Dateline 2005: Anti-pesticide lobbyists wish they hadn't lobbied against pesticides

Fake News From The Future posted by James Baughn on Monday, July 10, 2000

from the welcome-to-the-roach-motel dept.

Editor's Note: This article will appear in the June 15th, 2005 issue of the St. Louis Suburban-Post-Dispatch. Don't ask; the explanation for how this document arrived in our hands involves lots of Star Trek-ish pseudo-scientific techno-babble that you wouldn't understand (or believe) anyways.

The unstoppable wave of dangerous insects that have invaded the Midwest and Deep South have led many people to wonder if the ban on pesticide is really worth it. Ever since Dursban was first banned in 2000, the number of insects has steadily grown, reaching unprecedented levels last year just after Congress passed the Anti-Chemical It's For The Children Act.

Many people became alarmed this spring, when a former anti-pesticide lobbyist was found dead in her home, the apparent victim of over 10,000 insect bites and stings from wasps, hornets, chiggers, horseflies, and mosquitos. Investigators were baffled; while some suspected foul play at the hands of near-bankruptcy Dow Chemical, evidence supporting that conspiracy theory hasn't materialized.

Since then the insects have kept on coming. An increasing number of people, especially those particularly sensitive to insect bites, are concocting home-brewed pesticidal chemicals with clandestine information found on the AOL-Internet. Such efforts might drive away the swarms of insects, but they won't drive away the swarms of EPA, DEA, and FDA agents fighting the War On Chemicals That Are Harmful To Children.

Certainly pesticides pose grave health threats, especially to children (it's always about the children, isn't it?). When the anti-chemical advocates mounted their crusade to ban pesticides, they presented 'Integrated Pest Management' as the perfect alternative. Sure, IPM works fine under normal conditions. But the Midwest, battling against global warming and a sudden increase in rainfall, is anything but normal.

The insects are running wild, and IPM isn't enough. Now children, seemingly protected from the dangers of toxic pesticides, are getting a taste of the toxins carried by pests. Last week several children were severely injured when a cloud of wasps ("cloud" is the only appropriate term, as the entire sky darkened) invaded their Western Tennessee school.

And let's not forget about all of the towns that have been virtually abandoned because they are near mosquito breeding grounds such as river sloughs, rice fields, and old tire dumps. There hasn't been this much devastation in the Missouri Bootheel since the 1812 earthquakes.

Many people who campaigned against pesticides in previous years are now having doubts. "What are the odds?" asked one former lobbyist. "Not only is it hotter and more humid, but we also get a series of hurricane remnants up here that provided more than enough water for the perfect insect habitat. And then IPM doesn't quite work out like we hoped. Excuse me, but I urgently need to make plans to move out to arid Arizona before everyone else does."

Congress isn't acting on this issue, as its most powerful members are from Western and Northern states where insects aren't a problem yet. Serious action (other than "oversight committees" studying the problem and doling out Federal assistance to insect attack victims) is not expected this year.

When the War On Chemicals began, most South American drug lords switched from producing marijuana and crackpipes to producing Dursban and hand sprayers. The War On Drugs is all but over -- all Southeast Missouri meth labs have been replaced with "pest labs" producing illegal pesticides. Of course, the economy of Mexico and several Latin American countries collapsed when the drug trade came to a halt, but now the illegal pesticide trade has made those countries even more prosperous than before. The bottom line is that Congress is still basking in the glow of (accidentally) winning the War On Drugs; they aren't going to rock the boat just because some Midwesterners are getting mauled by mosquitos.

For now, the only solution to the insect problem is to move away from the Midwest. Either that or start performing Drought Dances and Ice Age Dances and hope this jungle climate -- and the insect menace -- comes to an end.