Chapter 11                       Dance With The Devil         By Gunther Schwab                   Written in 1963.

 

 

TIBU DISAPPEARED. THE BOSS TURNED TO ROLANDE WITH A

smile. "Tired?" he asked.

"A little," she nodded.

The Devil pressed a button.

"There's one more report you must hear, otherwise, we shan't have finished by tomorrow,

but I'll help keep you awake."

A footman brought coffee and other drinks.

The visitors knew that they were being offered drugs;

but gradually an almost perilous resignation took possession of them.

Even Sten helped himself and drank, almost against his will.

Did anything matter any more?

Suddenly Murduscatu stood in the room.

He had entered through the fourth wall.

His appearance chilled the audience, for it indicated that they were going to listen

to a report of con­siderable importance.

 

"Squish is going to speak to us," said the Devil. "No. 205, an excellent number.

You've already seen how we're succeeding in our attempt systematically to poison the world of man,

and so to poison man himself.

No. 205 has taken over the country-side."

Squish, the Spray Devil, was a gaunt man of medium size with quick movements;

he almost leapt from the guests to the Boss and back again.

He seemed to take no notice of the Terrible One who, as was his wont, stood motionless.

Squish began: "Between the soil and the vegetation thereon certain interactions take place

which are wholly beyond the range of human knowledge.

Not only does the soil influence the plant, but vice versa, and on sick soil Nature settles certain

breeds of plant, whose task it is to restore the soil's biological equilibrium.

 

For these plants I invented the name `weeds', and I put the idea into the mind of man

to try to get rid of them by means of chemical poisons, the so-called herbicides.

By doing this, man not only interferes with the natural process of healing,

he intensifies the evil, for these poisons are washed by the rain into the soil

and intensify its morbid condition.

"Herbicides are fashioned on the pattern of the hormones of growth.

By means of them, we can, if we wish, drive a flowering countryside into something like madness.

You get all kinds of degenerations of form, the formation of tumours,

and finally the death of plants. Use of these substances entails a grave inter­ference

with genetic equipment, and so with creation.

 

Man has lost the ability to appreciate the enormity of this crime.

I would add that the use of these poisons has physiological conse­quences for the soil,

for man and beast, which are as yet wholly unknown.

These herbicides poison the whole countryside with their sharp smell and continue

to act in the soil for years on end. Even very small quantities can gravely damage

almost every living organism."

"One moment," the Terrible One suddenly cried, and all looked towards him.

Without moving or changing the direction of his gaze, he began to speak.

"All our department heads have been definitely instructed to follow secret

and underhand methods.

I hereby declare that No. 205 has been guilty of a breach of the regulations.

How else would it be possible for the following information to get into the Press?"

 

He unrolled a large piece of paper from the folds of his toga and read: "On the 6th August, 1955,

a fourteen-year-old boy in Charham, Australia, was using a spray with a preparation de-signed

to stimulate growth. (Actually, it was pentachlorphenate.)

The following day, he began to feel ill and at half past six, he died.

Medical examination showed that the cause of death was

PCP; the substance had attacked a lung so severely that an acute virus infection had set in.

The local medical officer declared that there had already been four cases of poisoning

by this substance, three of them lethal."

"What have you to say to that?"

"A minor mishap – might have happened to anybody."

"There's good reason to fear that the dangerous character of this preparation will be recognized

and its use forbidden."

"Oh, my people have attended to all that ! Officially the pre­paration was withdrawn,

but shortly afterwards it came into use again under another name.

 

I assure you the sales are still very satisfactory."

"I see you can look after yourself," said the Boss, nodding his head,

 and his tone was distinctly appreciative.

Squish opened another file.

"Where parasites appear to gain the upper hand, a healthy countryside can produce millions

of natural enemies to annihilate them and restore the balance.

If I'm ever to succeed in getting man to poison the countryside completely,

I'll have to arrange for such parasites to multiply almost to the point of infinity.

Well, I began by making man blind to the importance for his own survival of all creatures

which devour insects."

 

The Terrible One interrupted.

"The speaker is very far from having succeeded in this."

He began to read: "In a wood near Steckby of about five acres in extent,

the settlement of a mere twenty pairs of birds brought about the complete disappearance

of the oak blight. Seven thousand flycatchers, 4,000 coaltits, and other small birds were settled

over an area of 12,000 acres in the Frankfurt Municipal Woods, and halted a mass invasion

of insects that were de­leterious to the trees, saving the authorities 600,000 D.M.

which otherwise would have been spent on the provision of poisons.

On the estate of Bosch-hof near Munich, special measures were taken for the protection of birds,

and as a result 80,000 birds were concentrated on this estate.

