DDT a problem of 30-50 years ago?

Neil Jones Neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk
Fri Aug 4 15:43:19 EDT 2000

In article <b5b097e20002100496f9@[]>
           dyanega at pop.ucr.edu "Doug Yanega" writes:

> 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.

Actually this is not the only approach. The other logical position is
to show that DeWitt and Rachel Carson were actually misquoted on 
(I will do this below.)

This isn't handwaving nor an ad-hominem attack. It is vitally important
if people are to use the web as a source of information that they validate
the source. For example you would if you were looking for medical information
trust what was said on the web site of a prestigious hospital you might
be more sceptical of an unusual remedy being sold on a rather poorly
presented website.

Junkscience.com is NOT a scientific web site. It is a political one. Now
everyone has their own view of politics and we can agree to differ, but
a site set up to promote a particular political point of view is not
the best place to find scientific information.

I have been aware of Junkscience.com and its main author, Steven Milloy
for some time.
He is a known corporate lobbist for the pesticide, mining, chemical
and tobbaco industries and the web site is notorious for misquoting
science in order to give a misleading view. He is using "sound bites"
to misquote people rather like Prof. Gochfeld was recently misrepresented
here. (Not an ad-hominem attack but doing the ethical thing by warning people
of a problem with a source of information.)

Now to the facts:-

First of all they attack Rachel Carson by accusing her of misquoting the
research. This is quite simply not true.

There are TWO papers which DeWitt wrote.

DeWitt, James, "Effects of Chlorinated Hydrocarbon Insecticides upon Quail
and Pheasants," Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Vol. 3, 1955, 

DeWitt, James, "Chronic Toxicity to Quail and Pheasants of Some Chlorinated
Insecticides," Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Vol 4, 1956, 

Rachel Carson used the research from BOTH  papers in her work.
The authors of the Junkscience website have very conveniently missed this.
The first of these papers says

"Hatchability of fertile eggs was appreciably below that of eggs from the
control group, and the difference approached significance (P = 0.08).
 Many embryos appeared to develop normally during the early stages of 
incubation, but died during the hatching period.  Mortality among
chicks from this group was extremely high, and more than 50% died within 
the first 5 days after hatching."

This is NOT how Junkscience presents it. It is clear that Rachel Carson
did have evidence for the toxicity of DDT. 

Neil Jones- Neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk http://www.nwjones.demon.co.uk/
"At some point I had to stand up and be counted. Who speaks for the
butterflies?" Andrew Lees - The quotation on his memorial at Crymlyn Bog
National Nature Reserve

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