of people and not in a good way.

Authoritatively there has never been a single case of disease caused by DDT in the entire world. That would be an impossibility and thus indicates the heavy-handed POLITCS of DDT. Mosquito-borne disease can be a dramatic game of disinfo that protects industrial polluters and opens the door for medical profiteering. Without toxicology little can be confirmed about disease causation, and there is rarely any toxicology.

Bangladesh has been a world leader in terms of disease epidemics, cancer, malaria, polio, etc. More recently though it has been revealed that much of its water supply has been polluted by agricultural arsenic. Decades of severe epidemics passed by with no toxicological investigations, as Bangladeshis were diagnosed with microbial diseases.

“Malaria” must be understood, in order to continue discussion. Captain Ross, who did the seminal work on the malaria parasite paradigm, wrote in his biography that he was shocked that during the 40 years since his work was announced, no one had challenged his thesis.

Where is the malaria toxicology which would clarify the actual characteristics of the malaria parasite? Toxicology is not part of Ross’s work.

There is a modern era PCR study meant to confirm malaria cases, had it found malaria to be 95% misdiagnosed.

Rachel Carson was nice, minimally approaching the human plight associated with DDT, and she was published well, with a much higher public profile compared to the earlier writings by Biskind, Mobbs, and Scobey who directly addressed the human condition as affected by industrial conditions such as DDT. See Carson was promoted by the Rockefellers, the petroleum magnates.

Professor J. Gordon Edwards was made famous for drinking a glass of DDT stirred into water, but DDT is a waxy powder, and in such a scenario, not absorbed into the GI tract. Edwards apparently was playing a dangerous hoax, because studies have proven the DDT is dangerous when emulsified into oils or soapy watery suspensions, which a more hazard application of DDT in agriculture.

It has been a long time since your comment was entered but i just found it and watched the documentary. THANK YOU so much for taking the time to enter this comment! I was one of the people who read ‘Silent Spring’ when it first came out. I remember the controversies. Now i finally know the truth! What amazing information! Everyone should see this.

As a little kid in Norman, OK, circa late 50’s, I remember myself and numerous neighborhood kids CHASING a truck spraying DDT. It did not smell bad, and we thought it was fun. I guess I was lucky to have been breastfed and only had that one experience – they must have been exporting it out of the country by then. I cannot BELIEVE it was “believed” to be non-toxic to humans – “BELIEF” can be a religion, not science. I cannot believe they did not know mosquitoes were NOT a vector for the spread of polio, yet the government chose to spray this war-toxin on citizens. They knew all this and did it anyway, just as they put fluoride in clean water, and just as they inject more and more deadly chemicals, metals, fetal cells, etc. into human beings pretending that “vaccination” is a “healthy” thing to do. Sigh……….I am a holistic physician now, and TRY to teach people…….so many BELIEVE in this horrible, totally FALSE big business scam of vaccines, drugs, fluoride, GMOs, Round-Up. Thank-you for bringing people desperately needed truth. Cheers!

The Environmental Protection Agency held hearings in 1972 on DDT. There were over 9000 pages of testimony. Thankfully, extracts from the Examiner’s findings are available here – Of note are the Examiners’s Conclusions of law on page 93 which states, 𔄡. DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man. 10. DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man.” So, if it wasn’t banned for scientific reasons….why was it banned? Worth investigating … A friend of mine thought so too and went so far as to make a documentary. It’s available to watch free of charge here:—

My husband has told me that DDT was not harmful but that it was banned on purpose BECAUSE it worked. Rachel Carson was a hired gun. I’m watching the documentary at culture unplugged (dot) com as I type this.

To my mind, it appears Rachel Carson was a useful tool and a woman pretending to ‘do science’ in a field that was primarily a man’s field —which was perfect for the time in which she lived. According to the documentary, she had cancer when she wrote the book and likely had an axe to grind. Her ghost writer said the book was ’emotionally charged’ and ‘alarmist’. It also appears she was a feminist and an ‘earth mother’ aka pantheist. BUT, this all served to get another gov’t agency off the ground (EPA) and the ecology ‘movement’ in full swing. It all helped to serve the agenda that came FROM THE TOP DOWN. The Earth, oh-so-much more important than people. People are the cancer upon the Earth. Just read people like Mikhail Gorbachev …

SO what a few hundred million of preventable deaths, right?

I read the PDF.
That is a hearing in 1972 by the EPA.
By 1972, DDT was already largely phased out of the U.S., so the positive view combined with a ban, politically put DDT behind us, liability free for industry, and facilitated the influx of the new pesticide technology, which was organophosphates.

Today, as of 2014, the EPA view of DDT is negative:

Probable human carcinogen
Damages the liver
Temporarily damages the nervous system
Reduces reproductive success
Can cause liver cancer
Damages reproductive system

Potential Sources to our Environment:

DDT in soil can be absorbed by some growing plants and by the animals or people who eat those plants
DDT in water is absorbed by fish and shellfish in those waterways
Atmospheric deposition
Soil and sediment runoff
Improper use and disposal

DDT is “persistent”, i.e., it does not degrade easily. It accumulates in the environment as a waxy chlorine compound.

Though negative, the EPA circumvents polio symptoms. Its phrase “temporarily” is obvious BS, because the studies by Daniel Dresden at clearly find paralysis and death when DDT is ingested after being emulsified in milk. Other studies in 1951: Calves were found brain damaged and paralyzed when their mothers (cows) ate grass treated with DDT. Historically: DDT was mandated on dairy farms prior to the great polio epidemic apex, and banned from dairy farms after the apex.

Jim West’s research on polio poison disease, is as good as it gets. John Wantling, Rochdale

Thanks John Wantling for mentioning my research.

The author may not realize this, but this topic, “DDT/Polio”, in this era, was introduced via my independent research, published in Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients (June 2000):

My latest DDT/Polio statement is a book on

My latest BlockBuster book is an unprecedented indictment of prenatal ultrasound:

Trolls come on the website to make us all look like weirdoes.

I grew up where DDT was sprayed for pesticide on crops all the time. Workers were in the fields while this was being done and no one ever got sick. Before DDT was banned it was also sold for killing bed bugs, and they are back with a vengeance. For those who are interested in knowing the TRUTH about DDT watch the documentary 𔄛 BILLION AND COUNTING.” That is how many people in Africa have died since the banning of DDT from malaria. Before they used to spray their homes to kill the mosquitoes. Now we force mosquito nets on them that don’t work. It is time to lift the ban and save innocent lives.

Pleas read the reference I supplied. DDT is just one of several persistent pesticides whose prevalence correlates with polio epidemics. The symptoms of pesticide disease correlate with “polio”. I have graphed statistics to make it clear.

Near the end of WWII, with such an unprecedented application of neurotoxins into the national food supply, and the rise of a corresponding neurological disease epidemic, where are the obviously required toxicological studies. They don’t exist.

Read Drs, Biskind, Mobbs, and Scobey, who wrote much on the topic in the early 1950s.

Correct. It (“polio”) is associated with arsenates and heavy metals as well as DDT.

How can you say there is a connection between polio and DDT when you factor in polio vaccine and there are studies showing polio rose AFTER vaccine.
My family used DDT, it was common at that time to fill in women’s stockings with the magic white powder and spray around your home to protect from lice, flees, mosquitoes and other tiny insects. My grandparents died of old age at 90 and 93. A lot of people in my country used DDT and were sprayed they are still around, some in their 90-ies

DDT is “safe” in the instance you describe. The digestive tract does not easily absorb DDT in powder form because DDT is a waxy compound. However, when DDT is emulsified, into milk for example, DDT is absorbed and can cause neurological disease and death in mammals. Cows thoroughly masticate grass with DDT and emulsify DDT into their GI tract, and DDT is excreted in their milk.
DDT was mandated onto dairy farms during the post-WWII era when polio incidence increased severely. At the peak of DDT prevalence, in the U.S., circa 1951, calves were found neurologically damaged on farms that used DDT.
Soon thereafter, DDT prevalence decreased as did polio incidence, eventually DDT was banned, making room for a new generation of pesticides, the organophosphates.

When national immunization campaigns were initiated in the 1950s, the number of reported cases of polio following mass inoculations with the killed-virus vaccine was significantly greater than before mass inoculations, and may have more than doubled in the U.S. as a whole. For example, Vermont reported 15 cases of polio during the one-year report period ending August 30, 1954 (before mass inoculations), compared to 55 cases of polio during the one-year period ending August 30, 1955 (after mass inoculations)– 266% increase. Rhode Island reported 22 cases during the before inoculations period as compared to 122 cases during the after inoculations period — 454% increase.

There are statistical irregularities per timelines and localities, but generally polio incidence decreased after 1952. This is in terms of paralytic polio.