 

These birds daily consumed 1,500 kilogrammes of insects.

As a result, despite the fact that no chemical means had been used to bring this about,

there is no longer any worm-eaten fruit and the stables are com­pletely clear of flies."

Squish gave a pitying smile. "What are a few crazy local experiments against my grandiose plans?

What do they amount to, when you look at my marvellously efficient organization in the Mediterranean,

by means of which I've created the necessary conditions for introducing the poison spray in Europe

on a really grand scale. I created a liking on the part of the Southerners for the flesh of red-breasts,

thrushes, finches, larks and nightingales.

One of these little singing birds provides five grammes of meat;

thus to satisfy the great army of epicures, enormous quantities of them have to be killed.

 

"During the periods of bird migration you'll see along the coast and elsewhere hundreds

of thousands of traps. The radio gives notice of the approach of swarms of birds,

so that the hunters may be at their posts; they play tapes with recordings of bird song,

which attract millions of them into the nets.

As many as 30,000 birds a day can be caught in a single net. Italy alone murders 240 million birds

of passage a year; to these must be added Spain, southern France, southern Switzerland,

the Balkans and North Africa. I estimate the number of birds of passage destroyed annually

in the Mediterranean area at roughly a billion.

 

The resources of the entire European chemical industry are as yet quite unable to cope with

harmful insects that now contrive to survive, owing to the death of these vast numbers of birds."

Rolande shuddered. "What a terrible thing!" she said.

"The statesmen of Europe should undertake some kind of concerted action."

Sten laughed. "Our statesmen suffer under the delusion that Nature is something that lies

outside politics; they will quarrel about war and peace,

yet never realize that the murder of birds is really the prelude to the starvation of an entire continent."

Squish went on: "The second essential condition for the vast multiplication of parasites was created

by my colleague Pulvero.

 

Every healthy plant has a certain capacity for self-protection;

it can only remain healthy so long as the soil in which it grows is healthy.

Through the addition to the soil of chemical substances which are inimical to life,

we have robbed useful plants of their natural powers of resistance.

The disastrous mass invasion of parasites is thus made a great deal easier,

and man can only cope with it through the massive use of chemical poisons.

"Now, it has been proved that plants which have been raised with the aid of artificial fertilizer

encourage the multiplication of insects and of other agents of disease,

and are actually pre­ferred by them. In the midst of a piece of ground,

that had been manured with artificial fertilizer and had been invaded by the potato beetle,

one section alone remained completely immune and this had been manured with compost.

 

Plants that grow up on a sick soil are themselves sick. Nature will not suffer any-thing that is sick;

she endeavours to heal it or, alternatively, she destroys it.

And she subjects sick plants to the parasites with the object of achieving a healthy selection.

The great masses of insects which Nature mobilizes for a therapeutic purpose are regarded

by man as noxious and he attempts to exterminate them by means of poisons.

Thus, he obstructs Nature's second attempt to affect a cure.

Since insecticides are washed away by precipita­tion, the morbidity of the soil is further increased.

I have de­veloped a whole host of admirable poisons for this chemical warfare against supposedly

noxious insects, and I've given them to man to play with.

 

"My methods are devious, and work unseen. But in a few years I have succeeded in building

up a network of destruction that encircles the whole globe. Officially,

the aim of these destructive forces is to get rid of diseases and noxious organisms

that injure the plants grown by man; ultimately, however, man himself, his health and his very life,

are attacked by them."

 

The Devil nodded his approval. "That's just what I wanted," he said.

Squish bowed and was obviously flattered. "Terrible poisons with which Nature only works

in doses of a milligramme at a time if, indeed, she uses them at all, are strewn by man in thousands

of tons all over the countryside."

"The world would be unable to feed itself if one didn't use these things," agreed Groot.

Squish said, "It's nice to hear you using a catchphrase that I invented myself,

but the truth is that these poisons actually reduce the quantity of the harvest because

they get into the soil, and not only hinder the growth of many plants but diminish their nutritive

value for human beings."

 

"Can you prove that?" said the engineer, in challenging tones.

"Patience! I'll give you more proofs than you want.

The beauty of it is, that despite the highly poisonous character of these preparations,

there's no institution that inquires into their probable effects on human health;

the industry that produces them has to move fast if it's to maintain its position

in the general scramble, so that it has no time to spend years on testing and research.

The result is that any child can buy these things in any village shop and use them in any way he pleases."

Murduscatu muttered something but nobody understood him and the Boss took no notice;

it was the duty of the Terrible One always to be discontented and to pick out mistakes

and weak­nesses of argument, so as to make the organization of destruction even more perfect.

The Boss turned to his guests.

 

"According to our standard practice, we have made the poisoning of the countryside

 into big business; this makes it a great deal easier for our agents to carry on their work.

