DDT a problem of 30-50 years ago?

Patrick Foley patfoley at csus.edu
Fri Aug 4 12:59:33 EDT 2000

Doug, Paul and others,

    I am not a bird or toxicology expert, but I suggest a series of chapters in the
book Peregrine Falcon Populations: their management and recovery. edited by Tom
cade, James Enderson, carl Thelander and Clayton White 1988, The Peregrine Fund,
Washington. D. C. Chapters 33-43 deal with the problems due to DDT, its metabolite
DDE and other organochlorine contaminants.
    The editors conclude that while some argument is possible about various aspects
of the DDT story, "We take it as proven that a causal relationship exists between
DDE residues in the maternal body and the abnormally thin-shelled eggs in
Peregrines and many other birds." A large body of primary literature is cited,
discussed and synthesized in this book which was peer-reviewed, unlike

Patrick Foley
patfoley at csus.edu

Doug Yanega wrote:

> Pat Foley wrote:
> >    But the main reason DDT is an environmental problem is its effects on bird
> >reproduction. Does Paul Cherubini wish to argue that bird populations are
> >unaffected by DDT exposure?
> Actually, he just posted evidence roughly to that effect, regarding the
> original DeWitt study on quail. This leaves those among us who are anti-DDT
> to come up with equal or superior citations (presumably with an opposite
> conclusion) if we are to persist in defense of our position. I, for one,
> will freely admit that I have never in my career actually seen any
> peer-reviewed literature on DDT effects, so what opinions I have are
> effectively based solely on decades-old hearsay and popular opinion. I'm
> sure I'm not alone in this, and I'm willing to reconsider, based on what
> evidence there actually may be (some of Paul's citations are compelling,
> others are not). Of course, there is the additional complication, if some
> of the citations he gives are to be believed, that there was a conspiracy
> to keep pro-DDT studies from being published. In other words, an objective
> conclusion about the danger of DDT may be impossible to obtain here,
> because we may have one of those ugly situations - which we must honestly
> admit *do* happen - where science and politics are too intertwined to
> separate one from the other. That makes it unlikely that either side is
> going to be able to present convincing enough evidence to "win" the debate
> (so I'm not even sure it will do us any good to prolong this, but...).
>         Accordingly, I'd politely request that further contributions to
> this thread, if any, restrict themselves to presentation and discussion of
> evidence from the primary literature, if at all possible. All else is
> hand-waving, on BOTH sides. Hopefully we can get past the catcalling phase
> quickly and move on.
> Peace,
> Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
> Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
> phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
>            http://insects.ucr.edu/staff/yanega.html
>   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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