No, DDT won’t save us from the Zika virus

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last decade-plus of blogging about medicine and alternative medicine, it’s that any time there is an outbreak or pandemic of infectious disease, there will inevitably follow major conspiracy theories about it. It happened during the H1N1 pandemic in the 2009-2010 influenza season, the Ebola outbreak in late 2014, and the Disneyland measles outbreak last year, when cranks of many stripes claimed that either the outbreaks themselves were due to conspiracies (usually, but not limited to, conspiracies to promote the “depopulation” vaccination agenda of—who else?—Bill Gates) or that nefarious forces were seizing on the outbreak to take away our freedom. The second thing I’ve learned is that inevitably people will try to impose their ideology on to the disease and try to use outbreaks to push their own ideological agenda. Indeed, the Ebola outbreak, for example, was rapidly seized on by politicians to promote quarantines and to halt immigration from the affected countries. This year, the biggest infectious disease-related story thus far is the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil that has been linked to microcephaly and other birth defects, and it’s a case of the same stuff, different year, lots of conspiracy theories.

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus related to dengue virus and transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. On the surface, this virus would appear to be relatively benign, with 80% of those infected by it remaining asymptomatic, while the other 20% suffer from what is usually a self-limited, relatively mild illness characterized by fever, rash, arthralgias (joint aches), and conjunctivitis. Of course, as we learn more, we’re learning that in some people it can be more serious. Still, in the grand scheme of things, after decades of being endemic in many tropical areas Zika virus infection probably didn’t seem so bad and didn’t appear to be much of a public health priority in the regions where Aedes aegypti mosquitoes live, mainly tropical regions in South and Central America, Africa, southeast Asia, and the Pacific islands. Then came the evidence that prenatal infection might cause microcephaly, and everything changed. Not surprisingly, conspiracy theories galore arose with social media speed, as did the ideologically motivated overselling of proposed solutions, such as bringing back DDT to combat the mosquito carrying the disease.

I don’t feel the need to go into a lot of detail about the various conspiracy theories and quack ideas that have sprung up over the last couple of months, given that Steve Novella, Tara Smith, and, of course, yours truly have deconstructed these in detail already. Suffice to say that the main conspiracy theories come from the anti-GMO fringe and the antivaccine movement. Even George Takei fell for one of them.

Et tu, George?

Of course, it is amusing to me that the cause and solution to the Zika virus health crisis would be pesticides. But is there even a crisis? Let’s examine the evidence before deciding whether it’s appropriate to unleash the white powder known as DDT.

Zika virus and microcephaly

Before embarking on a discussion of the reaction thus far to the Zika virus health crisis, it’s important to ask: What’s the evidence for a link between Zika virus and microcephaly? Microcephaly literally means “small head” and is characterized by an abnormally small head and brain with delayed brain development. But does Zika virus cause microcephaly? As Facebook relationship statuses like to say, it’s complicated. The existing epidemiological evidence is strongly suggestive but certainly not (yet) a slam dunk for inferring causation, and some have even questioned whether the number of cases of microcephaly has really increased as much as initially thought, further muddling the question and contributing to the “Zika virus didn’t do it” conspiracy theories.

A couple of weeks ago, Steve did a fine job of summarizing the evidence linking Zika virus infection and microcephaly. It’s a good, digestible summation, but unfortunately for him events are moving so fast that, shortly after his post went live, the CDC published a report in the MMWR, Notes from the Field: Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Brain and Placental Tissues from Two Congenitally Infected Newborns and Two Fetal Losses — Brazil, 2015, and the New England Journal of Medicine published a case report that adds to the very suggestive evidence of a link between maternal Zika virus infection and microcephaly.

I’ve already discussed the MMWR report in detail before; so I won’t discuss it again. Further adding evidence of both biological plausibility and a potential link is the case report published online last week in the NEJM. This report describes the case of a 25-year-old previously healthy European woman in Ljubljana, Slovenia who had worked as a volunteer in Natal, the capital of Rio Grande Do Norte state in Brazil since December 2013. She became pregnant near the end of February 2015 and became ill during her estimated 13th week of gestation with a high fever, a rash, musculoskeletal pain, and eye pain. Infection with Zika virus was suspected, but no diagnostic testing was performed. Ultrasound at 14 and 20 weeks showed normal fetal growth and anatomy. The patient ultimately returned to Europe around her 28th week, and a 29 week ultrasound examination showed fetal anomalies. Another ultrasound at 32 weeks showed intrauterine growth retardation, a head circumference less than the second percentile for gestation, along with abnormalities of the brain, including calcifications. The pregnancy was terminated, and the fetus showed prominent microcephaly, with almost complete agyria (lack of the normal folds on the surface of the brain). Other abnormalities included inflammation and evidence of a viral infection in the neurons.

A detailed family history failed to find any genetic syndromes, and other causes of microcephaly were ruled out. The brain tissue was subjected to next-generation sequencing, and:

A complete ZIKV genome sequence (10,808 nucelotides) was recovered from brain tissue. Phylogenetic analysis showed the highest identity (99.7%) with the ZIKV strain isolated from a patient from French Polynesia in 2013 (KJ776791) and ZIKV detected in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 2015 (KU321639), followed by a strain isolated in Cambodia in 2010 (JN860885, with 98.3% identity) and with a strain from the outbreak in Micronesia in 2007 (EU545988, with 98% identity).

And:

The complete genome sequence of ZIKV that was recovered in this study is consistent with the observation that the present strain in Brazil has emerged from the Asian lineage. The presence of two major amino acid substitutions positioned in nonstructural proteins NS1 and NS4B probably represents an accidental event or indicates a process of eventual adaptation of the virus to a new environment. Further research is needed to better understand the potential implications of these observations.

In other words, the virus isolated from this microcephalic fetus appears to have come from Asia. It also appears to have two mutations in nonstructural proteins, the significance of which are unknown. Again, this is not slam-dunk evidence that Zika virus causes microcephaly, given that it’s only one case. (For instance, something else could have caused the microcephaly and at the same time made the fetal brain more susceptible to infection.) Even so, it adds to the accumulation of evidence linking Zika virus to microcephaly.

Still, there remain many questions, such as why there haven’t been outbreaks like this before, given that Zika virus has been endemic in many areas since at least the 1950s and there have been outbreaks of Zika virus before in Africa, southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, as well as several countries in Central and South America where Zika virus outbreaks are currently being reported. Yet, despite how widespread the virus is, there haven’t been reports of increased incidence of microcephaly before this. Clearly, there are many unanswered questions that will require large scale epidemiological studies to answer. In the meantime, taking precautions and developing a vaccine are reasonable interventions.

Since Zika virus is mosquito-borne, prevention is impossible without mosquito control in the affected areas.

Enter DDT

It was at this point that I couldn’t help but note an argument that was popping up in certain spheres about the Zika virus and how to control its vector. For instance, Gil Ross of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), an organization I’ve discussed before that apparently never met a pesticide it didn’t like, posted an article entitled “Stopping Zika Virus in Its Tracks, by Unleashing DDT,” while Josh Bloom of the same organization wrote a very pro-DDT article that might as well have been entitled “DDT is good for you.” Meanwhile, Dr. Jane Orient, whom we’ve also met before, executive director of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), an organization that we’ve also encountered before, published an article in WorldNetDaily entitled “Zika Virus: What Should We Do About It?” It was this passage from Dr. Orient’s article that got me thinking and made me decide to write about DDT:

Travel restrictions would greatly harm the economy of Latin American countries, especially as Brazil is preparing to host the Olympics. Of course, there is no screening at all of illegal entrants to the U.S. The key public health measure is mosquito control. Mosquito-borne diseases, after a time when it was thought that even malaria might be wiped out, began increasing worldwide when the U.S. banned the most effective public health weapon of all time: DDT. If Zika causes rethinking of this disastrous decision, even though other deadly threats like malaria have not, it will save millions of lives – and even help us win the war on bed bugs.

The damaged babies are a terrible tragedy. How can we prevent more? Instead of waiting for some future vaccine against a virus that may prove innocent, we could stop transmission now with effective mosquito control in affected areas. We could also immediately stop deliberately exposing women who might be pregnant to medicines or vaccines without thorough safety testing.

I can’t help but note that in her article Dr. Orient embraced antivaccine claims that Tdap and/or the MMR vaccine was causing the microcephaly, while insinuating that the whole thing might be trumped up as a means to promote an agenda that includes combatting anthropogenic climate change, loosening restrictions on abortion in Central America, keeping immigrants out of our country, and, of course, letting loose the DDT if it turns out this Zika virus-microcephaly thing is real.

Of course, it’s easy to pick on Dr. Orient; she’s a bona fide crank who runs an organization that resembles the AMA if it were crossed with the more extreme elements of the John Birch Society. Besides, just because she’s a crank doesn’t mean she might not be right on this one issue. Also, she’s not the only one pushing to bring back DDT. A quick Google search about DDT and Zika virus brings up a slew of articles with titles like “Zika Virus Shows It’s Time to Bring Back DDT: Our most effective tool has been banned,” “WHO Says Zika Virus a Global Threat; Health Experts Push to Lift DDT Ban,” “The Experts Want To Unleash DDT To Fight The Zika Virus,” “Physician: Lifting DDT Ban Could Stop Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus,” and “To Combat Zika, Bring Back DDT.”

One can’t help but also notice that there is one thing nearly all of the publications and persons calling for a return of DDT share, and that’s a certain political orientation, something made a bit clearer in titles of other pro-DDT articles written about the Zika virus outbreak, such as “DDT might have stopped Zika, but environmentalists chose mosquitos over people” and “Mass Murders and Radical Environmentalists,” the latter of which seriously argues that environmentalists, through banning DDT, have killed more people than Hitler and Stalin, concluding with the utterly unhinged and reprehensible statement that the “title of ‘Greatest Mass Murderer of all Time’ goes to the late Rachel Carson and all of her radical environmentalist followers.” Yes, Rachel Carson is the target of most pro-DDT ire, a typical title being a little less histrionic; e.g., “Zika Virus: Rachel Carson’s Deadly “Good Intentions” Legacy Continues.”

Basically all these articles argue that, if only we would let loose with the “excellent powder” of DDT, Zika virus would no longer be a problem, frequently with the claim that the only thing preventing us from doing this are those pesky environmentalists, starting with Rachel Carson over 50 years ago! But do they have a point? Not really, at least not a particularly good one. Their narrative, in which Rachel Carson inadvertently led to the deaths of tens of millions because her book persuaded the US, having eradicated malaria within its own borders, to ban the tool we used to do it so that poor countries couldn’t do the same and in which all we have to do is to bring back DDT to defeat malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika virus, is simple and attractive. Unfortunately, because it ignores a lot of nuance, it is also mostly wrong.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and DDT

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) is a colorless crystalline organochloride that is also tasteless and almost odorless and has been used for many decades as an insecticide, particularly for eliminating disease-carrying mosquitos. It was first synthesized in 1874 by a German graduate student in chemistry, Othmar Zeidler, under the supervision of Adolf von Baeyer. Not much was done with it until 1939, when Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller discovered its insecticidal properties. After that, DDT soon was in widespread use during World War II to control malaria and typhus. After the war it was used as an agricultural pesticide, and its use skyrocketed. Because DDT was such an effective pesticide with such apparently low toxicity to humans and animals, in 1948 Müller won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery.

There’s no doubt that DDT was incredibly effective—at first—and cheap too. In 1955, the World Health Organization initiated its Global Malaria Eradication Program that relied largely on DDT for mosquito control and rapid diagnosis and treatment to reduce transmission. The program was very successful—again, at first. Unfortunately, failure to maintain the program and the development of resistance to DDT (evolution in action!) conspired to roll back or even completely reverse early victories.

It was in the middle of this history that Rachel Carson published her book Silent Spring in 1962. The book was a powerful indictment of what Carson saw as the overuse of DDT and other pesticides, which she termed “biocides,” mainly because such chemicals almost never limit their toxic effects to just the intended organisms. In the book, she documented a number of adverse effects of DDT and other pesticides on the environment and human health. Specifically, Carson blamed DDT and pesticide use for thinning of birds’ egg shells and declining bird populations, as well as described it as potentially carcinogenic based on animal studies. She described how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals, and how one of DDT’s greatest advantages as a pesticide, its ability to persist where it is sprayed and remain toxic to insects for long periods of time, was also what contributed to its potential harmful effect to the environment and humans. Much of what she found has stood up, although in fairness it must also be noted that Carson probably did vastly overstate how carcinogenic DDT is.

