Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, June 20, 2005

DDT -- saving mosquitoes instead of human lives

By Aussiegirl

If I asked you what environmental disaster has killed 50 million human beings since 1972, what would you likely guess? Global warming? Air pollution? Pesticide poisoning? Rain forest clearing. Water and river contamination? Mercury spills? Nuclear power generation? Well -- think again. The environmental disaster that has killed 50 million human beings, most of them in Africa and the developing world, is malaria -- and the Anopholes mosquito which carries it.

This is such a pet peeve of mine that I'm thrilled to say that the ever-brilliant Phyllis Schlafly has penned a devastating column on this subject.

While everyone screams about AIDS, and the need for research and money to treat AIDS victims, fully as many people will die in Africa of preventable malaria -- a disease which was virtually eradicated in the years following WWII by the widespread spraying of a cheap, non-toxic and highly effective insecticide -- DDT. That is, until one Silver Spring resident, by the name of Rachel Carson wrote a hysterical and scientifically innacurate book called "The Silent Spring".

An article written by a professor of entomology at San Jose State University, CA called100 Things you Should Know About DDT, from the website JunkScience.com, debunks most of the myths surrounding the dangers of DDT:

DDT does not affect reproduction in birds (Rachel Carson misread an article which actually yielded a very different conclusion. )

DDT is not carcinogenic

DDT does not affect the thinness of bird egg shells

DDT was not responsible for the decline in bald eagle, peregrine falcon or brown pelican populations -- as a matter of fact, in the 15 years following its heavy usage, the Audobon Society counted 25% more eagles than the previous census. Some bird species multiplied so well after the introduction of DDT that they became pests.

Furthermore, population control advocates blamed DDT for increasing Third World Population. In the 1960's, World Health Organization authorities believed there was no alternative to the overpopulation problem but to assure that up to 40% of the children in poor nations would die of malaria. As an official of the Agency for International Development stated, "Rather dead than alive and riotously reproducing."

Phyllis Schlafly makes some great points in today's column about the follies of banning DDT.

The United States has just assumed the largest burden of forgiving $40 billion in debt owed by 18 mostly African countries. It's no wonder these countries can't repay their debts when they suffer the enormous human and economic costs of malaria.

According to Harvard development expert Jeffrey Sachs, malaria cuts in half the potential growth of African countries. Yet, new evidence has just surfaced that the U.S. Agency for International Development, to which our taxpayers give $90 million a year to fight malaria, spends 95 percent of this money on consultants, advertising, and "social marketing," and less than 5 percent on fighting the disease. Malaria has killed more people, especially children, than any other infectious disease in history. Annual deaths from malaria, mostly in Africa, Asia and Central America, have long been estimated at between 1 million and 2.7 million.

British scientists at Oxford University recently reported that in 2002 there were 515 million people infected with the most dangerous strain of malaria. Malaria deaths could easily exceed the 3 million people killed annually by AIDS.

. . . Nevertheless, contrary to expert testimony that DDT was not harmful to humans, animals or the environment, in a raw exercise of arbitrary power in 1972 the Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT, and it has continued to be banned in most of the world. Since then, more than 50 million people have died from malaria.

The death toll from mosquitoes breeding in the contaminated water left by the tsunami that struck Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and many more countries on the Indian Ocean could be more deadly than the tsunami itself.


At 4:38 AM, Blogger Billy D said...

That's the way it always goes, though, isn't it? Remember the "Alar = rocket fuel hysteria? All disproven, but too late. People refuse to educate themselves, instead opting for a celebrity to inform them on the issue of the day. Sad when you won't believe a scientist, instead referring your opinion to Cybill Shepard.


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