Jay Ambrose: Still wrong about DDT and malaria


Propagandists against Rachel Carson and — inexplicably — for DDT awoke a few weeks ago.  We’re seeing a flurry of op-eds, opinion pieces and other editorial placements making false claims for DDT, and against Rachel Carson, one of the science heroes of the 20th century.

The campaign of hoaxes, urging more and heavier use of DDT, and falsely impugning environmentalists, continues.  Alas.

Jay Ambrose of Scripps Howard News Service, still wrong about DDT

Jay Ambrose of Scripps Howard News Service, still wrong about DDT

Jay Ambrose used to be a full-time editor for the Scripps Howard newspapers.  Since he retired he writes occasional opinion pieces.  In the past three years or so he’s mentioned his desire to bring back the poison DDT, to poison Africa in the hope it might also get malaria, for example.

A few weeks ago he went after global warming with the same alacrity and lack of accurate information.

Let’s review a few facts about the history of DDT:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) carried on a super-ambitious campaign to eradicate malaria from the world starting in 1955.  It was a race against time — super malaria-fighter Fred Soper, who spearheaded early campaigns for the Rockefeller Foundation , understood that overuse of DDT in agriculture or any other venue could push malaria-carrying mosquitoes to develop resistance to DDT.  WHO’s campaign involved Indoor Residual Spraying of DDT, coating the walls of homes with the stuff; then with biting mosquitoes reduced, a careful campaign of medical care would cure human victims of the disease.  When the mosquitoes came roaring back at the end of the campaign, there would be no infected humans from whom the insects could get the parasite that causes the disease — voila! — no more malaria.  WHO lost the race; by 1965 Soper’s group already found resistant and immune mosquitoes in central Africa, and most of the nations in the Subsaharan Africa had not  been able to mount an anti-malaria campaign. DDT use in Africa was scaled back, therefore, and by 1969, WHO’s international board voted to abandon the campaign, made impossible to complete by abuse of DDT.
  • Seven years after WHO was forced to stop using DDT by DDT abuse, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT from use outdoors on agricultural crops, under the watchful eye of two federal courts who had previously determined DDT to be dangerous and uncontrollable in the wild. EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus short-circuited a total ban on DDT, however; his order specifically allowed U.S. manufacturers to continue making DDT, greatly increasing the amount of DDT available to any nation who wanted to use it to fight malaria or any other disease.
  • Even though DDT was cheap and plentiful, however, many African nations found it simply did not work anymore. Work continued to fight DDT through all other means including especially treating the disease in humans, and malaria incidence and deaths continued to decline.
  • At the end of the 1970s, the malaria parasites began to develop resistance to chloroquine and other traditional drugs used to cure humans of the stuff.  It was a shortage of drugs to treat humans that caused the uptick in malaria over a decade ago, not a lack of DDT.  Progress against malaria slowed for a few years, until artemisinin-based drugs were discovered to work against the disease, and means could be found to speed up production of the drug (originally from a Chinese plant, a member of the wormwood family).
  • By the turn of the century, it became clear that a miracle, one-punch solution to beat malaria is unlikely to be found.  Many nations turned to a method of malaria control including “integrated vector management,” which includes the use of pesticides (including DDT) in careful rotation to prevent mosquitoes from developing resistance or immunity to any one poison. This is the method championed by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book, Silent Spring.
  • At the time of the U.S. ban on DDT use on crops, annual malaria deaths ran about 2 million.  By 2000, that rate had been cut in half, to about 1 million annually.  Today, and since 2005, the annual death toll to malaria has been estimated by WHO to be under 900,000 — less than half the death rate in 1972 when the U.S. banned DDT use on crops, and a 75% reduction in deaths in 1960, when DDT use was at its peak.  Malaria deaths today are the lowest in human history.
  • DDT Malaria continues to be a priority disease, with added emphasis in the past decade with massive interventions funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the President’s Initiative on Malaria.   Bill Gates is regarded as a great optimist, but he says he is working to eradicate malaria from the world.   Key tools of the eradication campaign are bednets, which are cheaper and more effective than DDT, and integrated vector management.  The Gates Foundation campaign strikes continuing blows of great magnitude against the disease in those nations where it can work.

Few of these facts are acknowledged by Jay Ambrose, who wrongly claims that DDT had alone been the great vanquisher of malaria, and who claims that Africans, unduly swayed by a long-dead Rachel Carson, had failed to use DDT though they knew in their hearts it would save their children.

About once a year Ambrose trots out his misunderstandings of history, law and science, and slams Rachel Carson and those who banned DDT from cotton crops in Texas, falsely blaming them for malaria deaths in Africa.  His article of the past few weeks was picked up by the Detroit News.  Warning that our fight against global warming is as wrong-headed as saving the bald eagle from DDT, he wrote:

The main thing is to avoid what happened with DDT. Because of a ban to protect wildlife from the pesticide in this country, it became more scarce, and a consequence was its being employed sparingly if at all in wildlife-safe, indoor spraying to combat malaria in Africa. Though not always, DDT can be enormously effective in stopping the disease while posing minimal threats.

The estimate is that millions of African children died because of misplaced values and overreactions.

That’s worse than heartbreaking.
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110221/OPINION01/102210305/Don’t-overreact-to-possible-global-warming#ixzz1FDv1ZhkY

When I chided Ambrose for getting the facts wrong many months ago, he angrily promised to come back to this blog and provide evidence to make his case.  Of course, he never did.  There is no such evidence.

Then why does he continue to falsely indict Rachel Carson, William Ruckelshaus and EPA, and “environmentalists,” and wrongly urge the poisoning of Africa with DDT? 

I do not know.

Are his views on global warming similarly in error?  If history shows a trend, yes.

About these ads

64 Responses to Jay Ambrose: Still wrong about DDT and malaria

  1. JamesK says:

    And I’m sure that Jay will willingly surround himself and his family with DDT as well….

    Right, Jay?

    Like

  2. James Kessler says:

    I propose a science experiment. That Rachael there ingest DDT and see if her health improves. and I’m sure she won’t mind her family being exposed to it directly as well.

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Rachael was demented and wrote a book based on a gothic tale.

    “Rachael” may be demented. Rachel Carson was calm, cool, and a great writer, one of the best explainers of science ever. (Yes, I noted you gave a phony e-mail address.)

    Silent Spring comes with 53 pages of meticulous footnotes, citations to hard science journals, interviews and letters with scientists, and correspondence. Not only is that science still solid 52 years later, significant research especially on birds harmed by DDT show that every single science point Carson made is still valid — but she underestimated harms to birds and other harms of DDT.

    She has been proven utterly wrong on everything from robins to thin egg shells.

    See my last sentence.

    Carson was right on robins — and still is (sadly). Thin egg shells? Odd you should mention that.

    Rachel Carson didn’t write about thinning eggshells from DDT. Research was just starting out. Carson died in 1964. The definitive papers showing DDT and its daughters, thin eggshells, wasn’t published until 1974.

    Carson was right, but underestimated the damage DDT does. She missed that DDT kills birds ALSO by thinning eggshells.

    The ban on DDT was political and instrumented by the eugenics nazis and enviro whackos.

    Under the 1958 Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), any pesticide that killed well outside its intended targets must be designated harmful and removed from the market. (Still true, under the revised FIFRA.)

    By 1971, two separate federal courts had completed trials in which it was demonstrated that DDT was non-specific, and that it bioaccumulates, becoming astonishingly deadly to consumers two or three or four trophic levels up — becomes more deadly as it rises through the food chain. In short, in addition to being very deadly to beneficial insects and other predators of pest insects (bats, rodents, birds, fish), DDT killed entire ecosystems. And it was uncontrollable in the wild. A minuscule dose magnifies up the food chain, so an eagle, osprey, or brown pelican feeding in an estuary where DDT was present would get a dose magnified by 7 million times.

    Both courts issued injunctions banning the manufacture or use of DDT. DDT manufacturers complained, and the Department of Agriculture agreed to do a new label review; after dawdling on that process, EPA was formed and assumed enforcement of FIFRA. EPA quickly ruled that DDT was okay. Courts stepped in again and ordered EPA to do a serious review, as the law required.

    EPA’s hearing took nine months, creating almost 10,000 pages of testimony. More than 30 DDT makers and heavy users joined the proceeding to represent all possible beneficial uses of DDT. In the end, the judge verified that DDT is an uncontrollable poison in the wild.

    BUT — at the start of that hearing, DDT makers got together, and proposed to change approved uses on the label to indoor use only, and only for insect vectors of disease. On that basis, the administrative law judge said DDT could continue to be sold.

    The difficulty with pesticide labels is that the final purchaser is not bound by law in most cases to label uses. DDT could be purchased over the the counter, and then sprayed on crops, or anything else.