Once they've got going, thousands of other businessmen, both great and small,

get on to the band wagon and help to spread these preparations.

Whether they actually know the dreadful results of applying them is a matter

which doesn't interest us."

"And, of course, Nature has nothing to set against this lunacy that floods the world

with poisons," said Sten.

"That's not quite correct, Mr. Stolpe," said Squish, "but for all that, we've been able to spread

wholesale death throughout Nature to a most gratifying extent.

"It's an essential part of my planning that most people who either produce,

sell or apply these preparations are either com­pletely ignorant of their dangers or,

at best, insufficiently in­structed in the matter.

 

Because the user `wants to make certain', the preparations are applied in quantities which

are ten times those actually prescribed by the manufacturers – and they are applied with

the help of motor sprays and aeroplanes. When that happens, 90 per cent of all animal life

can be destroyed. These people are, of course, equally happy-go-lucky about the intervals

which are supposed to elapse between the time of application and the harvest.

"I've a mass of reports on these subjects. Here's one, for instance,

about an area of nearly 10,000 acres in the Rhineland.

When they began to spray their plants with E605 and lead arsenic – and they repeat this four

or five times a year – the wild life began to die on them wholesale.

 

They found hundreds of dead pheasants and partridges lying around everywhere,

and the tame pigeons that belonged to the farmers died, too."

"You still have to prove that these preparations were the actual causes of death," said Groot.

"As far as I'm concerned the proven poisonous character of my preparations is proof enough.

One of the things I find par­ticularly satisfactory is the way this poisoning can strike at the enemies

of various creatures and organisms which they are actually supposed to destroy; for instance,

there was the great mortality among birds in 1934–35; at a time when people were

being officially enjoined to spread a poisonous mouse destroyer.

 

The result was that tens of thousands of owls, buzzards, hawks, sparrow hawks, kestrels,

peregrines, hares, large and small weasels, polecats and martens died a miserable

and agonizing death. They lay rotting on the fields and poisoned the whole countryside.

Innumerable pheasants and partridges, and a whole host of smaller birds died from eating

poisoned grain. Two years later, the plague of mice returned and the mice were twice

as numerous because their natural enemies had been decimated."

"It's the same everywhere," said the Boss. "Wherever man seeks presumptuously to interfere

with the clockwork of nature that is so many hundreds of thousands of years old,

he releases a chain reaction of disaster which at last strikes at himself."

 

The engineer seemed almost embarrassed. "No doubt it's all very regrettable,"

he said, "but I don't see what one can do about it. You have noxious creatures who eat up our harvests

– well, they've got to be poisoned, otherwise we shall end up by having nothing to eat."

"Mankind will end up that way anyway, Mr. Groot," said Squish with a smile.

"The insects which are supposed to be destroyed grow accustomed to the poison and then produce

breeds which are resistant to it. But the little birds, hedgehogs, lizards, toads,

frogs and snakes and the other enemies of insects and mice are, I'm happy to say,

unable to do this, and where you get still a few of them left after a strip of countryside

has become completely denuded, they themselves tend to fall victim, in an increasing measure,

to the poison that's been sprayed.

 

The more man sprays, the more noxious creatures there are, since their natural enemies

have been destroyed, so that there is now no limit to their breeding.

So man has to spread yet more poison; there are places where fruit-growers have to spray

sixteen times a year if they want to get any crop at all, because all the little birds have left the place."

"But things can't possibly be allowed to go on like that," said Rolande;

"one day the limit will be reached."

"The limit?" said Squish. "You mean the point where poisons are so strong that

they have an acute lethal effect on man? In other words,

the point where it'll be impossible to apply them any longer."

 

Squish looked up with a self-conscious smile and turned from one to the other.

Rolande frowned.

"Just a moment," she said; "if, on the one hand, the noxious creatures have become immune,

while on the other we dare not increase the poison any further, and if, meanwhile,

all their natural enemies have been exterminated —"

Squish gave a gentle smile. Then, he said softly:

"Then the day will come when insects eat up all the crops of man and there will be nothing

for man to do but eat grass.

Only there won't be any grass."

"Homo sapiens," grunted the Boss.

"One of the most pleasant aspects in my opinion," said Squish,

"is that these poisonous sprays kill a great many insects that are highly useful to man along

with the noxious ones.

 

Bees, for instance —"

"Honey isn't so important if it's a question of saving the crops," said Groot.

"It isn't a question of honey; it's a question of the bees. Ninety per cent of all plants are fertilized

by them and if they were to die out, it would mean the gradual reversion of the earth to steppe;

without bees, there couldn't have been any human beings. Yes, Mr. Groot, that's the way of it;

man sprays poison because he thinks he'll thus get a better harvest; actually,

he makes any harvest impossible, because those very poisons destroy the pollen-bearing insects."