You may be referring to non-paralytic polio, which is much more difficult to categorize, because polio can be indistinguishable from encephalitis and other neurological diseases. It is the specific “virus” that distinguishes the type of neurological disease. Without toxicology at the clinical level, polio is a mass of confusion, and there is no toxicology.

Clearly pressure from below is capable of
doing something, even a good deal, but real change might
be achieved only in the political arena Karla Cherico you might meet the criteria to obtain state money based around the information within your fafsa.

There’s no such thing as Poliosis! Giving everyone neurological AIDS was vewy profitable! They just change the names for more of your money instead of treatments for the real cause of your syndromes, psych, cancers and addiction…
Epstein Borreliosis AIDS is infinite in antigenic variations.

Sandler ( showed that low-blood-glucose (hypoglycemia) dramatically increases the risk of paralysis from polio infection.

(1) Low blood glucose can be caused by intense exercise, and it is well-accepted that this increases the risk of paralysis when there is active infection. “Dr. Levinson found that monkeys forced to swim to the point of exhaustion in cold water developed more severe paralysis than did either those that remained in cages or those that were immersed in water at body temperature and protected from exercise and chilling.” Shades of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

(2) Hypoglycemia following a bolus of starch or sugar would also increase the risk. Sandler did experiments with rabbits, infecting them with polio and then giving them insulin to cause low blood glucose, and this increased the risk of paralysis: “The next step was to lower the blood sugar of the rabbit to subnormal values with insulin injections, and then inoculate the rabbit with polio virus. This was done and it was found that the rabbits became infected and developed the disease.”

What Sandler didn’t know at the time is that cane sugar can be contaminated with deoxysugars, and that deoxysugars cause effective hypoglycemia. With the deoxysugar deoxyglucose, for example, cells preferentially take up deoxyglucose, but can’t use it for energy — so cane sugar contaminated with enough deoxyglucose would increase the risk of paralysis from polio infections. (This idea comes from van Meer’s paper, The paper “THE EFFECT OF 2-DEOXY-D-GLUCOSE INFUSIONS ON LIPID AND CARBOHYDRATE METABOLISM IN MAN” says “In the presenceof 2-DG [the deoxysugar deoxyglucose], although the measured plasma level of glucose is high, if cellular utilization of glucose cannot occur the organism can be considered to be functionally hypoglycemic.”

van Meer also notes that DDT affects blood sugar, and that this effect could cause increased risk of polio with concurrent DDT exposure. I haven’t been able to find definitive evidence that DDT triggers hypoglycemia or effective hypoglycemia, but this paper in mice is suggestive: It says “In fact, a slight hypoglycemia was observed at both the 5- and ?-hr intervals. Interestingly, at these time periods the DDT-treated mice were exhibiting marked tremors.” So they found some hypoglycemia, and tremors can be a symptom of hypoglycemia (although they can have other causes). So it is certainly plausible that DDT causes increased polio paralysis due to hypoglycemic effects.

The funny thing is that Sandler didn’t know about deoxysugar causing effective hypoglycemia, and van Meer didn’t know about Sandler’s work showing that hypoglycemia increases polio paralysis risk, but they both could see a relationship between paralysis risk and blood sugar. Sandler thought the risk was from hypoglycemia in response to a bolus does (which does happen in some people), but actually deoxyglucose contamination is a more likely trigger. van Meer thought increased risk was due to high blood glucose, because that’s what deoxysugars trigger — when cells have effective hypoglycemia, there is a counter-regulatory response to raise blood glucose to try to resolve the apparent low blood-glucose state.


none of the source links work and sources for this data isn’t listed on the page. can you please point me in the right direction?

My father was born in 1932 and as a baby developed “polio”. The story goes, my grandmother was changing his diaper and a big black fly flew out. Over the next few days, they noticed his leg went limp. Diagnosis: polio. My uncle, his older brother, got polio from swimming in a public pool, so they say, despite it was chlorinated.

About ten years ago, I found a book (sorry, I cannot recall the name or author) that stated that polio wasn’t caused by a virus but was a result of DDT or other pesticide/chemical. One of the old ads printed in the book showed a big fly and a can of bug spray. People’s stories all seemed to corroborate the DDT or chemical theory since several stated things like the child had just eaten an apple and days later, had polio, and so on.

I’m not saying that all cases are DDT or a pesticide/chemical of some kind, but why the sudden epidemic right around the same time they started messing with chemicals? What the book also said was that “polio” didn’t go away. Doctors were just ordered never to call it polio again, and only call it infantile paralysis. I really don’t believe they found a virus at all.

How DDT Affects People’s Health
Human health effects from DDT at low environmental doses are unknown. Following
exposure to high doses, human symptoms can include vomiting, tremors or shakiness,
and seizures. Laboratory animal studies showed effects on the liver and reproduction.
DDT is considered a human carcinogen.

Unfortunately, we’re not going to win this one, folks. We’re not going to kill all the pests and weeds and bacteria and viruses without also killing and maiming ourselves in the process.

While in the Coast Guard in 1964 I was directly sprayed heavily with DDT one evening. The next morning I had severe sinus congestion. The next day it was gone but I was left with the sniffles to this day. I have not had a COLD or FLU in 55 years.

Remember the “baby boom” started in 1946 so your numbers should be viewed in the context od a larger and fast expanding juvenile population.

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DDT and Silent Spring: Fifty years after

The impact of DDT on human health received worldwide attention from the general public, political and scientific communities, with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.1 In Silent Spring, Carson described a series of harmful effects on the environment and wildlife resulting from the use of DDT and other similar compounds. Fifty years later the book and the issues raised remain controversial. DDT, which had been effectively used to eradicate malaria carrying mosquitoes, continues to be a major public health problem and effective treatment and prevention efforts are still necessary.

One day in January, 1958, Rachel Carson received a long, angry letter from her friend Olga Huckins, describing the deadly effect of DDT spraying for mosquito control over the Huckins’ private two-acre bird sanctuary at Powder Point, in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Not long afterward Carson was a house guest at Powder Point when, late in the afternoon, a spraying plane flew over. The next morning she went through the estuary with the Huckins in their boat. She was sickened by what she saw — dead and dying fish everywhere, crayfish and crabs dead or staggering as their nervous systems appeared destroyed. She then realized she would write about DDT.1

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, DDT, is one of the most effective and best known of all of the synthetic insecticides. While DDT was first synthesized in 1874, it was not until the 1930s that scientist Paul Hermann Müller, working for a Swiss chemical company, discovered its insecticidal properties. Though he held no medical degree and had never engaged in medical research, Dr. Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1948 “for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods.”2

A chemist, Dr. Müller worked for J. R. Geigy as a laboratory technologist, where he developed synthetic tanning substances. In 1936 Müller turned his attention to pesticide research. He was looking for an insecticide to protect woollens against moths. In 1939 Müller synthesized the chlorinated hydrocarbon dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.

Müller’s research technique was to coat the inside of a glass box with whatever chemical he was testing and fill it with houseflies. He took some DDT home with him one day and powdered a small amount into a container and noted that it killed flies. He wiped the container clean with an acetone solvent and added more flies these also died. Müller soon realized he had a powerful insecticide.

As World War II began in Europe, DDT was successfully tested in Switzerland initially as a dusting powder against potato beetles and later against lice and fleas. These successes, however, convinced Geigy that DDT was a powerful synthetic insecticide — fatal on contact in extremely minute quantities to a wide range of insects, yet apparently wholly nontoxic to humans. In 1940, Geigy patented the formula as a general insecticide and began marketing the substance in two forms: Gesarol, a spray insecticide principally for use against potato beetles and Neocid a dust insecticide for use as a lousicide.3

A U.S. Military Attaché at Berne, Major A. R. W. de Jonge, noticed that Neocide shipments were going to Germany. . He persuaded Geigy to send samples to the United States and England and these were received by the Geigy offices in New York and London in November 1942.

British and American entomologists reviewed the patents with a mixture of hope and some scepticism. Of immediate concern to them, because of the millions of Allied army and navy personnel deployed around the world, was the possible use of DDT for the control of several insect borne diseases: malaria (carried by Anopheles mosquitoes), typhus (carried by body lice) and dysentery and typhoid fever (both carried by houseflies). With growing desperation they had been searching for a substitute for pyrethrum, a contact insecticide extracted from Chrysanthemum flowers that was imported chiefly from Japan. War with Japan had cut off the major source of supply just as the demand for pyrethrum soared.4

Studies conducted by U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologists demonstrated beyond question that this new insecticide had tremendous possibilities not only against lice but also against several other noxious insects, such as mosquitoes and houseflies.5 With the help of the War Production Board, DDT was quickly put into large scale production. It seemed a panacea. It was easy to produce and safe to handle. Soon DDT production was approaching three million pounds a month by the time it was placed on Army supply lists in May 1943, and on Navy lists in January 1944. 6 All DDT was allocated to the armed services save a few hundred thousand pounds used for further research. Among research tests conducted were field tests in which powered DDT was successfully used to arrest several small typhus epidemics in Mexico, Algeria and Egypt.

