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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Of Mice and Men (and Pest Control)

By Alan Caruba

I would like to thank Alan for allowing me to publish this commentary. RK

Among the many books in my office is the “Handbook of Pest Control”, seventh edition, edited by Arnold Mallis. Its contributing editors are a who’s who of the leading authorities on pest control and its encyclopedic text includes thousands of references to the diseases that insect and rodent pests routinely spread in the course of their daily lives.

In one fashion or another for some three decades or more, I have provided public relations services to various elements of the pest control industry; manufacturers of pesticides and my own state’s trade association which is affiliated with the National Pest Management Association.

I tell you this so you don’t think I am evading an obvious bias that favors a profession that dates its history back to medieval times when being a “ratcatcher” was so highly regarded that the Queen of England designated one to keep the castle free of the nasty beasties.

Over the years, these men developed formulas for killing off rodent and insect pests. When you contemplate that the Black Death that swept Europe and England killed a third of the entire population and was caused by a combination of fleas and rats spreading the bubonic plague, the need to control such pests is obvious.

These days, America is experiencing a huge comeback of a pest that had been largely eradicated, the common bed bug. After DDT was banned from use worldwide, along with depriving millions of Africans from protection against malaria, the bed bug returned. Other pest related diseases that have emerged in recent years are West Nile Fever, imported from Africa and spread by mosquitoes, and Lyme disease, spread by ticks.

It is common knowledge that cockroaches spread Salmonella and a variety of other diseases, but probably less well known that termites do more property damage nationwide every year than all the floods and fires combined.

I tell you this because the Center for Biological Diversity sued the Environmental Protection Agency in order to get it to evaluate the effects of 74 pesticides on eleven endangered and threatened species in the San Francisco Bay area over the next five years.

America is on the brink of bankruptcy, but this inane environmental group thinks that pesticides are a greater threat to eleven supposedly endangered species than national insolvency.

While people are losing their jobs and their homes, the environmentalists are worrying about pesticides, not pests. In the San Francisco Bay area represented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, tucked away in the under-performing $787 billion “stimulus” bill is a provision for as much as $16.1 million to save the habitat of the allegedly endangered Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse.

Stay with me just a bit longer. As reported in Pest Control Technology, “As part of the Endangered Species Act, the EPA is required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services—and sometimes the National Marine Fisheries Services—when they make a pesticide regulatory decision to register or re-register a product.”

The suit, settled in favor of the Center for Biological Diversity, will ultimately require the EPA to ban the use of pesticides anywhere in the entire nation if they are found to threaten “endangered species” which are anywhere and everywhere in the entire nation.

At present this means that “As a result of the lawsuit filed in California, pest control operators in Northern California are presented with serious challenges.” All of the pesticides that are the subject of the proposed injunction are used routinely to protect homeowners, apartments, restaurants, hospitals, schools, as well as warehouses where various food products are stored. The affect on the agricultural use of pesticides and herbicides is incalculable.

To put it another way, the Center for Biological Diversity has put the health of everyone living in Northern California and eventually the entire nation at risk of the many diseases insect and rodent pests spread in order to protect some “endangered species.”

For now, the least protected specie will initially be the people living and working in Northern California if pest control operators are deprived of the pesticides they use. The most privileged specie in the Bay Area will be the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse.

Alan Caruba blogs daily at A business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center.



  1. The loss of global biodiversity is one of, if not the greatest threat we face on earth today. We are all inhabitants of this planet and I see no reason why humans should be allowed to exist to exclusion of other species. If we as citizens of the U.S. have a litany of inalienable rights as afforded by the Declaration of Independence, then surely other species have the right to something so simple as an inalienable right to life.

  2. Traveler, I am sure that if you find yourself in a situation where some animal, perhaps a polar bear, wants to eat you, you will gladly permit that because of his inalienable right to live.

    As for "global biodiversity", what happened to the dinosaurs and the 95% of the other prior species that have gone extinct?

    Your comment is babbling nonsense.

  3. We have two separate issues here.

    First we have a philosophical bent by some to place animals on the same level as humans. All of this is based on the idea that people and animals are moral equals. If someone wishes to use this as the philosophical basis for their life, I don't have any objection at all. I do however object when they insist that everyone else live their lives in that manner.

    Secondly, the bio-diversity argument is based on the idea that because all life is interconnected all life will cease to exist of one species ceases to exist. False! What terrible thing happened when the dodo bird of Australia ceased to exist after the last confirmed sighting in 1662? Can you tell me? As Alan noted, 95% of all species that has ever lived has gone extinct; and the world is still here. Why? Because extinction is the rule, not the exception! Clearly the planet’s complicated eco-systems are designed to compensate because extinction is “all natural”!

    We live very comfortable lives in the western world. We have more food and more varieties of food than any people at any time in human history. One writer claims (and he may have a good point) that we come to these crazy conclusions because we are bored. Those struggling daily for survival don’t seem to spend that much time worrying about the moral equivalence of food to mankind. The Swiss have now placed plants in this category. They must really be bored there.

    What I keep wondering is why these people don't go into areas where the nutritional levels are marginal, where sanitation is almost non-existent, where there is no transportation, no medicine and tell these people that they have to adopt their extreme biodiversity philosophy; and live it that way themselves. I will really respect their commitment to their philosophy, that way they can then show all of the rest of us how wrong we are. They need to take their families with them also.