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By Alan Caruba
August 15, 2002

Earlier this month I was on the Fox News Channel to debate an ornithologist who preferred protecting birds against pesticide use, rather than protecting people, some of whom have already died after being infected by West Nile Fever. While she kept saying she was for spraying in one breath, in the next she kept citing a Centers for Disease Control report in the next, suggesting that spraying would not be effective against the threat. For the record, the CDC is publicly calling for more spraying.

Five people in Louisiana had died from WNF at that point and the score is up to seven as this is being written. A second death has been reported in Mississippi. Simply stated, WNF is a full-scale epidemic that is likely to reach California within another year or so. It has been found in 37 States to date.

Most people think of the Audubon Society as just a bunch of bird lovers who publish lovely calendars and books. Wrong! The Audubon Society has been one of the leading opponents of the use of pesticides to protect the health of human beings.

In the September/October edition of Audubon Magazine, there's an article by Ted Williams titled "Out of Control." Williams, the conservation editor of Fly Rod & Reel magazine, repeats all the usual Green arguments against the use of pesticides while ignoring the real threat of disease and death. "The least safe and effective measure is spraying poisons; 'adulticiding' as mosquito-control bureaucracies call it." This is false.

As entomologist Joe Conlon of the American Mosquito Control Association points out, "The extremely small droplet aerosols utilized in adult mosquito control are designed to impact primarily on adult mosquitoes that are on the wing at the time of application. Degradation of these small droplets is rapid, leaving little or no residue in the target area at ground level." In plain English, the mosquitoes die, but humans and other animal species don't.

Williams' solution for dealing with millions of adult mosquitoes is to apply a repellent. As for West Nile Fever, Williams says, "occasionally, it kills people" but most people recover from it. Well isn't that reassuring? Typically, the Greens response to people needlessly dying from WNF or Malaria is that it's just too bad, but making sure that they don't have the pesticides to protect them is more important.

Conlon points out that, "well over 2,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies in various national and international refereed journals since 1980 have documented the safety and efficacy of these public health insecticides at label rates in addition to their application techniques. Despite intense pressures to eliminate the use of public health insecticides, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and other public health organizations agree that it is essential that these products remain available for disease prevention"

Among those applying "intense pressures" to eliminate the use of pesticides is the Audubon Society. The truth means nothing to these people because, between 1941 and 1961, their own bird counts had shown an increase in bird populations. In 1963, Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring", was published and became a bestseller with the claim that bird populations were endangered and called for a ban on DDT. This pesticide, universally recognized as the best defense against the mosquito population that spreads Malaria, Yellow Fever and other diseases, had been in use in the US since 1945! In 1972 it was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency despite 9,000 pages of testimony stating it posed no health threat.

Here's where the news turns really grim. The other most effective way to kill mosquitoes is the use of larvicides, i.e., killing the mosquitoes before they emerge from ponds, wetlands, and puddles to become adults. Now there is an effort to require permits for any mosquito control program using larvicides. This will force most mosquito control programs to stop using them as the cost will be prohibitive. The reason is that the water monitoring equipment required, along with the man-hours, will put the use of larvicides beyond the budgets of virtually every Mosquito District program in the US.

The result of this anti-pesticide effort will be more dead people. Worldwide, an estimated two million people die from Malaria every year, most of them pregnant women and children under the age of five. This is nothing less than Green genocide masquerading behind attacks on pesticides.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on  the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.