"Homo sapiens again," muttered the Boss.

After a moment, Squish began again. "All organic synthetic

insecticides can do the most fearful damage to the human system,

and this applies especially to one of the most widely used, named DDT,

the poisonous effects of which have been altogether ignored and all knowledge

of them successfully sup-pressed —"

 

Murduscatu: "You lie.

The facts have been proclaimed in one of the most important of the world's forums.

Look at the tele­vision screen!"

The Devil: "What are you showing us?"

"Washington D.C. You're watching a hearing before the House Select Committee to investigate

the use of chemicals in food products.

The date is 12th December, 1950, the Chairman is James J. Delaney,

and the Committee is listening to the testimony of Dr. Morton S. Biskind."

Biskind: "The introduction of DDT or chlorophenothane, and the series of even more deadly

substances that followed has no previous counterpart in history.

Beyond question no other substance known to man was ever before developed so rapidly

and spread indiscriminately over so large a portion of the earth in so short a time.

 

This is the more surprising as, at the time DDT was released for public use,

a large amount of data was already available in the medical literature showing

that this agent was extremely toxic for many different species of animals,

that it was cumulatively stored in the body fat, and that it appeared in milk.

At this time a few cases of DDT poisoning in human beings had also been reported.

These observations were almost completely ignored or misinterpreted."

The Boss: "Squish, Squish, Squish, I'm surprised at you ! "

Murduscatu: "Please listen, this is important."

Biskind: "DDT is as lethal in repeated small doses as in larger doses.

In low-grade chronic poisoning in animals, growth is impaired and the implications

of this observation for the growth of children should be given serious consideration.

 

In rats, tumours in the liver have been produced by low-grade con‑tinuous poisoning with DDT.

DDT is excreted in the milk of dogs, rats, goats and cattle and, as we have shown,

in that of humans, too.

"The other agents of the DDT group, chlordane, benzene, hexachloride,

chlorinated camphene and methoxychlor, so far as these have been reported,

also produce serious tissue changes.

Benzene hexachloride changes the chromosomes of plants and, probably those of animals.

The possibility that this agent may adversely affect the heredity of human beings must be taken

into consideration.

 

Already in one report from Europe seedlings treated with benzene hexachloride

were so altered in their heredity that it was suggested that non-degenerated stocks be used

for seed subsequently. In this country, where a mixture of DD8 and BHC has been spread

on the cotton crop for several years, is it accidental that this year the cotton crop

 is very nearly the lowest on record?"

Rolande: "But what are the immediate symptoms of DDT poisoning?"

Squish: "I can tell you that ! A running nose, cough, pain in the joints, general muscle weakness

and exhausting fatigue; these are often so severe in the acute stage as to be described

by some patients as paralysis, but if Mr. Murduscatu will permit, I'd like to put his own witness

back on the stand."

 

Biskind: `By far the most disturbing of all the manifestations are the subjective reactions

and the extreme muscular weakness. In the severe acute cases patient after patient has

used identical words `I felt like I was going to die.'

"The sensation can perhaps best be described as one of un­bearable emotional turbulence.

There are at various times, excite­ment, irritability, anxiety, confusion, failure to concentrate,

inattentiveness, forgetfulness, depression, and especially ex­treme apprehensiveness.

These symptoms can easily be confused with anxiety attacks having a psychiatric basis.

 

One cannot but ask how often exposure to the DDT group of compounds has been implicated

in otherwise inexplicable suicides."

Rolande: "But how can they be so certain that DDT is the cause of the trouble?"

Squish: "Dr. Biskind and others have established the connec­tion beyond any conceivable doubt.

Dr. Biskind alone has com­piled hundreds of clinical histories and if I had time,

I would relate them all. As it is, I'll content myself with one,

but I assure you I could go on with such evidence until your patience was exhausted.

Let Dr. Biskind speak."

Biskind: "A woman who had correctly diagnosed her own complaint as DDT poisoning was assured

by physician after physician that her diagnosis was fantastic;

she spent two years three months confined to bed, unsuccessfully seeking relief.

She developed pneumonia immediately following the spraying of her clothing with DDT

for moth-proofing purposes and recovered from this only to find that the symptom complex

I have already described persisted for month after month. She noted for her-self that

her symptoms became much worse every time she ate cream in any form, or

fresh unpeeled vegetables or olives, or when she tried a reducing diet

– which burns up the body fat and releases the stored DDT.

