Pesticides And Polio: A Critique Of Scientific Literature
                                           By: Jim West

The following statement appeared in the Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology,
1991, edited by Wayland J. Hayes and Edward R. Laws:

"It has been alleged that DDT causes or contributes to a wide variety of
diseases of humans and animals not previously recognized as associated with
any chemical.  Such diseases included poliomyelitis, such irresponsible claims
could produce great harm and, if taken seriously, even interfere with scientific
search for true causes."  

Hayes and Laws were informing their readers about the heretic, Dr. Morton S.
Biskind.  In 1953, when Biskind's writings were published, the United States
had just endured its greatest polio epidemic.  

The entire public was steeped in dramatic images--a predatory poliovirus,
nearly a million dead and paralyzed children, iron lungs, struggling doctors
and dedicated nurses.  

The late president Franklin D. Roosevelt had been memorialized as a polio
victim who was infected with the deadly poliovirus near the beautiful and
remote island of Campobello.  

The media was saturated with positive images of scientific progress and the
marvels of DDT to kill disease-carrying mosquitoes.  

Jonas Salk was in the wings, preparing to be moved center stage.  Through
this intellectually paralyzing atmosphere, Dr. Biskind had the composure to
argue what he thought was the most obvious explanation for the polio

Central nervous system diseases (CNS) such as polio are actually the
physiological and symptomatic manifestations of the ongoing government
and industry sponsored inundation of the world's populace with central
nervous system poisons.  

Today, few remember this poignant writer who struggled with the issues of
pesticides, issues that Rachel Carson would be allowed to politely bring to
public awareness nine years later, as the lead story in The New Yorker
magazine and then as a national best seller, by limiting her focus to the
environment and wildlife.  

Biskind had the audacity to write about human damage.  
I found
"M.S. Biskind" in the endnotes to Hayes' and Laws' diatribe.  What
could possibly have motivated Hayes' and Laws' biased genuflection towards
germ theory?  

Such offerings, commonly written into the final paragraphs of scientific
articles, are usually done with an appearance of impartiality.  With great
anticipation, I went to a medical library and found Biskind's 10-page 1953
article in the American Journal of Digestive Diseases.   

Presented below are excerpts regarding polio from the article.  Biskind's

"In 1945, against the advice of investigators who had studied the pharmacology
of the compound and found it dangerous for all forms of life, DDT
chlorophenoethane, dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane was released in the
United States and other countries for general use by the public as an

Since the last war there have been a number of curious changes in the
incidence of certain ailments and the development of new syndromes never
before observed.  
A most significant feature of this situation is that both man and all his domestic
animals have simultaneously been affected.  In man, the incidence of
poliomyelitis has risen sharply.  

It was even known by 1945 that DDT is stored in the body fat of mammals and
appears in the milk.  With this foreknowledge the series of catastrophic events
that followed the most intensive campaign of mass poisoning in known human
history, should not have surprised the experts.  

Yet, far from admitting a causal relationship so obvious that in any other field
of biology it would be instantly accepted, virtually the entire apparatus of
communication, lay and scientific alike, has been devoted to denying,
concealing, suppressing, distorting and attempts to convert into its opposite,
the overwhelming evidence.  Libel, slander and economic boycott have not
been overlooked in this campaign.

Early in 1949, as a result of studies during the previous year, the author
published reports implicating DDT preparations in the syndrome widely
attributed to a 'virus-X' in man, in 'X-disease' in cattle and in often fatal
syndromes in dogs and cats.  The relationship was promptly denied by
government officials, who provided no evidence to contest the author's
observations but relied solely on the prestige of government authority
and sheer numbers of experts to bolster their position.

['X-disease'] studied by the author following known exposure to DDT and
related compounds and over and over again in the same patients, each time
following known exposure.  We have described the syndrome as follows: In
acute exacerbations, mild clonic convulsions involving mainly the legs have
been observed.  Several young children exposed to DDT developed a limp
lasting from 2 or 3 days to a week or more.  

"Simultaneously with the occurrence of this disorder [X-disease], a number
of related changes occurred in the incidence of known diseases.  The most
striking of these is poliomyelitis.  In the United States the incidence of polio
had been increasing prior to 1945 at a fairly constant rate, but its epidemiologic
characteristics remained unchanged.  Beginning in 1946, the rate of increase
more than doubled.  Since then remarkable changes in the character of the
disease have been noted.  Contrary to all past experience, the disease has
remained epidemic year after year."  

