And yet, folks from which political party claim those in the the other are “anti-science?”
To some, however, five hundred million human lives were irrelevant. Disregarding the NAS findings, environmentalists continued to demand that DDT be banned. Responding to their pressure, in 1971 the newly-formed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched an investigation of the pesticide. Lasting seven months, the investigative hearings led by Judge Edmund Sweeney gathered testimony from 125 expert witnesses with 365 exhibits. The conclusion of the inquest, however, was exactly the opposite of what the environmentalists had hoped for. After assessing all the evidence, Judge Sweeney found: “The uses of DDT under the registration involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds, or other wildlife…. DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man…. DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man.” Accordingly, Judge Sweeney ruled that DDT should remain available for use.
Unfortunately, however, the administrator of the EPA was William D. Ruckelshaus, who reportedly did not attend a single hour of the investigative hearings, and according to his chief of staff, did not even read Judge Sweeney’s report. Instead, he apparently chose to ignore the science: overruling Sweeney, in 1972 Ruckelshaus banned the use of DDT in the United States except under conditions of medical emergencies.