Despite this indictment, contrary to popular belief, it was not a book that was just about DDT, nor was it a book that called for the outright banning of DDT or other pesticides. Indeed, Carson was at pains to point out that she did not advocate banning DDT or pesticides. At one point she wrote:

It is not my contention that chemical insecticides must never be used. I do contend that we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons largely or wholly ignorant of their potentials for harm.

Which was really hardly arguable at the time, because it was largely true. In fact, I doubt there are too many environmentalists today who would argue with this. She was also correct about the evolution of resistance:

No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored. The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse. The world has heard much of the triumphant war against disease through the control of insect vectors of infection, but it has heard little of the other side of the story—the defeats, the short-lived triumphs that now strongly support the alarming view that the insect enemy has been made actually stronger by our efforts. Even worse, we may have destroyed our very means of fighting.

Yes, those last two sentences refer to exactly what happened: Mosquitos developing pesticide resistance in the face of too-zealous use of DDT and other pesticides, which she later described explicitly:

The whole process of spraying seems caught up in an endless spiral. Since DDT was released for civilian use, a process of escalation has been going on in which ever more toxic materials must be found. This has happened because insects, in a triumphant vindication of Darwin’s principle of the survival of the fittest, have evolved super races immune to the particular insecticide used, hence a deadlier one has always to be developed and then a deadlier one than that. It has happened also because, for reasons to be described later, destructive insects often undergo a “flareback,” or resurgence, after spraying, in numbers greater than before. Thus the chemical war is never won, and all life is caught in its violent crossfire.

It’s easy for us in 2016 to forget just how heavily pesticides were used in the 1940s-1960s and therefore conclude that Rachel Carson was unduly alarmist. However, back in the day, governments engaged in aerial insecticide spraying campaigns over farms, forests, cities and suburbs. Farmers routinely applied high concentrations of insecticides, and the residential use of these chemicals was common in everything from shelf paper to aerosol “bombs” designed to clear out a house of insects. Aerial residential and forest sprayings were often carried out whether the residents affected wanted them or not. You can get an idea from this late 1950s film called Goodbye, Mr. Roach:

It’s not for nothing that the 1950s were called the golden age of pesticides. In other words, pesticide use in Rachel Carson’s time was incredibly indiscriminate by today’s standards.

Influence and backlash

Silent Spring was an immediate sensation beginning before the book itself was published. That’s because parts of Silent Spring were serialized in The New Yorker in June 1962 and then later published as a book that September. Advance sales totaled 40,000, and October Book-of-the-Month sales hit 150,000. By the time Carson died of metastatic breast cancer in April 1964, a million copies had been sold. The book was also hugely influential, particularly after Carson appeared on a CBS Reports television special, The Silent Spring of Rachel Carson, which was broadcast on April 3, 1963. An hour long special, it featured investigations by Eric Severeid interspersed with an interview with Carson, now visibly ill from her breast cancer, and interviews with experts, particularly scientist Robert White-Stephens, a spokesman for American Cyanamid, wearing black-rimmed glasses and sitting among beakers in a lab, trying to refute Carson. The response was overwhelmingly positive, as White-Stephens came off as loud and wild-eyed, while Carson appeared calm—anything but the hysterical woman her opponents had portrayed her as.

Not surprisingly, the attacks began very early, and, though predictably a lot of it did come from the chemical industry and scientists sympathetic or linked to it, there was also a very Cold War flavor in the criticism. Carson’s criticisms were often portrayed as, in essence, an attack on American values. She was not infrequently referred to as a Communist and attacked in misogynistic terms, for example in a letter to The New Yorker after serialization of Silent Spring:

Miss Rachel Carson’s reference to the selfishness of insecticide manufacturers probably reflects her Communist sympathies, like a lot of our writers these days. We can live without birds and animals, but, as the current market slump shows, we cannot live without business. As for insects, isn’t it just like a woman to be scared to death of a few little bugs! As long as we have the H-bomb everything will be O.K.

“We can live without birds and animals”? WTF? Believe it or not, this is how a lot of Americans thought over 50 years ago.

This accusation being a Communist was echoed by former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson in a letter to former President Dwight Eisenhower in which he said that Carson was “probably a Communist.” Elsewhere she was accused of being radical, unscientific, hysterical, and disloyal. Much was made of calling her a “spinster” because she was unmarried. David Hecht noted that initially criticism of Carson involved mainly scientists concerned with defending their vision of science from what they perceived as the threat embodied in Carson’s ecological perspective and that the “legion of critics” attacking her defended DDT by making it emblematic of technological progress, suggesting that her condemnation of it derived from a philosophy antithetical to the modern world.

Despite all this, it’s not for nothing that Carson’s book was credited with sparking the modern environmental movement. Silent Spring became part of popular culture. By the early 1970s, public opinion had shifted. This wasn’t entirely due to Carson’s work, of course, but there’s no denying that her book was very influential. Ultimately, the EPA held seven months of hearings in 1971-1972 where the evidence for and against DDT was presented, and in the summer of 1972, William Ruckelshaus, the EPA’s first Administrator, announced a ban on DDT use in the US for most uses, although he did not ban its manufacture or its sale overseas and there was an exception for public health; e.g., malaria control. Indeed, the US continued to manufacture and export DDT until the mid-1980s. In the following years, agricultural use was banned in most developed countries. Most recently, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants took effect in 2004 and restricted DDT use to vector control. Specifically, the convention exempts public health use within WHO guidelines from the ban. Today, approximately 3,000 to 4,000 tons of DDT are used each year for vector control, usually application to the inside walls of homes to kill or repel mosquitos, a technique known as indoor residual spraying.

Rachel Carson revisionism to rescue DDT for fighting the Zika virus

Now that the World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus to be a “global public health emergency,” calls to bring back DDT by lifting the ban are, predictably, coming fast and furious. A few are somewhat reasonably nuanced. Most are nowhere near nuanced. For instance:

The Zika virus outbreak is the latest batch of blood on the dirty hands of Rachel Carson and the entire environmental movement which puts mosquitoes ahead of people. There was a time when we beat insect-born [sic] diseases through simple and easy methods that worked.

That method? DDT of course. Of course, if anyone thinks that controlling mosquitos was ever “simple and easy,” even in the era of maximal DDT spraying, well, I have a bridge I think that person just might be interested in buying. Here’s another:

Rachel Carson died in 1964, but the legacy of Silent Spring and its recommended ban on DDT live with us today. Millions are suffering from malaria and countless others are contracting the Zika virus as a result of the DDT ban. They were never given the choice of living with DDT or dying without it. The World Health Organization should recognize that DDT has benefits, and encourage its use in combating today’s diseases.

If you’ve read Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, you’d be aware that there has been a renewed concerted effort to discredit Rachel Carson, which is what I mean when I refer to “Carson revisionism.” Over the last 20 years or so, the story of Rachel Carson has been subjected to historical revisionism by the very same people who tried to deny the science demonstrating the harmful health effects of tobacco and who more recently have spearheaded anthropogenic climate change denialism.

This revisionism involves a narrative in which, because of the anti-pesticide and anti-DDT fervor ignited by her book that led to the banning of DDT in the US, and, if you believe the narrative, in the rest of the world, millions died of malaria whom DDT could have saved. Key components of the narrative are predictable: DDT is the only hope of controlling Zika virus. There wouldn’t be so many people dying of malaria if only those damned Rachel Carson environmentalists would let governments unleash DDT. After the DDT ban, malaria came roaring back, and now Zika virus is uncontrollable. DDT is harmless (or its adverse effects were grossly exaggerated.) Environmentalists care more about birds than people, and not lifting the ban will lead to a Zika virus pandemic. Oh, and liberals and environmentalists want to keep DDT banned as a population control measure because it was too effective.

Indeed, in a speech railing against climate science, dismissing secondhand tobacco smoke as harmless, and characterizing environmentalism as a “religion,” late author Michael Crichton, whom I’ve discussed before, characterized the DDT ban as having “caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide, and thus irrevocably harmed the third world.” In his novel State of Fear, Crichton even had one of his characters (a sympathetic one) say, “Banning DDT killed more people than Hitler.” He even put the death toll at 50 million. Sure, it was just dialog in a novel, but it’s clear from interviews (and the speech quoted above) that Crichton believed it. Tellingly, the plot of State of Fear involved eco-terrorists plotting mass murder to publicize the dangers of global warming. No wonder Chris Mooney described the novel as “pure porn for global warming deniers.”

There’s only one problem with the revisionist narrative promoted by Crichton before his death and still being promoted by conservative free market-friendly think tanks like the Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Although Rachel Carson was certainly not correct about everything (for instance, the evidence linking DDT and cancer turned out to be fairly weak, even over 50 years later, although not, as her critics claim, nonexistent), nonetheless this revisionist narrative is demonstrably a false one promoted by the likes of not just Crichton but Steve Milloy of Junk Science fame, who never met an anti-environmentalism myth he didn’t like, DDT included. The “Rachel Carson killed more people than Hitler” myth is basically a zombie myth that won’t die.

For example, one claim frequently made in defense of DDT is that in Sri Lanka, DDT dramatically decreased the incidence of malaria, such that when the spraying stopped only a handful of people suffered from the disease, but that from 1968 to 1970, malaria came roaring back to infect 1.5 million because Sri Lanka could no longer use DDT. In Merchants of Doubt, Oreskes and Conway point out that this doesn’t tell the whole story, namely that Sri Lankans did use DDT when malaria came roaring back in 1968 but it couldn’t control the mosquitos because resistance had developed; in fact they used ever greater amounts of it, to no avail. They had to switch to malathion, a pesticide to which their mosquitos hadn’t yet developed resistance.

In reality, DDT use peaked before Silent Spring and DDT use was decreasing because mosquitos were developing resistance, just as Rachel Carson had been concerned about. Sadly, it’s a myth that skeptics who should know better not infrequently fall for, sometimes people I never would have guessed as being susceptible to such messages.

Is there a role for DDT in controlling Zika virus?

Rachel Carson revisionism aside, it must be conceded that it is not entirely unreasonable to examine all the tools in our armamentarium and ask if there might be a role for DDT in controlling Aedes aegypti. However, the answer to such a question must be grounded in a scientifically-supportable and balanced understanding of the risks versus the benefits. My main reason for discussing Rachel Carson revisionism is because it represents a certain kind of antiscience that, because of ideology, vastly exaggerates the benefits of DDT and other pesticides while all but denying any potential harm. In the 1960s, the ideology behind attacks on Carson linked DDT with “progress” and the American way, while painting her as an enemy of modernity and science itself, a hysterical woman (who was probably a Communist) who would set back American agriculture to the inferior level of the Soviet Union at the time. Since the late 1990s, that ideology has been a certain free market belief system that chafes at any regulation of business, particularly regulation rooted in environmental concerns. Some of those of this ideological bent have latched on to DDT as an example of overweening government regulation spurred by a environmentalists who in their view don’t care how many people die of malaria, as long as the birds are saved (unless, of course, they are killed by wind turbines, which, in this view, is acceptable to these parodies of environmentalists).