Egyptian research was supervised by Brigadier General Leon Fox, a field director of the Typhus Commission. Several months later General Fox was summoned to newly captured, refugee-swollen Naples where, in the wake of the German army, Allied medical authorities identified a potential typhus epidemic. New typhus cases in the city approached sixty a day and people were dying by the score. In mid-December Fox began systematically dusting the entire Neapolitan population with DDT. Dusting involved having people tie their garments at the ankles and wrists, and then using a dust gun similar to that used in gardening, the DDT powder was blown down the collar, creating a balloon effect. While a tedious procedure, Neapolitans were dusted as they exited the railway stations and dusted in the grottoes that served as bomb shelters beneath the streets.7

New cases began declining by mid-February there were no new cases at all. For the first time in history, typhus, which thrives in cold, filthy, overcrowded conditions, was not only arrested but totally eliminated.8 This was but the beginning of DDT’s march to glory.

In August 1943, DDT was first tried against mosquitoes that carried malaria.9 Malaria, a parasitic disease, has plagued humans for perhaps 50,000 years. Almost half of the world’s population lives in areas where they are exposed to risk of malaria. Until the 1950s, malaria was widespread in Europe and North America, and epidemics were even recorded above the Arctic Circle.

In 1898, Ronald Ross, a physician stationed with the British army in India, discovered that mosquitoes transmit malaria. For this discovery Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1902. Elsewhere, Giovanni Battista Grassi, a leading Italian zoologist, identified the specific genus of mosquito (Anopheles ) responsible for transmitting the malaria-causing parasite. Soon public health officials were targeting mosquitoes.

The principal methods of eradicating mosquitoes that carry malaria have been drainage ― especially when followed by cultivation ― and insecticides. Insecticides, notably pyrethrum, had been used in malaria control prior to DDT. This was sprayed on the inside walls of houses where the Anopheles mosquito rests after feeding. The mosquito takes up the insecticide while resting on walls and its toxicity kills her.

In August 1943, the Army began spraying the interior of buildings and found the procedure effective. DDT lasted for over six months and as a result a malaria control team could cover many more houses and protect far more people. In the spring of 1944, they began spraying in the town of Castel Volturno, north of Naples and later in the Tiber River Delta area.10 These highly successful efforts proved the practical usefulness of DDT in malaria control.

Soon, soldiers and sailors by the millions were carrying small cans of DDT powder to protect themselves from bedbugs, lice and mosquitoes. They came to love the stuff, especially in the tropics. Millions of DDT aerosol bombs were used to spray the interiors of tents, barracks and mess halls. Throughout European refugee camps, along the span of the Burma Road, across jungle battlefields of Southeast Asia, on Saipan and dozens of South Sea islands infested by stinging, biting insects, DDT spread its beneficent mist.

As DDT supplies became more abundant, other clinical trials were conducted in 1944 and 1945. These trials led directly to the concept in the United States of a “nationwide malaria eradication” campaign. While DDT no doubt would eventually have found its place in malaria control, war requirements greatly accelerated its acceptance and use.

Even before the war and the advent of DDT, malaria had been declining in the United States because of improved standards of living, proliferation of window screens and other methods of protection from mosquitoes. In urban areas, better drainage and larviciding improved mosquito control that in turn led to fewer cases of malaria.

With the war’s end, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), along with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Rockefeller Foundation, began funding the large scale use of DDT for malaria control. Mosquito control officers in the United States used DDT in two ways: as a residual insecticide on the walls of houses and as a larvicide. The results were dramatic. By 1952, there were only 437 cases of malaria transmitted domestically, in contrast to the million of cases just a few years earlier.11

In the early 1950’s the World Health Organization launched the Global Malaria Eradication Program.7 ,11 South Africa was one of the first countries to use the insecticide in 1946 and within several years, malarial areas had decreased.12 India’s malaria control program saw similar decreases. Between 1953 and 1957, morbidity was more than halved from 10.8 percent to 5.3 percent of the total population, and malaria deaths were reduced almost to zero.13 After DDT was introduced in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), the number of malaria cases fell from 2.8 million in 1946 to just 110 in 1961.14 Taiwan also adopted DDT for malaria control shortly after World War II in 1945, there were over 1 million cases of malaria on the island by 1969, however, there were only nine cases, and shortly thereafter the disease was permanently eradicated from the country. Similarly spectacular decreases in malaria cases and deaths were seen everywhere DDT was used.15

By the 1950s DDT had become the most publicised synthetic chemical in the world. One American newspaper clipping service accumulated nearly 21,000 items about it in an eighteen-month period between 1944 and 1945.16 Most were glowingly enthusiastic only a few questioned the mixed blessings of this new miracle compound. Dr. Clarence Cottam, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service urged forethought in 1945 when he stated “caution in its use is essential because of our incomplete knowledge of its action on many living things, both harmful and beneficial.”17

Other cautionary direction came from Fred Bishop who reported the following year in the American Journal of Public Health that “DDT must not be allowed to get into foods or to be ingested accidentally”6 and American naturalist Edwin Way Teale who warned, “a spray as indiscriminate as DDT can upset the economy of nature as much as a revolution upsets social economy. Ninety percent of all insects are good, and if they are killed, things go out of kilter right away.” Rachel Carson wrote to Reader’s Digest in 1945 proposing an article about a series of tests on DDT being conducted not far from home outside the nation’s capital in Silver Spring, Maryland.18 The magazine rejected the idea.

Carson’s interest in DDT did not wane and DDT’s demise began with the publication of her 1962 book Silent Spring.1 By the time Silent Spring was published she was a renowned nature author and a former marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A native of rural Pennsylvania, she had grown up with an enthusiasm for nature matched only by her love of writing. In 1936, the Bureau of Fisheries (now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) hired her as a full-time biologist and over the next 15 years, she rose in the ranks, becoming chief editor for all publications. The educational brochures she wrote for the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as her published books and magazine articles, were characterised by meticulous research and a poetic evocation of her subject. 19-21

Silent Spring took Carson four years to complete. In it she detailed how DDT entered the food chain. A single application on a crop, she wrote, killed insects for weeks and months, not only the targeted insects but countless more, and remained toxic in the environment even after it was diluted by rainwater. Carson concluded that DDT had irrevocably harmed birds and animals and was contaminating the entire world’s food supply. The book’s most haunting and famous first chapter, “A Fable for Tomorrow,” depicts a nameless American town where all life – from fish to birds to apple blossoms to children – have been “silenced” by the insidious effects of DDT.

Carson recognized that the direct kills were by no means the worst effect of DDT. More widespread and disastrous by far, were the delayed kills, coupled with the inhibition of reproductive processes. Entire species of birds were threatened with extinction. Silent Spring describes an early instance that occurred on the campus of Michigan State University. Annual spraying of elm trees with DDT began there in 1954 to control the beetle that spreads Dutch Elm disease. For the first year or so, there were little visible side effects, but people began noticing that robins had disappeared from the campus. The cyclic silencing that Carson had described was occurring: earthworms feeding on elm leaves contaminated with tiny amounts of DDT accumulated the chemical in their body fat until a level toxic to robins was reached. Robins that ate contaminated worms died, even robins unfortunate enough to visit the campus two years after spraying ceased.

“Like the robin, another American bird seems to be on the verge of extinction. This is the national symbol, the eagle,” Carson wrote. She suggests that DDT’s increasingly massive invasion of the food chain was largely responsible for the fact that bald eagles were ceasing to breed on the East Coast (large concentrations of DDT residues were found in the brains of prematurely dead eagles) and that eagles in the Great Lakes region faced extinction because their egg shells were growing too thin (the physiological mechanism by which DDT inhibits calcium production had yet to be discovered).

Carson never argued that all pesticides should be banned entirely, but that “control must be geared to realities, not to mythical situations, and that the methods employed must be such that they do not destroy us along with the insects.”1 Neither did she call for DDT to be banned for the purpose of fighting malaria (nor indeed has it been banned for that purpose by the United States or the World Health Organization). Carson argued that the widespread use of DDT as an agricultural pesticide was harmful for three reasons:

First, its indiscriminate application had repercussions on the ecosystems that range far beyond the intended effect, resulting in the death of fish and birds, and population drops in species that depend on specific insects. Additionally, the deaths of predators cause population explosions in other pests. Carson cites the example of the spider mite that “has become practically a worldwide pest as DDT and other insecticides have killed off its enemies.” Widespread DDT spraying in Montana and Idaho in 1956 caused “the most extensive and spectacular infestation of spider mites in history.”1

Second, allowing DDT to soak into the soil, the drinking water and the skin has health repercussions for humans. Carson sounded an initial alarm in Silent Spring, but at that time little was known about cancer, its causes and it relationship with DDT and other similar pesticides.22

Third, overuse of DDT in agriculture allows malaria-spreading mosquitoes to develop resistance to DDT and other pesticides. Once this happens, small-scale malaria spraying becomes useless and the problem worsens, forcing public health officials to resort to more dangerous pesticides that often have worse health effects on humans and their ecosystems.