    The rule making process required the EPA Administrator to review. Legal counsel pointed out that the two courts probably would simply renew and make permanent the injunctions against DDT in commerce. EPA’s Administrator William Ruckelshaus cut a compromise rule, and made it a regulation rather than just a label. He said outdoor DDT use, and use of DDT on crops, must end. DDT could be used, in “Indoor Residual Spraying” against any disease-carrying insect or arthropod; and U.S. makers could continue to make it, for export, assuming for use to fight disease.

    There was no discussion about populations. There was no room for emotional pleas. The decision was done solely on the science.

    Of course the DDT manufacturers sued. The appellate court agreed there was plenty of scientific basis for the rule, and it stands so today.

    No eugenicists, no “enviro whackos.”

    In fact DDT actually increases good health. Dogs for example have been shown to become less sick and live longer being fed DDT.

    That’s total bulls***. DDT is much more harmful to small mammals than big ones, and it’s destructive to cows. Small dogs get serious liver disease from DDT when exposed. (I’d love to see what research you say that claim is based on. Nuts!) See the Cornell University toxics listings — note how often DDT is noted to be toxic to dogs, taking out their livers and kidneys especially. (“LD50″ means a dose that is lethal to at least 50 percent of the animals that get it, by the way.)

    DDT is toxic to all forms of life; fortunately for humans, it’s generally not toxic enough to kill us acutely. Of the more than 1,600 sites on the Superfund cleanup list, more than 400 are contaminated with DDT. We spend billions of dollars to clean up DDT, because it is toxic.

    Size makes the difference.

    But it’s worth repeating: DDT is toxic to dogs.

    Just check the studies released from Harvard University and the American Council on Science and Health for starters.

    This Harvard study, that shows DDT increases miscarriages in humans? Or this Harvard study, which doesn’t deny any of the toxicological effects, but suggests that DDT is not a powerful carcinogen in the formation of breast cancers?

    DDT wasn’t banned as a carcinogen. It was banned as a toxic to wildlife. That’s still true.

    (And if you check, you’ll see that subsequent to the study that shows DDT doesn’t cause breast cancer so badly as feared, it has been learned that DDT mimics estrogen, which promotes breast cancer; and other studies that find children exposed to DDT in utero DO develop breast and other cancers later.)

    Where did you get those whopping lies, “Rachael?”

    “American Council on Science and Health,” headed until recently by the late Elizabeth Whelan, is an industry-captured, pro-DDT, pro-chemical industrial propaganda tank. They do not do original science research, nor do they represent scientists. It’s a political propaganda organization.

    Check the research instead.

    The lies of the left are rampant but it still does not make them true. Read and learn something.

    Especially on DDT, the “left” isn’t lying. Nor are environmentalists, nor public health officials, nor wildlife managers. DDT is toxic, kills widlife uncontrollably, and can ONLY be used safely indoors, in small quantities applied by professionals, and only for a few insect vectors of disease.

    Not sure of your political bias, but your sources are grotesquely inaccurate, so much so that I suspect they are hoaxing you. Don’t fall for hoaxes.

    Like

  4. Rachael says:

    Rachael was demented and wrote a book based on a gothic tale. She has been proven utterly wrong on everything from robins to thin egg shells. The ban on DDT was political and instrumented by the eugenics nazis and enviro whackos.
    In fact DDT actually increases good health. Dogs for example have been shown to become less sick and live longer being fed DDT. Just check the studies released from Harvard University and the American Council on Science and Health for starters.
    The lies of the left are rampant but it still does not make them true. Read and learn something.

    Like

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    I also never attacked Rachel Carson in the fashion you suggest, and you are provably wrong about her science. Do you really not understand the mistakes in the first edition of her book?

    I understand the panel of distinguished scientists advising President Kennedy found no mistakes in Carson’s book. What mistakes do you claim they missed? Name one — page number appreciated.

    Your claim against Rachel Carson is completely, utterly made up.

    Like

  6. Ed Darrell says:

    And by the way, the fact that total malaria deaths went down proves nothing. People have been living longer and fewer children dying significantly for the past half century in general. You could as well say deaths are down so lets quit using mosquito nets.

    It shows that you were wrong to write, in your syndicated column: “The estimate is that millions of African children died because of misplaced values and overreactions.”

    It shows you were incorrect when you wrote in June 2009:

    Environmental consternation nevertheless kept many rich countries from sending DDT to poor, malaria-inflicted countries and caused some people in those countries to fear the pesticide themselves.

    In some places, thanks to these practices, malarial death rates rose dramatically, and then, several years ago, the anti-DDT ethos began to change.

    It demonstrates you were ill-advised to write in 2007:

    Now look at how environmentalists long persuaded the United Nations and United States and European governments to dissuade poor nations in Africa to never use DDT in indoor spraying to combat the spread of malaria, and look at what happened: pure horror, ugliness of a kind that statistics can hint at but don’t finally express, the deaths of millions of children.
    * * * *
    Many environmental groups were unbending, just as some groups still are despite the fact that malaria is now afflicting half a billion people annually, and killing a million. The numbers are higher than those of two decades ago . . .

    Malaria deaths are not down just a little. With the population of the world doubling between 1960 and now, the death toll from malaria has been reduced by 75%; the death toll due to malaria, worldwide, has declined as DDT use was reduced, exactly contrary to your claims.

    Incidence of the disease is also down, by about 50%, from 500 million per year to 250 million.

    So, if as you say, “people have been living longer and fewer children dying for the past half century in general,” why do you take the exact opposite stand in your newspaper column over the past four years?

    Behind the truth of your statement in the paragraph right above is the great decline in malaria deaths, which, inexplicably, you deny.

    Like

  7. Ed Darrell says:

    Now I am a racist? You are beyond belief.

    Okay, please explain why you think black Africans didn’t buy the DDT and use it themselves? I’m willing to hear your backtrack, that it was a silly thought, and that you didn’t think it through.

    But all along, you’ve insisted that you DID think it through, and you interviewed all those so-called experts at the Exxon-sponsored Heartland Institute Conference, so you know this stuff.

    What is your explanation for why Nelson Mandela and other African leaders sat by and did nothing about using the stuff you claim would have saved thousands of lives?

    The electrons are free. Explain away.

    Even when the Sierra Club said it was not against some use of DDT in Africa, it made it clear it really didn’t like it and that it should end as soon as possible.

    That’s been the position of scientists, malaria-fighters and other health experts since 1970. Use DDT if nothing else works, and if DDT will work, but phase it out as soon as possible because it’s a deadly poison and it kills ecosystems.

    That’s the position of the National Academy of Sciences. That’s the position of more than 100 nations who worked for a decade on the POPs Treaty. That’s the position of Rachel Carson. That’s the position of anyone who gave a serious thought to the issue.

    You claim it’s not your position? Res ipsa loquitur,, eh?

    There were immense European pressures.

    So you say. Not mentioned in Sonia Shah’s book. Not mentioned in the Gladwell’s portrait of Fred Soper. Not a major point of Socrates Litsios. Neither you nor anyone else who has made that claim has ever been able to produce for us a shred of evidence to support the claim — a news article from the time, a document from USAID, a document from the UN, a document from the EU.

    In the absence of any evidence of European pressure, I’m inclined to think it’s a total phantasm. Got evidence? I’m all ears.

    No evidence? No point.

    There was initially United Nations pressure, then the United Nations under wise leadership said it should be used, then under ideological leadership it changed its mind.

    The UN position has always been anti-malaria. Their position on DDT has not significantly changed since they had to abandon the campaign to eradicate malaria because others overused the stuff on crops. You claim UN has flip-flopped? Again, please show us the documentation.

    It’s not there.

    See facts here, at Deltoid:
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2005/10/crime-of-the-century.php (what really happened with India’s malaria increase)
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2005/02/ddt2.php (DDT in Sri Lanka after the tsunami) (See esp. this quote from a WHO malaria fighter:

    However, in general terms, the WHO has never given up in its efforts to ensure access to DDT where it is needed. At meetings of the intergovernmental negotiation committee on the Stockholm Convention—which seeks to control the spread of persistent organic pollutants—the WHO has successfully defended the right of countries to use DDT for disease-vector control, if no suitable alternative can be found. The WHO also supports worldwide efforts to develop alternative products and phase in alternative control strategies (link). )

    And facts at WHO, in an FAQ on DDT:

    http://mosquito.who.int/docs/FAQonDDT.pdf

    And the famous Prospect article by Quiggin and Lambert, in the director’s cut:

    http://crookedtimber.org/2008/05/13/in-praise-of-rachel-carson/

    I will concede that the Bush II administration had some odd policy against paying for any anti-malaria campaign that used DDT — but that policy was not called for by any environmental organization, and was opposed by those working against malaria including EDF. The policy was eventually changed.

    And that refusal to spend USAID money never precluded any nation from chipping in to buy its own DDT — if DDT had, in fact, been the pesticide of choice.

