Monday, June 05, 2006

Environmental Defense Fraud?

The science community should be a bastion of truth, an entity working for the greater good, but it has come to my attention recently that it is not, and has not. Organizations one would think worked towards scientific endeavors are in fact organisms themselves (concerned only in their own vitality). I say this after having read State of Fear, a new Michael Crichton novel which I highly recommend, if only to shake certain paradigms you might hold dear (Its like Da Vinci Code for environmental groups, only with an actual bibliography).

I decided to do some research on a particularly harrowing assertion in the book:

"(banning DDT is one of) the greatest tragedies of the 20th century".

Seemed like a stretch to me, since I had last heard that DDT was a carcinogenic pesticide. Apparently, this is an utter fabrication, as the Sweeney Committee noted:

"Extensive hearings on DDT before an EPA administrative law judge occurred during 1971-1972. The EPA hearing examiner, Judge Edmund Sweeney, concluded that "DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man... DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man... The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife."

[Sweeney, EM. 1972. EPA Hearing Examiner's recommendations and findings concerning DDT hearings, April 25, 1972 (40 CFR 164.32, 113 pages). Summarized in Barrons (May 1, 1972) and Oregonian (April 26, 1972)]

Nevertheless, William Ruckelshaus, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who made the ultimate decision to ban DDT in 1972, was a member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Ruckelshaus solicited donations for EDF on his personal stationery that read "EDF's scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won."

These environmental activists planned to defame scientists who defended DDT. In an uncontradicted deposition in a federal lawsuit, Victor Yannacone, a founder of the Environmental Defense Fund, testified that he attended a meeting in which Roland Clement of the Audubon Society and officials of the Environmental Defense Fund decided that University of California-Berkeley professor and DDT-supporter Thomas H. Jukes was to be muzzled by attacking his credibility.[21st Century, Spring 1992]

In addition, scientific journals have begun to issue directives to scientists requesting their journals be identified more often to increase their impact ratings (like Nielsens for scientific journals).

What is the solution? Double-blind funding for the sciences? Do we need change or is the natural state of scientific research and political meddling that will lead us (eventually) to the proper medium. I personally don't mind a ban on DDT, but what about the 300 million people per year that are affected by malaria?