Re: Organic is sustainable (fwd)
Guy Ames (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fri, 9 Feb 1996 10:54:56 -0600 (CST)
> What were the negative results of the DDT spraying to stop malaria? I
> mean, what was the long term damage on human, plant, and animal health? How
> did DDT react with other chemicals in the environment where it was sprayed?
> How did scientists measure DDT and its bioaccumulative impacts?
> Virginia Berman
There were plenty of negative aspects to DDT use, all well
documented and easy to find in any decent library. But your
questions are missing the point Myron Schenk and I were trying
to make, and that is that pesticides in general are tools and
are "good" or "bad" depending on their use. In the case of DDT,
our over-reliance on it as a tool (a Magic Bullet, no less!)
has led to a myriad of problems. BUT, and this is the point
Myron was trying to make by even bringing up the subject of DDT,
while DDT is almost universally condemned now, its use against
the vectors of malaria at a crucial time in history saved millions
of human lives. So is/was it good? Is/was it bad? It's easy to
say in hindsight (and from our relatively safe position in a
developed country) that it shouldn't have been used at all. But
what if you had watched one of your own children die from
malaria? How would you feel about DDT use THEN, when it appeared
to be the way to save your other children?
Perhaps what we should have learned from the DDT experience overall
is that there is a place and a time for such tools, but an
over-reliance on pesticides--especially strong, environmentally
persistent pesticides--is just asking for trouble down the line.
Developing guidelines for intelligent use for these tools is what
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is all about. And one of the
major principles of IPM (according to most practitioners; not
according to pesticide salespersons who may have their own
self-serving definition of IPM) is the chemical pesticide is used
only when other methods have been deemed unworkable.
This to me seems like simple common sense, and is where I
apparently part company with some of the more dogmatic environ-
mentalists and organicos who would ban all pesticides outright.