    At any rate, no one but a moral thug calls people racist on the basis you just used.

    No one but a moral thug beats up on a great woman, great scientist, even though she’s dead, claiming falsely that her work killed thousands, or millions, of people. Take a good, long look in the mirror before you say I’m acting like a thug for challenging you to produce evidence to support your point, and explaining in great detail what your errors are, where you can find the information to correct them, and what the policies should be.

    After all, it was not I who wrote, without a shred of evidence to support the claim:

    The estimate is that millions of African children died because of misplaced values and overreactions.

    We’re still waiting for the evidence you promised four years ago.

    Thank you.

    Like

  8. Jay Ambrose says:

    Now I am a racist? You are beyond belief. To have no better idea of how Africa was dissuaded from using DDT by all kinds of groups that to some extent later changed their tune is unbelievable. Even when the Sierra Club said it was not against some use of DDT in Africa, it made it clear it really didn’t like it and that it should end as soon as possible. There were immense European pressures. There was initially United Nations pressure, then the United Nations under wise leadership said it should be used, then under ideological leadership it changed its mind. At any rate, no one but a moral thug calls people racist on the basis you just used.

    Like

  9. Ed Darrell says:

    Mr. Ambrose reappears:

    I never, ever said mosquitores from the United States immigrated to Africa, and for you to pull up such a strawman as that shows just how pathetic, finally, your arguments are. If you do not concede that anti-DDT pressure from various groups and organizations internationally were major factors in disuse in Africa, you know nothing and ought to be quiet.

    Jay, I challenged you in 2007 to provide evidence that anyone provided “pressure” as you now allege to stop use of DDT in Africa. You didn’t then, and you haven’t yet.

    In contrast, I refer you to William Ruckelshaus’s order at EPA, banning the use of DDT on agricultural crops. Ruckelshaus specifically did not ban the manufacture of DDT. That was done so that U.S. manufacturers could continue to produce the stuff for export — to Africa, and Asia, and other places.

    And that’s what happened. DDT was produced full tilt in the U.S. until at least 1984, a dozen years later. EPA’s jurisdiction ends at the U.S. borders. DDT was manufactured in the U.S. and exported around the world.

    If you have some evidence to support your claim, feel free to bring it forward.

    In the absence of such evidence, then your claim that the ban on DDT spraying in the U.S. reduced the use of DDT in Africa and thereby caused a rise in malaria is pure sham. First, malaria rates continued to fall, as did (and do) total malaria deaths. Second, the ending of spraying DDT on cotton in the U.S. did not stop WHO from spraying DDT in homes in Africa, or Asia, or anywhere else. EPA has no jurisdiction over WHO, WHO has no authority to ban DDT use anywhere, and WHO continued to use DDT.

    WHO had to abandon its campaign to eradicate malaria with the use of DDT, however, because overuse of DDT in Africa bred mosquitoes resistant and immune to DDT. WHO’s campaign at the time depended on DDT or something like it to forcefully, but temporarily, knock down local mosquito populations, while beefed up medical care could cure humans of the disease — so that when the mosquitoes came roaring back as they always do, there would be no malaria for them to catch, to spread.

    In order for the ban on DDT in the U.S. to have caused an increase in malaria, mosquitoes from Texas would have had to have flown to Africa, gotten infected, and passed the disease along.

    You allege the ban caused an increase in malaria, but now you say the methods for that to have happened are impossible? Yes, I agree. It’s not a straw man argument — it’s reductio ad absurdum.

    You’re welcome.

    The facts are pretty simple. DDT was an effective part of the fight against DDT in sub-Saharan Africa and its discontinuance had a major impact on lives, almost certainly leaving millions more children to die than otherwise would have.

    Now you allege that DDT was used in Subsaharan Africa prior to 1972. Was it?

    WHO didn’t use it, because the governments of those nations were not capable of mounting the discipline necessary for the spraying campaigns, nor especially were they capable of beefing up the health care systems to cure the disease in humans. That is well recorded, in the profile of Fred Soper by Malcolm Gladwell, and by others. You are alleging that people like Idi Amin of Uganda did not use DDT because Rachel Carson convinced him it would cause cancer, or some minor aide from USAID prevailed on him to be environmentally sensitive.

    Be my guest to provide evidence for that claim.

    I reject it now. To the best of my knowledge, there were no significant DDT campaigns in Subsaharan Africa prior to 1972.

    But if you’ve got the evidence, make the case. Other historians missed it — correct the record if you can.

    When its use was started again in certain places in South Africa, deaths went down remarkably. Large numbers of Africans themselves are horrified at what the West has inflicted on them with its ecological imperialism.

    Here’s my real complaint: That argument is elitist, insulting, and racist to the core. You’re saying that, though DDT was cheap and readily available, and though neither the UN nor the US could stop any nation from using DDT, and though Africans though surely DDT would work, they somehow could not muster themselves to use DDT to save their own children.

    Bullfeathers.

    DDT has never been definitively proven to kill humans, certainly not in the kind of small quantities used in indoors spraying, which, by the way, can be effective in repelling mosquitoes even when they are immune.

    Nor until recently did anyone say DDT should not be used because of health hazards to humans. No one claimed DDT would kill humans. They claimed instead that it would kill the food fish of Africans (it did), that it would kill the insects and small animals that ate the malaria-carrying mosquitoes (it did), and that it was, unfortunately, not so effective as it had been due to overuse on crops.

    Yes, DDT can repel mosquitoes when it doesn’t kill them. DEET is more effective at repelling them, and it doesn’t kill the beneficial insects, nor food fish — and bednets are even more effective than DDT, and 12 times cheaper.

    What should we do? Would you prefer to poke in the eye the reputation of the 47-years-dead Rachel Carson, or would you prefer to fight malaria?

    Proving it can have no deleterious effects is impossible and it quite possibly could have some, but weighing that against the deaths of millions of children is morally repugnant.

    Recent studies suggest DDT will kill about as many people as it saves, but much later, from cancer. Premature deaths later for potential savings now.

    I think it’s morally repugnant to argue Africans should have to use DDT, when there are more effective and cheaper solutions to malaria available. In any case medical care must be improved — DDT can’t change that, nor make it cheaper.

    As you demonstrated, DDT has been in constant use in Africa. You’ve not demonstrated any need for more DDT, nor have you established that using more DDT would provide additional benefits. You’ve especially not made a dent in Rachel Carson’s case that DDT use should have been restricted in Africa, as it was in the U.S., to save its effectiveness to fight malaria.

    I think you don’t really have a grasp of the history, nor an understanding of the science behind fighting malaria.

    I have thrown a couple of scientists at you and you just dismiss them as know-nothings. Is it possible you are the know-nothing?

    I dismissed no scientist as a know-nothing. I specifically rebutted their arguments, including the false, hysterical claims from Gordon Edwards, who obviously had lost grasp of his faculties to make such a fight. (DDT poisoning? It’s possible.) I have offered you the considered judgment of the National Academy of Sciences, whom you misquoted. You thought they were worthy in misquote, but you claim them to be biased when the quote is corrected.

    Would it be unfair of me to observe you are projecting?

    Like

  10. Jay Ambrose says:

    And by the way, the fact that total malaria deaths went down proves nothing. People have been living longer and fewer children dying significantly for the past half century in general. You could as well say deaths are down so lets quit using mosquito nets.

    Like

  11. Jay Ambrose says:

    I also never attacked Rachel Carson in the fashion you suggest, and you are provably wrong about her science. Do you really not understand the mistakes in the first edition of her book?

    And I did not use the phrase “ad hominem” incorrectly. You just do not know the meaning.

    Like

  12. Jay Ambrose says:

    I never, ever said mosquitores from the United States immigrated to Africa, and for you to pull up such a strawman as that shows just how pathetic, finally, your arguments are. If you do not concede that anti-DDT pressure from various groups and organizations internationally were major factors in disuse in Africa, you know nothing and ought to be quiet.

    The facts are pretty simple. DDT was an effective part of the fight against DDT in sub-Saharan Africa and its discontinuance had a major impact on lives, almost certainly leaving millions more children to die than otherwise would have. When its use was started again in certain places in South Africa, deaths went down remarkably. Large numbers of Africans themselves are horrified at what the West has inflicted on them with its ecological imperialism.

    DDT has never been definitively proven to kill humans, certainly not in the kind of small quantities used in indoors spraying, which, by the way, can be effective in repelling mosquitoes even when they are immune. Proving it can have no deleterious effects is impossible and it quite possibly could have some, but weighing that against the deaths of millions of children is morally repugnant. I have thrown a couple of scientists at you and you just dismiss them as know-nothings. Is it possible you are the know-nothing?

    Like

  13. Ed Darrell says:

    Ad hominem attacks and money conspiraces is the only game you guys finally know, isn’t it?