Obviously, this view rests on a Panglossian view of DDT in which it is virtually perfectly effective and safe, even though nothing really is. Perhaps the most balanced discussion of the risks and benefits of DDT for mosquito control was published ten years ago in The Lancet by Walter Rogin and Aimin Chen, who concluded that there was sufficient evidence of health problems to be concerned. In particular, they noted that exposure to DDT at amounts that would be needed for effective malaria control might cause preterm birth and early weaning, abrogating the benefit of reducing infant mortality from malaria, while at the same time noting that the evidence for a link between DDT and human cancer was tenuous at best. Rogin and Chen then note that DDT can be very effective in eliminating mosquitos, but that there are a number of problems that are not so easily overcome that demonstrate the problems of using DDT just for malaria control:

However, the effectiveness of DDT can be compromised by insecticide resistance and social resistance to DDT indoor spray. Because of the irritating, excito-repellent nature of the DDT residue, some mosquitoes tend to leave before they have absorbed a lethal dose, or tend to avoid entering the house or resting on the wall at all. By the end of Global Malaria Eradication Campaign, some mosquito species had developed resistance to DDT, especially in India and Sri Lanka. In 1968, high amounts of resistance to DDT in Anopheles gambiae was reported in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso); shortly thereafter, DDT had no effect on mosquito mortality, biting frequency, or resting in houses in trials undertaken in Togo and Senegal. In the 1980s when DDT was judged to control the resurgence of malaria in Zanzibar after the DDT spraying programme finished in 1968, resistance was found in A gambiae ss and A arabiensis. In 2002, 2 years after DDT residual spraying was reintroduced in KwaZulu-Natal to control the increase of malaria cases, resistance was recorded in A arabiensis, although A funestus was still susceptible to DDT. Social resistance to DDT indoor sprays occurs because bedbugs are resistant to DDT, and DDT leaves stains on walls, which residents then replaster. In practice, the efficacy of DDT spraying for vector control depends on the coverage of spraying, mosquito species, and resistance to DDT. Climate—especially rainfall, temperature, and latitude—could affect the stability of transmission, and thus also affect DDT efficacy. WHO points out that DDT spraying is “most effective in reducing the overall malaria burden in unstable transmission areas, areas with marked seasonal transmission peaks and disease outbreaks, and highland areas”.

In other words, DDT is no panacea, and its effectiveness very much depends on local conditions and the strategy used, not to mention the specific insects being targeted.

Indeed, there is reason to believe that letting loose the white powder would likely be far less effective than the pro-DDT apologists would lead you to believe because Aedes aegypti is particularly difficult to control. DDT is effective without mass indiscriminate spraying against many strains of the Anopheles mosquitos that spread malaria in part because of this:

Goldman said the pesticide is effective against the Anopheles mosquito, a night-biter that spreads malaria indoors while people are sleeping.

In many developing countries, DDT has proven effective when sprayed on the indoor walls of buildings.

“Basically the anopheles likes to rest on a wall surface between feedings and thus is poisoned by the DDT that is on the walls,” Goldman said.

“Also there are insecticide impregnated bed nets — usually with pyrethroids, and, infrequently, with DDT — to guard against malaria transmission while sleeping. Bed nets also are very effective.”

But the mosquito that transmits Zika is not the anopheles but another genus known as the Aedes, which also transmits dengue and chikungunya viruses, according to Goldman.

Aedes mosquitos bite outdoors, during the day, she said. Spraying walls with DDT won’t help.

Aedes mosquitos, in contrast to the Anopheles mosquitos, thrive in urban environments and tend to breed in close proximity to human populations, in particular in trash or discarded tires. They require a very tiny amount of water to breed, and their eggs can stay viable for a long time without water, ready to develop again once rains return. These characteristics make it relatively impervious to outdoor spraying, whatever the insecticide. Even though the mosquitos only survive two weeks and don’t fly very far, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, has likened them to the “cockroach of mosquitoes,” who “lives indoors around people and hides in dark places.” All of this means that spraying will be much less effective than it would be against Aedes. It could even backfire. How?

By doing this:

But according to Joe Conlon, a technical adviser to the American Mosquito Control Association and a former entomologist with the U.S. Navy, using DDT to control Zika is a terrible idea. “DDT seems like a silver bullet, but it isn’t.” First of all, the mosquitoes might be resistant to DDT. Conlon says the Latin American countries where Zika is blooming now used DDT heavily in the 1960s to kill off the Aedes aegypti, which also carries diseases like dengue and yellow fever. It worked, but the mosquitoes in the region developed robust resistance to the pesticide, which may still be lingering in the population. DDT resistance lasts a long time, he says, because the chemical persists in the environment so long. If you spray a wall with DDT today—a method commonly used because mosquitoes are known to rest on walls a moment after having a blood meal—it could still be coated by DDT in 20 years. The mosquito population continues to be bombarded by the chemical, so the resistance shows up in every subsequent mosquito generation.

And even if the mosquitoes aren’t already resistant, they will be. It only takes a “few generations” of mosquito to develop resistance, and when an Aedes mosquito’s life span is about 10 days, that’s not long at all. Conlon speculates mosquitoes could develop resistance within a year. “What’s even worse, resistance to DDT can stir cross-resistance to the other pesticides we use, like the pesticide we use to treat bed nets, to fight malaria.”

And that’s what bothers me so much about how ideologues have dragged DDT into the Zika virus debate. It distorts the debate that should be occurring, which is not a question of choosing environment or birds over humans or vice versa. That is a false dichotomy and the wrong question to be asking. Rather, deciding how to combat the Zika virus involves balancing one set of risks and costs, human, environmental, and financial, associated with different methods of mosquito control versus the risks and costs in human terms of a virus that hasn’t (yet) been conclusively demonstrated to be causing microcephaly. Add to that the consequences of bringing back DDT, which could reinvigorate resistance among mosquitos carrying malaria, and there are some real potentially bad consequences.

This is a situation where there is a lot of uncertainty involved, and all the available options are imperfect. Bringing back DDT could well be the most imperfect option of all.

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Preston
    February 22, 2016

    The best pest management programs understand the biology of the pest and exploit weaknesses in it.

    Once you do this, you understand that DDT would be a very weak solution for Aedes mosquitoes requiring widespread spraying of water bodies and other environments where the mosquitoes occur. This may have been an acceptable option in the late 1940s against insect borne diseases that could devastate whole communities, but now that we have much more knowledge and better tools, it is completely unacceptable.

    Understanding the biology of the vector, one of the more effective options is to reduce the breeding habitat of the insects around dwellings. This is going to be difficult to achieve in somewhere like South America, but has been a successful activity in northern Australia coupled with the personal use of repellents.

    Rather than employing widespread insecticide use, governments in South America would be better off spending those funds on delivering repellents and an education program to their citizens.

  2. #2 Ren
    February 22, 2016

    When I was in Barranquilla, Colombia, last summer, I got to see the efforts of local public health in preventing malaria, dengue, and chikungunya. We went door-to-door, talking to people about mosquito prevention. If they allowed us in, we would check to see that they had no standing water indoors. (Most homes don’t have screens on the windows or air conditioning.) A lot of decorative water plants had larvae in them, so did the containers in the back yards that they used to catch rainwater. So those were drained, and education was given.
    Public health workers there did this day in and day out in brutal heat. (It was brutal for me.) The city would pay to drain ditches and put oil in glass bottles that people used to make walls dangerous to climb over.
    The end result was that Barranquilla was without local transmission of dengue or malaria, though they have the mosquitoes for it. (Let me tell you about my malaria prophy experience one day.) There were some cases of chikungunya, but nothing like the outbreak I saw in Mahates, a more rural town in the middle of nowhere in Colombia.
    It can be done without much chemical intervention, but it’s going to take a herculean effort.
    Unfortunately for us here in the US, I don’t see us freedom-loving, gun-toting, Bible-hugging Americans allowing a public health worker to come on to our property to check for mosquito reservoirs. We’ll drink DDT in some Budweiser before that happens.

  3. #3 Dangerous Bacon
    February 22, 2016

    “Miss Rachel Carson’s reference to the selfishness of insecticide manufacturers probably reflects her Communist sympathies, like a lot of our writers these days. We can live without birds and animals, but, as the current market slump shows, we cannot live without business. As for insects, isn’t it just like a woman to be scared to death of a few little bugs! As long as we have the H-bomb everything will be O.K.”

    I smell a Poe here. Aside from the (hilariously?) over-the-top language, this was a letter to the New Yorker, never known for its far-right readership.

    “We can live without birds and animals”? WTF? Believe it or not, this is how a lot of Americans thought over 50 years ago.”

    Not buying it. There were certainly a lot of people in denial over the harm that insecticides (especially chlorinated hydrocarbons) could cause, but there was a very active Audubon Society and most people cared a lot about seeing dead birds and animals.

    *emphasizing that Silent Spring was about a lot more than DDT, including revelations about marked mammalian toxicity of such chemicals as chlordane and aldrin.

  4. #4 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    February 22, 2016

    #1 – We just need to implement the brilliant solution put forth by The Simpsons episode “Bart the Mother” in dealing with an infestation of pigeon-eating lizards:

    Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
    Lisa: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?
    Skinner: No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.
    Lisa: But aren’t the snakes even worse?
    Skinner: Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
    Lisa: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!
    Skinner: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

    We just need to find an animal to eat the mosquitoes, and then the animal to eat that animal and then the animal to eat that animal….

  5. #5 Rob
    February 22, 2016

    Excellent article. Including the historical perspective is invaluable.

    Sadly, people who have one piece of information, that DDT kills mosquitoes, think they are knowledgeable enough to call for spraying, failing to realize how poorly informed they are.

  6. #6 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    February 22, 2016

    Orac writes,

    This is a situation where there is a lot of uncertainty involved, and all the available options are imperfect.

    MJD says,

    Let’s be more respectful of bats and their contribution to mosquito control.

    http://www.batcon.org/resources/media-education/bats-magazine/bat_article/1011

  7. #7 Mong the Merciless
    February 22, 2016

    What about little mosquito hunting drones ?

  8. #8 rhymeswithgoalie
    February 22, 2016

    Has anyone considered using cane toads?

  9. #9 Orac
    February 22, 2016

    I smell a Poe here. Aside from the (hilariously?) over-the-top language, this was a letter to the New Yorker, never known for its far-right readership.

    Except that such a viewpoint was not far right back in 1962.

    “We can live without birds and animals”? WTF? Believe it or not, this is how a lot of Americans thought over 50 years ago.”

    Not buying it. There were certainly a lot of people in denial over the harm that insecticides (especially chlorinated hydrocarbons) could cause, but there was a very active Audubon Society and most people cared a lot about seeing dead birds and animals.

    Bit of a straw man there. I didn’t say “most” Americans. I said a lot of Americans. Not a majority, just a lot. And reading a lot of contemporaneous criticisms of Rachel Carson convinced me that this is true. There were a lot of Americans who thought this way to varying extents—maybe not as far out as this letter writer, but variations on the same theme.

  10. #10 Dan Milton
    February 22, 2016

    I suspect the letter quoted above is someone’s idea of satire.
    Fifty years ago, The New Yorker did not publish letters to the editor.

  11. #11 Orac
    February 22, 2016

    The source is here:

    http://www.environmentandsociety.org/exhibitions/silent-spring/personal-attacks-rachel-carson

    http://www.ecology.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/usys/ites/ecosystem-management-dam/documents/EducationDOC/Readings%20in%20Environmental%20Thinking/Smith2001RachelCarson.pdf

    The letter also wasn’t printed in 1962. It was printed in 1995, when, as part of its 70th anniversary issue, The New Yorker published a a series of letters it had received over the years about particularly influential articles.

    In context:

    That a woman should challenge the mesmerists, that she should try to shake Americans from their complacent trust in their own government and most powerful corporations, dismayed not just the chemical companies and their colleagues in research universities. Her New Yorker prieces drew overwhelming praise from readers, but a vocal minority objected to her and her findings strenuously. One writer wrote: “Miss Rachel Carson’s reference to the selfishness of insecticide manufacturers probably reflects her Communist sympathies, like a lot of our writers these days. We can live without birds and animals, but, as the current market slump shows, we cannot live without business. As for insects, isn’t it just like a woman to be scared to death of a few little bugs! As long as we have the H-bomb everything will be O.K.”23

    If letters from cranks had been the extent of the public complaints against Carson in the popular press, one could less confidently assert that gender biases from the culture at large deeply inflected the reception of her work. But when a magazine with the wide readership of Time called her findings and writing “patently unsound,”” hysterically emphatic,”and an “emotional outburst,” then the roots of the criticism, the reasons Carson was so threatening, become clear: she was a woman and she was challenging a cornerstone of industrial capitalism with a passion considered unbecoming to a scientist. The Time piece also trotted out the familiar criticism about the ‘balance of nature””: Lovers of wildlife often rhapsodize about the ‘balance of nature’ that keeps all living creatures in harmony, but scientists realistically point out that the balance of nature was upset thousands of years ago when man’s invention of weapons made him the king of the beasts. The balance has never recovered its equilibrium; man is the dominant species on his planet, and as his fields, pastures and cities spread across the land, lesser species are extirpated, pushed into refuge areas, or domesticated.”