Resistance to insecticides by mosquitoes…has surged upward at an astounding rate, being created by the thoroughness of the very house-spraying programs designed to eliminate malaria. In 1956, only 5 species of these mosquitoes displayed resistance by early 1960 the number had risen from 5 to 28! The number includes very dangerous malaria vectors in West Africa, the Middle East, Central America, Indonesia, and the Eastern European region.… Agencies concerned with vector-borne disease are at present coping with their problems by switching from one insecticide to another as resistance develops. But this cannot go on indefinitely.1

She began the book with the working title― “The Control of Nature,” but changed to “Man Against the Earth,” then “Dissent in Favor of Man.” It was her editor Paul Brooks that suggested using “Silent Spring.” Carson’s work first appeared as a series of three articles in the New Yorker magazine.

Even before publication, Carson was violently assailed by threats of lawsuits and derision, including suggestions that she was a “hysterical woman” unqualified to write such a book. A huge counterattack was led by Monsanto, Velsicol, and American Cyanamid, supported by her former employer the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In their heated campaign to silence Carson, the chemical industry only increased public awareness. Silent Spring soon became a runaway best seller.

Silent Spring was on the New York Times bestseller list for 31 weeks. Subsequently it appeared on The Modern Library’s “Best 100 Non-fiction Books of the Century” (#5) Boston Public Library’s “100 Most Influential Books of the Century” and New York Public Library’s 100 “Books of the Century.” Rachel Carson was one of only twenty “scientists and thinkers” recognised in Time’s 100 most important persons of the 20th century.

Two years after her best seller was published— in April, 1964— Rachel Carson, aged fifty-six, died of cancer. (Dr. Paul Müller died in October of the following year, at the age of sixty-six.)

The most important legacy of Silent Spring was a public awareness that nature was vulnerable to human intervention. Carson had made a radical proposal ― that, sometimes, technological progress is fundamentally at odds with the natural processes and it must be curtailed. The threats Carson had outlined― the contamination of the food chain, cancer, genetic damage, the deaths of entire species ― were too frightening to ignore. For the first time, the need to regulate industry in order to protect the environment became widely accepted and environmentalism was born.

Many believe that DDT was banned after 1972. In fact it continued to be used for pest control, for which exemptions were granted by the federal government and it is still available for public health use today. In January 1979, DDT was used to suppress fleas that carried typhus in Louisiana. That same year, the California Department of Health Services used DDT to suppress fleas that carried bubonic plague. Texas got an exemption to control rabid bats in October 1979. Between 1972 and 1979, DDT was used to combat the pea leaf weevil and the Douglas-fir tussock moth in the Pacific Northwest rabid bats in the Northeast, Wyoming, and Texas and plague-carrying fleas in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. State governments, with the permission of the federal government, continued to use DDT to protect public health and agriculture.23

Malaria continues to threaten military forces. In 1993, over 200 US Marines and Soldiers participating in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia developed malaria. Noncompliance with personal protective measures and chemoprophylaxiscontributed to this largest outbreak of malaria in US military personnel since the Vietnam conflict.24, 25

DDT is neither a panacea nor a super villain. In many places DDT failed to eradicate malaria not because of environmentalist restrictions on its use but because it simply stopped working. Carson showed that insects have a phenomenal capacity to adapt to new poisons anything that kills a large proportion of a population ends up changing the insects’ genetic composition so as to favour those few individuals that manage to survive due to random mutation. In the continued presence of the insecticide, susceptible populations can be rapidly replaced by resistant ones.

By 1972, when the DDT controls went into effect in the United States, nineteen species of mosquitoes capable of transmitting malaria, including some in Africa, were resistant to DDT. Genes for DDT resistance can persist in populations for decades. Spraying DDT on the interior walls of houses led to the evolution of resistance half a century ago. In fact, pockets of resistance to DDT in some mosquito species in Africa are already well documented. There are strains of mosquitoes that can metabolize DDT into harmless by-products and other mosquitoes have evolved whose nervous systems are immune to DDT.26 There are even mosquitoes that avoid the toxic effects of DDT by resting between meals not on the interior walls of houses, where chemicals are sprayed, but on the exterior walls, where they don’t encounter the chemical at all.27

And if public health officials have learnt anything since the rise and demise of DDT about the million-plus species of insects in the world, it’s that there is no such thing as an all-purpose weapon when it comes to pest management. DDT may be useful in controlling malaria in some places, but it’s essential to determine whether target populations are resistant if they are, then no amount of DDT will be effective.

Silent Spring is credited for the fact that public, governmental, and scientific attention was focused on the threat of DDT. In 1963, in direct response to the public concern aroused by Silent Spring, President John F Kennedy’s Science Advisory Committee recommended an immediate reduction of DDT use with a view to its total elimination as quickly as possible, along with other “hard” pesticides. In November 1969, acting on the recommendation of a special study commission on pesticides, Robert H. Finch, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, announced that the federal government would “phase out” all but “essential uses” of DDT within two years.

Silent Spring, both as a work of literature and a clarion for the scientific scrutiny of the use of pesticides, shows every evidence of enduring as one of the most read and most revered books on science addressed to a general audience.

DDT is Discovered, and Eventually Banned

"Commercial product (Powder box, 50 g) containing 10% DDT Néocide. Ciba Geigy DDT "Destroys parasites such as fleas, lice, ants, bedbugs, cockroaches, flies, etc.. Néocide Sprinkle caches of vermin and the places where there are insects and their places of passage. Leave the powder in place as long as possible." "Destroy the parasites of man and his dwelling". "Death is not instantaneous, it follows inevitably sooner or later." "French manufacturing" "harmless to humans and warm-blooded animals" "sure and lasting effect. Odorless."

During World War II, 1939, Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller of J. R. Geigy AG in Basel discovered the high efficiency of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) as a contact poison against several athropods. Throughout the war DDT was used with great effect among both military and civilian populations to control mosquitoes spreading malaria and lice transmitting typhus, resulting in dramatic reductions in the incidence of both diseases.

In 1948 Müller received the Nobel Prize in Biology and Medicine for this discovery, which is thought to have saved the lives of over 21,000,000 people worldwide. After the war, DDT was made available for use as an agricultural insecticide, and its production and use skyrocketed with unexpected disastrous effects upon the environment.

As a result of the 1962 book, Silent Spring, by American marine biologist and nature writer, Rachel Carson, the disastrous consequences of DDT began to be understood by politicians and the public, and DDT was eventually banned in the United States in 1972.

Pesticides – A brief history and analysis

It is useful to define what we mean by the term pesticide. The Health and Safety Executive within the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products define pesticides as: any substance, preparation or organism that is prepared or used for controlling any pest.

The term Active Substance is further defined as any substance or micro-organism (including a virus), that has a general or specific action against harmful organisms or on plants, parts of plants or plant products. 'Active ingredient' is often used to mean the same thing.

For most professional individuals working within amenity horticulture, i.e. turf managers, who possess a pesticide application licence or are responsible for deciding how a site is managed, the term pesticide currently equates to the following broad categories: a herbicide, be it a total herbicide, e.g. glyphosate (Roundup), or a selective herbicide e.g. 2,4-D (Depitox) an insecticide, such as chlorantraniliprole (Acelepryn) or a fungicide, such as fludioxonil (Medallion).

Changes in regulations have resulted in the loss of Active Substances brought about by the British government's adoption of the Water Framework Directive. Diffuse pesticide pollution is a problem for the environment, but it also presents a challenge for water companies managing treatment infrastructure to produce drinking water (Dolan et al. 2012).

It's easy to become bored with the immediate situation derived, as it is, from directives, regulations, laws and legislation. However, with a little historical perspective it's easier to see past the regulations and understand the bigger picture and why things are changing.

A brief history of pesticides…

Our knowledge of the earliest forms of pest control, after the development of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago, is limited to the evidence that has survived to the present day. Nevertheless, we know that more than 4,500 years ago the Sumerians were using sulphur compounds to control insects and mites, that 3,200 years ago the Chinese were using insecticides derived from plants and, by 2,500 years ago, had appreciated the role of natural enemies and the value of adjusting crop-planting times to avoid pest outbreaks, and that the Greeks and Romans understood the use of fumigants, mosquito nets, granaries on stilts, sticky bands on trees and pesticidal sprays and ointments - although throughout this period and long beyond, such sophisticated practices were accompanied by widespread reliance on offerings to the gods and other superstitions.

