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News of the Day ... in Perspective


New York Times supports DDT to fight malaria

While it is noble to pour money into the relief effort, “the tsunami was only a blip in third-world mortality,” writes Nicolas D. Kristof. Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved, without spending a dime.

Malaria kills 2 to 3 million people each year. But “the U.S. and other rich countries are siding with the mosquitoes against the world’s poor–by opposing the use of DDT.”

In the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, DDT use drastically reduced malaria rates worldwide and even eradicated it in places like Taiwan. The poor countries that were able to keep DDT in check after the EPA banned malaria in the U.S. tend to be the same few that continued to use DDT, such as Ecuador. In Mexico, malaria rose and fell with the use of DDT. After a switch to other pesticides led to a malaria surge in South Africa, that nation brought back DDT in 2000, and the disease is once again under control.

By spraying the inside of a hut with DDT, 450,000 people can be protected with the same amount of DDT as was applied to a single 1,000-acre American farm in the 1960s.

Most Western aid agencies will not pay for programs that use DDT [or even threaten to cut off aid if DDT is used].

Spokesmen for some major environmental groups even appear to have reversed their position of strident opposition to any use of DDT. The main obstacle to the use of DDT in malaria-ravaged countries is “bureaucratic caution and inertia” (NY Times, Jan. 8, 2005, nytimes.com/2005/01/08/opinion/8kristof.html).

Additional information:

Comments on the Kristof column

AAPS Resolution on Legalizing DDT to Fight Malaria in Tropical Countries.

“DDT: a Case Study in Scientific Fraud” by J. Gordon Edwards, J Am Phys Surg, Fall 2004

Text of EPA decision banning DDT and subsequent commentary in The Congressional Record

Letter to President Bush.

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