Learning from mistakes: “DDT is good for me-e-e!”

This blog post is brought to you by Oklahomans for Food, Farm and Family. Help us keep Oklahoma’s natural resources pristine by voting no on SQ777 on November 8, 2016.


The image above is an actual ad that appeared in an actual American magazine, extolling the virtues of the miracle pesticide DDT. DDT is good for me-e-e!

The ad is typical for its time. From the end of World War II up through the 1960s, DDT was heavily marketed as a powerful insecticide for both agricultural and home use. There’s a good compilation of other print ads here.

This was before we knew that DDT has devastating effects on wildlife, particularly birds, the environment and human health. DDT is a toxic endocrine disrupter and can cause premature birth, miscarriage and other sexual health problems. It may also cause cancer.

All of these ads present a cautionary tale and one more reason Oklahomans should vote no on SQ 777. There are some things we simply don’t know — or don’t know yet — and this constitutional amendment would strip our legislature of the ability to respond to new information.

Take this DDT infomercial (narrated from an insect’s point of view) which encourages consumers to spread the chemical virtually everywhere. This brand even has a special resin in the formula, so the DDT can bond to any surface and stay working “month after month.”


Even more extreme, how about a tasty bowl of DDT?

The U.S. government banned the use of DDT in 1972 after research exposed its many dangers, but its use was widespread, in the U.S. and across the world, for almost three decades.

That’s hardly the only case where common practices don’t look so great in hindsight. In Oklahoma in the 1930s, the commonly accepted agricultural practice of plowing vast swathes of native sod to plant wheat led to the Dust Bowl.

In each case, we learned from mistakes, made necessary adjustments and our farming improved. We protected the land, the water and our health.

SQ 777 would impair our ability to make those adjustments in the future. The legislature — our voice in the state Capitol — needs to retain the power to act on the people’s behalf when our knowledge of the world grows and new information becomes available.

SQ 777 is no good for you or me.

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