 

Again, physical findings were insufficient to account for her symptoms and she was dubbed

a neurotic by her various physicians. I advised her to remove all traces of DDT from clothing

and home furnishings by dry cleaning, to eat only foods low in insecticide residues and

to avoid exposure to DDT in any form. Improvement was notice-able in a few days and

in six months all the symptoms had subsided. During this period the patient had several acute

recur­rences of the entire disorder. One of these occurred when her next-door neighbour,

fortified by recent statements in the Press that DDT was safe, insisted on spraying vegetation

immediately adjacent to her home, despite her protests; another occurred

when she again attempted a reducing diet and lost four and a half pounds in a week."

 

Murduscatu: "The really relevant point about this evidence is that this man,

Biskind, is only one of the many who are alive to the truth and who are busily broadcasting it.

All that Squish has been telling us about the perils of the new insecticides has been stated by him

and men like him, and it goes on being said. Listen again for a moment."

Biskind: "We are dealing with double-edged swords, for the very substances now promoted

to increase the size of our crops turn out in the long run to be detrimental to agriculture itself.

All these substances and the fantastically toxic parathion too, inhibit the growth of certain plants,

and compounds of the DDT group also persistently poison the soil, so far as the present evidence goes,

for five or six years and possibly indefinitely.

 

"Some have insisted that without the use of newer insecticides there would not be enough

food to go round, that even though these substances are toxic, their use involves a necessary

calcu­lated risk. Somehow, in a short five years, people seem to have forgotten that we had good crops,

even immense surpluses prior to 1945, with the use of methods then available.

Better methods are always welcome, but certainly it is a reflection on American scientific

and technical ingenuity to assume that the DDT and technical groups are the only ones

that will adequately serve our purpose. Machines have been developed that remove insects

from crops mechanically and no doubt are susceptible of further development.

The use of the term `calculated risk' suggest a military campaign that involves casualties

on both sides; shall we sacrifice so many people for so many insects? If we do,

we shall leave the world to the insects, for they outnumber us many millions to one,

and because their life cycle is shorter they have already developed insecticide-resistant strains."

Satan: "Squish, Squish, if I didn't know that you were doing excellent work, I'd be distinctly worried."

 

Squish: "Boss, I beg you, don't be anxious on my account. I have a water-tight defence."

Murduscatu: "I wish to bring forward one more piece of evidence.

Here's a copy of a British periodical – Food Manu­facture – dated November, 1950.

I quote: `Atomic Bombs and DDT will be regarded by many as the two most notable

scientific achievements of the war. They have now been brought together in a more

direct scientific sense by recent British research carried out by the Pest Infestation Laboratory.

Radio-active isotopes produced at the Harwell Atomic Pile have been used to study

the biological movement of DDT residues upon wheat.

 

"In point of fact, DDT itself was not used. The radio-active isotope of Bromine was more suitable

than that of chlorine and an insecticide containing one bromine atom in the place

of one of the chlorine atoms in DDT was prepared. This particular chemical was known,

however, to have properties closely similar to those of DDT. Wheat grain was sprayed

with the radio-active insecticide. When fed to hens, it was found that the insecticide

had reached many of the hens' organs and tissues within a few days.

Autopsies five days after the feeding showed the insecticide in the gizzard and the brain,

and the sciatic nerve fibre. When the wheat was milled, about one-third of the residue

was found in the flour, thus showing that the insecticide had quickly pene­trated the grain husks.

Not only were residues also found in bread made from this flour, but there was an indication

of some chemical association with wheat protein as a result of the bread-baking conditions.

 

Rats fed with the bread, like the hens fed with the unmilled grain, showed wide and

rapid distribution of the insecticide in their bodies. Indeed, in all these animal tests,

some concentration of the insecticide was found in every tissue examined.

These new results give strong confirmation of the view that DDT is a hazardous contaminant

of animal and human foodstuffs. Though in themselves the residues from DDT appli­cation may be small,

it is clear that they are considerably retained after ingestion.

 

Toxic effects of a harmful if not lethal nature could arise from the cumulative absorption of DDT residues.

"Too little remains known about the chemistry of DDT within the metabolism of animal life.

Fortunately, the use of DDT as a contact insecticide for protecting stored grain has not been

encouraged. Volatile fumigants have been preferred. The new research emphasizes

the wisdom of this policy. It also sug­gests that DDT should never be used to dust

or spray growing cereal crops.'

The Devil: "What have you to say, Squish?"

 

Squish: "Boss, my defence is very simple; it is that every one of the pieces of evidence adduced

by Murduscatu is really in my favour; indeed, the more telling and the more numerous the exposures

he can produce, the more astonishing surely is my own achievement, since I can show that

they have all made exactly no difference whatever. DDT is still unrestricted,

any-body can buy it and use it in any way they please. Murduscatu has let us hear the evidence

before the Select Committee; he didn't tell you – though I don't know why he shouldn't have done

– that the Committee treated Dr. Biskind with great respect and even congratulated him on the work

he was doing, but that did not prevent that same Committee from taking a hopelessly ambivalent attitude.