                                                     DDT vs Polio
I have utilized pesticide data 1945-1953 from Hayes and Laws, which they had
obtained from the US Transportation Board.  Polio incidence data was
gathered from US Vital Statistics.  Although I argue herein against Hayes'
characterization of Biskind's work, credit goes to Hayes for publishing arcane
pesticide data.

                              Physiological Evidence
Biskind also describes physiological evidence of DDT poisoning that
resembles polio physiology:  

"Particularly relevant to recent aspects of this problem are neglected studies by
Lillie and his collaborators of the National Institutes of Health, published in
1944 and 1947 respectively, which showed that DDT may produce degeneration
of the anterior horn cells of the spinal cord in animals.  These changes do not
occur regularly in exposed animals any more than they do in human beings,
but they do appear often enough to be significant."  

He continues, bearing his exasperation in trying to make the obvious plain:

"When the population is exposed to a chemical agent known to produce in
animals lesions in the spinal cord resembling those in human polio, and
thereafter the latter disease increases sharply in incidence and maintains its
epidemic character year after year, is it unreasonable to suspect an etiologic

Before finding Biskind's work, I had spent months engaged in a nearly futile
search for the physiology of acute DDT poisoning.  I began to sense that
American DDT literature as a whole intends to convey that DDT is not
dangerous except with regard to its general environmental effects due to
persistent bioaccumulation, and that the physiology of acute DDT poisoning
is therefore trivial.  

DDT literature uniformly jumps from descriptions of symptoms, over
physiology, to the biochemistry of DDT caused dysfunction in nerve tissue.  

It was as though detectives had come upon a mass-murder scene and
immediately became obsessed with the biochemistry of dying cells around
bullet holes, while ignoring the bullet holes.  

Eventually, I did find one study, in a German publication, of the physiology of
acute DDT poisoning.   The study confirmed that DDT poisoning often causes
polio-like physiology:  

"Conspicuous histological degeneration was, however, often found in the
central nervous system.  The most striking ones were found in the cerebellum,
mainly in the nucleus dentatus and the cortex cells.  Among other things an
increase of the neuroglia and a necrotic degeneration and resorption of
ganglionic cells was found.  The Purkinje cells were less seriously affected than
the other neurons.  

Also in the spinal cord abnormalities of a degenerative nature were found, such
changes were not found invariably, there is neither an obvious relation
between the size and spreading of the lesion and the quantity of DDT applied.  
Information of adequate precision about the nature of the anomalies is

Thus we find that the cerebellum and the spinal cord are especially affected by
DDT.  And more recently, in the works of Ralph Scobey, MD, I found that from
ancient times to the early 20th century, the symptoms and physiology of
paralytic poliomyelitis were often described as the results of poisoning.  

It wasn't until the mid-19th century that the word
"poliomyelitis" became the
designation for the paralytic effects of both severe poisoning and polio-like
diseases assumed to be germ caused.  

Today, various other forms of the word
"polio" are still used to describe the
effects of neurotoxins, although usually with regard to paralysis in animals.  

In contemporary Britain, a farmer turned scientist, Mark Purdey, has found
substantial evidence that mad cow disease, a form of polio-like encephalitis,
was caused by a government mandated cattle treatment consisting of
organophosphate pesticide and a compound similar to thalidomide.  

Unlike most scientists, Mark Purdey became legally embroiled with the
government during his research, and
"was shot at, blockaded in his home to
prevent him giving a lecture, and saw a new farmhouse go up in flames the day
he was due to move in."   

Morton S. Biskind had the courage to write about humans.  His views fell into
disfavor after the introduction of the polio vaccines, which was a grand act
that proved in most people's minds that polio was caused by a virus.  

By October, 1955, Biskind, whose works had been published in established
medical journals and who testified before the Senate on the dangers of
pesticides, was forced to self-publish his writings, one of which I found while
browsing through an old card catalog.  

A scan of MEDLINE finds no other works by him except for a very tame article
in 1972, warning that diseases incurred during a patient's stay in a hospital are
not necessarily due to microbes.  He died not long thereafter, in his late 60s.  

