Occasionally when talking to people about pesticides and chemicals in general I find that some have some knowledge about studies that make all sorts of claims. The reality is that 10,000 poorly designed studies with weak associations filled with weasel words and assumptions (and possibly outright fraud such as the Tulane endocrine disruption study) amount to nothing more than “conclusions in search of data”; and they are not worth one well designed study that is “data in search of a conclusion”. In short….they lie. Lies of commission and lies of omission. As my friend Dr. Jay Lehr says; they don’t get government grant money unless they give these people what they want. Government grant money has turned the term “scientific integrity” into an oxymoron. When science gets rich, it gets political!
There are a number of articles I wish to highlight in this post dealing with two issues. Pesticides and IQ, and pesticides and endocrine disruption. In the developed world, where pesticides were used the most IQ's went up over the last fifty years. As for sperm count issues; the knock on DDT was that it causes a loss of sperm count. Even if this was true, it doesn’t seem to much matter even if it was true, because the generation most heavily exposed to DDT was also the generation that created the baby boomers.
At the end of WWII the world’s population numbered around two billion people, and it took thousands of years to accomplish that. The world’s population has soared to almost seven billion in less that seventy five years. The reality is this; everything we are told should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality.
Dr. Gil Ross, M.D. of the American Council on Science and Health recently wrote an article called, “Better Living Through Chemistry (If Permitted)”, Ross states; “The overwhelming body of scientific evidence supports the safety of myriad chemicals in use today. A fusillade of recent items by the New York Times, US News, CNN, and others purports to show how certain common pesticides lead to reduced IQs among children of women exposed to these chemicals while pregnant.”
He goes on to say, “Dismayed, I carefully went over the paper that lies at the ground zero of the media frenzy. It is a study of the organophosphate (OP) class of pesticides by a group of researchers based at the University of California at Berkeley and led by Brenda Eskenazi.”
Furthermore, he says, “Analogously, pesticides kill pests—insects, weeds, fungi—and increase crop yields and the safety of our food. Yet the anti-pesticide, anti-chemical, anti-technology crowd says the opposite.” “These same “friends of the earth” oppose genetically modified (or biotech) agriculture, again for no science-based reason. This technology is another potential method to increase production of desperately needed staple crops—yet the opposition stems from a fear of “frankenfoods,” despite these crops’ demonstrated safety over the past 15-plus years—echoing the never-ending crusade against DDT”
Ross notes that, “It was a sign of things to come, as the EPA expanded its search for “toxic” problems to fix—even if it had to invent them. Now the law of diminishing returns has set in: fewer serious (or even real) problems to fix, so the search for “toxins” to justify the huge EPA budget has become increasingly desperate. Is this know-nothing obstructionism what being “earth-friendly” means today?”
I keep hearing all sorts of claims by activists and government grant chasing “scientists” that chemicals (especially pesticides) cause cancer, autism, low sperm count and a host of other unproven scares. This has been particularly true of DDT. More outrageous claims have been made against DDT than almost any product that has ever been developed, with the possible exception of bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. As for claims that there has been a drop in sperm count over these many decades. Gil posted an article dealing with this issue.
In one of this week’s Daily Dispatches the American Council on Science and Health cited a study that clearly demonstrated that “the 1992 study by a group of Danish researchers that claimed sperm counts declined by 50 percent worldwide from 1938 to 1991”, was wrong! They point out that the study was “heavily criticized for its many flaws, methodological problems, and biases” at the time. “We know that the so-called decline in sperm count is just another myth promulgated by the ‘our stolen future’ crowd who say that environmental chemicals lead to infertility in men,” says the American Council on Science and Health's Dr. Gilbert Ross. “But now we have proof that’s simply not true.” Michael Fumento also addressed, “Our Stolen Future” in an article in 1999 entitled, Hormonally Challenged.
So, do chemicals really cause a drop in sperm count? Although it was obvious for years that all these claims were junk science, we can finally answer with an absolute and resounding; NO!