Friday, February 11, 2011

Pesticides and Polio

It has been alleged that DDT causes or contributes to a wide variety of diseases of humans and animals not previously recognized as associated with any chemical. Such diseases included... poliomyelitis, …such irresponsible claims could produce great harm and, if taken seriously, even interfere with scientific search for true causes… (Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology, edited by Wayland J. Hayes, Jr. and Edward R. Laws, Academic Press Inc., Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, San Diego (1991) 3 volumes, p769)

Hayes and Laws were informing their readers about the heretic, Dr. Morton S. Biskind.  In 1953, when Biskind’s writings were published, the United States had just endured its greatest polio epidemic. The entire public was steeped in dramatic images—a predatory poliovirus, nearly a million dead and paralyzed children, iron lungs, struggling doctors and dedicated nurses. The late president Franklin D. Roosevelt had been memorialized as a polio victim who was infected with the deadly poliovirus near the beautiful and remote island of Campobello. The media was saturated with positive images of scientific progress and the marvels of DDT to kill disease-carrying mosquitoes. Jonas Salk was in the wings, preparing to be moved center stage.

Through this intellectually paralyzing atmosphere, Dr. Biskind had the composure to argue what he thought was the most obvious explanation for the polio epidemic: Central nervous system diseases such as polio are actually the physiological and symptomatic manifestations of the ongoing government and industry sponsored inundation of the world's populace with central nervous system poisons.

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