                         A Contemporary Study
I have compiled information that confirms Biskind's observations, utilizing
data that extend far beyond his observations.  

I did not include DDT data for the period of 1954 onward because, even though
the US production of DDT skyrocketed, its distribution was then being shifted
out of the US and into developing nations.  

Governmental hearings, including those with Biskind, Scobey and others,
brought about greater awareness of DDT dangers, as well as better labeling
and handling methods.  

After 1950, DDT was continually incriminated until its registration cancellation
in 1968 and ban in 1972.  So 1950 marked a point of increased public
awareness, changes in legislation and policy, voluntary phase out, labeling
requirements and discouragement from use in dairy farms.  

Much of the usage in the US may have moved over to forestry applications,
placing less DDT directly into the food chain.  Levels of DDT in adipose tissue
before 1955 were estimated by drawing a straight line from the low to the high
levels of DDT in adipose tissue for that period.  

The estimate of DDT exposure is fairly accurate because DDT has a shelf life of
about one year.  To achieve any downward trend in the DDT/adipose line, DDT
exposure had to have decreased sharply.  

It is, however, not an assumption, but a fact, that the lowering of DDT levels in
adipose tissue parallels the hyped advent of the Salk vaccination programs.  

                         BHC vs Polio
BHC (benzene hexachloride), a persistent, organochlorine pesticide, is several
times more lethal than DDT, in terms of LD50 (lethal dosage required to kill 50
percent of a test population).  

BHC was produced in 1945-1954 at quantities similar to DDT.  In spite of BHC's
lethal quality, it has received much less publicity than DDT.  

While DDT was banned for such things as an association with the thinning of
eagles' eggs, BHC was phased out of production because it was found, after
15 years, to impart a bad taste to food.  

It is still used in developing nations.  One is tempted to ask whether the more
controversial DDT, known to be dangerous, was
"fronting" for the more
dangerous BHC?  BHC's correlation with polio incidence is astonishing.  

                                              Lead-Arsenic vs Polio
Note that the period 1940-46 is unaccounted for in terms of polio-pesticide
correlation in the DDT and BHC.  

The missing piece of the puzzle for this six-year period is supplied by lead and
arsenic compounds.  

These central nervous system (CNS) poisons were the major pesticides during
the several centuries previous to the advent of the organochlorines in the early

For those who think that
"organic" food was the norm before the release of
DDT to the civilian sector in 1945, the immense production of lead-arsenic
compounds proves otherwise.  

The data requires a reconsideration of statements regarding the
quantities of arsenic found in apple seeds, apricots, or almonds or
chemotherapies derived from seeds where pesticides can accumulate in the

                       Pesticide Composite: Summary
Generally, pesticide production precedes polio incidence by 1 to 2 years.  I
assume that this variation is due to variations in reporting methods and the
time it takes to move pesticides from factory to warehouse, through
distribution channels, onto the food crops and to the dinner table.  

                    Virus Causation
A clear, direct, one-to-one relationship between pesticides and polio over a
period of 30 years, with pesticides preceding polio incidence in the context of
the CNS related physiology just described, leaves little room for complicated
virus arguments, even as a cofactor, unless there exists a rigorous proof for
virus causation.  

Polio shows no movement independent from pesticide movement, as one
would expect if it were caused by a virus.  Both the medical and popular
imaginations are haunted by the image of a virus that invades (or infects) and
begins replicating to the point of producing disease.  

In the laboratory, however, poliovirus does not easily behave in such a
predatory manner.  Laboratory attempts to demonstrate causation are
performed under conditions, which are extremely artificial and aberrant.  

Poliovirus causation was first established in the mainstream mind by
publications of an experiment by Landsteiner and Popper in Germany, 1908-

Their method was to inject a pulverized puree of diseased brain tissue into the
brains of two monkeys.  One monkey died and the other was sickened.  Proof
of poliovirus causation was headlined by orthodoxy.  

This, however, was an assumption not a proof of virus causation.  The
weakness of this method is obvious to everyone except certain
viropathologists and has recently been criticized by the molecular biologist
Peter Duesberg regarding a modern-day attempt to establish virus causation
for kuru, another CNS disease.   

