May 11, 1970

The DDT Muddlement

JAMA. 1970;212(6):1058-1059. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170190072014

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The public is aroused to the need for saving our environment from damage by persistent use of pesticides. DDT is most often specifically incriminated. Mounting social and political pressures have compelled some states, notably Arizona, California, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to ban DDT. In other states, such legislation is pending. The Secretary of Agriculture has announced a phasing out of the use of DDT by Dec 31, 1970, except "for prevention or control of human disease and other essential uses for which no alternative is available."

The controversy on whether or not use of DDT should continue has involved a confrontation of scientists and legislators. The need to maintain perspective toward both the good and harm done by use of DDT led the AMA Committee on Occupational Toxicology to review the problem and issue a realistic statement summarizing present knowledge (p 1055). This statement was approved by the AMA's Council on