    Jay, I’ve provided chapter and verse responses to almost every one of your claims — almost every one of your claims is false. I’ve cited the law and quoted it. I’ve recounted the accurate history and linked to the government documents and scientific studies — none of which you have done.

    I’ve explained how mosquitoes from the U.S. cannot migrate to Africa. I’ve explained how EPA authority does not extend to Africa. I’ve explained that WHO did not ban DDT (and cannot ban it — they lack any authority to ban any substance anywhere). I’ve explained the science behind DDT resistance and immunity in mosquitoes down to the genetic level. I’ve check out your sources, and I discovered they are not scientists, but political groups like Lyndon Larouche, or organizations with no membership lists and no apparent beneficial activities, like Africa Fighting Malaria — whose IRS 990 I linked to, showing they do no fighting of Malaria, and most of what they do is not in Africa.

    I’ve quoted to you from the President’s Science Advisory Council, and linked to reports about that report, and asked you for any contrary evidence.

    And all you can say is “ad hominem?” You don’t even use the phrase correctly.

    Your long-lived vendetta against a good woman who is long dead is ugly, and very perplexing. What did Rachel Carson ever do to you, other than show you examples of great writing, outstanding reporting, and accurate science? Your assaults on malaria fighters are equally confusing — what’s the point?

    Other than your misplaced complaint about ad hominem, you have no response to any of my arguments or evidence? Nothing at all?

    You’re a reporter. Read the documents.

    You might want to start with this one, the one that opens up with good news:

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2010 World Malaria Report, the estimated number of global malaria deaths has fallen from about 985,000 in 2000 to about 781,000 in 2009.1 Similar improvements were also documented in the 2010 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Progress for Children report2 and in a 2009 Lancet article, “Levels and trends in under-5 mortality, 1990–2008.”3

    President’s Malaria Initiative, 2011 Annual Report, April 26, 2011

    Like

  14. Jay Ambrose says:

    Ad hominem attacks and money conspiraces is the only game you guys finally know, isn’t it?

    Like

  15. Ed Darrell says:

    This is how I usually sort the truth from the bull-puckey.

    1. If DDT again becomes the panacea some say it is, who stands to gain financially?

    2. What is in it, profit-wise, for critics of DDT?

    Roger Bates’ letters to the tobacco companies to ask them to fund Africa Fighting Malaria, and his earlier correspondence with those companies, indicates a fear that WHO would launch an anti-smoking campaign in Africa and Asia. The proposal was to smear WHO’s reputation so people would not listen to their health messages.

    Isn’t that crazy? I can’t find any more rational answer. DDT is off-patent. Patent racism would make sense, but there’s no evidence I can find of that.

    Here’s part of what the Salon piece said:

    But as for Bate being, in general, in bed with Big Tobacco’s attempts to undermine the public health rationale for limiting exposure to smoking? Drawing upon the voluminous records compiled at the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, Lambert cites numerous instances in which the tobacco industry’s own records reference Bate. The man has made a career of attacking science that supports the regulation of harmful substances. To get a taste of what Roger Bate is all about, you can read this memo, from the files of British-American Tobacco, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, in which Bates appears to be updating British-American Tobacco on the European Science and Environment Forum’s many activities. One of his goals: “Work with media to establish the name of ESEF as a scare watchdog.” In a totally rational universe, “a scare watchdog” might seem like a reasonable thing to have around. I have no doubt that public health advocates probably err on the side of caution every now and then, and it might be good to have a voice of reason weigh in to give perspective. But a scare watchdog that is keeping the tobacco industry regularly updated on its activities? Consider this e-mail, sent by a functionary in Philip Morris’ UK office, to Matt Winokur, then the chief of “Worldwide Regulatory Affairs” for Philip Morris.

    Winokur, Matt
    From: Roberts, John
    Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 1998 10:55 AM
    To: Bushong, David; Winokur, Matt
    Subject RE: Bate
    I think Bate is a very valuable resource and have strongly recommended that he play some role at UN level. I recall that we paid him up to GBP 10,000 per month. There is one additional person I would recommend as deserving of consideration too and that is John Bowls. Where Bate’s principal interest is malaria, Bowls’s is mental health, I believe them to be complementary resources. Best wishes, John

    You can make up your own mind as to why Philip Morris might consider a man whose principal interest was malaria to be a valuable resource for a tobacco company. As for me, I want to give a big shout-out to National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru — because without his prodding, I wouldn’t have known about the amazing resource of the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, which contains “more than 8 million documents (43+ million pages) created by major tobacco companies related to their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific research activities” and which demonstrates, beyond any reasonable doubt, the role Big Tobacco has played in funding the right-wing attack on science. Which is, of course, the point.

    It makes no sense to me. Bates has moved on to a comfy chair at the Heritage Foundation, where he erupts from time to time. Roger Tren now runs the odd group, Africa Fighting Malaria, which as best I can tell has not spent a dime fighting malaria anywhere, and works chiefly in Washington, not Africa.

    Like

  16. Ed Darrell says:

    Once a year, sometimes twice a year, Henry I. Miller trots out his biases about DDT and malaria — in the five years I’ve known him to do this, he has never updated his reservoir of knowledge about either the disease or the pesticide. And that’s tragic, because he’s ill-informed on both. His knowledge reservoirs on these issues is dry.

    In the piece Jay Ambrose trotted out — again, notice Jay doesn’t bother to go to hard research, but instead uses a political, conservative social sciences source who doesn’t work in malaria or DDT issues, and who cites no experts in the area — Miller said:

    Re-Booting DDT

    PALO ALTO – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is fascinating. So is the 19-page annual letter that describes the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropy. But for someone as smart as Gates, who can afford to hire experts on any subject under the sun, some of his foundation’s strategies are baffling.

    Never mind that Gates has saved tens of thousands of lives with this project alone, and demonstrated that we don’t need to give up on fighting malaria. No, Miller isn’t interested in giving awards to the heroes — especially if they don’t toe Miller’s line that we should poison the hell out of Africa first and foremost.

    No, I don’t digress. Miller’s claims here are the claims of a hack.

    Consider his foundation’s approach to malaria, which focuses on bed nets, a low-tech, only modestly effective intervention,

    Interesting to claim bednets are “only modestly effective.” In actual tests in millions of homes over the past decade, bednets have provided 50% to 85% reductions in malaria infection rates. These nets cost about $10 each for the expensive ones, and can last as long as five years — but let’s be conservative and say they last for three years (see Sonia Shah’s complaint at her website). Three years of protection at $3.34 per year.

    In contrast, DDT spraying costs about $12 per application, and each application lasts about 6 months. So that’s $24/year — and DDT spraying reduces malaria about 25% to 50%.

    $3.34/year, 50% to 80% reduction in malaria; versus DDT’s $24/year, and 25% to 50% reduction in malaria. If DDT were as effective as bednets, it would still be at 8 times the cost. But it’s about half as effective as bednets, so it’s more like 16 times the cost.

    “Modestly effective” bednets versus “expensive and less-than-modestly-effective” DDT.

    Which one does Miller choose? He chooses the expensive and less effective method. Does he have stock in DDT companies? Stock in cemeteries and caskets? Is there any rational explanation for Miller’s views?

    No. But Miller is irrational on this issue all the way through.

    Miller is wrong. Bednets are better than “modestly effective.” They are more effective than DDT in every head-to-head test. He’s dissembling.

    Miller said:

    . . . and on the development of a vaccine, a high-tech solution that has eluded intensive efforts for decades. This approach dismisses an old, cheap, and safe way to control the vector – the Anopheles mosquito – that spreads the disease: the chemical DDT.

    Miller fails to note that dramatic advances have been made in vaccinations, and in other highly technical methods of controlling the mosquitoes. Somehow — momentary lapse? stroke? — Miller fails to mention that the big reason DDT use was slowed in 1965, seven years before the U.S. banned its use on cotton, was because overuse of DDT by DDT advocates like Henry I. Miller had bred mosquitoes in Africa which are resistant and immune to DDT. Rachel Carson warned about his in her book in 1962, but nothing was done to rein in the heavy users. And as a consequence, the World Health Organization (WHO) had to scrap its ambitious plan to eradicate malaria from the Earth.

    It wasn’t environmentalists who screwed up the DDT-fueled campaign against mosquitoes. It was DDT advocates who claimed it was harmless to humans, not harmful to beneficial insects and other animals, and a panacea against all things buggy. It was people, probably well-meaning, who spout the same things Henry I. Miller says now, 46 years later.

