(Originally published March 10, 2011 updated March 18, 2016)
The pillars that hold up the structure of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in structural pest control are arrogance, deceit, deception, ideology, lies, ignorance, scare tactics and its foundation is the Precautionary Principle; the bulwark of junk science.
"We all know what IPM is" - or - "We all know what Green means." Really? The reality is that there is “no universally accepted definition of the IPM and Green phenomena in structural pest control, there is no consensus as to their range, their ideological origins, or the modalities of action which characterize them.” –(Paraphrased statement by Stanley G,. Payne in the book Dictionnaire historique des fascisms et du nazisme as cited and quoted in Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism, which I recommed everyone read.)
I’m told IPM is obviously necessary.
If IPM is so obviously necessary, why has the EPA spent untold thousands of dollars on grant money to promote it at the local level? If they have the science to support their views on IPM, why do they need to promote it? They certainly have the regulatory power to impose it, and it should be obvious to the most casual observer that they certainly have the desire to impose it - why then don’t they just impose it? It's simply because they lack the science to support such an action!
The public is demanding it.
Once again, if that's the case why does it have to be promoted? A number of years ago we at the Greater Cleveland Pest Control Association we spent a great deal of time organizing training programs that included people from outside of the pest control industry. A few years back we started a training program for the public health departments from around the state hoping for a better understanding between us we called, the Forum on Pest Control and Public Health, and we invited PCO’s and public health officials from all over the state. We started small with local county health department. The first one was about 10 years ago, and was intended to expand their understanding of what new techniques and tools were being used in modern pest control.
After the program was over I asked a senior member if they enjoyed the program. Her affirmative response was tempered by one objection. She said I needed to be careful about using “jargon”. Surprised by her statement I asked - what jargon? Her response - “IPM”. At that time none of the rest of them had ever heard of it. We went to the officials of local school districts informing them that there may be changes coming down from the state regulators regarding pest control. When IPM was mentioned, their response was universal. What’s IPM?
If the public is demanding it, why is it that so many knowledgeable educated intelligent people had never heard of it and had no idea what it was supposed to be?
So why did IPM have to be promoted?
That's an easy question to answer. It turned out people weren’t demanding it after all because they never heard of it. So in order to get people to actually start demanding it, EPA had to promote it. After all, how could anyone demand something they had never heard of?
Interestingly, many companies servicing schools in Ohio had been years in advance of the other states. In point of fact, I was working for the company that started what may have been the first IPM school program in Ohio over 25 years ago. When I told that to one EPA official he stated, “that was before anyone ever heard of it”.
If IPM gains traction with consumers it will be because the environmental movement - along with their junk scientific allies in government - undermined all that we have done for the good of humanity for the last 70 years by consistently ignoring actual science in preference of demagogic junk science.
We have a more professional image.
Baloney! The movie Arachnophobia is often thrown up as an example of how people view our industry. By Hollywood maybe, but real people who saw the movie viewed this as a caricature of who and what we are - not the substance or the reality. We are thought of as professionals when we do our jobs and get rid of their pests. Period!
IPM is more effective than traditional pest control.
One of Dr. Marc Lame’s (well know entomologist and promoter of IMP) favorite lines is - IPM is proactive while traditional pest control is reactive. What a load of horse pucky! Pest control, no matter what you call it, is now and has always be proactive and reactive, and calling it IPM doesn’t change that.
By attempting to create something called IPM for structural pest control versus traditional pest control we have created an attitude that one is different from the other. One is superior to the other. Worse yet, the impression is given that IPM’ers are good and forward thinking and all others are bad and backward thinking.
IPM is just pest control. Let's come back to the basics once again. Do we really believe that what we have been doing for the last 70 years has harmed the public? Or do we believe the structural pest control industry been part of the finest public health program the world has ever seen through our use of pesticides? Ask third world nations where every family has lost someone to malaria or one of the other many insect borne diseases where they would rather live?
Pesticides are our friend, they don’t cause cancer, they don’t cause asthma, they don’t cause autism and they aren’t endocrine disruptors. However, they do cause more and more people to live longer, healthier, better fed lives than ever in human history. Pesticides are a weapon of mass survival!
