WHO Approves Limited DDT Use

In a victory for science over hysteria, the World Health Organization has endorsed the use of DDT to control the explosion of malaria cases in Africa.

WHO says there is no health risk, and DDT should rank with bednets and drugs as a tool for combating malaria, which kills more than one million each year.

“The scientific and programmatic evidence clearly supports this reassessment,” said Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, WHO assistant director-general for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

“Indoor residual spraying is useful to quickly reduce the number of infections caused by malaria-carrying mosquitoes; it has proven to be just as cost effective as other malaria prevention measures, and DDT presents no health risk when used properly.”

The scientific case against DDT was never that strong, but environmentalist hysteria ensured that the use of DDT was eliminated through much of Africa, which caused malaria to reach endemic levels and led to the deaths of perhaps millions of people worldwide. Countries such as South Africa refused to go along with the ban, and their malaria rates were dramatically lower than countries that did not allow for the use of DDT.

This decision by the WHO will make it easier for Third World nations to launch effective malaria control efforts — and it will also save countless lives. This finally puts hard science ahead of scaremongering — exposure to small amounts of DDT is quite safe, and malaria is a deadly and dangerous disease. The cost/benefit analysis on DDT has always led to the firm conclusion that DDT is a safe and effective method for mosquito control, and it’s high time that international aid institutions stopped placating the environmentalist lobby at the expensive of hundreds of thousands innocent lives.

2 thoughts on “WHO Approves Limited DDT Use

  1. DDT is indeed safe for inside use; but the scientific record is adamantly clear that DDT has catastrophic effects on avian populations when it gets into the groundwater. You can search PubMed.org or even Google Scholar for thousands of papers on the subject if you don’t believe me.

    DDT is safe enough for this kind of use, though resistant mosquito populations are rising; but DDT is not the panacea for insect control it was thought to be in the 50’s, and that kind of widespread, high-concentration use again would have the same severe environmental effects that it did then.

    DDT is a probable human carcinogen, based on animal studies. It’s safe at levels appropriate for indoor insect control. But it’s not a magic bullet against insect-borne diseases, and scientific concern about its use is justified.

  2. I’m going to second what Justin said. The problem with DDT is that it doesn’t break down as readily as other pesticides and thus has a tendancy for biomagnification.

    Rachel Carson did have a huge affect on the pesticide industry with her book “Silent Spring” but the era of using pesticides like a hammer was coming to an end anyway, because of what is known as the pesticide treadmill. DDT did almost eliminate malaria in Central America in the middle part of the 20th century, but because insects evolve immunity to pesticides in a very short amount of time it didn’t solve anything in the long term. Irresponsible use of pesticides actually leads to an upsurge of pest insects because pesticides tend to hurt beneficial insect populations more than the pests. I’m pretty sure that DDT was falling out of use before it was banned, at least for things like boll weevil. DDT is basically the poster child for insecticide resistance.

    The use of pesticides in an informed, responsible manner and in combination with other techniques can be very successful in reducing pest populations, but I’m willing to bet that long term solutions will come from biotech and non-chemical methods. For example, researchers have genetically engineered some of the malaria vectors so that they are unable to be hosts for the parasite and are working on releasing these GMO mosquitoes into the wild in the hope of replacing vector populations with non-vector populations. According to G.P. Georghiou (1990) there are several species of insects for which almost all types of insecticides are no longer effective. The Anopheles species complex, which is one of the genera that vectors malaria, is in this group.

    All this information is readily available in journals you can probably find at your university library. “Entomology and Pest Management” 5th ed. Pedigo & Rice is also a good read.

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