    Malcolm Gladwell explained it in his profile of super-malaria fighter Fred Soper, in The New Yorker in 2001:

    At the same time, in certain areas DDT began to lose its potency. DDT kills by attacking a mosquito’s nervous system, affecting the nerve cells so that they keep firing and the insect goes into a spasm, lurching, shuddering, and twitching before it dies. But in every population of mosquitoes there are a handful with a random genetic mutation that renders DDT nontoxic–that prevents it from binding to nerve endings. When mass spraying starts, those genetic outliers are too rare to matter. But, as time goes on, they are the only mosquitoes still breeding, and entire new generations of insects become resistant. In Greece, in the late nineteen-forties, for example, a malariologist noticed Anopheles sacharovi mosquitoes flying around a room that had been sprayed with DDT. In time, resistance began to emerge in areas where spraying was heaviest. To the malaria warriors, it was a shock. “Why should they have known?” Janet Hemingway, an expert in DDT resistance at the University of Wales in Cardiff, says. “It was the first synthetic insecticide. They just assumed that it would keep on working, and that the insects couldn’t do much about it.” Soper and the malariologist Paul Russell, who was his great ally, responded by pushing for an all-out war on malaria. We had to use DDT, they argued, or lose it. “If countries, due to lack of funds, have to proceed slowly, resistance is almost certain to appear and eradication will become economically impossible,” Russell wrote in a 1956 report. “TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE because DDT resistance has appeared in six or seven years.” But, with the administrative and logistical problems posed by the goal of eighty-per-cent coverage, that deadline proved impossible to meet.

    * * * * * * * *

    In 1963, the money from Congress ran out. Countries that had been told they could wipe out malaria in four years–and had diverted much of their health budgets to that effort–grew disillusioned as the years dragged on and eradication never materialized. Soon, they put their money back into areas that seemed equally pressing, like maternal and child health. Spraying programs were scaled back. In those countries where the disease had not been completely eliminated, malaria rates began to inch upward. In 1969, the World Health Organization formally abandoned global eradication, and in the ensuing years it proved impossible to muster any great enthusiasm from donors to fund antimalaria efforts. The W.H.O. now recommends that countries treat the disease largely through the health-care system–through elimination of the parasite–but many anti-malarial drugs are no longer effective. In the past thirty years, there have been outbreaks in India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and South Korea, among other places. “Our troubles with mosquitoes are getting worse,” Spielman concludes in “Mosquito,” “making more people sick and claiming more lives, millions of lives, every year.”

    * * * * * * * *

    There is something to admire in that attitude; it is hard to look at the devastation wrought by H.I.V. and malaria and countless other diseases in the Third World and not conclude that what we need, more than anything, is someone who will marshal the troops, send them house to house, monitor their every movement, direct their every success, and, should a day of indifference leave their shirts unsullied, send them packing. Toward the end of his life, Soper, who died in 1975, met with an old colleague, M. A. Farid, with whom he had fought gambiae in Egypt years before. “How do things go?” Soper began. “Bad!” Farid replied, for this was in the years when everyone had turned against Soper’s vision. “Who will be our ally?” Soper asked. And Farid said simply, “Malaria,” and Soper, he remembered, almost hugged him, because it was clear what Farid meant: Someday, when DDT is dead and buried, and the West wakes up to a world engulfed by malaria, we will think back on Fred Soper and wish we had another to take his place.

    DDT never was the miracle substance Miller claims.

    Jay quoted Miller:

    Malaria is a scourge, particularly for inhabitants of poor tropical countries. Forty-one percent of the world’s population live in areas where malaria is transmitted, with 350-500 million cases each year.

    WHO projects only about 250 million cases of malaria a year now — efforts to fight the disease are having good effects.

    The disease imposes substantial costs on individuals, families, and governments. Costs to individuals and their families include drugs, travel to and treatment at clinics, lost time at work and school, and expenses for preventive measures. Costs to governments include maintenance of health facilities, purchases of drugs and supplies, public-health interventions such as spraying insecticide or distributing insecticide-treated bed nets, and lost revenue from taxes and tourism.

    Such costs are a huge economic burden on malaria-prone countries and impede their development. It has been estimated that annual economic growth in countries with a high incidence of malaria is 1.3 percentage points lower than that of other countries.

    DDT can’t help reduce costs, especially when it’s more expensive than other solutions, and when its effectiveness is compromised as it is.

    Drugs called artemisinins are safe and exhibit potent, rapid anti-malarial activity. In combination with other anti-malarials, they have been used effectively for several years to treat multiple-drug-resistant malaria. But resistance has arisen and will surely increase, so that in the absence of a vaccine, elimination of the mosquitoes that spread the disease is the key to preventing epidemics.

    Resistance is a problem in the pharmaceuticals just as it is with insecticides. DDT can’t help there at all — it’s not a pharmaceutical.

    The fact remains that, to beat malaria, we have to cure humans of the disease while mosquito populations are knocked down. Mosquitoes will ALWAYS come roaring back. Our hope is that when those populations come, they won’t find any humans infected with malaria from whom they can draw the disease. That requires improvements in health care delivery, and constant innovation on anti-malaria drugs.

    Unfortunately, flawed public policy limits the available options.

    The non-existent ban on DDT is not among those “flawed public policy limits.” There is plenty of DDT available to anyone who chooses to use it.

    Alas, it turns out that DDT doesn’t always work. For example, India is the world’s greatest producer and user of DDT — India uses more DDT than all the rest of the world together. But DDT can’t wipe out malaria, and India has increasing problems with malaria.

    DDT isn’t pixie dust, and it’s lost its potency. Often, spraying DDT is just spraying poisons that kill everything BUT the mosquitoes, at high cost.

    In 1972, on the basis of data on toxicity to fish and migrating birds (but not to humans), the United States Environmental Protection Agency banned virtually all uses of DDT, an inexpensive and effective pesticide once widely deployed to kill disease-carrying insects.

    Under order from two different federal courts, EPA reviewed the science behind claims that DDT is harmful. There were nearly 10,000 pages of testimony, and as the hearing examiner noted, the record clearly established that DDT is deadly to insects, fish, rodents, bats, frogs, lizards and a host of beneficial insects, and birds, especially raptors. The ban imposed prevented outdoor use of DDT on agricultural crops ONLY. Use to fight malaria was/is allowed under the order. DDT manufacturers were specifically exempted from stopping manufacture, so they could export it. By this device EPA multiplied the amount of DDT available for use against malaria. Manufacture of DDT in the U.S. continued until at least 1984.

    Federal courts reviewed the order, because as Miller should know as a former employee of a regulatory agency, under U.S. law a regulatory agency may not make whimsical actions. There must be substantial evidence to back scientific conclusions of an agency. The courts ruled EPA had plenty of evidence.

    DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide under the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which stigmatized the chemical and effectively constituted a prohibition.

    Read the convention, please. DDT has a special section in that treaty that keeps it available (see Annex B Part II, on page 44). Any nation may use DDT at any time, and the treaty asks politely that any such nation send a letter to WHO first. There is no penalty if the letter is not sent.

    DDT has never been banned worldwide. It has never been banned in Africa or Asia. As we noted, WHO still uses DDT in those few places it is appropriate — but WHO uses it carefully and in limited quantities. Mr. Ambrose offers anecdotes that talk about African nations using DDT freely — in direct refutation of his claim now that DDT is banned. Which story should we believe from Ambrose?

    A basic principle of toxicology is that the dose makes the poison. Although DDT is a (modestly) toxic substance, there is a world of difference between applying large amounts of it in the environment – as farmers did before it was banned – and using it carefully and sparingly to fight mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects. (When it is used at all now, it is now sprayed indoors in small amounts to prevent mosquitoes from nesting.)

    Agreed. WHO says they have enough, and they are phasing it out as DDT becomes increasingly ineffective. No malaria-fighting organization has asked for more DDT for many years — there is plenty available for the limited places it can be used.

    We don’t need more DDT. We need better funding to cure humans of malaria. DDT can’t do that.

    The regulators who banned DDT also failed to take into consideration the inadequacy of alternatives.

    That’s completely untrue, in direct contravention of the facts. There are more than 1,000 pages of testimony in the 1971 hearings on alternatives. The National Academy of Sciences in its call to ban DDT in 1970 spent a couple of hundred pages describing how the search for alternatives needs to be done.

    Had there been alternatives, the ban would have been complete in 1972. Because there were no perfect alternatives, DDT was left available to fight malaria. Get the history right, Miller (can you get him to make corrections, Jay?)

    Because it persists after spraying, DDT works far better than many pesticides now in use, some of which are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms

    Except that DDT is even more toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms (IRS is designed to keep all such pesticides out of waterways). DDT’s persistence is devilish. It has been found within the past year in tissues of penguins in the Antarctic, and DDT residues still remain in the most remote parts of Antarctica. As Greenland and Antarctic ice melt, DDT is released into water, poisoning new generations of fish and other sea-going animals.

    Recently it was discovered that residual DDT is hammering the reproduction of wild populations of the endangered California Condor, 39 years after DDT was banned for outdoor use broadly (it was used in 1974 on the tussock moth, but that’s not enough to account for DDT residues around the world now).