Listen to one of its members, Dr. A. L. Miller of Nebraska."

 

Dr. Miller: "What Dr. Biskind says has not been accepted by a majority of scientific men.

I maintain that there is only a very small segment that accepts this viewpoint,

if there were a large segment that accepted the viewpoint, then the Government

would have no right to permit DDT to be used any place.

I am inclined to be sympathetic with Dr. Biskind, because I think there's something in what he says,

but if what he says is true, then it goes counter to the other large group of scientific men that says

that it is safe to use, and has been given the green light by government agencies."

 

Squish: "It never seems to have occurred to this Committee that more weight should be given

to a minority which has care-fully examined the evidence than to a majority to which that evidence

may be inconvenient and which probably is in any case too lazy to study it."

The Terrible One raised his snarling voice. "Your optimism is premature. Since olives were sprayed

with E605 as a precau­tion against the olive fly, the poisonous content of olive oil in-creased

to such an extent that the U.S.A. had to ban its import."

 

Squish gave a friendly smile. "A temporary measure, and even if the U.S.A.

refuses to buy such poisoned oil, the Euro­peans are quite ready to swallow it."

Murduscatu remained unimpressed. He read out: "Mrinchner Kurier, 6th May, 1954.

In a ten-acre apple orchard in the Rhine-land, a solution containing •075 per cent E605

(normal strength is -03 per cent) was sprayed on three successive days.

Up till the time of spraying, the ground had had a very considerable bird population;

after the spraying, twenty-five birds were found to be severely ill and thirty-five were dead.

The birds affected were tits, finches and robins. How could such a thing get into the Press?"

 

"Certainly not my fault. You should hold the Lie Devil responsible;

it was his business to see that the right type of man was in the editorial chair."

The Devil grunted. "Unfortunately we know only too well that things do not always

go as we would wish them to. Pro­ceed ! "

"I might add that such accounts in the Press are extremely rare,

so it seems that my people are doing their job."

Murduscatu growled, "I'm of a different opinion."

"Recently I have paid much attention to the potato, which, as of course you know,

is an important ingredient in the world's food supply. Potato plants, as a precaution against blight,

are sprayed with various chemicals including copper oxide fluorides,

sulphuric acid, arsenic and sodium chlorate.

 

On the 13th September, 1956, nineteen cows and one bull died in Vaster­gotland

after one of these preparations had been used, because somebody had forgotten to shut the gate.

Also, owing to the wind, five acres of oats were poisoned.

A farmer in Southern Sweden lost six head of cattle on the 22nd September, 1956,

when these happened to stray on to a sprayed potato field. In the neighbourhood of Stockholm

after such a potato spraying eighteen dead deer were found.

On another estate a farmer lost his entire herd on the same 22nd September and three children died

who had plucked and eaten some berries on the edge of the sprayed field.

These potato poisons, of course, also get washed into the ground by the rain,

killing all life in the soil and making it sterile for next year's sowing."

"Excellent, Squish ! " The Boss had to laugh. "Death's cer­tainly made a triumphant entry into the potato fields.

And what does the medical profession say to all this?"

 

"In the main, they're quite helpless, because they don't recognize the causes,

and yet the disease symptoms are very severe. As you know, many of these poisons destroy vitamins

 and many other vital elements in food. Thus the digestability of various important foodstuffs is impaired.

The liver loses its ability to break down certain hormones if certain vitamins are missing,

and this leads to various breakdowns in glandular activity and in the metabolism;

it also impairs the sexual func­tion. There is no doubt that the increase of deaths from heart

and circulation trouble, especially among young people,

is due to the generous use of these new insecticides; the death-rate from these diseases rises

by 11 per cent a year.

"The storing up of these synthetic poisons, however, does not only occur within the human organism,

but also in the soil. The result is, that a whole number of important living creatures,

from soil bacteria to earthworms, are destroyed or driven away.

The soil's fertility is thus diminished and also its cohesion, and this makes the work of erosion much easier.

 

I make it my busi­ness to see that intensive propaganda is ceaselessly carried on.

I issue magnificently coloured posters and calendars which show just when the various poisons

have to be used, and man oblig­ingly obeys my orders and thus puts a pistol to his own head."

