gallery The Resistance: insects, pesticides, and disease

Pesticides time and again lead to greater numbers of the pests they’re attempting to eliminate. Since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, scientists have been documenting the track record of pesticide effectiveness. Generally, a new pesticide works for one, maybe two years crippling populations of the targeted insects as well as ones considered beneficial. Oftentimes birds, fish, and other animals are also affected negatively.  Before long the targeted insects grow resistant to the chemical. What follows is a thriving insect population immune to pesticides and whose natural predators remain weakened or absent altogether.

What does this mean today as they’re spraying to eradicate mosquitoes that carry the Zika Virus in South America? And now Hawaii is facing a rise in Dengue fever, also carried by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have always been carriers of disease from malaria to heartworm in dogs, that’s why it’s even more perplexing that the Gates Foundation funded the Oxitec Chemical Company’s creation of a “GMO Mosquito.” Though this collaborative experiment was apparently intended so that the GMO mosquito could fight diseases and prevent mosquitoes from replicating, the evidence of this capability in the wild remains unclear. What we do know is that now we have natural mosquitoes and GMO mosquitoes to combat.

As is often the case with chemical companies and GMO creations, little safety testing occurred before GMO mosquitoes were released into the wild.  For fans of Jurassic Park, this risky undertaking may sound familiar. Since 2009 hundreds of thousands of GMO mosquitoes have been placed in Brazil, Panama, the Caribbean and now the Florida Keys. Could this be a factor in the sudden rise of unusual diseases and birth defects? If so, what is Oxitec and the Gates Foundation going to do to resolve this?  For better of worse, it seems Oxitec’s answer is to release more GMO mosquitoes.  This sudden windfall of a situation reminds me of Halliburton purchasing Boots and Coots days before the Deep Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

What effects will come from pesticide spraying carried out today– are we in the midst of creating such a resistant super mosquito that a year down down the road we will all be hiding indoors?  Seldom discussed when governments endorse spraying programs of this or any magnitude is the neurotoxicity of the pesticides employed, and the consequences that may very likely befall human health. These pesticides are all neurotoxins, and neurotoxins are things we should be producing less of, not more; for they impair brain function, reduce IQ, lead to behavioral changes, damage the nervous system,  confusion, depression, and are suspected culprits for autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease to name a few.

Solutions to Protect Your Health


The following excerpt from Silent Spring published in 1962chapter 16:

But it was the advent of DDT and all its many relatives that ushered in the true Age of Resistance. It need have surprised no one with even the simplest knowledge of insects or of the dynamics of animal populations that within a matter of a very few years an ugly and dangerous problem had clearly defined itself. Yet awareness of the fact that insects possess an effective counter weapon to aggressive chemical attack seems to have dawned slowly. Only those concerned with disease-carrying insects seem by now to have been thoroughly aroused to the alarming nature of the situation; the agriculturists still for the most part blithely put their faith in the development of new and ever more toxic chemicals, although the present difficulties have been born of just such specious reasoning.

If understanding of the phenomenon of insect resistance developed slowly, it was far otherwise with resistance itself. Before 1945 only about a dozen species were known to have developed resistance to any of the pre-DDT insecticides. With the new organic chemicals and new methods for their intensive application, resistance began a meteoric rise that reached the alarming level of 137 species in 1960. No one believes the end is in sight. More than 1000 technical papers have now been published on the subject. The World Health Organization has enlisted the aid of some 300 scientists in all parts of the world, declaring that “resistance is at present the most important single problem facing vector-control programs.” A distinguished British student of animal populations, Dr. Charles Elton, has said, “We are hearing the early rumblings of what may become an avalanche in strength.”

Although insect resistance is a matter of concern in agriculture and forestry, it is in the field of public health that the most serious apprehensions have been felt. The relation between various insects and many diseases of man is an ancient one. Mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles may inject into the human bloodstream the single-celled organism of malaria. Other mosquitoes transmit yellow fever. Still others carry encephalitis. The housefly, which does not bite, nevertheless by contact may contaminate human food with the bacillus of dysentery, and in many parts of the world may play an important part in the transmission of eye diseases. The list of diseases and their insect carriers, or vectors, includes typhus and body lice, plague and rat fleas, African sleeping sickness and tsetse flies, various fevers and ticks, and innumerable others. 

The Chemical industry is perhaps understandably loath to face up to the unpleasant fact of resistance. Even in 1959, with more than 100 major insect species showing definite resistance to chemicals, one of the leading journals int he field of agricultural chemistry spoke of “real or imagined” insect resistance. Yet hopefully as the industry may turn its face the other way, the problem simply does not go away, and it presents some unpleasant economic facts. One is that the cost of insect control by chemicals is increasing steadily. It is no longer possible to stockpile materials well in advance; what today may be the most promising of insecticidal chemicals may be the dismal failure of tomorrow. The very substantial financial investment involved in backing and launching an insecticide may be swept away as the insects prove once more that the effective approach to nature is not through brute force. And however rapidly technology may invent new uses for insecticides and new ways of applying them, it is likely to find the insects keeping a lap ahead.


Above photo from the Daily Mail, Tuesday February 3, 2016 Zika virus ‘could be rife in Southern US by spring’: Experts warn rising temperatures will trigger a surge in cases as the mosquito population multiplies