The Chinese continued to develop their pest-control technology and, by AD 300, they were using biological controls, establishing nests of ants in citrus orchards to control caterpillars and large boring beetles. Meanwhile, the Europeans, after the fall of the Roman Empire, relied increasingly on religious faith rather than biological knowledge. This decline was reversed by the Renaissance, and the 17th century saw an awakening of interest in biological control and the rediscovery and/or introduction into Europe of a variety of natural pesticides (figure 1).

Figure 1. Displaying a timeline, drawn to scale, showing the history of the use of pesticides

The period from 1750 to 1880 in Europe was a time of the agricultural revolution, but this brought in its wake some of the greatest pest-driven agricultural disasters ever recorded: the potato blight in Ireland, England and Belgium (1840s) the epidemic of powdery mildew in the grape-growing areas of Europe (1850s) the outbreak of fungus leaf spot disease of coffee, after which Ceylon switched from coffee to tea production and the invasion from the Americas of an insect, the grape phylloxera, (Viteus vitifoliae), which almost destroyed the wine industry in France (1848-1878).

Not surprisingly, over this period there was a surge of interest in developing pest-control techniques and, by the turn of the 19th century, there were five main approaches to the control of pests which were well established and in common use: (i) biological control (ii) chemical control (inorganic chemicals, especially sulphur and copper compounds, or plant-derived alkaloids, especially nicotine) (iii) mechanical and physical control (e.g. tree-banding with sticky substances) (iv) cultural and sanitation controls (like crop rotation) and (v) the use of resistant varieties. The first forty years of the 20th century was a period of steady progress in pest control, in which all of these five approaches played an important part.

Pest control was revolutionised, however (especially insect pest control), by the Second World War. Driven by the need to control insect vectors of human disease in the tropics, hundreds of manufactured chemicals were screened for insecticidal properties. In the USA, the breakthrough came with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), manufactured in Switzerland, followed by other chlorinated hydrocarbons. In Germany, another equally toxic group of compounds was developed, the organophosphates, whilst a third group of synthetic organic insecticides, the carbamates, was also discovered in the 1940s, by Swiss workers. The initial targets of the organic insecticides were the vectors of human disease, but after the war there was a rapid expansion into agriculture. 'Their success was immediate. They were cheap, effective in small quantities, easy to apply, and widely toxic. They seemed to be truly 'miracle insecticides' (Flint and van den Bosch, 1981).

During the 1930s and 1940s too, the first organic selective herbicides were being developed, originally as a result of work on chemicals to regulate plant growth: 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA), 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 4,6 dinitro-o-cresol (DNOC). The immediate impact was on cereal crops and, to a much lesser extent, on peas and grassland. An expansion into a much wider range occurred from the 1960s onwards (Lockhart et al. 1990).

The period from 1946 onwards has been described as the 'Age of Pesticides', divided by Metcalf (1980) into three phases: the Era of Optimism (1946-1962), the Era of Doubt (1962-1976) and the Era of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (1976-). Whilst it would be easy to quibble with Metcalf's dating and terminology, this division captures the changes in the scientific climate over this period. In the heady days of the 1940s and the early 1950s, it was widely believed that generous doses of simple organics could entirely eradicate pests and the problems they caused.

Doubts that had been voiced by entomologists Strickland (1945) and Wiggleworth (1945) were decades ahead of the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962, which challenged the notion that chemicals brought benefits but negligible risks. These doubts grew steadily until the XVth International Congress of Entomology in 1976 firmly rejected the widespread use of broad-spectrum and persistent pesticides in favour of an IPM approach.

The problems with chemical pesticides

Widespread toxicity

Chemical pesticides are generally intended for particular pests at a particular site, nevertheless, problems arise because they are usually toxic to a broader range of organisms and also persist in the environment. The problem is made more difficult with chlorinated hydrocarbons especially, because of their susceptibility to biomagnification: an increasing concentration of insecticide in organisms at higher trophic levels, as a result of a repeated cycle of concentration of the insecticide in particular tissues in a lower trophic level, consumption by the trophic level above, further concentration, further consumption, and so on, until top predators which were never intended as targets, suffer extraordinary high doses. Figure 2 shows the process of biomagnification in the context of DDT. The DDT concentration is in parts per million. As the trophic level increases in a food chain, the amount of toxic build up increases. The x represent the amount of toxic build up accumulating as the trophic level increases. Toxins build up in organism's fat and tissue. Predators accumulate higher toxins than prey.

Figure 2. Illustrating the problem of biomagnification that some of the early pesticides created by Øystein Paulsen -, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The broadly toxic effects of herbicides have generally not been considered as great a problem as those of insecticides. One important reason is that many herbicides have a quite specific effect on plant physiology which has no exact equivalent in animal physiology. There are, though, a number of herbicides, for instance diquat and paraquat, which have high mammalian toxicity and where great care is therefore required in handling (especially in these cases there are no known antidotes). Furthermore, in the 1960s, a controversy began over the possible effects to human health of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, which were used in combination ('Agent Orange') between 1962 and 1970 to defoliate swamps and forests in South Vietnam.

Of course, most weed-control practices affect a wider range of plants than the target species. The result has been the disappearance of many attractive ones that have never been serious weeds. Species such as wild delphinium (Delphinium ajacis), pheasant's eye (Adonis annua), corn cockle, (Agrostemma githago) and cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), have come to the verge of extinction in Britain and can now only be found in abundance in the peasant agricultural systems of Eastern Europe.

Target pest resurgence

Of particular importance are the effects of insecticides on the natural (arthropod) enemies of an insect pest. This, in itself, may not appear too serious, apart from the regrettable loss in the natural diversity of harmless species. However, it can - and often has - had two extremely serious consequences.

The first, target pest resurgence, refers to the rapid increase in pest numbers following some time after the initial drop in pest abundance caused by an application of insecticide. This rebound effect occurs when treatment kills not only large numbers of the pest, but large numbers of their natural predators too (with any survivors likely to starve to death because there are insufficient pests on which to feed). Then, any pest individuals that survive (either because of resistance or good luck) or that migrate into the area, find themselves with a plentiful food resource but few if any natural predators. A population explosion is the likely outcome because the predator requires the pest to be present to support population growth, but the pest certainly doesn't need the predator. Another reason is tied into what makes a pest: they are likely to be able to reproduce rapidly when food resource becomes available and they have the ability to locate these resources, i.e. good dispersal ability. Hence, pests are likely to be good at resurging.

Secondary pest outbreaks

When the natural predator cycle is broken, it is not only the target pest that might resurge. Alongside any actual pest are likely to be a number of potential pest species, which are not pests only because they are kept in check by their natural enemies. Thus, if a primary pest is treated with an insecticide that destroys a wide range of predators and parasitoids, other species may realise their potential and become 'secondary' pests.

A dramatic example of this took place in Central America in 1950 when mass dissemination of organic insecticides began, there were two primary pests within cotton production: the boll weevil and the Alabama leafworm. Organochlorines and organophosphates applied fewer than five times per year initially had apparently miraculous results and yields soared. By 1955, however, three further pests had emerged, cotton bollworm, cotton aphid and the false pink bollworm. The application rate rose to 8-10 times per year. This reduced the problem of the aphid and the false pink bollworm, but led to the emergence of five further secondary pests. By the 1960s, the original two-pest species had become eight. There were, on average, twenty-eight applications of insecticide per year (Flint and van den Bosch, 1981).

On a broader scale, changes in the overall pattern of weed infestation can be seen as an example of the outbreak of secondary pests. The herbicides in use until the 1960s, when they were selective at all, tended to be most active against dicotyledonous weeds. The result has been an upsurge in the importance of grass weeds (monocots), and the 1970s therefore saw the beginnings of a new drive towards the production of herbicides selective against grasses (Lockhart et al., 1990).

Evolved resistance

The final problem is, in many ways, the most serious one of all. Even before the advent of the organics, occasional examples of resistance to an insecticide had been found. For instance, A. L. Melander in 1914 showed that scale insects demonstrated resistance to lime-sulphur sprays. Between 1914 and 1946, eleven additional cases were recorded. The development of organic insecticides, such as DDT, gave hope that insecticide resistance was a dead issue. However, by 1947, just one year later, housefly resistance to DDT had evolved in Sweden.

The evolution of pesticide resistance is simply natural selection occurring more rapidly than usual and on a particular obvious character. Within a large population subjected to a pesticide, one or a few individuals may be unusually resistant (perhaps because they posses an enzyme that can detoxify the pesticide). If such individuals exist at the outset, resistance can begin to spread in the population immediately if they arise subsequently by mutation, then there will be a lag in the evolutionary response before this chance event occurs. In either case, the resistant individuals have an improved chance of surviving and breeding and, if the pesticide is applied repeatedly, each successive generation will contain a larger proportion of resistant individuals (figure 3).

Figure 3. This graph presents the chronological increase in unique cases of herbicide resistant weeds. A unique case is a SPECIES x SITE of ACTION. So, if a Conyza canadensis becomes resistant to atrazine (Group C1), it is listed as one unique case, if another population of Conyza canadensis becomes resistant to ALS inhibitors (Group B), then it is counted as a separate "unique" case, but if a third population is found with multiple resistance to ALS and Triazine herbicides it does not count, as the other two already cover the sites of action.