  12. #12 Gilbert
    February 22, 2016

    “”destructive insects often undergo a “flareback,” or resurgence, after spraying, in numbers greater than before. Thus the chemical war is never won, and all life is caught in its violent crossfire.

    The mosquito’s a clever little bastard. You can track him for days and days until you really get to know him like a friend. He knows you’re there, and you know he’s there. It’s a game of wits. You hate him, then you respect him, then you kill him. … There’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito

    — Roy

  13. #13 Eric Lund
    February 22, 2016

    I smell a Poe here

    Red-baiting didn’t disappear with Joe McCarthy. There were still plenty of people willing and even eager to see Communist plots in everything. The John Birch Society really existed at the time–they were rightly regarded as extremist kooks in those days, but they were out there. And there were quite a few mainstream politicians who, while disagreeing with Bircher claims that Eisenhower was a Commie, agreed with the general notion that the Commies were out to get us by some nefarious means.

    By 1995, when the letter in question was published, the John Birch wing was beginning to push for political respectability. Not by changing their views (other than to incorporate new enemies, the USSR having ceased to exist), but by encouraging the Republican Partly to incorporate their views. That’s why you see people claim, with a straight face, that Obama is a socialist fascist atheist Muslim–those people agree that all of those things are bad things, and never mind that some of them are mutually exclusive.

  14. #14 Dangerous Bacon
    February 22, 2016

    it’s OK, fellas. Even hardened skeptics are occasionally taken in by satire.

    I wonder how many people have taken the following New Yorker article at face value?*

    http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/iraqis-celebrate-as-threat-of-third-bush-presidency-is-over

    *I know of someone who just posted this link on a popular message board, thinking it was real. 🙂

  15. #15 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    February 22, 2016

    Donchiak:

    Bats are awesome, and I’m glad to see someone posting about them and their contribution to insect control. My brother worked a couple of summers up at the MINOS project (neutrino detector) at the Soudan Underground Mine when he was an undergrad, and one of the mineshafts there is closed off to humans. It has a grate over it, so the large population of bats can move freely in and out without being disturbed by humans. (They did have one get into the main mineshaft, and the poor thing died of exhaustion trying to fly out again. The main shaft is very deep.) He said it was great coming out in the evening and seeing the bats emerge. There are lots of mosquitoes in the summer here in Minnesota, especially up there where the lake/wetland density is even greater, but he said when the bats were emerging you would never get bitten even if you didn’t wear repellant — the bats would eat them.

    Another guy I know talked of going to the Pennsic War, an annual event held by the Society for Creative Anachronism. Everybody camps, and this guy didn’t have a tent. (I don’t remember why.) So he decided to go even more medieval and sleep under the stars. The mosquitoes were terrible at first, and then suddenly he became aware that he wasn’t being bitten anymore, but instead of the mosquito whine he was hearing these soft sounds. He looked up and saw shapes that would flit past, silhouetted against the night sky. Bats. He believed they regarded him as mosquito bait, because they were swooping around him, nabbing everything that tried to bite.

    That said, the biggest problems with bats as control are:
    1) Habitat loss for bats is a serious problem, so you’ll have to persuade people to put up bat boxes, or whatever equivalent works for Brazilian bats.
    2) Rabies. Also other things, but bats are unfortunately pretty good vectors for a lot of nasty diseases, and in the New World, rabies is #1. We need to come up with a better rabies control plan before we can persuade people to coexist with bats, I suspect.

  16. #16 Gilbert
    February 22, 2016

    Humor aside, Dangerous Bacon #14, it has been far too personal for far too long between the Masonic Bushes and their wayward brother Saddam:

    A tile mosaic depicting U.S. President George H.W. Bush with a look of astonishment on his face was installed on the floor of the lobby after the Persian Gulf War. This was intended to force any visitors to walk over his face to enter the hotel (a serious insult in Arab culture). On 17 January 1993, the hotel was damaged in a US missile strike and the attack resulted in civilian casualties. The artist, Layla Al-Attar, who did the mosaic died along with her husband and housekeeper when another stray US missile hit her house. After the invasion in 2003, the mosaic was smashed by U.S. soldiers, who left a portrait of Saddam Hussein behind.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Tulip_Al_Rasheed_Hotel#History

  17. #17 JerryA
    February 22, 2016

    The pro-DDT spraying commentary not only gets it wrong on Carson and environmentalists in general, the more extreme comments get the argument backwards. The ban on DDT is against wide-spread agricultural use as a pesticide, but there is still an exemption for disease vector (mosquito) control. Carson’s and general environmentalist arguments included that overly wide use of DDT would make it less effective as a disease control agent, due to evolution of resistance. The same is true for overly wide use of anti-bacterial agents and antibiotics. The biggest use of antibiotics (~80%) is not in humans, but in animal feed in sub-clinical doses to help cattle and other animals grow larger, faster. As a result, there is wide-spread resistance to antibiotics developing in bacteria which infect meat animals (esp. poultry & cattle). Same problem, same cause, same people refusing to see and blaming the wrong people.

  18. #18 See Noevo
    February 22, 2016

    “…insects, in a triumphant vindication of Darwin’s principle of the survival of the fittest, have evolved super races immune to the particular insecticide used…”

    This may be just the ticket to convert me to an evolutionist.

    But tell me more. Specifically, what is the name of the new non-mosquito animal, the one that used to be susceptible to the insecticide?
    How super is this super race? Does it now hold press conferences?

  19. #19 Clayton Bigsby
    somewhere in the midwest....between Minn. & Mich.
    February 22, 2016

    Another good article, well written & researched…

    I can attest to the notion that DDT is somewhat more benign to humans than initially thought, based on my own empirical observations thus far…..

    Having grown up in the 60’s like many youngsters we were used to regular fogging by the County ( State? ) in NJ… on hot summer evenings and found the clouds absolutely irresistable…..
    and all the kids in the neighborhoods of suburbia (read farmland converted to subdivisions) heard the siren song beckoning us to ride our bicycles “In the Clouds” with our numbers growing block by block….

    And so 50+ years into my observations, i’ve yet to find a cauliflower growing in my sinuses, lungs, or brain….though increduosly, still looking ……

  20. #20 Gilbert
    February 22, 2016

    on hot summer evenings and found the clouds absolutely irresistable…..
    and all the kids in the neighborhoods of suburbia (read farmland converted to subdivisions) heard the siren song beckoning us to ride our bicycles “In the Clouds” with our numbers growing block by block….

    ^^ Not so much a plagiarist as a kindered spirit, I presume??

    with the anthropomorphic smiley-face on front pumping out its siren song of dusky, magical mist– luring kids on bikes for blocks around to frantically try and join the mystical 4-wheeled fun and frolic in the fog like some pedophilic Pied Piper of Pyrethros, some deranged denizen of Diazinon.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2016/01/29/who-knew-tightening-up-requirements-for-personal-belief-exemptions-to-school-vaccine-mandates-increases-vaccine-uptake/#comment-428613

    I only bring this up because I’m going to petition the TPP and MPAA knowing that my words are worth .08 of a penny on the open market… Less than the wings of a fully grown, male mosquito, in total, because I have less of them. But, still…

  21. #21 herr doktor bimler
    February 22, 2016

    There’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito

    Glen Baxter is on the case.
    https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2AWGfD3xkzM/VsmMxHTCFiI/AAAAAAAAS8M/SDZhHHQZmI4/s1600/cropwm.jpg

  22. #22 LoganRuns
    Singapore
    February 22, 2016

    In Singapore, the most important tool in the campaign against the transmission of dengue is public education and awareness of how mosquitos breed, coupled with aggressive monitoring, inspection and enforcement by public health officials. Residents are constantly reminded to prevent and eliminate sources of stagnant water, including capping of standpipes; ensuring that outdoor drains (including on balconies) drain freely; regularly flushing toilets that aren’t frequently used; and immediately removing water from collection plates beneath flower pots. This education campaign is coupled with a vigilant inspection and enforcement effort, including of private residences. Construction sites, with their propensity to generate large accumulations and small pockets of standing water, are aggressively inspected. The medical system tracks dengue cases, and shares information with public health officials who track outbreaks or “clusters,” making this information available to the public on its website. Finally, “fogging” with an insecticide (I believe cypermethrin) is also carried out. In spite of these vigorous efforts, the island still suffers from endemic dengue, with the severity of outbreaks dependent on weather conditions and other factors. It is clear, however, that use of insecticides is just one element of the multifaceted campaign required to defeat mosquito-born disease.

  23. #23 MrrKAT, Finland, EU
    February 22, 2016

    I think ethanol is more dangerous (at least 300 birth defects here every year) than some Zika virus.

  24. #24 Roadstergal
    February 22, 2016

    CA #15 – So we just need to find an animal to eat the bats…

  25. #25 Narad
    February 22, 2016

    Not by changing their views (other than to incorporate new enemies, the USSR having ceased to exist)

    I’m occasionally tempted to leave a copy of “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” over at AoA, where Big pHARMa controls everything.

  26. #26 Denice Walter
    February 22, 2016

    @ Narad:

    Seriously Big pHARMa uses NLP to do its programming so paranoia is apropos.

    see Mike, Natural News today. The audio is a laugh riot.

  27. #27 Clayton Bigsby
    February 22, 2016

    @ Gilbert….post #20

    OMFG!!… Kindred Spirits?…..Cubed! Talk about zeitgeist…. I’ve gone back to read the link you posted and there are some other VERY good links referenced in that thread….Particularly the Brazilian study/paper…..Yet we remain relatively unscathed…TTBOMK…. was your experience by chance, on the east coast as well…?

    Good luck with the TPP thing….doubt I could even lift the document.

  28. #28 Vicki
    near Seattle
    February 22, 2016

    MrrKAT,

    Ethanol may well be more dangerous than Zika (especially in places where water freezes every year), but there’s no rule that we have to have exactly one of those things.

    Also, people have more choice about whether to consume ethanol than about whether to be bitten by a mosquito.

  29. […] has an excellent article on the conspiracy theorists who wrongly blame environmentalists and the refusal to use DDT for […]

  30. #30 Gilbert
    February 23, 2016

    North Alabama, Clayton Bigsby #27. A semi-rare event to our young passtimes — perhaps once every two weeks or so. It seemed almost a right of passage; Being able to prognosticate to the younger youngsters what was about to appear based on hearing the distinct fogger sound coming and seeing the orange refracting through it’s own fog above the treetops a couple blocks away. I’d not be surprised to hear local tornado survivors recant, “It sounded just like a spraytruck…coming right for us.”

    I can’t recall exactly when I became wary of the spraytrucks but I suspect it was born out of lamenting my inability to find large preying mantis and the few** I did find being stunted and malformed. For tagging along behind the older kids collecting ringneck snakes, hording cicada husks off trees, and nightly bagging the biggest mantis were my pre-school favorite things.

    There was a local hangout, a long straight away bordered by wetland, where many would spontaneously gather for drag racing. One night, a wave of cheers came up as the spray guy fired up his fogger and his light and misted us all along the strip — heavily. I was not cheering and instead felt ill at ease at his off-duty celebrity status.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dDy0o3IIpk

    ** These past couple of decades it’s probably a safer bet that one would be able to put himself in a position to tangle up with a tornado over a guaranteed find of a large mantis. Direct injury aside, fruit flies, mosquitoes, and flies were the young neighborhood mantis’ staple food supply.

  31. #31 Politicalguineapig
    February 23, 2016

    DB:Believe it or not, this is how a lot of Americans thought over 50 years ago.” Not buying it. There were certainly a lot of people in denial over the harm that insecticides (especially chlorinated hydrocarbons) could cause, but there was a very active Audubon Society and most people cared a lot about seeing dead birds and animals.

    No, Orac’s right. My grandfather was involved in preservation efforts for the bald eagle, and it was an uphill battle to get people to listen let alone do anything useful. Heck, if the eagles hadn’t been affected we probably would have lost the peregrine falcon and the California condor and the vast majority of citizens wouldn’t have given a hoot. Heck, look at the blatant disregard most citizens have for parks. We had a park occupied by a militia, and no one did anything but send them dildos. And Texas? Loads of parks, but not a single local ever sets foot in one, unless it’s to litter, like the Good Book says.