    DDT’s persistence is why it is so dangerous, and why it was banned. It continues to kill wildlife for years, and there really is no effective check on it.

    With DDT unavailable, many mosquito-control authorities are depleting their budgets by repeated spraying with short-acting, marginally effective insecticides.

    And those who use DDT are depleting their budgets with repeated spraying with DDT, which is now marginally effective. We cannot count on poisoning Africa to health, Dr. Miller. DDT isn’t magic. It’s deadly and dangerous. We don’t need more of it.

    Moreover, even if mosquitoes become resistant to the killing effects of DDT, they are still repelled by it.

    But DEET is much more repellent, and not as harmful to beneficial organisms, like cats (that kill rodents), spiders and all the predators on malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The claim that DDT should be used as mosquito repellent is absurd. It’s like using atomic weapons to warm a can of soup.

    Bednets repel more mosquitoes more effectively, and are cheaper. Why is Miller bent on breaking the budgets of African nations and poisoning them with stuff that is not going to make a huge dent in their malaria woes?

    An occasional dusting of window frames and doorframes is extremely effective.

    No study shows that. Bednets are more effective, and used in conjunction with other pesticides, perfectly adequate.

    Bill Gates’s experts seem not to know that;

    Oh, they know all about DDT. They’re experts. DDT doesn’t work as well as Miller claims, and they see little sense in wasting money. Did you read the extensive report on the Gates Foundation project I linked to earlier, Jay? Will you refer Miller to it?

    DDT isn’t favored by the experts because DDT is dangerous, DDT is not effective everywhere, and there are better solutions.

    . . . the foundation’s annual letter contains the following single mention of DDT: “The world hoped in the 1950s and 1960s that [malaria] could be eliminated by killing mosquitoes with DDT, but that tactic failed when the mosquitoes evolved to be resistant to the chemical.”

    That’s correct. Good on them.

    Since DDT was banned, insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue have been on the rise.

    In 1959 and 1960, the peak years of DDT use, 4 million people died from malaria world wide. USDA and Interior stopped DDT use in the early 1960s; WHO slowed DDT use in 1965. The U.S. banned DDT use on cotton crops in 1972. DDT use was about half what it had been in 1960 — and in 1972 about 2 million people died from malaria, world wide.

    Today, the death toll from malaria is under 1 million annually — that’s a 75% reduction in malaria deaths since 1960. Malaria deaths continue to decline due to a worldwide effort to beat malaria, including the great, heroic efforts by the Gates Foundation.

    Most other mosquito-borne diseases are dropping in incidence and death, though it is true that the range of dengue has spread into Texas.

    Increased range, less disease. Get the facts straight, please.

    In fact, the huge toll of diseases spread by mosquitoes has led some public-health officials to rethink DDT’s use. In 2006, after roughly 50 million preventable deaths, the United Nations’ World Health Organization reversed course and endorsed the use of DDT to kill and repel Anopheles mosquitoes. Arata Kochi, the WHO official in charge of malaria said, “We must take a position based on the science and the data. One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual spraying. Of the dozen or so insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT.”

    Actually it was not a reverse of course. WHO never stopped using DDT, and had never changed its policy on the stuff. It’s just that it’s silly to use DDT when and where it doesn’t work.

    Kochi’s letter was aimed at opposition to DDT from African businessmen, who claimed that DDT contamination might kill their chances to market tobacco and cotton in the European Union. It was a false fear, but their opposition was real.

    WHO has again announced they will work to phase out DDT. It has proven not to be a panacea, once again. To beat malaria, we have to cure people, too. DDT cannot do that.

    But policies based on science and data have a short half-life at the UN. With a notable absence of fanfare, in May 2009 the WHO, together with the UN Environment Program, reverted to endorsing less effective methods for preventing malaria, announcing that their goal is “to achieve a 30% cut in the application of DDT worldwide by 2014 and its total phase-out by the early 2020s, if not sooner.” In the absence of effective vaccines or new anti-malarial drugs – and the funding and infrastructure to deliver them – this decision is tantamount to mass murder, a triumph of radical environmental politics over public health.

    So, Miller thinks that staying safe is “radical environmental politics?” Miller labels good science as “radical?” The National Academy of Sciences called for the phase out of DDT in 1970 — 41 years ago — because, despite its great value, its harms are greater. (They also goofed on the 500 million figure — that’s the number of people who got malaria each year, then — not that’s down to about 250 million, the infection numbers cut in half.)

    The UN has continued to work responsibly, looking for alternatives to DDT, and fighting malaria despite yahoo calls to just poison Africa and forget about the difficult and expensive work of improving medical care and beating malaria for all time.

    Miller is the radical in this discussion. Miller calls for poisoning of Africa, but he cannot offer any research to suggest that is the right thing to do. Why not listen to the experts?

    Jay quotes as Miller blunders on:

    How can we drain the public-policy swamp?

    First, governments should re-evaluate the voluminous data on DDT that have been compiled since the 1970’s, and they should make DDT available immediately for mosquito control indoors.

    Since the 1970s we have a wealth of data that show DDT thins the eggs of birds — one more way it kills birds — and this is a serious threat that can be met only by not using DDT; we’ve also learned that DDT is mildly carcinogenic; and we’ve learned that DDT is an endocrine disruptor that scrambles sex organs in fetuses, and will shrink the testes on little boys and swell the mammaries on little girls.

    That re-evaluation of DDT is constant, Dr. Miller — and the evidence against DDT grows stronger month by month. Discover Magazine noted in 2007 that since Carson published, more than a thousand studies had been published backing the studies she cited in 1962 — not one contrary.

    Discover Magazine said:

    In fact, Carson may have underestimated the impact of DDT on birds, says Michael Fry, an avian toxicologist and director of the American Bird Conservancy’s pesticides and birds program. She was not aware that DDT—or rather its metabolite, DDE—causes eggshell thinning because the data were not published until the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was eggshell thinning that devastated fish-eating birds and birds of prey, says Fry, and this effect is well documented in a report (pdf) on DDT published in 2002 by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The report, which cites over 1,000 references, also describes how DDT and its breakdown products accumulate in the tissues of animals high up on terrestrial and aquatic food chains—a process that induced reproductive and neurological defects in birds and fish.

    Miller wrote:

    Second, governments should oppose international restrictions on DDT and withhold all funding from UN agencies that oppose the use of the “best available technology” (including DDT) to control mosquito-borne diseases.

    DDT is one of the deadliest killers of ecosystems we know. Why should governments back off of restrictions on powerful, harmful pollutants? That makes zero sense. Is Miller next going to advocate we start passing out cigarettes to kids under the age of 7?

    Why should we suddenly get stupid in pollution control? Has Miller read the hundreds of pages of testimony on the harms of DDT presented to the UN in the 1990s? Why not? He should have his typewriter locked up until he does.

    Third, public-health officials should embark on a campaign to educate local authorities and citizens about the DDT. People now hear only the reflexively anti-pesticide drumbeat of the environmental movement, the lamentable legacy of the benighted Rachel Carson and her acolytes.

    I agree. Public health officials should label people like Miller “public health enemies,” and call them out for telling fantastic lies about noble scientists like Rachel Carson. Maybe they should put the story of DDT’s harms on milk cartons — it seems to have been kidnapped by people like Miller, determined to cover up the facts.

    Jay, you should tell Miller she’s dead. Miller’s fetish obsession with condemning her is ugly. Not a single study she cited in 1962 has been contradicted by later research — not one. You, Jay, call me a liar, and then you quote Miller making this ugly and completely false assault on a dead woman and the truth. That’s sick.

    The President’s Science Advisory Council issued a comprehensive report on Carson’s book in 1963, saying it was incredibly accurate. That’s still true.

    Read it, Miller. Get the truth. Come out of the shadows, and stand in the sunlight of accurate science.

    Stop this unholy campaign against the truth.

    And oh, yes, it would be helpful if the world’s greatest philanthropist were to throw his weight behind removing the stigma on DDT.

    Bill Gates was a Boy Scout. He would never do something so heinous as to lie about DDT like that, claiming it to be safe and effective, contrary to every study ever done on it.

    Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He was formerly at the US National Institutes of Health and Food & Drug Administration.

    Then he should know better. It’s astounding the Hoover Institution lets such inaccurate stuff out of its doors without insisting its name be taken off the author’s bio.

    See EPA’s history of DDT, here.

    Read the internet’s greatest expert on DDT and bugs, Bug Girl, on bedbugs and DDT, here.

    Read about how well bednets work in Kenya, here.

    Like

  17. Ed Darrell says:

    Ambrose, you claim that DDT is rare. Got any evidence of that?

    You claim that the U.S. ban on DDT on cotton somehow caused African nations to stop using DDT. Got any evidence of that?

    You claim that a shortage of DDT causes more malaria. Can you provide some study that indicates anyone had a shortage of DDT at any point, as opposed to an inability to mount an effective anti-malaria campaign?

