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"No known genetic mechanism could explain the rapid increase in the incidence of obesity in the last 30 years," observes the WSU study.
Queens University in Ontario estimates that 57 thousand Canadians died of obesity-related ailments between 1985 and 2,000. And Memorial University in Newfoundland has concluded that obesity rates "tripled between 1985 and 2011."
A biology teacher at WSU, Michael Skinner, (above) headed that study. In an e-mail to PinP, Dr. Skinner confidently defends his team's research results.
"In the 40s and 50s, all of North America and the entire population was exposed to DDT. We are now three generations from the 1950s, when the obesity metabolic disease frequency was around 5% and today is near 40% of the population. So, yes, some of the disease today is due to these ancestral exposures."
Some researchers now believe DDT should be banned, worldwide.
This summer, WSU did a follow-up study, this time with unusual input from the its School of Philosophy. It examined the ethical and moral implications of DDT's continued use, in the wake of last year's disturbing revelations. "Current day exposures need to now be considered in light of the transgenerational actions of DDT," the team concludes. As Prof. Skinner puts it, a worldwide ban is now a matter of "environmental justice. There are alternatives with shorter half-lives that need to be considered."
But convincing the world that a total ban is needed, may not be easy.
In 2009, the Annual Review of Entomology reported that, after some two decades of DDT application, the death rate from malaria had plummeted. In 1900, it was claiming more than 19 lives per ten thousand population; in 1970, fewer than two. The Review calls that "a massive reduction." And the Gates Foundation claims its program has helped reduce the death toll from malaria by more than 40 percent over the past dozen years or so.
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Larry is a journalist, blogger and activist concerned about the state of the planet.