One answer to the problem of pesticide resistance is to develop strategies of 'resistance management'. This consists of two approaches reduce the frequency with which a particular pesticide is used, thus depriving the pest of a series of generations over which resistance may evolve. This may be done by using a range of pesticides in a repeated sequence, especially when they have different target sites or modes of action. The second strategy is to ensure that pesticides are applied at a concentration high enough to kill individuals heterozygous for the resistance gene, since this is where all the resistance genes are likely to reside when resistance is rare.

Thus, together, the problems of resistance, target pest resurgence and secondary pest outbreaks have frequently met with a predictable but, in many ways, regrettable response: the application of more and more pesticides, leading to further resistance, further resurgence and further secondary pests, and so to more pesticide, more problems and more expense what has become known as a pesticide treadmill which managers can find difficult to get off.

Whilst these problems exist within the amenity sector, e.g. fungicide resistance within sports turf, our concerns are dwarfed by those of our close relative, agriculture, where there is a greater understanding of these problems, because there has been a greater reliance on utilising pesticides to provide cheap food for growing populations. Talk to any cereal grower in the south east about Blackgrass (Alopecurus myosuroides), and they will be all too aware of the strategies that are continually changing in order to maintain reasonable yields (figure 4). Much of the discussion around pesticides throughout this article has been focused on agriculture, with good reason: it is as a result of changes or innovation within this sector that utterly dictates the agronomic approach to pesticides within the amenity sector.

However, turf managers currently have just one insecticide available to them - Acelepren - that will hopefully be provided Emergency Authorisation once again this year. This product is also administered via stewardship, clearly indicating an increased level of control is expected to maintain the availability of this product for the foreseeable future.

Figure 4. The records for blackgrass (Alopecurus myosuroides) within Britain and Ireland since 2010. Map provided by the BSBI 2019 (Botanical Society for Britain and Ireland)

The virtues of chemical pesticides

Pesticides have provided distinct benefits and, until now, the pesticide manufacturers have managed, broadly speaking, to keep at least one step ahead of the pests. Pesticides themselves are being used with increasing care. Many are now used as an integral part of a more varied armoury. In spite of the steadily rising costs of pesticides - the result of increasing complexity (rising development and production costs) and of oil price rises, the cost/benefit ratio for the individual facility has remained in favour of pesticide use.

Pesticides have also worked, in the past at least, as disease control agents. For instance, the chlorinated hydrocarbons, despite all their attendant problems, have saved at least seven million lives since 1947 or, to take one specific example, more than one billion people have been freed from the risk of malaria (Miller, 1988), although, since 1970, malaria has made a remarkable come-back, owing in large part, to the insecticide-resistant strains of mosquitos, leading to an increased emphasis on possible biological control measures.

There are also particular situations where the cost/benefit ratio is loaded especially heavily in favour of chemical pesticides by social circumstances and human attitudes. For instance, customers in richer countries have become conditioned to demand that their foodstuffs are unblemished. This means that pests have to be eradicated rather than simply reduced to a level where nutritional, rather than aesthetic or cosmetic harm is negligible.

In summary then, the case in favour of chemical pesticides is that they have worked in the past, as judged by objective measures such as 'lives saved', 'total food produced' and 'economic efficiency of food production' and that they are continuing to do so as a result in advances in the types of pesticide produced and the manner in which they are used. We have also seen though, that many of the disadvantages of chemical pesticides - widespread toxicity, secondary pests, resistance, escalating costs - are undeniable, such that the case for chemical control can only ever be one in which the advantages are shown to outweigh the regrettable disadvantages. These disadvantages are also, and perhaps most significantly of all inherent, i.e. newer and better pesticides may postpone or reduce the effects of these disadvantages (although potentially at increased cost e.g. Acelepryn vs the organophosphate alternative chlopyrifos - Cyren), but they are most unlikely to overcome them. The question, therefore, is whether or not there are alternatives to replace or use alongside chemical pesticides, and that will be the subject of a subsequent article: pesticides of the future.

Carson R, (1962) Silent Spring. Haughton Mifflin, Boston. 16.4

Flint, M. L. and van den Bosch, R. (1981) Introduction to Integrated Pest Management New York: Plenum Press, pp. 240.

Lockhart JAR, Samuel A & Greaves MP (1990). Chapter 2: The evolution of weed control in British agriculture. In: Weed control handbook: Principle. 8th edition. Eds R J Hance & K Holly. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford. pp 43-74.

Metcalf, R. L. (1980) Changing role of insecticides in crop protection. A. Rev. Ent. 25, 219-256.

Miller, G.T. Jr (1988) Environmental Science. 2nd edn. Wadsworth, Belmont. 16.6.1 16.6.4 16.7 25.1.3

Strickland, E. H. (1945) Could the widespread use of DDT be a disaster? Ent. News 46: 85-88

T. Dolan, P. Howsam and D. J. Parsons / Water Policy, 2012, Vol 14, No 4, pp 680-693

Shoot to Kill: Control and Controversy in the History of DDT Science

DDT has humble origins for a chemical that would eventually reach much of the world. First discovered in 1873 by a German chemistry student named Othmar Zeidler, the compound did not receive serious attention until a 37-year-old chemist named Paul Herman Muller synthesized it again in 1936. Muller developed the chemical while trying to identify the particular toxic ingredient in two other insecticides that he had recently invented, Gesarol and Neocid 1 . His investigation eventually yielded dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, which he named DDT. Promptly patented in 1940 by Muller’s employer, a dye-manufacturing com- pany named Geigy, the chemical immediately proved to be incredibly powerful 2 . Over the next several decades, DDT would become one of the most significant and controversial chemicals of the twentieth century.

DDT was developed in an era often defined by its scientific and technological advances, and the chemical’s legacy is at once triumphant and cata- strophic. The early use of DDT during World War II enjoyed an almost reverential following, but its rampant and often indiscriminant deployment quickly generated significant criticism. DDT’s me- teoric rise to prominence reflected and deeply shaped historical attitudes towards science and scientific progress. The history of DDT in the United States reveals many of the ways in which science has been manipulated and controlled throughout history calls into question many con- ventional assumptions about the relationships between science, society, and nature and raises important questions about modern public health programs around the world.

DDT use first began in earnest in the 1940s, pro- pelled largely by the need to protect American soldiers from tropical diseases overseas. The chemical had already proven to be an effective pesticide during efforts to control Colorado potato beetles before the Second World War. Many researchers marveled at how potent even the smallest doses of DDT could be. Unlike many other insecticides, DDT would continue to kill insects for long periods of time, even after it was left sitting for days. 3 By 1942, British and American scientists had begun to take interest in DDT as a possible mechanism to control the spread of malaria, typhus, dysentery, and typhoid fever among Allied military personnel stationed overseas. 4
DDT’s later and more controversial history can only be properly understood in terms of the feverish enthusiasm that surrounded the chemi- cal during America’s wartime effort. It is difficult to overstate how closely DDT was linked with American military science during the war. Recognizing its importance on the battlefield, America’s War Production Board almost immediately began encouraging its manufacture, and it was placed on military supply lists in 1943 and 1944. 5 With much available DDT being sent to the military in the form of personal cans of DDT powder and larger DDT aerosol bombs, relatively little remained available for public use in the United States.

In part due to its rarity, DDT stirred fascinating sentiments in the public discourse. As a part of America’s wartime strategy, DDT became a symbol of the nation’s war industry and its fight on the home front, and the government launched an advertising campaign encouraging the use of DDT. Some advertisements asked Americans if they were “prepared to fight both enemies,” 6 mosquitos and the Axis, while others depicted Uncle Sam defeating Hitler with one hand and malaria-transmitting mosquitos with another. 7 Perhaps the most interesting poster was emblazoned with the words “shoot to kill” and showed an American woman spraying DDT on an insect. 8 Aside from their obvious militaristic overtones,the advertisements also revealed the collective excitement that surrounded DDT.

DDT was closely linked with military progress and almost universally heralded when it was formally made available for general use in 1944. Time called DDT “one of the great scientific discoveries of World War II.” Crediting the chemical with stopping a typhus epidemic in Naples, the magazine predicted that it “promises to wipe out the mosquito and malaria, to liquidate the household fly, cockroach and bedbug.” 9 Months later, The Saturday Evening Post ran an article called “How Magic is DDT?” Written by Brigadier General James Stevens Simmons, a senior Army surgeon, the article relentlessly praised the chemical and discussed its military uses extensively. “An authoritative article by the man who knows best,” the Post commented on its own publication. 10

Despite such initially laudatory attitudes, concerns about DDT’s health and safety emerged quickly. Less than a year after Time announced in its original 1944 story that “censorship was lifted” from DDT science, it ran another article called “DDT Dangers.” “The new wonder insecticide,” Time wrote in 1945, “may be a two edged sword that harms while it helps.” 11 Although the article and other publications like it were not explicitly critical of DDT, they were a departure from the feverish celebration of prior years.