At the end of WWII the world’s population was approximately two billion people, and it took thousands of years to get there. The world’s population is now seven billion people and that was accomplished in less than seventy five years. Of course modern medicine played a large role, but the greatest boon to humanity was the development of DDT, and all the modern pesticides since. With all its marvelous medical advancements there is one thing modern medicine will never conquer: starvation! That is the function of pesticides, along with genetically modified organisms, all of which are vehemently hated by green activists.
IPM is the great divider for the pest control industry. If the idea that IPM is something other than pest control then we can easily accept the idea of eliminating pesticides. The fact is the only ones who actually have a clear understanding as to what IPM really means are the environmentalists. They know IPM as the best tool they have to promote the eventual elimination of pesticides and the destruction of pesticide manufacturing and application industries.
In past years activists along with local politicians worked to eliminate preemption laws in at least five Midwestern states in order to affect the same kind of result as had taken root in Canada. They're still working toward that goal. Their primary tool to attain this goal is the promotion of IPM. Through training seminars for school executives and maintenance personnel along with the concerned local populace they present the same theme.
IPM is the alternative to pesticides and pesticides are killing us.
Why then are we trying to find common ground to please these people? If we accept IPM in one form they will demand more restrictions in another form. The only way that we could truly please these anti-pesticide activists was if we all collectively committed suicide. If pesticides are so evil, and going back to nature is so wonderful- why aren't anti-pesticide activist moving to those third world lands where few pesticides are used instead of staying in here in first world nations filled with evil chemicals?
There are those who subscribe to these false assumptions about modern life - which apparently activists claim, and supposedly believe, are killing all of us. If someone feels so strongly that a modern, industrial, synthetic chemical rich society is a living hell, I can recommend a number of countries that would be an environmentalist's equivalent of paradise. Of course the water is contaminated, parasites are rampant, insect transmitted diseases are the rule versus the exception, the life span is really short, child mortality is staggeringly high, and the quality of life is one of misery and poverty. However, if dystopia is someone's understanding of paradise, they need to go there, take their family with them and leave the rest of us alone.
Okay, what health concerns? Cancer, asthma or is it that old saw, “we don’t know the long term effects”? The rate of cancer in children has not increased. According to the book “Are Children More Vulnerable to Environmental Chemicals?” in 1938 the number deaths to childhood cancer was 939 of children under 14 in a base population of 130 million or 1 out of every 138,445. This was during the depression and I doubt if diagnostic, reporting or record keeping techniques were nearly as good as it is now. In 1998 the number was approximately 1700 in a base population of 280 million or 1 out of every 164,705.
The rate of cancer has dropped for the rest of the population also. If you were to lay out the demographic for cancer in 1900 and create a plastic overlay with the cancer demographics for the year 2000 you would find two obvious differences. In 1900 there were very few smokers and very few people who lived over 65. If you take those two demographics out of the equation you would find that the drop in cancer would be startlingly greater.
The latest information regarding asthma is the terrible effect that cockroaches have on asthmatics. Well, pesticides eliminate cockroaches which has the uncanny result of seriously reducing asthma. There has never been a scientific study that has linked pesticides and asthma. However, according to Ohio State University these are some of the asthma triggers they do know about;
“pollen, mold, animal, protein (dander, urine, oil from skin) house dust/dust mites, cockroaches and certain foods. Infections can cause irritation of the airways, nose, throat, lungs, and sinuses, and may precede an asthma attack strong odors and sprays, such as perfumes, household cleaners, cooking fumes, paints, and varnishes chemicals such as coal, chalk dust, or talcum powder air pollutants changing weather conditions, including changes in temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and strong winds. Chemical exposure on the job, such as occupational vapors, dust, gases, or fumes. Medications, such as aspirin and sulfites, cause up to 20 percent of adult asthmatic attacks as a result of sensitivities or allergies to them. These medications often include: aspirin, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen and sulfites used as preservatives in food and beverage.”