"If one listens to him," Murduscatu said, "it all sounds fine. And all might be fine,

if Mr. Squish and his agents hadn't had their heads turned by certain successes which I am prepared

to concede, and had not, as the result of this, on several occasions overshot the mark

and showed insufficient discretion. There are a number of incidents which should have been

kept strictly secret, or, if this was impossible, then the public should never have been allowed

to know their real causes. But this didn't happen; on the contrary,

they were broadcast in the news ser­vices and the causes at work behind them were made plain

to everybody. It is thus extremely doubtful whether Squish's de­partment has achieved any success at all.

 

I have a mass of material and only want to refer to one or two items in the Press

and in the Broadcast News Services.

"In the Spring of 1954, a number of murders and suicides by means of E605 aroused public opinion

throughout Central Europe."

Squish laughed. "What I did was to arrange for a number of brightly coloured cars to drive through

the German towns, bearing a notice `Fine Harvest Thanks to E605'."

Murduscatu went on reading: "After seven to eight years of incredibly intensive application of poison,

in 1953, grain was attacked by insects all over the U.S.A.

and in some states the entire harvest was destroyed."

"So what?" cried Squish. "That's a quite remarkable achieve­ment – what are you grumbling about?"

"True, but this caused the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make a statement according to which

chemical preventatives were useless and were, in future, not to be used.

 

Meanwhile, the problems of widespread application of poisons had become so insoluble that

a Mr. A. D. Hess of the U.S. Public Health Service began to advocate the return to biological methods,

and to other older practices of insect control. Do you realize what that means?

It means that your whole poison organization, which has been built up over a period of decades,

has been put out of action at one blow.

"There are numerous states in which the farmers are already refusing to poison their soil with chemicals;

already the Public Health Department of the U.S.A. is taking precautions in the matter."

The Devil raised his head. "Well, what has Squish to say about all this?"

Squish shrugged his shoulders. "A small transitory success on the part of our enemies, Boss.

These precautions will remain on paper. The chemical industry will continue to earn its mil-lions.

 

Moreover, what's been forbidden in the U.S.A. is still received readily enough in Europe

and because it comes from the other side of the water, they regard it as the ultimate achieve­ment

of science."

Murduscatu continued: "At the moment, the use of DDT is forbidden in stables,

cattle-sheds and any place where it can contaminate animal feed;

it is also forbidden in dairies and any place that is engaged in the processing of milk."

"Every day I bring out a new and still more poisonous bon-bon," said Squish,

"or I package old poisons under new names."

 

The Devil shook his head. "Nevertheless, the fact that these dangers are known to the public,

and their causes discerned, must be regarded as a grave transgression against the directives I gave you."

He gave his assistant a threatening look. "I should like to know what you have to say, Squish."

Squish did not hesitate. With superb self-assurance, he stepped right into the middle of the room. "

These things might indeed make my future work more difficult or, even, impossible,

but what's been done can't be undone.

The soil has been poisoned;

the natural enemies of the insects have been exter­minated, the dangerous vermin has been made immune."

Murduscatu stirred almost involuntarily: "That's childish talk ! Man has only to supply his soil with natural

humus instead of poison and, within a few decades, the soil will have been healed.

He's only to replace the bushes and the trees and to re-settle the enemies of the insects upon them,

and the plague of vermin would be banned for ever. Then there would be an end of Squish's department."

Squish smiled, and shook his head. "What's really decisive is that, for all practical purposes,

there's not a single human being left in the world who can escape these poisonous effects.

 

Millions have already been poisoned and don't know it, and millions have suffered and are still suffering

morbid changes of their inner organs – and yet believe themselves to be healthy.

We take our time.

"Man will never abandon his lunatic and suicidal principle of seeking to suppress the symptom instead

of the cause. In the long run, therefore, he cannot succeed. In order to get rid of a temporary phenomenon,

he uses the weapons of science to re-lease avalanches, and in the long run these will bury him.

"There are quite a number of these superb poisons of mine that can now never be removed from the soil.

The natural health and fertility of the earth has been lost for ever, and there are certain kinds of plants

which simply can no longer be planted. Indeed, there is every reason to hope that millions

of acres of arable land will soon have to be abandoned.

 

The great artificial fertilizer interests will never permit the preparation of organic manure

on a world-wide scale through composting, as some of my enemies suggest.

"As to the outcries of a few hysterical journalists, I've merely
to give you a few figures to show you how unimportant they are.
"In agriculture alone, in the year 1951, the United States used 205,000 tons of chemical poisons

and in the following year, 244,000 tons; since then, the consumption has been mounting

by a steady 20 per cent a year. Yet, thanks to the immunization of the various pests,

the damage they do grows greater every year. I can, therefore, say without any fear of exaggeration that,

thanks to my poisons, the ultimate extinction of mankind through starvation is being excellently prepared.

