Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Whacko environmentalists are a much easier target than genetics when it comes to blame for bedbugs

I bite. And I'm a powerful political tool!
Sending this off to one of my local papers today:

The Oakland Press’ Sept. 21 story ”Bedbugs’ Big Comeback”
did an admirable job of alerting the public.

Unfortunately, it repeated the discredited but potent falsehood that the ban on dangerously toxic chemical DDT is a reason for the comeback of the nasty little bugs.

DDT was wildly successful in eliminating bedbugs in the 1940s. A few – those genetically predisposed to be resistant to DDT’s poisoning – survived. They bred, producing even more resistant offspring. By the 1970s DDT was largely ineffective against bedbugs and remains so to this day.

(Sept. 8, 2010 issue) tests of pesticide effectiveness against bedbugs during the last two years at Cornell University ranked DDT dead last. “You almost have to spray directly on the bug to do anything to him,” it quoted a Virginia Tech entomologist as saying “Or hit him with the can.”

Why is this myth – that if only the environmental wackos had not banned DDT we’d be safe from bedbugs – persisted? It is the product of an ideologically-driven minority that seeks political and public policy victories regardless of the cost to public health, our natural resources or scientific honesty.

Fact checkers – both at newspapers and at their home computers – should not be giving legitimacy to utter falsehoods like this one.

Hugh McDiarmid Jr.

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