Early concerns about DDT detailed both the toxic harm DDT posed to humans and its negative impacts on the environment. Later in the 1940s, General Simmons, the same man who had authored the Saturday Evening Post article on the “magic” of DDT, said, “the preliminary safety tests, made with full-strength DDT, had been somewhat alarming.” 12 In 1945, researchers conducted a series of tests on the effects of DDT spraying, and concern quickly arose over potential effects on the “balance of nature.” 13 In the same year, The Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service released a very candid memorandum appraising many of the benefits and unknown risks of DDT. Conceding that “its use by the armed forces […] was so effective and the need so urgent that its effects on other organisms had to be
ignored,” 14 the publication still noted that “wide-scale use, or use of DDT in concentrated form, are dangerous.” In contrast to many contemporary commentators, the publication urged caution based on “our knowledge and our ignorance. Time Magazine, too, publicly concluded that more research was needed before DDT could be deemed “safe for general use.” 15

Despite these growing concerns, and without any further research, DDT was released for public use within months. The Food and Drug Administration established a “safe” DDT content limit of up to 7 parts per million in food, although, as science historian Kenneth Davis has pointed out, “no one could possibly know at that time what, if any, level was ‘safe’ over the long run.” 16 Although its potential risks were well known in the scientific community and widely circulated in the mainstream media, DDT’s progress to market was generally unimpeded.

In 1945, there was immense pressure to bring DDT to market as quickly as possible. 17 Chemical companies had strong economic motives to manufacture DDT and sell it to farmers, governments, and individual consumers for a variety of uses. 18 Many governments were interested in DDT’s potential ability to increase food production, but DDT’s promise of controlling disease generated the greatest of these pressures. Bringing insect borne disease under control was a major concern in the Southern United States and abroad in countries like Greece and India. Malaria infection was rampant around the world, and DDT was salvation for many. 19

This unique mix of demands quickly propelled DDT’s rise to mainstream usage. Although American researchers were interested in discerning the safety of DDT from the outset, their more immediate concern was deploying the chemical to protect Allied soldiers. Many scientists had reservations about the use of the new chemical, but as historian David Kinkela wrote in his book on the history of DDT, “for U.S. military and civilian health officials […] the war erased these dilemmas.” 20 In a way, historical circumstance, more than any deliberate or scientific motive governed how DDT was received by the United States and shared with the rest of the world.

DDT science on both sides of the controversy also underscored the role and importance of bias in scientific research. While DDT’s critics have often attacked pro-DDT science for being industry funded or profit-driven, it is difficult to fault the rigor of their research. For instance, the Forest Service published studies highlighting the effectiveness of DDT in 1948. Their conclusions were often widely criticized, but their science is actually generally considered sound. Pro- and anti-DDT research differed mainly in the questions being asked rather than on the quality of research produced. There didn’t have to be foul play or biased motives involved when one study found that DDT could be harmful to natural ecosystems and another found that it was effective at controlling Spruce Budworms. 21 It is important to note, however, that the chemical industry did wage an aggressive propaganda campaign to control how these scientific findings would be translated into public policy and public opinion. 22

It is interesting that German scientists were notably unimpressed with DDT, and their fears helped illustrate the subjectivity of scientific interpretation. Some Germans disliked DDT, because they feared that it could cause harm to German bodies, an idea that was intimately tied to beliefs in German racial superiority. Hitler’s personal physician actually “prevented the distribution of the pesticide until 1943, alleging that DDT was both dangerous and useless.” 23 Presented with much the same evidence, DDT could mean very different things to such different groups of people.

In the United States, DDT became deeply intertwined with feelings of national pride surrounding America’s wartime victory and its subsequent efforts to deliver health and economic development to foreign shores. In 1944, Life magazine ran a story called “Typhus in Naples” that covered American DDT-spraying campaigns in the Italian city. 24 Celebrating these efforts, the article displayed an incredible array of photographs depicting American public health officials spraying DDT on Italian residents. Nearly every picture showed an Italian family gratefully receiving a dousing of DDT from a uniformed American. “Making women and children the centerpiece of the essay,” the magazine was “evoking paternal notions of U.S. interests abroad,” said Kinkela. 25

At its core, the dominant DDT narrative was based on the promise of control. To the scourge of diseases and plagues of insects, DDT offered an elegant solution. Natural killers that had ravaged humanity throughout history could now be technologically managed with various types of “control” strategies: vector, disease, and population, all mediated though the use of DDT.

The simplicity offered by DDT was short-lived, however. As early as 1946, evidence began to emerge that some organisms could evolve genetic resistance to DDT. It was then that Department of Agriculture entomologists announced that they had produced a “strain of housefly much more resistant to DDT than the common stock.” On March 12, 1946, Science wrote that “it seems possible that, in time, a similar increase in resistance may occur under natural conditions.” 26 Nevertheless, the ascendancy of DDT pressed onwards throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and the chemical was actually enlisted, misguidedly, into the fight against polio. 27

The publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 fundamentally altered public conversations about DDT, but it did not nearly end debate on the subject. Although public opinion had turned strongly against DDT by the time it was banned in the United States in 1972, the chemical continues to stir controversy to this day. Carson was ridiculed by many of her contemporaries in the chemical industry. Some scholars have even suggested that criticisms of Carson seem charged with a particularly insidious sort of sexism. 28 Over time, however, her book and the en- vironmental movement that accompanied it were largely successful at allying the nation against the use of DDT.

Even today, DDT’s legacy remains polarizing. While the environmentalist movement often hails Carson and her allies as founders of their crusade to protect the natural world, many people are highly critical of efforts to curtail the use of DDT. Michael Crichton once said the ban on DDT to control malaria “has killed more people than Hitler,” and many continue accuse anti-DDT environmentalists of being “eco-imperialists,” a term popularized by Paul Driessen, a senior fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Center. 29 These criticisms are generally not taken seriously in the public health community, but they remain important indicators of the inflammatory attitudes that have long surrounded DDT.

Tracing a series of contradictory narratives, the evolution of DDT science sheds light on humanity’s complex relationship with the natural sciences. In the 1940s and 1950s, public health officials literally sprayed DDT out of hoses onto crowds of American citizens. 30 Now, however, the chemical cannot be legally sold in the United States. The degree to which DDT helped significantly reduce the malaria burden is the subject of ongoing debate, but it is still deployed around the world as a valuable disease-fighting tool. 32 DDT has undeniably devastating environmental and health ef- fects, and for years efforts to curb the use of DDT often downplayed or outright ignored its benefits. Presented with much the same evidence, different groups have pushed wildly different under- standings of DDT throughout history. DDT and the science and attitudes surrounding it are neither objective nor blameless. They have always been deeply historical, reflecting and influencing contemporary society more than absolute truth.

Joseph A. Schwarcz, The Fly in The Ointment: 70 Fascinat- ing Commentaries on the Science of Everyday Life, “DDT: Doubled Edged Sword,” (ECW Press, 2004):

Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, Prometheans in the Lab: Chem- istry and the Making of the Modern World, (United States: R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, 2001):

David Kinkela, DDT and The American Century: Global Health, Environmental Politics, and the Pesticide that Changed the World, (Chapel Hill: University of North Caro- lina Press, 2011):

Cristobal S. Berry-Caban, “DDT and Silent Spring: Fifty Years After,” Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health, vol. 19, no. 4, 2012:

F.C. Bishop, “Present Position of DDT in the Control of In- sects of Medical Importance,” American Journal of Public Health, June 1946, vol. 36, no. 6

National Institutes of Health, “Is Your your Organization Prepared to Fight Both Enemies?” Images From the History of Medicine, accessed May 2014, < luna/servlet/view/search?q=A025980>.

National Museum of Health and Medicine, “Enemies Both! It’s Your Job to Help Eliminate Them,” Malaria and Epidem- ic Disease Control, South Pacific Poster No 6, Accessed May 2014, < um/3368948608/in/set-72157615080857846>.

Ohio Historicla Society, “Shoot to Kill, Protect Your Victory Garden,” War History Commission World War II Poster Col- lection, accessed May 2014, <http://ohsweb.ohiohistory. org/ohiopix>.

“DDT,” Time, vol. 43, no. 24, 12 June 1944, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, accessed May 2014, <http://search. 0619&site=ehost-live&scope=site>.

James Simmons Stevens, “How Magic is DDT?” Saturday Evening Post, no. 28, 1945: 18, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, accessed May 2014, < http://search.ebsco- &site=ehost-live&scope=site>.

