Monday, May 23, 2011

Role of DDT in WWII

Little in life is black and white, and nowhere in pest control is this truer than for the insecticide DDT.  Mention DDT in most circles today, and you'll hear "tsk, tsks", and see shaking of heads.  "What were we thinking when we unleashed DDT on the world?"

Yet DDT had its moment in the sun, and doubtless scholars will continue to debate its benefits to humans vs. its environmental shortcomings for years to come.  David Fincannon, a pest management professional and owner of A-All Pest Control in Plano, TX recently published a new video consisting of historical footage and interviews with some of the last surviving PMPs of the Second World War.  In it, these men discuss their experiences with the new insecticide Gesurol, now known as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, or DDT. Watching this video may not change your mind about the environmental wisdom of DDT use, but it will give you a better appreciation for what DDT contributed to our nation's history. 

I'm so thankful for David's interest in documenting some of the early history of pest control.  One of his key interviewees is Dr. John Osmun, Professor Emeritus of entomology at Purdue University.  Dr. Osmun was one of my favorite professors when I was a graduate student at Purdue. And one of my favorite parts of his class was listening to his many first person accounts of the early history of insecticide development and commercialization. 

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