With this many asthma triggers how can anyone know the real cause of asthma? In point of fact, they don’t have a clue as to what really causes asthma.
“We don’t know the long-term effects.” Sure we do. We live longer, healthier and happier lives. I saw an Oprah Winfrey show where she and a friend went to one of those places where modern families decided to live as they did 200 or 300 years ago. Flies were swarming everywhere. Eating dinner was like living next to a garbage can in the middle of August. How much would you be willing to bet if she actually had to live there for a month she would have paid me a million dollars for an aerosol can of fly spray - and she wouldn’t have cared what was in it.
In spite of the latest CDC and JAMA reports (whose methodology must be seriously called into question) there is no justification that we need to eliminate pesticides from the schools. This is made clear by JAMA’s authors of the report own admission:
“Given both the nonspecificity of the clinical findings of pesticide poisoning and the lack of a standard diagnostic test, some illnesses temporally related to pesticide exposures may be coincidental and not caused by these exposures."
The number of alleged pesticide incidents (1,972 alleged injuries occurred over a five year period) only three were considered serious and only a total of 13 percent were reported by medical professionals. The rest were by family members or others who would have no way of knowing whether it was pesticides or not. This is miniscule compared to the 3.7 million children that suffer some sort of significant injury to factors other than pesticides every year in schools. Actually, about 445 times greater than the alleged rate for pesticide incidents.
These reports are unworthy of even being mentioned when weighed against the childhood deaths worldwide as a result on not using pesticides. No mention was made of the important health benefits pesticides provide to children. Benefits that are not available in most parts of the world. Places where they would love to be able to apply these life saving products. The fact is when used properly pesticides are perfectly safe.
Who decided we needed something called IPM?
The environmentalists and their allies in government along with the universities who are desperate for government grant money. The most sure fire way to get grant money is to promote IPM. There was a time when the university extension departments were filled with pesticide users, pesticide believers and some were even pesticide patent holders. That appears to have changed. They retired and were replaced with those who are infused with the “litany” of the environmental movement. Grant money and environmental indoctrination has made many of them true believers. It would be interesting to see how the universities would react if the only grant money available was for the purpose of proving IPM doesn’t exist. They would do an about face so fast you would swear that they were the color guard in a military parade.
I’m told we can't challenge those in academia. They are educated, intelligent and have done the research! This is an attitude of "We know best so don’t question us!" Isn’t that the Dan Rather defense?
Make no mistake about it - those who promote IPM in our industry diminish us with an arrogant self-righteous attitude - looking down on anyone disagreeing with them. They, like the environmentalists, have become a bunch of “self perpetuating head nodders ” sitting and discussing what is right for our industry in an “echo chamber of self congratulations”.
Where is the evidence that we need to seriously alter what we have been doing? Where are the serious health problems? Where is the devastation of wild life that would make this an automatic?
I’m not talking about fanciful opinions. Opinions are not facts. If we accept the term IPM as part of the lexicon of pest control terms then this must eventually replace the term “pest control” and we have to accept the idea that what we have been doing for the last 70 years has been detrimental to humanity and has devastated wildlife. Do we really believe that?
Why do we as an industry so readily accept this nonsense? We're accept it as an industry because we are uninformed, ill informed and complacent! For an industry that is so heavily involved with science we are terribly unaware of much of what we need to know. Dr. John Ray, PHD in psychology, former university sociology teacher made the following observation. “If the many past mistakes and follies of science were better known, people would be much less likely to accept uncritically the pronouncements about environmental matters coming from scientists.”
I recommend the following books.
- Are Children More Vulnerable to Environmental Chemicals? (American Council on Science and Health)
- Eco-Imperialism, Green Power Black Death, by Paul Driessen
- Junk Science Judo by Steven Milloy, Junk Science.com
- The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg, a former environmental activist who has turned against the environmental movement.
- Facts Versus Fears (American Council on Science and Health)
- America's War on Carcinogens: Reassessing the Use of Animal Tests to Predict Human Cancer Risk . (American Council on Science and Health)