Since 1908, the basic test has been repeated successfully many times using
monkeys, dogs and genetically altered mice.  The injected material has even
been improved--scientists now use a saline solution containing purified

However, a crucial weakness exists, polio epidemics do not occur via
injections of poliovirus isolate into the brains of the victims through a hole
drilled in their skull except, of course, in laboratories and hospitals.  

If injection into the brain is really a valid test for causation then it should serve
especially well as a proof for pesticide causation.  

I propose that pesticides be injected directly into the brains of test animals.  If
paralysis and nerve degeneration subsequently occur, we then would have
proved that pesticides cause polio.  

Going further, towards much higher standards of proof than those used to
prove virus causation, pesticides could be fed to animals and found to cause
CNS disease.  

This has already been done with DDT and the histology of the spine and brain
was poliomyelitis.  Virus proofs require injection, often intracranial, to get any
reaction from the experimental animal.  

It is axiomatic that a theory is only as good as its ability to predict future
events.  I predict that such a test would prove pesticides to be the most reliable
causative factor.  

The injection of puree of diseased brain tissue into the brains of dogs was the
method preferred by Louis Pasteur to establish virus causation with rabies,
another CNS disease.  

A recent, definitive biography of Pasteur finds him to be a most important
publicist for the germ theory, a crucial promoter for the notion that rabies is
caused by a virus.  Unfortunately, his rabies experiments were biased and
unsupported by independent studies.   

Therefore, in my opinion, even a cofactor theory, where pesticides catalyze
predatory poliovirus activity, or where pesticides weaken the immune system
to allow opportunistic predatory poliovirus activity, cannot stand up to simple,
common sense explanations that include the concept of a symbiotic virus.  

            Neurotoxins Are Enough Of A Cause For Neurological Disease.  
The most obvious theory, pesticide causation should be the dominant theory.  
But the opposite exists, a pervasive silence regarding pesticide causation
juxtaposed against a steady stream of drama regarding virus causation.  

In light of the evidence presented herein, the silence could ultimately discredit
mainstream medical science, institutions of the environmental movement, and
the World Health Organization.  

Before 1950, DDT was hailed as a miracle of progress that was virtually
nontoxic to humans, in spite of the FDA's attempts to keep it off the market.  

Dr. O. T. Zimmerman, PhD, and his colleague Dr. Irvin Lavine, PhD.  
advised that DDT be sprayed directly on dairy cows, their feed, bedding and
water, in a 5 percent solution.  Dairy products are ideal pesticide carriers
because they are emulsions of fats and water.  

DDT is a waxy organochlorine with an affinity for fats, and is efficiently carried
by dairy products through the digestive tract into the organs.  In the mid-1940s
the FDA advised against the use of DDT, especially on dairy farms.  

However, the pressure of the industry to promote DDT was overwhelming and
the FDA's advice went unheeded.  Years later, the compelling nature of the
evidence ensured the passage of stronger labeling laws and restrictions from
use on dairy farms.  

In the early 1950s, scientists at the US Department of Agriculture found that
although fodder treated with DDT caused no damage to the cows eating it, the
health of their calves was severely impaired, sometimes with fatal results.  

The DDT was passed along from cow to calf via the milk (Van Nostrand's
Encyclopedia of Science and Engineering, Van Nostrand Reinhold 1995).  

DDT is a neurotoxin and the calves developed something very much like
infantile poliomyelitis.  Calves weren't the only infants drinking cow milk
during the early 1950s.  

                                         Virus Presence
When the symptoms of polio are recognized, there is often a claim of virus
presence in the body of the polio victim.  Sometimes a virus is found.  
Sometimes that virus is an enterovirus (a virus of the digestive tract).  

Sometimes that enterovirus is a poliovirus.  During polio epidemics, orthodoxy
blames the poliovirus, and therefore, in my argument for the innocence of the
poliovirus, it is necessary to explain the claims of virus presence and the
actual presence of the poliovirus.  

First we must consider the economic motivation.  During the great epidemic of
1942-1962 polio victims were diagnosed with poliovirus-caused polio,
regardless of whether or not the poliovirus was found, because the NFIP
(March of Dimes) funds paid only for this kind of polio.  

Therefore, if patients were going to spend time hospitalized, in iron lungs and
undergoing therapy, it would have been economically imperative for the
hospital to diagnose them in this way.  