“DDT Danger,” Time, vol. 45, no. 16, 16 April 1945, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, accessed May 2014, < http:// N=54765191&site=ehost-live&scope=site>.

Fish and Wildlife Service, “Information Service,” 22 August 1945, accessed May 2014, < nants/Documents/historic/19450822.pdf>.

Kenneth S. Davis, “The Deadly Dust: The Unhappy History of DDT,” American Heritage, vol 22, no. 2, 1971: 3, accessed May 2014, < deadly-dust-unhappy-history-ddt?page=1>.

C.B. Eaton, et al., “Airplane and Helicopter Spraying With DDT for Spruce Budworm Control,” United States Forest Service, accessed May 2014, < ternet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsbdev7_015601.pdf>.

“Typhus in naples,” Life, 28 February 1944: 35, accesed May 2014, <>.

Gareth Williams, Paralyzed with Fear: The Story of Polio, (United States: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013): 64.

Michael Smith, “’Silence, Miss Carson! Science, Gender, and the Reception of ‘Silent Spring,’” Feminist Studies, vol. 27, no. 3, 2001: 733.

Discovering the barrels

Despite the fact that the toxic barrels were dumped in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, their existence just became common knowledge this past fall when the Los Angeles Times published a feature on Valentine's work. But his discovery dates all the way back to 2011 when he first decided to see if the rumors of the barrels were true. In 2013 he made another short trip to the site. But his research was not published until March of 2019.

In all, his time-limited work yielded visuals of 60 barrels. Besides bringing back video of the leaking barrels, his team was also able to collect samples from the ocean floor. One of them registered a contamination 40 times greater than the highest contamination at the Superfund site, indicating that the toxins down deep are still very concentrated.

Armed with this compelling evidence, Valentine said that he "beat the drum" for years, speaking to various government agencies, trying to get some interest, but to no avail. However, when the LA Times story came out, interest finally followed as public outcry grew.

I was shocked when I heard that a company was allowed to dump thousands of barrels of DDT waste off the coast of California decades ago. Even more concerning is these barrels of toxic waste were ignored for so long when they pose a threat to ocean wildlife and human health.

&mdash Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) March 10, 2021

But before his discovery in 2011, Valentine placed part of the blame for the lack of knowledge about the barrels on the lack of technology to find it. It's only in the past couple of decades that the technology became available to make this deep water research feasible.

Coincidentally, on the very day CBS News went to visit Valentine in Southern California, Scripps Institution of Oceanography began a two-week mission to survey almost 50,000 feet of the deep ocean seafloor.


Employing a large research vessel called the Sally Ride, 31 scientists and crew members, and two high-tech autonomous robots they call Roombas, the team used sophisticated sonar to map the ocean bottom and assess how many barrels there are.

Scripps Researchers aboard the Research Vessel Sally Ride using the REMUS 600 and Bluefin automated underwater vehicles (AUVs) to survey the seafloor for discarded DDT barrels in March 2021. Scripps

As of our last conversation with Eric Terrill, the team leader, the final number had still not been tallied. But even as early as a week into the research mission, Terrill described detecting tens of thousands of targets and said the number of barrels seemed "overwhelming."

The two-week mission is now complete, but the team is still putting together the pieces. They expect to have a final report published at the end of April.

A brief history on DDT's role in agriculture

If you’ve ever heard Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” you might understand how DDT was perceived at its peak use in the 1950’s and 60’s. In it she sang, “Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now. Give me spots on my apples but leave the birds and the bees. Please!”

What was first developed in the 1940’s as an insecticide to control insect-borne illnesses like malaria and typhus during WWII, dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane became one of the world’s most controversial chemical compounds. It gained popularity after Swiss biochemist Paul Hermann Muller further developed its original 1870’s formula into the insecticide commonly used by American troops during the war. It was known as a second-generation pesticide, a synthetic carbon compound as opposed to the highly toxic ones pre-WWII like arsenic or hydrogen cyanide.

After the war subsided, farmers found DDT’s potency extremely effective in keeping agricultural pests at bay. At the time, its effectiveness in fighting malaria and protecting food made it seem too good to be true. And you know what they say.

DDT was a “wonder pesticide.” It was not water soluble, it had broad spectrum effectiveness, meaning it killed a wide range of pests, and was extremely persistent, or didn’t break down over time very quickly. It was inexpensive and boosted crop yields. DDT was the farmer’s magic fairy dust.

Turns out, all the things DDT seemed to be so great at, were also why it became so harmful for people and for the planet. It’s water insolubility meant that it could build up in the fats and oils of animals. In a process called bioaccumulation, DDT was climbing the food chain by being ingested by insects, to birds, to predators, and so on. It actually biomagnifies since it doesn’t break down easily, therefore having higher concentrations in animals higher up on the food chain. Also, insect-eating birds with higher levels of the chemical were found to lay eggs with super-thin shells, killing the next generation and tanking bird populations.

In the early 1960’s, DDT began alarming scientists when they discovered it passes through breast milk of mothers to babies, contaminating what should be the healthiest nourishment for our newest humans. Biologist and zoologist Rachel Carson warned the public in her book Silent Spring, of the effects of pesticide use on the environment and humans. She focused on DDT’s ability to kill non-target organisms and how its persistence meant it can travel far and last in the environment long after it has done its intended job on treated crops. Her publication is known to have sparked the beginnings of what we know as the environmental movement.

Even after Carson published her warning in Silent Spring, and Joni Mitchell expressed a fair opinion in “Big Yellow Taxi,” chemical companies campaigned to the public, the EPA, and USDA the safety of “small amounts” of DDT found in humans or animals. DDT was found to cause tremors, vomiting, and premature birth or growth delay in babies, but chemical companies stil perpetuated disinformation about its effects in mainstream media. It wasn’t until 1972 that the US banned its use, finally ending its reign of havoc on small and large animal populations.

However, due to its persistence, DDT still lingers in countries that no longer use it, and it is still used in some places in India and sub-Saharan Africa. Even if its use has been restricted to emergency insect-borne illness outbreaks here in the States, it's still common in some places for agriculture and mosquito control. And now that we are well aware that it can travel thousands of miles in water or living organisms, we recognize it as a “forever” chemical.

Watching how DDT had such a powerful stronghold on local and global biological populations is a firm reminder that we must consider all consequences in manipulating our environment. Even if it means increasing crop yields in the short-term, DDT was massively detrimental by creating an imbalance in the ecosystem that we all know is so fragile to begin with. At F2P, we value monitoring history to inform our decision in the present and future. That is why we fully support organic, particularly regenerative agriculture practices that feed a balanced ecosystem. A balanced and *respected* ecosystem is one that can provide infinite vitality. Support your local, regenerative agriculture farmers!

A New Horizon: Transgenic Pesticides

The concept that organisms and crops could be engineered to augment pest control was well known in the 1970’s. By the mid 1980s, one company, Monsanto had committed to a research program designed to create crop protection products through the application of biotechnology. Charles (2001) has produced a very readable history of pesticide-related transgenic crops and this book is recommended to those who want to understand how this new technology unfolded.

Transgenic organisms are genetically altered by artificial introduction of DNA from another organism. The artificial gene sequence is referred to as a transgene. Plants with such transgenes are also referred to as being genetically modified (GM). Plants that emulate insecticides are those altered to induce insect-resistance (also called plant pesticides or plant incorporated protectants0. The purpose of the following paragraphs is to summarize what biotechnology has contributed to insecticide science in the course of just the last decade or so.

Research built on the elucidation of the genetic code in the early 1950’s and culminating in the 1990’s allowed those using the techniques of biotechnology to move genes coding for specific traits from selected organism to crop cells. Such altered cells were then regenerated to viable crop plants through tissue culture. Several transgenic crops have thus been and are being created from backcrossing the selected traits into elite seed lines. The result has led us to plant pesticides.

Plant pesticides are defined by EPA as plants that have been genetically engineered to contain the delta-endotoxin genes from Bacillus thuringiensis. This definition will expand as genes from additional sources are incorporated into plants.

In 1995, EPA registered the first plant pesticide. It was Monsanto’s Bt-cotton containing B. t. Cry1Ac delta-endotoxin, following more than a decade of research. This novel form of cotton was introduced experimentally in 1995 as Bollgard® cotton, resistant to tobacco budworm, cotton bollworm, and pink bollworm with activity on other minor lepidopteran pests. Bt-enhanced cotton, corn and other insect resistant crops produce one or more crystalline proteins that disrupt the gut lining of susceptible insect pests feeding on their tissues which cause the pests to stop feeding and die. Several plant pesticides have been introduced in the U.S. since 1995. Some of these have been very successful commercially while others, such as, NewLeaf® Potatoes, have been withdrawn from the market. A list of the currently registered plant pesticides can be viewed at

In some subsequent product introductions the performance of these plant pesticides have been enhanced or augmented by use of stacked genes. This means that more than one transgene is introduced into the same crop to achieve multiple desired characteristics.