  32. #32 shay simmons
    February 23, 2016

    And Texas? Loads of parks, but not a single local ever sets foot in one, unless it’s to litter, like the Good Book says.

    I guess those nice people I met in the Aransas National Wildlife refuge weren’t really from Austin and Corpus Christi, as they claimed.

    And I’m not sure what you expected anyone could have done at Malheur given that the occupiers were armed and stupid and surrounded by LEOs.

  33. #33 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    February 23, 2016

    @shay

    Don’t bother. PGP is just being her typical ignorant self, making sweeping generalizations to tar everyone that isn’t her.

  34. #34 Clayton Bigsby
    February 23, 2016

    @Gilbert

    Wow Man…parallel universes….too funny…I too had a penchant for praying mantises (had to be one of the coolest insects ) in fact for about a week one summer i would locate the same one daily in an open lot and supply it with house flies and bits of my
    PB&j…the street racing came much later….we made our own fog at that point……. ; )

  35. #35 Clayton Bigsby
    February 23, 2016

    @gilbert….again….

    just watched the link..missed it the 1st time….now that right there was funny….
    our trucks were pickups with a 55 gal drum & what seemed like a Briggs & Straton motor in the back running the fogger….again im talking circa 1960-63 im guessing….

  36. #36 Politicalguineapig
    February 23, 2016

    Shay: And I’m not sure what you expected anyone could have done at Malheur given that the occupiers were armed and stupid and surrounded by LEOs.

    Well, I expected the law enforcement agencies to do something, and I had hoped there’d be consequences. Apparently, you can just take over a wildlife refuge and get off scot-free- and your state and your family don’t get any punishment either.

    Also, even Austinites acknowledge that Austin is kind of an alternate universe from the state it’s ostensibly part of. I spent some time in Texas last year, and most of the parks were pretty deserted.

    How about dealing with the point? Can we all agree that no one but a few wild-eyed kooks cared about the environment in the 1950s and early ’60s? And not pretend that the citizens cared?
    The only reason preservation succeeded was because some of those wild-eyed kooks were part of the government. Wouldn’t happen today.

  37. #37 Militant Agnostic
    Thats MILITANT::agnositoc of the family whackaloon to you when I am in drydock.
    February 24, 2016

    PGP

    Well, I expected the law enforcement agencies to do something, and I had hoped there’d be consequences. Apparently, you can just take over a wildlife refuge and get off scot-free- and your state and your family don’t get any punishment either.

    For a definition of scot-free sufficiently broad to include getting fatally shot or getting their ass thrown in jail. Also, being denied bail after discovering that judges are singularly unimpressed by their pseudo-legal incantations regardless of whether or not the flag has a fringe.

  38. #38 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    February 24, 2016

    Apparently, you can just take over a wildlife refuge and get off scot-free- and your state and your family don’t get any punishment either.

    Last I heard, all the occupiers had been arrested, and the cases should be slam dunks for the prosecutors, so who do you think is getting away with anything?

    But more importantly, are you suggesting that if someone commits a criminal act, we should punish them, their families, and everyone in the whole state? Because that’s some Trump level thinking.

  39. #39 JP
    February 24, 2016

    Can we all agree that no one but a few wild-eyed kooks cared about the environment in the 1950s and early ’60s? And not pretend that the citizens cared?

    My great-grandfather (of Roma descent) donated his homestead to the government as a wildlife refuge within that timeframe.

    Just FYI.

  40. #40 herr doktor bimler
    February 24, 2016

    praying mantises (had to be one of the coolest insects )

    I am especially fond of preying mantids wearing coloured glasses and watching 3D movies.
    http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/news/2016/01/3dglassesformantises/

  41. #41 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    February 24, 2016

    @JP

    I didn’t know your great-grandfather was a “wild-eyed kook”.

    Seriously, PGP, why must you do this so much? And every single time you make overly broad, offensive, and just plain stupid comments, you’re corrected, yet you never learn.

    And yes, mantids are awesome. Thanks for sharing that link, HDB! Fascinating stuff.

  42. #42 Dangerous Bacon
    February 24, 2016

    “My grandfather was involved in preservation efforts for the bald eagle, and it was an uphill battle to get people to listen let alone do anything useful.”

    Inertia plagues many causes.

    This is a far cry from “a lot” of Americans being OK with the idea of a country lacking birds and mammals. The 1950s was not a golden age of environmentalism, but only a handful of weirdos (about as many as you’d find today) would’ve accepted wholesale exterminations. I can accept that there were some people who’d bought the idea that a nice chlordane drench was just the thing to kill grubs in their lawn, and if a robin or two keeled over, well too bad. Not quite the same thing as painting large segments of the public as promoting or accepting Animal Holocaust.

    It’s like saying a lot of Americans support the idea of extinction of all birds and mammals because they’re global warming denialists. If you’re into that sort of rhetoric, I have tuned you out.

  43. #43 Orac
    February 24, 2016

    And look who’s beating the DDT drum again. Yep, it’s the ACSH:

    http://acsh.org/news/2016/02/23/zika-virus-infections-in-the-americas-and-the-ddt-question/

  44. #44 Orac
    February 24, 2016

    This is a far cry from “a lot” of Americans being OK with the idea of a country lacking birds and mammals.

    No, but back in the 1950s and early 1960s a lot of people sure did prioritize industry and technology over birds and animals and environment.

  45. #45 Gilbert
    a local Cheka office of operations near you
    February 24, 2016

    Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan.
    And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
    Hire people with hooks.
    For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
    Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
    That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.
    And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot,
    It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

    — Deteriorata
    ==========

    Well, I expected the law enforcement agencies to do something, and I had hoped there’d be consequences. Apparently, you can just take over a wildlife refuge and get off scot-free- and your state and your family don’t get any punishment either.

    Wow. Let not your heart be troubled, PgP; Your day is coming again:

    Some of these people were active rebels, some were outspoken political opponents and journalists, others were merely average citizens wrongly accused by neighbors or personal enemies. The Cheka created a society of fear and suspicion in which no one could be trusted and little criticism was spoken above a whisper anywhere, even in one’s own home…

    …With the ethereal nature of criminal charges like “material support” or “interference with federal officials,” due process becomes a bit of joke… the liberty movement is well aware of the government push to remove due process altogether. With the AUMF and the NDAA, among other executive actions, we realize that the friendly mask of due process is worn by government today, but not necessarily tomorrow.

    http://www.alt-market.com/articles/2813-a-warning-to-the-feds-on-incremental-prosecutions-of-the-liberty-movement

  46. #46 Politicalguineapig
    February 24, 2016

    Johnny: Most of the militia’s fellow travelers got away cleanly. I think the feds should have shut down some of the state parks in Nevada for about two weeks, just to prove a point. It might have made the militia’s ideologies less appealing.

    JP: See above, where I mentioned my grandfather. I admire those brave environmentalists, I was just comparing their stances to society at the time.

    DB: There’s a difference between supporting something and simply not giving a f*ck. Most global-warming deniers see the natural world as a distraction, not worth thinking about. The possibility of species going extinct would never even occur to them- at most, it might provoke a shrug.

    Orac: Same thing today, really, although oddly, most global-warming deniers aren’t actually in favor of progress of any sort. They prefer stagnation, except for the few who are actively in favor of the apocalypse.

    Gil: Could you please start employing some filtration please? Not everything that crosses your Goldberg model brain needs to be barfed up on the screen. Go back to Reddit- I hear the libertarian troll population has dropped there.

  47. […] After World War II, South America nearly wiped out the Aedes aegypti mosquito and ended the scourge of yellow fever, thanks to a robust public effort to use more insecticides and drain the puddles, sewers, and tires where mosquitoes breed. But the effort ultimately failed, a victim of its own success as public disinterest led to budget cuts. The mosquitoes came roaring back in the early 1980s, many of them now immune to insecticides. […]

  48. […] After World War II, South America nearly wiped out the Aedes aegypti mosquito and ended the scourge of yellow fever, thanks to a robust public effort to use more insecticides and drain the puddles, sewers, and tires where mosquitoes breed. But the effort ultimately failed, a victim of its own success as public disinterest led to budget cuts. The mosquitoes came roaring back in the early 1980s, many of them now immune to insecticides. […]

  49. […] After World War II, South America nearly wiped out the Aedes aegypti mosquito and ended the scourge of yellow fever, thanks to a robust public effort to use more insecticides and drain the puddles, sewers, and tires where mosquitoes breed. But the effort ultimately failed, a victim of its own success as public disinterest led to budget cuts. The mosquitoes came roaring back in the early 1980s, many of them now immune to insecticides. […]

  50. #50 Gilbert
    FernGully
    February 24, 2016

    “”Most global-warming deniers see the natural world as a distraction, not worth thinking about. The possibility of species going extinct would never even occur to them- at most, it might provoke a shrug.

    PgP #46, I look past your silly punish-state sentiments with a hand wave “surely, she meant that the local sheriffs were not dilligent enough in imposing immediate compliance of federal edicts. All she’s suggesting is that TPTB nuke Colorado for voting to allow stoners to openly flaunt federal law.”

    If it comes to that, PgP, don’t forget that Colorado and Nevada have their own share of launch tubes right in their own back yard. Oh, and SSBN-753.

    But I can’t let the ‘Denier’ blanket overspread without kicking it off my toes. For I am supposedly one of those ‘Deniers’ because I see man’s changes well withered compared to natural variation and even a positive contribution in its own right — Iceages aren’t all Ray Romano and John Leguizamo feely fuzzy with a hint of nut-chasing paleo-squirrel on top.

    Since people are often naturally curious about the future of the ice age cycle, the reality bears repeating: we broke it.

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/01/we-narrowly-missed-a-new-ice-age-and-now-we-wont-see-one-for-a-long-time/

    I am fervently pro biodiversity. I see it as travesty that there are those pushing for homogenized pine forests because they produce less CO2. They do that because they are essentially sterile, devoid of much microbial living biomass.. Green desert; They don’t breath well. I’m adamant against the indiscriminate use of herbicides and insecticides and I loath the ethanol subsidies and import deals causing clearcutting of forrests towards efforts to repay some World Bank debt.

    Hell, I’ve even been known to screen The Medicine Man, from time to time. Goldberg? The Rube? Perhaps you were thinking of Emmanuel Goldstein of two minutes’ hate fame?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Minutes_Hate

  51. #51 Gilbert
    February 24, 2016

    judges are singularly unimpressed by their pseudo-legal incantations regardless of whether or not the flag has a fringe.

    Well, I for one am pretty fukkin’ tired of judges pretending I’m a boat, Militant Agnostic #37.

  52. #52 shay simmons
    February 24, 2016

    Well, I expected the law enforcement agencies to do something

    Words fail me.

  53. #53 JP
    February 24, 2016

    @JP

    I didn’t know your great-grandfather was a “wild-eyed kook”.

    In all fairness, it does sort of run in the family.

    I mean, he got some money out of the deal, so it’s not like he got totally Gypped or anything.

    😉

  54. #54 Politicalguineapig
    February 24, 2016

    Shay: I meant something more immediate. They spent two weeks sitting on their hands. Now I understand that since Ruby Ridge and the other stuff the feds had to be more cautious, but they still allowed the occupation to continue unchallenged. And fair’s fair; if they deny people the use of a park for two weeks, then their neighbors should be banned from the federal parks system and their families should face a total lifetime ban, as they’ll just screw up the parks for everyone else.

    Gil, yes I meant Rube, you Reddit bot. I’m beginning to wonder if you are in fact a person. If you are, perhaps seeking medical help, learning to think and working on that reading comprehension might improve your life.
    So, let’s take it from the top. At no point did I say anything about nuking anyone or anything. I do not care about stoners in Colorado, in fact, I think the laws, as they stand, are rather stupid, much as you think age-of-consent laws are stupid and oppressive- though unlike you, stoners hurt no one but themselves.
    If you’re a climate change denialist, you don’t like or understand nature.Yes, ice ages and warming have occurred naturally, but the current cycle we’re in is anything but. When I was a kid, we had snow EVERY winter- now it’s every other, if we’re lucky. Doesn’t sound natural to me..

