Saturday, May 31, 2008

DDT Saves Lives

"The reality is that DDT is probably the most useful insecticide ever used for public health." - say Roger Bate of the group Africa Fighting Malaria. Banning DDT has been a mistake that cost millions of lives.

1 comment:

Ed Darrell said...

I wouldn't trust Bate as far as I could throw a bundle of 2,000 mosquito bed nets.

But if you buy his argument, which is roughly the same one acknowldedged by the National Academy of Sciences in a 1980 review of research needs, shouldn't you also pay attention to what the scientists said on all sides of the issue?

NAS said that, despite DDT's amazing usefulness, its inherent dangers were greater, and the risk far outweighs any potential benefits. NAS called for research to replace DDT, and for all speedy action to get DDT out of use as soon as possible.

DDT can still be useful against a few mosquitoes in a few places, but it cannot do the job alone, and significantly increasing its use will rapidly cause much more harm.

The question is, why is anyone distracting from the serious discussions about how to fight malaria, with this needless, silly claim about increasing DDT? No scientist fighting malaria has called for more DDT. There are better alternatives. There is much more action that needs to be taken to fight malaria that can be done without DDT at all.

Why not fight malaria instead of tilting at windmills, even DDT-spraying windmills?