Richard Tren has long been well-known as a fervent proponent of the more widespread use of public-health insecticides, especially DDT, to prevent the scourge of malaria in Africa. He co-founded Africa Fighting Malaria, and co-authored several tomes and articles on this subject.
His current op-ed in Forbes.com, Anti-Science Environmentalists Ban Neonic Insecticides, Imperiling Global Health, takes the advocates of the precautionary principle to task for its dire effect on human life. This so-called principle, simply stated, asserts that any substance, behavior or activity should be first proven safe, before being allowed in commerce or the environment. If carried out to its stated extent, it would effectively call a halt to all scientific and technological progress, since in fact nothing can ever be proven completely safe, especially new technologies.
His specific targets are those anti-chemical, anti-pesticide fanatics who have convinced the powers-that-be in the byzantine EU regulatory apparatus that the relatively new class of pesticides, neonicotinoids, are dangerous and need to be phased out of existence, completely, allegedly due to their effect on bees. The clear facts are these: 1-the link between neonics and bee colony collapse is at best weak, and likely non-existent; and 2-neonics are a non-toxic and highly-researched and regulated group of pesticides that have contributed mightily to agricultural bounty. (In ironic defense of the EU system, Tren points out that the scientists there opposed the ban, but they were overruled by their political superiors. This is a repeated pattern over there, see for example BPA, e-cigarettes, and GMOs).
He then goes on to address the ridiculous, quasi-scientific regulatory schema going by the name of endocrine disruptors. Very big in officialdom at the EU, the term has nothing to do with endocrinology or science for that matter, but is a manifestation of...guess what?...the precautionary principle. Some fringe groups came up with this concept in the waning years of the last century, and it has somehow caught on with those who oppose chemicals. Anything and everything that arouses concern among chemophobes can be and has been branded an endocrine disruptor, and of course the EU has developed a complex regulatory agenda to reduce exposure to those high-volume chemicals caught in the E.D. net.
Mainstream scientists are outraged by [the EU approach to endocrine disruptors], Tren writes. But so far enviro-driven politics continues to trump science or any concern for the well-being of those less fortunate, outside the EU, who will pay the full cost for these short-sighted policies.
He sadly concludes with a reference to the true evil that these phony concerns can lead to: the Silent Spring-inspired ban of DDT, which led to millions of preventable malaria deaths since its publication in 1962.
ACSH s Dr. Ross had this comment: We should be grateful to Richard Tren for his ongoing sound science advocacy, well represented here. Thankfully, we here in the U.S. don t have to suffer quite the same foolishness, with quite the level of harm, that is endemic in the EU. But we are far from immune to its spread, and firm vigilance is required to keep those forces of ignorance at bay here.