Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

DDT may be behind scandalous activities

When New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer stepped down, many wondered why the former state attorney general would risk it all on a hooker. Gray Braaten had an answer: DDT made him do it. For the past decade the Moorhead man has written an estimated 6,000...

When New York Gov.

Elliot Spitzer stepped down, many wondered why the former state attorney general would risk it all on a hooker. Gray Braaten had an answer: DDT made him do it.

For the past decade the Moorhead man has written an estimated 6,000 letters to scientists, politicians, news outlets and criminals, blaming bad behavior on the banned pesticide. Everything from Britney Spears' meltdowns to murders by Alfonso Rodriguez and Joseph Duncan, he attributes to DDT.

Braaten grew up on a farm and recalls spraying DDT on cows twice a day.

So 10 years ago when he realized 16 friends from farm families died, he saw a link.

ADVERTISEMENT

His theory goes like this:

DDT exists in everyone, both from the food we eat and passed down from mother to child. While a small amount actively circulates in our system, more is stored in fat cells. When we are stressed, the fat cells release the chemical which courses to the brain and inhibits judgment.

With such hands-on use, how has DDT affected him?

"Where would I start? I've been a lifelong hot head," said the 66-year-old. "Some people tell me I'm looking for an excuse. I'm looking for a reason."

Talking with him over lunch, he takes more comfort in his cigarettes than his soup, sandwich or coffee. He picked Tailgators Sports Café because they allow smoking.

He sees the contradiction of a man crusading against pesticides willfully inhaling tar and nicotine. For him, cigarettes are a sedative, as is beer, though he's an alcoholic.

"I am naturally nervous. A couple of beers a week settles me down, but it's not good for me," he said with a cigarette in his mouth.

Though he's been beating the drum for a decade, he acknowledges he doesn't have all the answers.

ADVERTISEMENT

While he doesn't have a background in sciences, he's caught the attention of some who do. One is Gerald Groenewold, director of the Energy and Environmental Research Center. The University of North Dakota group studies clean and efficient power technologies to protect and clean air, water and soil.

Groenewold also grew up in a farm community and noticed people in the area developing neurological diseases. He's studied links between multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease and pesticides and herbicides, but not DDT, because it was banned in 1972."He's a torch-bearer for things this society needs to come to terms with in respect to human health and agricultural chemicals," he said.

But getting people to listen is the battle. When the Minneapolis Star Tribune said he didn't need to keep sending letters, he wrote back that he would quit writing when they published a front page story about DDT, when Hell freezes over, when the paper closes or when he dies.

So what will come first?

"I'll die. That's the most likely," he said. "I can't see anyone daring enough to put it on the front page.

"I want DDT to be blamed for one bad case of behavior before I die. I would consider it a victory and say goodbye and good luck."

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533 or jlamb@forumcomm.com

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
What To Read Next
Host Bryan Piatt is joined by Matt Entz, head coach of the North Dakota State Bison football team, to discuss the pressures of leading the program and how mental health is addressed with his players.
Artificial intelligence can now act as an artist or a writer. Does that mean AI is ready to play doctor? Many institutions, including Mayo Clinic, believe that AI is ready to become a useful tool.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack lists the various reason why some older adults may begin to shuffle as they age.
The Buffalo Bills safety who suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football in January is urging people to learn how to save lives the way his was saved.