    DDT is no substitute for executive competence. A nation that cannot mount any campaign against malaria, is also incompetent to mount a campaign with DDT.

    Without sending us on wild goose chases, can you back up any of your claims from your columns?

    Like

  18. Jay Ambrose says:

    I want to give this up, but one more thing. You guys cannot read. You have not mastered the simple task of noting who said what. You again and again say I said things that were said by articles I gave you, and even then you tend to misinterpret.

    I supplied those articles not necessarily endorsing every point, but because of their overall case that DDT works and not using it kills. That is true. Not a word said by anyone here refutes it. The best that has been done is to point to someone who is trying other techniques, but that does not necessarily mean anything but a prejudice against DDT’s toxicity. Bathtub Milly thinks that because mosquitoes developed immunity in some places, they developed it in all places. They did not. He is just flat out wrong.

    There are examples upon examples of malaria deaths going up when DDT was discontinued and going down when it was used again. Africans were at the mercy of eco-imperialists, but finally began fighting back. Doing what has been done to them is a cruetly beyond mention, and you people seem to think it is just another opportunity to be clever.

    The truth about the toxicity is that it is unlikely to do any harm unless used in huge amounts that are never used in mosquito spraying. It is conceivable it could do harm (just as any number of products in the average home could), but to put that ahead of 20 million deaths it could have helped prevent is moral idiocy of the kind you only see in believers in fundamentalist, evangelical radical environmentalism.

    Like

  19. Pangolin says:

    Well, it’s nice to know that Jay Ambrose has a P.h.D. in copypasta. Or, as they say on the _chan boards: “wall of text is wall of text” meaning it’s unreadable and out of context on a comment board.

    Whatever the heck the rest of that guano Ambrose posted was I’ll never know because not a bit of it referenced a scientific journal article as far as I could see.

    Nature has provided us with a perfect, self-replicating, self-deploying malarial mosquito destruction system. It’s commonly referred to as a “bat.” Provide your local mosquito eating bat population with plentiful, appropriate housing and malarial mosquitos vanish into many hungry little mouths.

    In several million years mosquitos haven’t been able to evolve past their fate as bat dinners because the bats keep evolving also. To help things along there are multiple bird species that specialize in mosquito eradication providing 24 hour coverage.

    Pesticides, like antibiotics are a temporary and faulty approach to controlling disease. Understanding the habitats that give rise to pests and adjusting to provide a healthy biota is the only long term solution. Evolution has proven to be more than a match for pesticide developers.

    Like

  20. Jay Ambrose says:

    Re-Booting DDT
    Henry I. Miller
    print recommend Send link clip secure rights

    Here is an article by one of the scientists I have talked to on the subject. Notice his credentials.

    larger | smaller
    comments: 3
    Share17
    inShare.0

    2010-05-05
    Re-Booting DDT

    PALO ALTO – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is fascinating. So is the 19-page annual letter that describes the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropy. But for someone as smart as Gates, who can afford to hire experts on any subject under the sun, some of his foundation’s strategies are baffling.

    Consider his foundation’s approach to malaria, which focuses on bed nets, a low-tech, only modestly effective intervention, and on the development of a vaccine, a high-tech solution that has eluded intensive efforts for decades. This approach dismisses an old, cheap, and safe way to control the vector – the Anopheles mosquito – that spreads the disease: the chemical DDT.

    Malaria is a scourge, particularly for inhabitants of poor tropical countries. Forty-one percent of the world’s population live in areas where malaria is transmitted, with 350-500 million cases each year.

    The disease imposes substantial costs on individuals, families, and governments. Costs to individuals and their families include drugs, travel to and treatment at clinics, lost time at work and school, and expenses for preventive measures. Costs to governments include maintenance of health facilities, purchases of drugs and supplies, public-health interventions such as spraying insecticide or distributing insecticide-treated bed nets, and lost revenue from taxes and tourism.

    Such costs are a huge economic burden on malaria-prone countries and impede their development. It has been estimated that annual economic growth in countries with a high incidence of malaria is 1.3 percentage points lower than that of other countries.

    Drugs called artemisinins are safe and exhibit potent, rapid anti-malarial activity. In combination with other anti-malarials, they have been used effectively for several years to treat multiple-drug-resistant malaria. But resistance has arisen and will surely increase, so that in the absence of a vaccine, elimination of the mosquitoes that spread the disease is the key to preventing epidemics.

    Unfortunately, flawed public policy limits the available options.

    In 1972, on the basis of data on toxicity to fish and migrating birds (but not to humans), the United States Environmental Protection Agency banned virtually all uses of DDT, an inexpensive and effective pesticide once widely deployed to kill disease-carrying insects. DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide under the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which stigmatized the chemical and effectively constituted a prohibition.

    A basic principle of toxicology is that the dose makes the poison. Although DDT is a (modestly) toxic substance, there is a world of difference between applying large amounts of it in the environment – as farmers did before it was banned – and using it carefully and sparingly to fight mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects. (When it is used at all now, it is now sprayed indoors in small amounts to prevent mosquitoes from nesting.)

    The regulators who banned DDT also failed to take into consideration the inadequacy of alternatives. Because it persists after spraying, DDT works far better than many pesticides now in use, some of which are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms. With DDT unavailable, many mosquito-control authorities are depleting their budgets by repeated spraying with short-acting, marginally effective insecticides.

    Moreover, even if mosquitoes become resistant to the killing effects of DDT, they are still repelled by it. An occasional dusting of window frames and doorframes is extremely effective. Bill Gates’s experts seem not to know that; the foundation’s annual letter contains the following single mention of DDT: “The world hoped in the 1950s and 1960s that [malaria] could be eliminated by killing mosquitoes with DDT, but that tactic failed when the mosquitoes evolved to be resistant to the chemical.”

    Since DDT was banned, insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue have been on the rise. In fact, the huge toll of diseases spread by mosquitoes has led some public-health officials to rethink DDT’s use. In 2006, after roughly 50 million preventable deaths, the United Nations’ World Health Organization reversed course and endorsed the use of DDT to kill and repel Anopheles mosquitoes. Arata Kochi, the WHO official in charge of malaria said, “We must take a position based on the science and the data. One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual spraying. Of the dozen or so insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT.”

    But policies based on science and data have a short half-life at the UN. With a notable absence of fanfare, in May 2009 the WHO, together with the UN Environment Program, reverted to endorsing less effective methods for preventing malaria, announcing that their goal is “to achieve a 30% cut in the application of DDT worldwide by 2014 and its total phase-out by the early 2020s, if not sooner.” In the absence of effective vaccines or new anti-malarial drugs – and the funding and infrastructure to deliver them – this decision is tantamount to mass murder, a triumph of radical environmental politics over public health.

    How can we drain the public-policy swamp?

    First, governments should re-evaluate the voluminous data on DDT that have been compiled since the 1970’s, and they should make DDT available immediately for mosquito control indoors.

    Second, governments should oppose international restrictions on DDT and withhold all funding from UN agencies that oppose the use of the “best available technology” (including DDT) to control mosquito-borne diseases.

    Third, public-health officials should embark on a campaign to educate local authorities and citizens about the DDT. People now hear only the reflexively anti-pesticide drumbeat of the environmental movement, the lamentable legacy of the benighted Rachel Carson and her acolytes.

    And oh, yes, it would be helpful if the world’s greatest philanthropist were to throw his weight behind removing the stigma on DDT.

    Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He was formerly at the US National Institutes of Health and Food & Drug Administration.

    Like

  21. Ed Darrell says:

    I win. You guys lose. You just repeat leftist propaganda and think you’re saying something and ignore the facts. I am gone. I proved my point, and there’s no point in talking more to stoned walls. Or whatever.

    The old “declare the war over and claim you won” gambit.

    You haven’t dealt with any of the arguments. You claimed that Rachel Carson said DDT was carcinogenic (she didn’t), and that DDT was banned because of it (it wasn’t). You said the ban somehow got to Africa (it didn’t, ever), but then you cite programs using DDT in the past few months.

    And not once do you bother to appeal to any research to back the claim — you cite Lyndon Larouche as if he’s Dwight Eisenhower, and accuse us of citing bad sources.

    Amazing.

    Like

  22. Jay Ambrose says:

    That last posting — and this the real last posting from me — was not my writing, but the writing of a previous post that no one seemed to deal with as if it were really there. Bathtub Milly offered some global warming mumbo-jumbo but didn’t really get to the point that when DDT stopped being used in Africa, deaths jumped, and when it was resumed in some places, deaths went down. It’s like it didn’t happen because look up, look down, to your left, your right, but never straight ahead. What I figure, friend, is that you’re trying to do Mencken one better. Blog title well-chosen.