    Your dismissal of pine forests as ‘dead’ suggests that you’ve never actually been in one. Go to Canada around springtime, and I guarantee you’ll rethink that line. I suppose you think there’s no life in bogs either, as they’re anaerobic and that the sea is a lifeless void five miles down.

  55. #55 Magpie
    February 24, 2016

    I feel like I’m being really dense about Zika, but…

    US CDC says microcephaly occurs 2-12 times per 10,000 births. With 3 million births in Brazil per year, wouldn’t we actually expect about the number of confirmed cases we’re getting? I mean, the Brazilian government recently announced that about 38% of suspected cases were being confirmed. If that holds for all 5820 suspected cases, it’ll come out to about 1800 total, with cases from 2015 as well as some from this year.

    That’s about 6 per 10,000. Isn’t that… normal?

  56. #56 Vicki
    February 25, 2016

    Magpie,

    You’re not being dense. One suggested explanation for the increase in reported microcephaly in Brazil is improved reporting over the past couple of years, bringing the official rate closer to the expected actual rate. Expected in this case means the same rate as for the rest of the planet as a whole, which is what you would expect if there was nothing either putting Brazilians at greater risk, or reducing their risk relative to non-Brazilians.

    It is of course possible that both things are happening. That is, maybe reporting has improved at the same time that Zika virus, or some other cause, has increased the rate of microcephaly in Brazil.

  57. #57 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    February 25, 2016

    Politicalguineapig:

    Most of the militia’s fellow travelers got away cleanly.

    Supporting evidence definitely needed for this claim.

    I think the feds should have shut down some of the state parks in Nevada for about two weeks, just to prove a point. It might have made the militia’s ideologies less appealing.

    I really loathe your attitude towards collective punishment, PGP. All this would have done is antagonised people who want to go to parks.
    I’ve been on the receiving end of collective punishment as a pupil at school. It didn’t work. It didn’t make the perpetrators feel guilty and it didn’t make the innocent angry towards the guilty. All it did was cause resentment towards the teachers.

    They spent two weeks sitting on their hands. Now I understand that since Ruby Ridge and the other stuff the feds had to be more cautious, but they still allowed the occupation to continue unchallenged.

    So basically, you’re saying they should have just stomped in there and heavy-handedly collared the lot, risking a bloody firefight instead of patiently waiting for lack of food, water and warmth to wear them down and then arrest them? I think the “wait and see” option they took was the correct one.

    And fair’s fair; if they deny people the use of a park for two weeks, then their neighbors should be banned from the federal parks system and their families should face a total lifetime ban, as they’ll just screw up the parks for everyone else.

    So because they committed a criminal act, their neighbours, whom you don’t know if they share those views or not, should suffer? Ditto their relatives, who may have disowned them over their actions?
    I’ve said this before about you Politicalguineapig, but it warrants repetition.
    You are as hate-filled and bigoted as the people you claim to be fighting against.

  58. #58 LW
    February 25, 2016

    if they deny people the use of a park for two weeks, then their neighbors should be banned from the federal parks system and their families should face a total lifetime ban

    Ah, Politicalguineapig and her beloved collective punishment.

    Tell me, Politicalguineapig, if a federal agent is killed, bow many random citizens should we pull off the street, put up against a wall, and gun down? Isn’t the going rate one hundred? And should we seize adults, or children? I’m assuming, given your enthusiasm for causing children to die by denying them vaccines, that you prefer that we execute children in this collective punishment. Can you clarify?

  59. #59 MarkN
    February 25, 2016

    Magpie, another argument — x amount of people die each year from measles, hiv, influenza, myocardial infarction, cancer, etc. Every year, we can expect this number. Iis it normal to continue to expect those same numbers, or can we do something against a disease process? Polio & smallpox, they had “normal range” of mortality/morbidity. Was it okay to accept normal and do nothing? My thought is that zika is playing a role in some cases we see today.

  60. #60 LW
    February 25, 2016

    Most of the militia’s fellow travelers got away cleanly.

    According to Merriam-Webster, a fellow traveler is “someone who shares the opinions and beliefs of the people in a group or organization (especially the Communist Party) but does not belong to that group or organization”. So Politicalguineapig’s complaint is that people who commit thoughtcrimes are allowed to escape punishment.

  61. #61 Chris
    February 25, 2016

    LW: “So Politicalguineapig’s complaint is that people who commit thoughtcrimes are allowed to escape punishment.”

    Except those who took over a wildlife refuge will not escape punishment. Though their performance yesterday in federal court was hilarious. From the guys who threatened government employees with firearms who asked why if they are presumed “innocent until proven guilty” why they were still shackled and in jail, to the “sovereign citizen” who wanted to be his own lawyer.

    They are learning the hard way what the US Constitution actually says.

  62. #62 Gilbert
    is that a prehistoric thumb in my peat moss?
    February 25, 2016

    I suppose you think there’s no life in bogs either, as they’re anaerobic

    People who walk through bogs get all murdered and don’t rot right for thousands of years..

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bog_body

    eww! don’t follow the lights.

    I do like me some swamps, though. I’m looking at this fishhead skull I found about a half mile up a hill from one — It is flattish with thick, boney plates and a mouth full of a couple rows of nasty long pointy teeth. I *think* it was a bowfin.

    “” ‘dead’

    Relatively speaking. Around here, one does not go into a pine thicket to view an abundance of diverse critters, wildflowers or other herbs and undergrowth save the occasional thorny vine. There are still boxturtles, slugs, and a disproportionate number of large, yellow-spotted salamanders should one be into that sort of thing. To be fair, most of these have been planted by past lumber mills and paper plants. but 40 year later are still rather bereft of healthy combinations of species, rich soil generation, or healthy overturning of CO2 (oxygen requires first CO2).
    ================

    Militant Agnostic #37,

    Judge bows to soverign

  63. #63 Russell Seitz
    February 25, 2016

    You non’t have to be pinhead to suffer from mosquito bites.

    Death to vermin.

  64. #64 Magpie
    February 25, 2016

    @ Mark and Vicki: Well yeah, I’m willing to accept that Zika could well be a cause, and there’s a heap of room between 2 and 12 per 10,000, so Zika could well the reason it’s 6-odd instead of 2-ish. That’s quite possible. It just strikes me that the WHO are going to lose a lot of authority in future outbreaks if they’ve declared a PHEIC when there isn’t one. The possibility that Zika isn’t changing the rate of microcephaly at all is *well* within the error bars here.

    They got a lot of (unjustified) heat over their handling of the ’09 influenza pandemic, and plenty of people seem deeply disappointed that Ebola didn’t murder us all in our beds. I’m just worried this story has the potential to dent their reputation enough to materially lesson their ability to act in future outbreaks.

    I wish there was something a little below a PHEIC announcement that could have reflected the uncertainty. It’d be nice if they could think of an acronym that couldn’t be pronounced as “fake”, too. C’mon guys. Everyone knows you think of a cool acronym and THEN you work out what it stands for.
    😛

  65. #65 LW
    February 25, 2016

    @Chris,

    “Except those who took over a wildlife refuge will not escape punishment.”

    That was my point. Those who took illegal action will not escape punishment. Politicalguineapig wants to impose collective punishment on everyone around them on the grounds that they — people who did not take illegal action — have not been punished for their thoughtcrime of being “fellow travelers”.

  66. #66 Gray Squirrel
    February 26, 2016

    (Better late than never;-)

    Jerry A @ 17: yes!

    The misuse of DDT and the misuse of antibiotics have these things in common: that they breed resistant strains (of insects and bacteria respectively), and that they are common in agriculture.

    What we need is the equivalent of the Controlled Substances Act, that can be applied to any technology that has a clear area of use and a potential for abuse. Antibiotics and certain insecticides would get the equivalent of Schedule II, with limits and compliance requirements.

    Thus veterinarians could treat sick livestock with antibiotics, but farmers and agro-corporations could not use antibiotics as substitutes for good sanitation or as fattener-uppers to get the animals to market a few weeks earlier than before. Apply those regulations across the industry and we have a level playing field: nobody gets an unfair competitive advantage.

    And, DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons could be used in public health emergencies as long as there is a clear plan to carry out a comprehensive vector control/eradication program in the area to be treated. But these agents could not be used in agriculture to “improve productivity” or whatever the excuse is.

    I’ve read that the Oxitec (sp?) GMO mosquitoes achieve about an 80% knockdown of mosquito population. So I’m inclined to believe that they should also be used carefully, and empirical results studied, to ascertain the proper parameters for their ongoing use. Though I would be happy if it was possible to drive the most dangerous mosquito species all the way into extinction.

    Re. fogging trucks:

    I recall as a kid, vacationing in a place where the ocean was not far away, the local roads were a kind of rough macadam with much loose sand, and there was an enticing doughnut shop a short bicycle ride away.

    One day we found a flyer on the door saying that the county health department would be fogging for mosquitoes the next evening. My folks made it clear that this was to control dangerous mosquitoes, and that there was a slight risk it could make us sick, so we would have to get indoors when the fogger came by.

    The moment we heard the distinctive sound of the fogging truck (I still recall it as a kind of “pou-pou-pou!” sound), and saw it coming down the street, we scurried indoors, closed all the windows, and watched. The fog filled the street and rolled into the yards on both sides. Even through closed window & doors we could detect a faint chemical scent, neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but interesting because it was unusual.

    Fast-forward to this year, when mosquito control has become far more prosaic, as I’d taken to emptying out the standing water in the flower pots the neighbors had arranged in a shared area of the property. Once they planted some flowers in those pots, there was no more standing water, and when I spoke to them they practically finished my sentence about the danger of mosquitoes and the need to patrol for standing water sources.

    In the end, public health is about civic responsibility: get your shots, keep a lid on the garbage and compost bins, empty any source of standing water, etc.

  67. #67 Militant Agnostic
    February 26, 2016

    LW

    Ah, Politicalguineapig and her beloved collective punishment.

    It is positively biblical.

    One bonus the feds got from being patient was flushing moocher Cliven Bundy out into the open so they could arrest him.

  68. #68 shay simmons
    February 26, 2016

    MA — one wonders if that was part of the FBI’s long game from the start.

  69. #69 Gray Squirrel
    February 26, 2016

    MA @ 67: YES.

    The way FBI handled that was world-class brilliant. They did their investigation on the quiet for close to two years, and got all their legal ducks lined up in a nice neat row. Then they just waited patiently for Cliven to leave his enclave and go to a place where he couldn’t have weapons or armed supporters on hand, and where he could be arrested without risk of harm to anyone.

    The way they handled the whole Malheur thing was equally brilliant. The only casualty was arguably suicide-by-cop, trying to reach for the 9mm in his jacket pocket. As it is now, all of ’em are cooling their heels in various jails awaiting further legal process, their gang has been broken up thoroughly, and their cause has discredited itself completely in the eyes of the public.

    And each and every one of them will be put on ice for long enough to send a strong deterrence message and protect the public from them for the duration.

    Shay @ 68: FBI knew that sooner or later Cliven would get complacent and go somewhere he couldn’t carry weapons or have armed supporters with him. It was an inevitability one way or another, made even more inevitable with the aid of plenty of human intelligence and communications intelligence. Though it was probably a coincidence that Cliven came out of his hole right after his kid & a bunch of pals were scooped up in Oregon. The timing couldn’t have been better, but if that hadn’t happened, then sooner or later Cliven would have come out of his hole and gotten pounced.

    BTW, “treason” fits here, per the Constitutional definition of “waging war on the United States.” The Bundy Ranch standoff fits to a T. But the feds are going to stick with charges that are easily proved in court with minimum fanfare, thereby avoiding giving any of the defendants a political soaopbox or a claim of persecution or whatever. Ultimately that’s the smart way to do it, because it’s the shortest path from arrest to conviction and prison, with minimum risk of getting sidetracked.

  70. #70 Gilbert
    February 26, 2016

    ^^ Nothing like sycophantic federal agent worship; Disgusting.