Thus, presence of poliovirus in poliomyelitis was rarely determined in order to
arrive at a diagnosis of polio.  

Even if one believes in virus culpability, other viruses are also claimed by
orthodoxy to be the cause of polio-like CNS diseases that are
from polio.  

During the 1940-50s, relatively few polio victims were confirmed technically for
presence of the poliovirus.  In 1958, a laboratory analysis of 222 diagnosed
polio victims of the Detroit epidemic found poliovirus in only 51 percent of the

In other studies, lab tests for multiple pathogens reveal that a mix of
pathogens, multiple viruses, fungi, and bacteria can be associated with a
single diagnosed case of polio.   

Coxsackievirus and echoviruses can cause paralytic syndromes that are
clinically indistinguishable from paralytic poliomyelitis.  These
"polio" cases
are usually categorized as encephalitis or meningitis during a proclaimed polio

                    Benign Virus?
The poliovirus is considered to have been endemic throughout the world
going back to ancient times, yet this is not the case with paralytic polio.  

According to Arno Karlen, author of
Man and Microbes, the "polio virus lives
only in people; it probably adapted to the human small intestine countless
millennia ago."  

He continues, "Some historians have claimed that [paralytic] polio goes back to
ancient Egypt; it may, but the evidence is thin."

Karlen makes a lot of sense here in view of the pesticide graphs, Biskind's
arguments and ancient statements regarding paralysis from inhalation of
vaporized chemicals during blacksmithing operations.  

However, Karlen goes on to write that:
"the first undisputed case dates from
the late eighteenth century."  

This statement, however, must be invalid (in its attempt to establish polio
images that have a basis in early history) because of Menkes' statement
(above) that other viruses can also be causative for polio symptoms and
because common industrial poisons such as arsenic and lead compounds
can cause polio-like symptoms.  

Poisoning, as a method of assassination has also been frequently employed.  
It is not unreasonable to assume that unsuccessful poisonings may have left
their victims paralyzed.  Thus, Karlen's offer of an undisputed case as early as
the late 18th century can be no more than a guess.  

Orthodox medical literature can offer no evidence that the poliovirus was
anything else than benign until the first polio epidemic, which occurred in
Sweden in 1887.  

This small epidemic occurred 13 years after the invention of DDT in Germany,
in 1874, and 14 years after the invention of the first mechanical pesticide crop
sprayer, which was used to spray formulations of water, kerosene, soap and

The epidemic also occurred immediately following an unprecedented flurry of
pesticide innovations.  This is not to say that DDT was the actual cause of the
first polio epidemic, as arsenic was then in widespread use and DDT is said to
have been merely an academic exercise.  

However, DDT or any of several neurotoxic organochlorines already
discovered could have caused the first polio epidemic if they had been used
experimentally as a pesticide.  DDT's absence from early literature is little
assurance that it was not used.  We need to remember that the poliovirus is an

There are at least 72 known enteroviruses discovered to date.  According to
Duesberg, many enteroviruses are harmless
"passenger viruses."   In view of
the material presented here, probably unknown to Duesberg, it is reasonable
that we also view poliovirus as harmless outside of extreme laboratory

                  The Symbiotic Poliovirus
Having now established the possibility of an innocent poliovirus, its presence
in polio can be explained as follows: accelerated genetic recombination.  

Genetic recombination is accelerated whenever a biological system is
threatened and pesticides can be that threat.  The proliferation of viruses can
be part of the process of accelerated genetic recombination.  

When a cell is critically threatened, accelerated genetic recombination (which
may include virus proliferation) is just one of a set of events that may occur.  
This set of events is called the
"SOS response" which is known to be triggered
by exposure to toxic chemicals or radiation.  Arnold Levine, writing in
, provides an example:

"When lysogenic bacteria were lysed [split open] from without, no virus was
detected.  But from time to time a bacterium spontaneously lysed and produced
many viruses.  

The influence of ultraviolet light in inducing the release of these viruses was a
key observation that began to outline this curious relation between a virus and
its host."   

It is ironic that common medical procedures such as chemotherapy, radiation
therapy, and the use of toxic pharmaceuticals accelerate genetic
recombination and thus the potential for a necessary virus proliferation.  

