Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute, Center for Global Food Issues, posted a comment to my article, Research is Dandy but Silver Bullets are Handy. I think his comments are worth exploring. He asked;
“why do we care about the concerns over “herbicide resistance" from folks who never want us to use herbicides to begin with (Greenpeace, etc.)?For those, like Avery, who have been researching and writing about these issues for years, the logical fallacies from the green movement are obvious. The very people who use this argument about resistance are in the forefront of those attempting to ban pesticides. So any argument that is used saying that we shouldn't use certain products because it will hasten resistance is simply a red herring fallacy. What are we saving these products for? The assumption must be that we are saving them for some time when they are necessary. Well then, why isn't this the necessary time? Herbicides are considered a pesticide for those who aren’t aware, as weeds are considered a pest in agricultural or landscaping professions. He went on to ask;
“don't we have enough different active ingredients in pesticides to manage the resistance problem, and if not, don't we need MORE different modes of action, rather than less? Why are we banning pesticides if resistance is a main problem?”Again he points out what should have been obvious to the most casual observer; resistance is only a problem when we stop producing new chemistry or ban chemistry that works. The resistance argument has been the red herring fallacy from the greenies for years, justifying claims that DDT should not be returned in any way because of resistance. That is an illogical argument, especially since they work so hard at banning products that have little or no resistant problems. These people wish to ban pestiicdes and they are willing to use any argument, no matter now illogical, that will work to that end. So then, what is their solution? They propound a whole bunch of public relations stunts and Integrated Pest Mangement, along with larger, more intrusive and expensive layers of bureaucracy that will not kill bed bugs. In short, they have none, and this plague of bed bugs is evidence of that. We are just fortunate that bed bugs aren't believed to be vectors of disease.
When DDT was first developed we thought we had the final solution to pest problems. What we didn’t know was we had fallen into nature’s pattern of resistance. Trees and plants are chemical factories. The only way they can protect themselves from disease or insect attack is through chemistry that kills, sickens or repels their attackers. As soon as they develop resistance to one chemical; plants will develop another. The only plants that are lost are those that cannot produce new chemistry that will work against what is attacking it. The Dutch elm disease is one example.
This brings us to the primary point. Why are we banning pesticides when it is clear that we need more chemistry with different modes of action; not less? If resistance to a product becomes so great that it won’t work, then no one, including me, will use the product. If products cease to work they disappear from the market place due to lack of efficacy, not by forced removal through junk science claims that promote inappropriate regulations.
We want these products back because they work in ways that other products don’t. They are inexpensive, they are easy to use, and they save lives by preventing diseases, or seriously aid in the production of food necessary to feed the world’s hungry billions.
Who cares about hastening resistance if we are never to use them now when we need them? What are we saving them for? Especially since those who make this argument want them banned anyway? And who cares about resistance if we refuse to allow the development of new products with regulations that are so onerous and expensive that we aren’t successfully developing the new chemistry we need?
Bacteria have developed resistance to many of the antibiotics that we are currently using, and there are some staph infections that are almost uncontrollable. Does that mean we shouldn't use those that still work because it will hasten the level of resistance? If that happened people would die. That would be considered insane! Why then would we use any logic that would be considered insane in another arena as rational in pest control?
Resistance is part of nature, whether it is in plants or bacteria. Elm trees died because they couldn’t defeat the disease attacking it with new chemistry. The difference between humanity and elm trees is that we have the chemistry; we just keep refusing to use it. Elm trees became biologically incompetent. We have chosen incompetence.