    Freefalling

  71. #71 Gilbert
    February 26, 2016

    Loathsome creature, even. Baby-burnin’, Jack-booted government thugs — An individual ‘citizen’ can’t grab their attention when it is asked for at that. They aren’t servants to anyone but The State and I detest that they have persuaded ” protect n’ serve’s ” in blue to align their farsical allegiance likewise.

  72. #72 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    February 26, 2016

    You non’t have to be pinhead to suffer from mosquito bites.

    Death to vermin.

    Vermin Supreme may well be the savior of the country come election time.

  73. #73 Beth
    February 26, 2016

    Hot off the interweb fiber-optic lines 😉

    Combining TCM and Western Medicine cures Zika. I’d appreciate others take. It seems to me that patient was at the end of infections course by the time he/she received this Xiyanping. I tried googling it and I can’t find what this tcm is. Herb? Compound of several herbs?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26911940

  74. #74 MarkN
    February 26, 2016

    curious if the sperm was checked. I didn’t see that it was.

    Anyway, it’s andrographolide sulfonate, (and has a warning to severe cases of allergic reaction). The angle is to reduce free radical & cytokine development, sounds like an anti-inflammatory with a huge downside.

  75. #75 herr doktor bimler
    February 26, 2016

    Anyway, it’s andrographolide sulfonate, (and has a warning to severe cases of allergic reaction). The angle is to reduce free radical & cytokine development, sounds like an anti-inflammatory with a huge downside.

    So another bioactive phytochemical looking for an application?
    If Chinese doctors are administering it to random patients as publicity stunts, and publishing n=1 case-studies proudly proclaiming the fact that the patient didn’t die, I start to suspect that this Xiyanping product is big in the Chinese mainstreamed-quackery industry. It can only be a matter of time before the cancer hyenas clinics start offering it as the newest natural cure.

  76. #76 Narad
    February 26, 2016

    And each and every one of them will be put on ice for long enough to send a strong deterrence message and protect the public from them for the duration.

    Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 372 has a base offense level of 10. With no prior record or adjustments, that’s 6–12 months.

  77. #77 Beth
    February 26, 2016

    Thank you Mark and herr doktor, #74/#75.

    I read it again and didn’t see anything about semen testing..I was compelled to bring it over here because to me it seemed like yet again, we have an example of crediting tcm/homeopathy, etc., for a cure when it was highly likely that the infection had run its course…Ouch—>I suppose a severe allergic reaction was something they’re willing to deal with to kill this mystery virus?

  78. […] spiega il medico e scettico David Gorsky sul suo blog Respectul Insolence, ora è affiorata un’altra bufala: per diversi influenti siti complottisti americani, […]

  79. #79 Ross MacDonald
    Canada
    February 27, 2016

    It was and is a mistake of historical proportions to restrict and ban DDT, and in fact, many of the “Dirty Dozen” 12 persistant chemicals by the Stockhom convention.
    I am not going to restate the obvious arguments for and against, other than to mention that insects develop resistance to all pesticides including pyrethroids.
    It is a mistake in priorization- a difficult but learnable skill that many scientists and treaty signers do not have.Business people call this skill cost benefit analysis, but in situations with people it is called priortization.One of the parts of this skill is actual versus potential threats.This step is very critically, rarely superseded.
    It has been superseded in the case of banning and restricting DDT. The potential has been prioritized over the actual.
    Its an error. A MISTAKE.
    and the evidence is before us with the malaria tragedy , and plagues of pest insects, which will only continue.Its hard to understand how one can rationalize keeping these bans, but I suppose emotion, preference lack of stakeholding and sentiment play a large part.

  80. #80 MarkN
    February 27, 2016

    I wouldn’t go as far to say “mystery virus.” Our understanding of a known virus, previously thought relatively benign, is changing. As is our new found knowledge of zikv mutations that express a couple different amino acids. Maybe those mutations favor neural tissue reception.

    Overall, I believe little value of that drug to actually combat a microbe. Why not promote it to fight ebola? It’s the cytokine storm that kills you with ebola. Obviously, I think the study nothing more than a palliative measure as I would willow bark for aspirin or ginkgo for altitude aclimitization. Yes, they have some medicinal value, though unreliable pharm kinetic profile, certainly nothing of substance to promote immune system recognition and rapid antibody production. As would say….oh, what’s that word. … starts with a v, actually works, has a hugely favorable safety margine …..hmmm. Gosh, i know that word, it’s v…va…something….

  81. #81 Gilbert
    where's that place where there aren't any townspeople nearby to be used as an excuse by the feds to justify mass murder
    February 27, 2016

    For dengue, there is an additional complication. People previously infected with dengue are at risk of developing much more severe disease when infected with a second, related dengue strain. Similarly, dengue vaccination could also lead to enhanced disease, rather than protection, when a person subsequently encounters the virus.

    https://theconversation.com/heres-why-we-dont-have-a-vaccine-for-zika-and-other-mosquito-borne-viruses-53871

    ^^ Is that a general problem against a large portion of mosquito-born flavovirus offerings, in general? I mean, if I were to clamber in on my hands and knees begging to be given the Zika vaccine now(!), might it be a self-fullfilling prophecy that I’d recieve what I expected from a Gates vaccine to begin with?

    “”In the end, public health is about civic responsibility: get your shots, keep a lid on the garbage and compost bins, empty any source of standing water, etc.

    Gray Squirrel #69, The ‘Zika shot’?? I also guess I’d better plant some potatoes in my extensive collection of old tires before I’m tried for treason for not liscensing my pet mantis and coyfish food.

  82. #82 Gilbert
    February 27, 2016

    Never mind that I misspelled ‘receive’; I want my damned Zika shot yesterday so as to avert the gaze of those who might deem me civically irresponsible in an age of heightened awareness and broad, ’emergency’ draconian powers!

  83. #83 Gilbert
    February 27, 2016

    Ross MacDonald #79, it is my understanding that many countries, such as Sri Lanka, had already (a couple years before it was banned in USA) switched to malathion due to DDT having become worthless through developed resistance to it. Orac’s got it right; The residue of that stuff coats walls for 20 years such that the ‘indoor loving’ type mosqitoes that survived after resting there after feeding are just a tit more hearty than their ’50s bretheren.

  84. #84 Gilbert
    February 27, 2016

    Austin is weird, PgP #36.

    you should quit tramatizing women with sexual intercourse; I’m a doctor, I should know.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUNdYoy1AUM
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9edQEzp7zGA

  85. #85 Beth
    February 28, 2016

    Mark # 80. I wouldn’t go as far to say “mystery virus.” Our understanding of a known virus, previously thought relatively benign, is changing. As is our new found knowledge of zikv mutations that express a couple different amino acids. Maybe those mutations favor neural tissue reception.

    Agreed. I should have put it in quotes. I was projecting how I thought the Chinese doctors and even more, the citizens, were perceiving it–based on no evidence at all.

    ICYMI: Found this extremely well-written piece that reads like a detective story—the writing itself is worth the read. But 2 things stood out for me: 1) that attacking the brain is not in the virus best interests. 2) That one researcher has not found ZIKV-infected Ae. aegypti and wants to explore other vectors and reservoirs—nobody else has written this(or perhaps they didn’t come thru my news feed).

    It’s all profoundly weird from an evolutionary perspective, pointed out Dr. Eduardo Massad, an epidemiologist at the University of Sao Paulo and a member of the Zika network. This mutation seems to have made Zika more transmissible than other strains – sexually, and perhaps also in urine and saliva – and that’s a win for the virus. But it also causes brain damage, at least some of the time. “And that’s a dead end: Anything that causes neurological or other kinds of problems is a dead end for the parasite. It’s not an evolutionary advantage,” Dr. Massad said. So this devastation of babies? “It’s a side effect of the process of maximizing transmissibility – it’s an accident of the virus.”

    And:

    But the attack on the mosquito is all based on an assumption – on the fact that because it is this mosquito that carries the other flaviviruses here, and it has been shown to transmit Zika in a laboratory, most probably it’s spreading Zika.

    Constancia Ayres, an entomologist with FioCruz in Pernambuco, pointed out that not one single Zika-infected Aedes aegypti mosquito has been found in the wild in Brazil. She is capturing thousands of them to look, as are other researchers. But two weeks ago in an article in The Lancet, she wrote, “To assume that the main vector is A. aegypti in areas in which other mosquito species co-exist is naive, and could be catastrophic if other species are found to have important roles in Zika virus transmission.”

    The piece goes on to ponder whether it’s the Culex genus that’s the vector.

    Thoughts?

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/the-globe-in-brazil-zikas-groundzero/article28934757/?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=Referrer:+Social+Network+/+Media&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links

  86. #86 Beth
    February 28, 2016

    #85—first paragraph under “And” should also be in italics. It’s a quote from the link.

  87. #87 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    February 28, 2016

    MarkN says (#80),

    oh, what’s that word. … starts with a v, actually works, has a hugely favorable safety margine …..hmmm. Gosh, i know that word, it’s v…va…something….

    MJD says,

    Protein Sciences Corp. of Research Parkway is ready to begin production of a vaccine to combat the Zika virus spreading quickly through South and Central America.

    http://www.myrecordjournal.com/southington/southingtonnews/8369431-129/meriden-company-set-to-make-zika-virus-vaccine.html

    In the article above they show a picture of a quality control manager @ Protein Science Corporation wearing latex gloves.

    Q. Can Protein Science Corporation make the claim “not made with natural rubber latex” when latex gloves are present during the manufacturing process.

    The FDA needs to investigate.

  88. #88 Denice Walter
    February 28, 2016

    Well, Brazilian people shouldn’t worry because Mikey has created a non-toxic spray called ‘Bugs Away’ containing citronella, eucalyptus, catnip, lemongrass, lavender, tea tree, litsea and patchouli in an organic witch hazel base that will battle Zika ( he says).

    Maybe not- but considering some of the ingredients cats and hippies will be attracted to you.

  89. #89 doug
    February 28, 2016

    Beth @ 85
    The view of evolution expressed there treads dangerously close to the idea that mutations occur because they are necessary or desirable, and that all mutations that are selected for will be beneficial in all ways.
    A mutation that increases a pathogen’s virulence may well be very beneficial to that pathogen, even if it kills some fraction of hosts. A bug that outright killed a few percent of humans wouldn’t even begin to “suffer” the consequences for a very long time, if ever. Selective pressure against the mortality aspect wouldn’t come into play until and unless the population of humans declined to the point that the rate of transmission began to fall appreciably. Malaria kills a lot of people including (primarily?) children well below reproductive age. It shows no signs of going away anytime soon. Lots of rodents species seem to have properties that make them quite delicious to a wide array of predators, but they remain extant. (Being regarded as delicious or prestigious to eat by humans is another matter altogether.)

    As for vectors – there may well be lots of things that can transmit ZIKV. There is work underway in Canada to assess species of mosquitoes found here. At this point it time it is simply unknown if they can be ZIKV vectors.

  90. #90 Gilbert
    February 28, 2016

    Thx for the article, Beth #85; It is rather ‘rich’.

    “This is the same as AIDS,” … Zika will either [burn out], the way chikungunya did not turn out to be the huge disaster people were anticipating,” he said, “or else it’s the Godzilla of infections. There is nothing in-between.”

    That sounds pretty ominous.

    “By the end of January, Dr. Bispo’s lab had sequenced the entire genome of the Brazilian virus and identified a deletion, a mutation in which part of a sequence of DNA was lost during replication.

    “The deletion is the most likely explanation for how infectious it is,” Dr. Bispo said. And somehow that missing splinter of DNA has given the virus the power to demolish the brains of developing fetuses and to cause the neuroparalytic disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome in a tiny number of the adults who get it.

    That sounds pretty specific.

    “We think maybe dengue antibodies can cross-react with Zika and, instead of neutralizing the virus, they turn it into a sort of Trojan horse – and carry it into the placenta – so that when it reaches the fetus, it is still active,”

    That sounds like along the lines of a vaccine might make it worse.

    And could other mosquitoes be carrying it, such as the genus Culex, which is vastly more common in Brazil and thrives even in sewage**? “If it’s in Culex, we’re lost,” Dr. Bispo said. (Culex also happens to be found in Canada, where it transmits West Nile virus.)

    That sounds like a prudent thing to say.