The SOS response is utilized in the Ames Assay Test, a standard test whereby
chemical toxicity is determined.  

According to the procedure, bacteria are exposed to a chemical solution in
question, and if a genetic recombination accelerates via the spontaneous
proliferation of viruses from these bacteria, then the chemical is determined to
be a poison.  

The phenomenon is analogous to a poker player with a bad hand who must
request an exchange of cards and a reshuffled deck to improve the
possibilities for survival.  

In the Ames Assay Test, bacteria are concerned with their genetic
"hand" in
order to improve their abilities to metabolize poisons, create utilizations for
poisons, and shield against poisons.  Thus they engage in this well-known
phenomena of
"gene shuffling" facilitated by virus proliferation.  

Thus, I propose that the poliovirus is a symbiotic (and possibly a dormant)
virus that behaves in a manner suggested by the phenomenon found in the
Ames Assay Test, a test used to determine toxicity.  

The word "virus" is ancient Latin, meaning "slime" or "poison."  Mainstream
science admits that most viruses are harmless, yet the word
"virus" adds to a
biased and highly promoted language of fear regarding nature.  

Definitions of viruses range from
"pathogenic" to "not usually pathogenic."  
The more popular the media source, the more frightening the definition.  Less
fearful definitions would change the relationship between the medical industry
and its

Paradoxically, early virus studies considered virus filtrates to be a poison, not
a microbe, thus the name virus.  Today, we know that viruses are information.  

Now, nearly a half-century later, the validity of Dr. Biskind's work appears even
more certain.  Biskind's warning bears repeating:

"It was even known by 1945 that DDT is stored in the body fat of mammals and
appears in the milk.  With this foreknowledge the series of catastrophic events
that followed the most intensive campaign of mass poisoning in known human
history, should not have surprised the experts.  

Yet, far from admitting a causal relationship so obvious that in any other field of
biology it would be instantly accepted, virtually the entire apparatus of
communication, lay and scientific alike, has been devoted to denying,
concealing, suppressing, distorting and attempts to convert into its opposite,
the overwhelming evidence.  Libel, slander and economic boycott have not
been overlooked in this campaign."  

The unique correlations between CNS disease and CNS poisons present a
variety of research opportunities not only in medical science, but political
science, philosophy, media studies, psychology, and sociology.  

                      Food for Thought
Polio outbreaks occurred most often during the summer and were blamed on
viruses picked up in swimming pools.  But summer was the time when DDT
spraying was at its peak and exposure would have been greatest, either
directly or through foods from animals eating sprayed crops.  

Summer foods like ice cream from DDT-sprayed dairy cows would have been
a likely source.  

In developing countries, polio is blamed on poor sanitation.  But in the United
States, polio was blamed on lack of immunity due to good sanitation!  

Until the advent of AIDS, polio was the only disease whose cause was
enshrined in legislation.  US public health law stated that poliomyelitis was an
"infectious contagious disease" yet proof of poliovirus causation is
astoundingly weak, and the obvious toxicology was entirely avoided.  

The man most responsible for the view that poliomyelitis was contagious was
Dr. Simon Flexner, author of the famous (or infamous) Flexner Report, which
led the way to the closing of the naturopathic and homeopathic colleges in the
United States.  

Flexner said:

"It was not easy to establish in an individual case precisely how the disease
was acquired; it was difficult to bring evidence that was not at all convincing
that this disease was contagious."  

In discussing Flexner's report, L. Emmett Holt stated:

"Even five years ago, if anyone had suggested that the disease under
discussion was an infectious or contagious one, it would have been looked
upon as a joke.”  

In 1953, Dr. Kumm was appointed Director of Research of the National
Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP).  The NFIP was funded by its
of Dimes"
program, and it sponsored the hasty development of the Salk
vaccine in the early 1950s, at the height of the DDT/polio controversy.  

Dr. Kumm also
"served as a civilian consultant to the Surgeon General directing
field studies of the use of DDT."

The World Health Organization directs both DDT application (for mosquito
control) and polio vaccination worldwide.  

By: Jim West

Pesticides and Polio: A Critique of Scientific Literature

About the Author:
Jim West has a background in engineering science and music composition.  
Since 1999, he has served as Chairman of the Science Committee for the
NoSpray Coalition in New York City.