Aug 17, 2006

"No good would come of it" [LINK]

...even though by all accounts there are fewer mosquitoes on the South Shore, and none testing positive for EEE! To be fair, there are risks of DDT through biomagnification up the food chain, namely eggshell thinning in some species of bird, but the point remains that it should be considered part of a trade-off.

Rebecca Stevens criticizes south shore resident Kevin Gallinger for belittling environmental concerns leading up to the recent mosquito spraying, and suggests we read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" to become more aware of the dangers of long-term pesticide use.

Ms. Stevens seems unaware that, while Carson's book forms the basis of much environmentalist thought, many of its specific claims have long been discredited: in particular that DDT is a human carcinogen, and that there is a great difference in how humans and other organisms respond to artificial and "natural" chemicals. Indeed, some scientists believe the abandonment of DDT in the wake of the book's popularity caused many thousands of third-world malaria deaths.

There may well be a long-term risk to spraying even today's non-DDT pesticides, and that is a trade-off worthy of discussion when paired against the very tangible risk of EEE. But to fail to spray simply in order to adhere to the precautionary principle is to base one's decision in ignorance.

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