    With climate change, its territorial map gets a little wider every day.

    ^^That sounds like “Whoop, there it is!”

    Culex in Alaska
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPZjmXdH8hg

    ** I note that the charming image of the little girl in the back alley is only just getting barefoot; One flipflop is still on and she is leaning against the wall in a posture as if to push them off — Was she asked to pose thus for the shoot? One might think that she would know to stow her invaluable footware on the landing in front of her instead of below it in the muck where they could just float away. (That Plumbing?? God help them everytime they loose water pressure!)

  91. #91 Gilbert
    Crap I just lost another triggered vacuume gap on the Star Wars Mosquito Defense System... I think it is due to the humid/dusty environment
    February 28, 2016

    Dohh! also highlight,

    In addition to tracking Zika, they are looking at everything from what medications the women took in pregnancy to how much fish they eat to whether there is livestock in their home environment to what pesticides they might have been exposed to. It’s an effort to find additional evidence that Zika is the primary cause, and to find “influencing factors.”

    Hmm. Such as DAS -4027809 & Enlist Duo, perhaps??

  92. #92 Beth
    February 28, 2016

    Doug @89….thanks for your feedback..The view of evolution expressed there treads dangerously close to the idea that mutations occur because they are necessary or desirable, and that all mutations that are selected for will be beneficial in all ways.

    Excellent points. In this case we’re talking about a single stranded RNA entity without a super computer to give it algorithms 😉 Do we know why viruses mutate ?

    Lots of rodents species seem to have properties that make them quite delicious to a wide array of predators, but they remain extant.

    Yes—last winter my car(under the hood) was feasted upon by rats. This lead to my doing extensive research on this rodent and learned of its hardiness. Oh my.

    This case is riveting—because indeed, even before I read about people likening it to HIV, it was among my first thoughts as the news came dripping in. I was a young pedi ICU nurse in the 80s when it began to make itself known here in the US and there are indeed parallels……….Frightening–riveting and fascinating at the same time. Yet, I come from that place—not a woman/man of child-bearing age. My heart goes out to the familes/women living in these countries where even birth control is not an option.

  93. #93 Beth
    February 28, 2016

    Gilbert, what do you mean by “rich?” Truth is, I’m sort of confused by your post. Not sure if you’re being serious, dismissive or trying to add some light-heartedmes about a difficult situation.

  94. #94 Beth
    February 28, 2016

    light-heartedmes

    Should read: light-heartedness

  95. #95 Narad
    February 28, 2016

    Truth is, I’m sort of confused by your post.

    I wouldn’t worry about that. (For that matter, I don’t seem to recall a resolution to the episode in which one of his ‘Tim’-variant pseudonyms was complaining about being targeted by assassins.)

  96. #96 pediatric oncall
    Mumbai
    February 29, 2016

    Hi, this post is truly nice and I have learned lot of things from it about article. thank you for sharing post..

    What countries should pregnant women avoid?
    About two dozen destinations mostly in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. http://bit.ly/1WdSRr5 The Pan American Health Organization believes that the virus will spread locally in every country in the Americas except Canada and Chile…..

  97. #97 Robert L Bell
    February 29, 2016

    A shot in the dark here, but once upon a time I consulted with a Danish manufacturer of specialty chemicals. This wasn’t my project but they made DDT for malaria control in equatorial regions. My understanding was that DDT for malaria control was a very specific application, with highly developed guidelines, and was both safe and effective – so long as they were able to prevent diversion to mass agricultural use, which ruined everything but was quite popular with the cotton growers (for reasons I could never fathom).

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m just reporting what I heard and I am no disciple of the idiot Steve Milloy who has made a small fortune selling murderous disinformation under his Junk Science brand.

  98. #98 MI Dawn
    February 29, 2016

    @Beth (#93): Ignore Gilbert when he starts rambling. I figure those are the times he’s smoked a little too much of his favorite greenery. He becomes rather confusing at those times.

  99. #99 Beth
    February 29, 2016

    @Nard and MI Dawn. Thanks for the back story.;)

    Aww Gilbert. It’s all good. No harm no foul. Hope you’re having a great day.

  100. #100 Narad
    February 29, 2016

    Hi, this post is truly nice and I have learned lot of things from it about article decided to add some spam.

    Fixed.

  101. #101 MarkN
    February 29, 2016

    Zika’s coming, hide yer bong! ~Gilbert

  102. #102 doug
    February 29, 2016

    Do we know why viruses mutate ?

    By “why” I assume you are talking about mechanisms rather than motivations.
    Since viruses are entirely reliant on host mechanisms for replicating their RNA or DNA, I would guess that that is where some mutations occur, due to errors in transcription. I know only the minutest amount about the topic, so that guess is all I can offer.
    I don’t recall if there are any virologists among the minions.

  103. #103 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 1, 2016

    Do we know why viruses mutate ?

    As Dr. Science might have said, viruses mutate because of the strongest of the fundamental forces of nature – the force of habit.

    Viruses mutate because they’re bored and have nothing else to do. No video games, no internet, no sex. They can’t even run outside, assuming they could perceive outside, because they spend much of their existence dormant until they can inject their genetic material into a cell.

    If you had to live like that, you’d mutate occasionally just to relieve the boredom.

  104. #104 Gilbert
    March 1, 2016

    Zika’s coming, hide yer bong!

    Not just Zika but Spring with all its attendant abundance of spring stuff to, MarkN #101.

    Bong water has proven a powerful selective mutagenic munchie-mimic to even the smallest of God’s creatures; Accidents happen. I’ve not quite been myself since my pet psocids got right and ate my pet nondescript slime mold.

  105. #105 Gilbert
    frekkin' pink laser beams everywhere you damn go!
    March 1, 2016

    Ohh, come on. Why is everybody always picking on me? Raise your hands if you’ve never peaced out Hydrozoa and giggled as it rolled inside out, ingesting itself??

  106. #106 Julian Frost
    South Africa
    March 1, 2016

    @Gilbert:

    Ohh, come on. Why is everybody always picking on me?

    Because you’re incoherent and come across as doped out, sunshine.

    Raise your hands if you’ve never peaced out Hydrozoa and giggled as it rolled inside out, ingesting itself??

    **Raises Hand**
    Not everyone is into mind-altering substances. Some of us prefer to have our senses about us as much as possible.

  107. #107 Beth
    March 1, 2016

    Doug # 102

    By “why” I assume you are talking about mechanisms rather than motivations.

    I was asking re: both. It’s a question that I’ve never thought of asking. What are the conditions and ?motivations?—latter may very well be survival instinct of all living beings?

    Since viruses are entirely reliant on host mechanisms for replicating their RNA or DNA, I would guess that that is where some mutations occur, due to errors in transcription.

    I’m curious re: what are the conditions in host that may force the errors? Cytokines and other players in the hosts response? Thinking out loud here because this thread has piqued my curiosity is piqued. No rush.

    I know only the minutest amount about the topic, so that guess is all I can offer.

    I know perhaps a drop more than minute—from clinical experience. Not from the bench.

    I don’t recall if there are any virologists among the minions. I’ll do some digging to tap into some old contacts in the field. Thanks, Doug, for taking the time to respond.

  108. #108 Beth
    March 1, 2016

    Mephistopholes..

    Viruses mutate because they’re bored and have nothing else to do. No video games, no internet, no sex. They can’t even run outside, assuming they could perceive outside, because they spend much of their existence dormant until they can inject their genetic material into a cell.

    ROTFL!!! Perhaps a tad of ADHD? Acupuncture to the rescue!!! 😉 😉

  109. #109 Beth
    March 1, 2016

    Re: why viruses mutate. Starting with cheat shee from googlet: speaks to Doug’s opinion that it’s transcription errors and also evolutionary pressure.

    Just as natural selection has shaped the evolution of humans, plants, and all living things on the planet, natural selection shapes viruses, too. Though viruses aren’t technically living – they need a host organism in order to reproduce – they are subject to evolutionary pressures.

    DNA is a more stable molecule than RNA, and DNA viruses have a proofreading check as part of their reproductive process. They manage to use the host cell to verify viral DNA replication. If the virus makes a mistake in copying the DNA, the host cell can often correct the mistake. DNA viruses, therefore, do not change, or mutate, much. RNA, however, is an unstable molecule, and RNA viruses don’t have a built-in proofreading step in their replication. Mistakes in copying RNA happen frequently, and the host cell does not correct these mistakes. RNA virus mutations are frequent and can have important consequences for their hosts.

    http://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/viruses-and-evolution

  110. #110 LW
    March 1, 2016

    Raise your hands if you’ve never peaced out Hydrozoa and giggled as it rolled inside out, ingesting itself??

    What kind of horrible person would take pleasure in tricking an animal’s instincts into causing it to ingest itself?

  111. #111 Gilbert
    March 1, 2016

    What kind of horrible person

    My 9’th grade biology teacher, that’s who. Although she may have used glutatione instead of thc.

  112. […] After World War II, South America nearly wiped out the Aedes aegypti mosquito and ended the scourge of yellow fever, thanks to a robust public effort to use more insecticides and drain the puddles, sewers, and tires where mosquitoes breed. But the effort ultimately failed, a victim of its own success as public disinterest led to budget cuts. The mosquitoes came roaring back in the early 1980s, many of them now immune to insecticides. […]

  113. #113 Russell Seitz
    March 22, 2016

    The upside of Zika panic in the tourism dependent Caribbean is that insecticides have been so thoroughly whacked about coastwise that I just spent a week sailing and a week ashore in the Windwards without experiencing a single mosquito bite.

  114. […] known drugs to the protein structures of the virus. And on Respectful Insolence, Orac questions whether DDT could play a role in fighting the […]

  115. #115 Tony
    Los Angeles CA
    April 12, 2016

    Ummmm so what about this late development?

    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/zika-virus-outbreak/zika-virus-scary-we-need-money-fight-it-officials-say-n554241

    I would be mad about this hypersensitive bullshit about DDT, but planed extinction of the mosquito via gene manipulation is a better way to rid the map clean of mosquitoes 🙂

    Have a good one and something is going to get extinct regardless. Get over it.

  116. #116 Mark
    earth
    May 4, 2016

    DDT should have never been banned in the first place. It was another knee-jerk doomsdayer weak-science enviro-crusade. The risks of bio accumulation could have easily been managed by regulating how it is applied. The bio accumulation observed at the time of the ban was huge, due to massive amounts of the stuff being dumped, willy-nilly on every crop in the nation. And it still only affected a few species of birds, and that was only a correlation! The causal mechanism was never determined! How about a more rational approach that uses it just for mosquito control, instead of all crops.

  117. #117 Gilbert
    May 11, 2016

    Rio is undergoing a surprising and unexplained disease surge: in Rio de Janeiro city, dengue cases in the first quarter of 2016 are a shocking six fold higher than a year ago (8,133 cases, compared to 1,285 cases). That vertiginous rise is very worrisome, because it roughly coincides with the biggest military mobilization in Brazil’s history, aimed at intensifying mosquito-killing efforts. It would appear that those impressive efforts did not work as well** as hoped in Rio

    http://harvardpublichealthreview.org/off-the-podium-why-rios-2016-olympic-games-must-not-proceed/

    ** Mission accomplished??

  118. #118 Mark
    earth
    May 21, 2016

    The ignorance of the great effectiveness of DDT and the exaggeration of its risks now days are staggering. Most modern chemophobic luddites think DDT is a carcinogen (it is not in any way). When DDT was correlated with egg shell thinning, it was only related to a few species and it was being dumped by the ton on every crop in the entire world. It should be no surprise it bio-accumulated. A more practical approach advocates putting DDT in house paint as it is proven effective in teh place most likely to infect humans (the domicile) and doesn’t bio accumulate that way. Duh…are there any pragmatic people left in the world or only doomsday hysterics worshiping animals and fearing chemicals?

  119. #119 Narad
    May 21, 2016

    The basic approach generally involves putting on the belt and suspenders at the same time.

  120. #120 Dangerous Bacon
    May 21, 2016

    Right now in Florida there are community activists fighting against the release of genetically modified Aedes egyptii mosquitoes as a means of dramatically reducing populations.

    Maybe they’d go for massive DDT spraying as an alternative to dem deadly GMOs.

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