The pesticide industry is powerful. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s they even got the USDA to put out this ad, touting the benefits of DDT.
In this 1946 video when British workers were trying to talk a Kenyan tribe into the “safety” of DDT, so that it could be used the area as an experiment in mosquito control. The elders were suspicious, and so the British worker demonstrates it’s safety by spraying DDT on porridge and then eating it. He is able to do this because DDT has deadly long term effects, not acute effects. I’ve often thought it would be an interesting documentary tracking down this DDT eating civil servant and see what became of him.
These bits of propaganda were just the start of the promotion of pesticides to the public. Remember the catch phrase from Dow (another trifecta company) “Better Living Through Chemistry”? Last year the commercials touting pyrethrin as “safe” and “natural” as a man walks through brightly colored flowers was suspiciously removed from the air. After all, it is illegal on a federal level to claim any pesticide is “safe”. Yes, pyrethrin is derived from chrysanthemum, but radon gas, arsenic and other known poisons are also “natural”. Pesticides by their very nature are designed to kill and kill they do.
With mounting awareness in the general public of the dangers of pesticides, including those used in flea & tick products, is it any wonder that industry is up to its old tricks? Here is the anatomy of their strategy:
- Start an organization that looks like it is completely separate from industry and fund it.
- Give it an “official” sounding name like RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment).
- Start lobbying politicians, but keep trying to look like you are impartial.
- Hit the grassroots efforts to talk people into how safe, healthy and needed pesticide use is.
RISE has started a website called Debug The Myths as part of their effort to talk you into that if you don’t use pesticides, your health is at risk. They are good for you, after all! So, to reach even more people, RISE has started a tour across the country. The stars of the tour are people dressed as rats, West Nile-spreading mosquitoes, Lyme disease-carrying ticks and community-destroying weeds. The take-away for Joe Public is that without pesticides we would be overrun with these horrible things. Don’t be fooled. It’s all a PR ploy. In fact, the target species for these pesticides repeatedly develop resistance to them. The pests with the resistance are the ones that reproduce and so generations later, they become immune.
On the RISE website they make all sorts of outlandish statements. Here are a few:
- STATEMENT: Herbicides control weeds to reduce risk of allergies, skin irritations from toxic plants, sidewalk and roadway damage, and overgrowth throughout our communities. TRUTH: Pesticide adverse reactions (including herbicides) cause an increased risk of adverse reactions in those with asthma and allergies. In fact, 20% of the population has ragweed allergies, and this allergy in particularly make people more susceptible. They can even have asthma attacks that cause death in children.
- STATEMENT: Before a pesticide product can be sold or used, it must first be rigorously tested for its potential impact on human health. Only products determined to have a reasonable certainty of no harm to the environment or human health can be registered by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). FACT: Time and time again we see harmful products that are known to be harmful to pet and human health on the market and sold in stores. The “rigorous” testing process doesn’t work, especially for pesticides that have been on the market for a long time. Why? Tens of thousands of pesticides are still waiting for a modern review. Even in the rare instance of removal from the market, this is usually a voluntary removal by the company at the request of the EPA. It includes a long “phase out” period, sometimes decades, to allow product to continue to be sold through on shelves and in warehouses.
This tactic of creating an organization that looks as if it is impartial or run by citizens doesn’t just happen in the pesticide industry. It is all around us. By creating these false organizations, the industry is able to give themselves more credibility with the public. They quote these stooge organizations as if their backing means something, and to the unaware, trusting public, it does.
So next time someone tells you something to “educate” you about a product, look behind the curtain and evaluate for yourself if the Great and Powerful Oz is using it as a mouthpiece.