 

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations gives the annual loss through pests in bread,

cereals and rice, as 33 million tons; a figure equivalent to the annual consumption of 150 million people.

In Western Germany pests annually destroy 18 per cent of all food plants, the extent of the damage

being 1 billion DM. Damage done in South America to cereals by mice and rats amounts

to 25 per cent of the crops. These rodents are clever enough to avoid the poison that's being laid ready

 for them, although domestic animals are killed by them in large numbers.

"As far back as 1950, out of the 24,556 parishes of Western Germany, only 667 had not been attacked

by the potato beetle. Twelve million DM were spent at that time on keeping it down.

 

Thanks to State aid in Bavaria, appliances for pest destruction to a value of 2,086 million DM

were purchased within two years, among them, 4,936 motorized appliances of the newest type.

Nevertheless, the plague of the potato beetle shows hardly any sign of diminishing.

"Austrian agriculture and forests suffered damage annually from animal and vegetable pests

to the extent of 2 billion schillings, yet Austria can't be said to have been idle in this matter.

In 1957, three-quarters of all land planted with potatoes was sprayed with poison;

within the last ten years 454 pest-destroying stations have been set up in Upper Austria;

in Styria, up to the end of 1956, roughly a thousand motorized sprays were being used.

The agricultural authorities set great store by this development and consider it to be progressive.

 

As a special tit-bit I should like to mention that, in certain states,

it has been possible for my agents to get laws passed which provide for the punishment of any farmer

who refuses to use my poisons.

"Seduced by skilful sales propaganda, man counters the in-creasing damage by increasing

the doses of poison, though these only serve to make the evil worse. I am, therefore,

completely unable to see who and what is to interfere with my excellently devised plans for the future."

But now Murduscatu was again twiddling the knobs of the television set.

He said: "In October 1957, the third Interna­tional Nutrition Convention was held in Stuttgart,

attended by 700 medical men and other experts from thirty-six nations.

You see on the screen the German Professor Heupke."

 

Heupke: "It has been proved that the increase in allergic skin diseases,

vegetative neuroses, diseases of the kidneys, of the vascular system of the heart and in diseases

of the liver is in great part to be attributed to the widespread use of chemical substances.

We must, therefore, emphatically demand that the chemical preparations used for keeping down vermin

should be replaced by biological ones. We know of some 2,000 species of plants which

 contain substances that are injurious to vermin and yet are harmless for mammals, including man.

Only twelve of these are for the moment being used, yet we should be increasing the resistant power

of plants on a much larger scale by biological means.

This would automatically reduce the harm done by vermin and other noxious organisms."

"That would be very dangerous for us," grunted the Boss. Murduscatu switched off the television.

"Professor Heupke has been talking into the air," said Squish.

"He shares the fate of all those who are ahead of their time," said Sten, "but there will always

be new Heupkes and new Biskinds, who will arise and preach until at long last people listen to them."

Squish laughed. "They will arise and they will fail.

 

Whoever seeks to do battle with me will meet resistance everywhere,

without knowing that I had a hand in the matter. Scientific and Administrative authorities are steadily

being influenced by me, though they may themselves be quite unaware of it.

When organizations are created to resist our policies, we see to it that not a word

is published about them, or we cast suspicion upon their loyalty. In all cases,

we see to it that they don't get their hands on funds.

"Moreover, I put obstacles in the way of pure research wherever this might lead to an exposure

of their plans. I might add that the people who are in a position to provide funds tend

to judge proposed research projects by their ability to produce a rapid monetary return.

 

But there's no money to be made in resisting the poisoning of our lives;

there's only money to be lost, namely, the gigantic profits of the chemical industry

and allied undertakings and the diminished tax revenue which results from such losses."

"It is difficult to imagine," said Rolande, "that the producers of these preparations,

and those who deal in them, are so callous that, while making all the claims they do in their publicity,

they deliberately and knowingly keep silent about the dangerous results of their poisons."

The Boss said, "Most of these people have no idea that they are selling disease

and death in their innocent-looking packages. Those that suspect it ease their conscience

by falling back on the pronouncements of experts who have been commissioned

and paid to construct a new conception of the innocuous."

 

"And when," said Squish, "in spite of everything they claim somebody meets his death

as a result of using these preparations, we put all the blame on the victim,

whom we declare to be over-sensitive, or allergic. We say, quite simply,

that the prepara­tions have been improperly applied."

Squish closed his brief-case. "It's most encouraging to observe," he said,

"how completely Ministers and popular representatives in their Parliaments ignore the danger signals.

The theory seems to be that the progressive poisoning of the soil, of food and so, ultimately, of man,

is not a major political issue at all.

Oh, it's encouraging, it's most encouraging. And between you and me, extremely funny."

 

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