    Like

  23. Jay Ambrose says:

    In Uganda, Minister of Health Brigadier Jim Muhwezi has renewed house spraying in the most malarious areas, with the approval of the Ugandan Cabinet. Muhwezi dismissed the critics of DDT, saying, “How many people must die of malaria while these debates continue? If DDT can save lives, why not use it as we wait for the alternatives,” as reported in the Kampala newspaper, New Vision, on April 27. Muhwezi also noted that the country of Mauritius was about to be declared malaria free because of its use of DDT.

    In Zambia, where malaria incidence and deaths had climbed since the 1980s, the Health Minister is aggressively pursuing the use of DDT to fight malaria, after great success using DDT in the copper mining areas beginning in 2000. When the Konkola Copper Mines began spraying the inside walls of houses with DDT, there was a 50% reduction of malaria in one year. The next year, there was a further 50% reduction, and since then there have been no malaria deaths in that region.

    In Zimbabwe, Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa reintroduced DDT because it was “cheap and more effective, with a longer residual killing power.” He told the Bulawayo Chronicle in October 2003, “So many people have died of malaria since January and we are doing our best to control it…. DDT is very effective, because it sticks for a long time on the walls and kills a lot of mosquitoes with a single spray…. South Africa and Swaziland are using it, and I don’t see why we should not use it.”

    In Kenya, the DDT fight is still on, with the director of Kenya’s premier research institute, KEMRI, taking a strong stand for the use of DDT, and another research institute, the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology, taking the anti-DDT, environmentalist view. Malaria now kills 700 Kenyans a day, and as KEMRI director Davy Koech told the opposition, “Anything that can reduce malaria deaths by 80% should be given another thought.”

    Kenya had a terrible outbreak of malaria after heavy rains in 2002, with hundreds of deaths. According to the group Doctors without Borders, there are about 8.2 million cases of malaria reported in Kenya per year. The epidemic-prone areas are the highlands, where about 23% of the population lives.

    South Africa made the decision to bring back DDT in the year 2000, after a four-year hiatus in its use, during which time the malaria cases and death rates surged in the worst epidemic in the country’s history. In 1996, South Africa had substituted a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide for DDT, under pressure from environmentalists. But the mosquitoes became resistant to this pesticide. As a result, between 1996 and 2000, the number of malaria cases in South Africa increased by more than 450%, with an increased mortality rate of nearly 1,000%!

    After one year of DDT use, the incidence of malaria in the worst-hit province, KwaZulu Natal, fell by 80%.

    The DDT program for malaria control has the support of South Africa’s leading researchers, doctors, and malaria control experts, who released a statement in April 2004 backing the indoor spraying program, and slamming the latest permutation in the DDT scare stories, that DDT lowers sperm levels and quality. The statement notes, “We believe that the Department of Health is correct in its choice of DDT in its malaria control program, and as scientists, medical practitioners, and public health professionals, endorse its use.”

    Like

  24. Jay Ambrose says:

    I win. You guys lose. You just repeat leftist propaganda and think you’re saying something and ignore the facts. I am gone. I proved my point, and there’s no point in talking more to stoned walls. Or whatever.

    Like

  25. Ed Darrell says:

    Mr. Ambrose, you might do well to consider the name of this blog, and the hoax that prompted the name.

    H. L. Mencken discovered that a hoax, once out of the box and into the newspaper, is nearly impossible to kill.

    You’ve been victimized by the pro-DDT, anti-environmentalism/anti-Rachel Carson hoax. You’re citing hoax claims from hoax sources to us.

    Can one newspaperman learn from another, albeit dead, newspaperman?

    Like

  26. Ed Darrell says:

    Hey, Millard, baby, what about the Zamian evidence? Oh, doesn’t fit your theories? I see.

    What Zambian evidence? Cat got your sources?

    I’ve written about Zambia at least six times previously.

    Zambia’s had good luck with bednets — Heritage Foundation has terrible habit of slamming health workers and other malaria fighters (do we sense a trend?).

    Global warming has put malaria at Zambia’s door, infecting areas where it had not been before. Bednets and better medical care again provide great reductions in the disease.

    USAID and Roll Back Malaria both claim to have enough DDT to work in Zambia and other places — they don’t need more.

    The President’s Malaria Initiative hopes to make even greater inroads against malaria in Zambia in 2011 — mostly without DDT.

    Malawi studied Zambia’s use of DDT to see if they could use DDT safely — indicating once again that your claims of a ban are fictitious claims.

    The Gates Foundation is working to eradicate malaria in Zambia — generally with bednets and medical care, not DDT — but they are not opposed to DDT use.

    Zambia has some malaria, but doesn’t need more DDT to fight it. What Zambian evidence were you talking about?

    Like

  27. Ed Darrell says:

    Jay Ambrose quoted:

    Rachel Carson ignited the environmental movement when her book Silent Spring warned the world in 1962 that “DDT would be proven to be a [human] carcinogen.” In fact, no peer-reviewed evidence ever indicted DDT as a carcinogen—or a human health risk of any sort.

    That’s a lie, Jay. She never made that claim.

    Prove me wrong — give us a page number in the book.

    And remember, a panel of highly distinguished scientists, the President’s Science Advisory Council, went over Carson’s book with a fine tooth comb, and pronounced it accurate to a fault. What do you know that a couple Nobel winning scientists don’t? Nothing accurate, I’ll bet.

    Like

  28. Jim says:

    Hi Ed!

    As someone who is fairly new to the DDT debate, may I ask a question or two? Follow the money is my mantra.

    This is how I usually sort the truth from the bull-puckey.

    1. If DDT again becomes the panacea some say it is, who stands to gain financially?

    2. What is in it, profit-wise, for critics of DDT?

    I have my guesses, but I’d rather informed people weigh in first.

    Thanks, bud!

    Jim

    Like

  29. Ed Darrell says:

    Ambrose said:

    Calling things carcinogenic is a favorite red herring of the leftist mob . Plenty of things are carcinogenic that we have in our bodies. What matters is the dosage. We are forever hearing calls for bans on this that or the other that you’d have to consume in huge amounts in order to leave this veil of tears.

    You’re misstating the issue, Jay. You, and the astroturf group “Africa Fighting Malaria” (which is not based in Africa and does nothing to fight malaria), and others, claim that DDT should be brought back ‘because it was banned on the false pretense that it was carcinogenic’ and that is usually blamed on Rachel Carson, falsely.

    THAT is the red herring, Jay — and you’re defending it.

    1. DDT was banned in the U.S — for use on agricultural crops only (still legal to use against malaria, plus doubling the amount of DDT available for export to Africa and Asia . . .) because it is uncontrollable in the wild, and it devastates entire ecosystems. DDT was banned because it damages the fight against malaria and other diseases by killing all the predators of the vectors of disease.

    2. Rachel Carson did not allege DDT is carcinogenic. You’ll call me a liar, no doubt — before you do, please get her book and cite for me where she made such a claim. Don’t make false claims when you accuse me, please.

    3. Turns out DDT is, in fact, at least a weak carcinogen.

    4. DDT is a powerful endocrine disruptor, screwing up the sex organs in mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. In each of these cases it mimics endocrine hormones that promote cancer, or are carcinogenic. Claiming DDT is “not carcinogenic” is misleading at very best, and probably completely false.

    If you’ve studied cancer — and I doubt you have — you know that dose is not necessarily the issue. Dosage makes a poison, but not a carcinogen. A tiny amount of radiation can cause cancer, just as easily as a large amount — no threshhold. Same for mutagenic and carcinogenic chemicals. There is no threshhold.

    So, if you wish to claim DDT is not carcinogenic, please tell me why the American Cancer Society lists it as a “probable human carcinogen,” and tell me why they would lie. Who should I trust, the American Cancer Society, or Jay Ambrose? Is that even a difficult choice?

    By the way, DDT is well established as a mammal carcinogen. If it were not carcinogenic to humans, it would be unique as the only chemical ever found that causes cancer in other mammals, but somehow skips humans. I doubt that is the case.

    So, it is misleading, and a red herring, to claim that DDT should be banned because it is not carcinogenic. It is also a red herring to claim DDT should not be banned because it supported Millard Fillmore in 1852. For the same reason.

    Like

  30. Ed Darrell says:

    Ambrose, citing spurious sources, said:

    Oh look, here’s a doctor who traveled all over the tropics to make a film about the human cost of banning DDT, no doubt not knowing this would offend Bathtub Milly and his devotees.

    By Dennis Avery Sunday, September 12, 2010

    CHURCHVILLE, VA—3 Billion and Counting is a new documentary film on the awful human cost of banning DDT. The film’s producer, medical doctor Rutledge Taylor, circled the tropical world, finding that malaria has claimed some three billion human lives throughout history—and the toll of needless deaths is continuing to mount by perhaps 1.5 million per year.

    Jay, that’s voodoo science and bogus history.

    Here’s the lowdown on Taylor Rutledge, who sells anti-wrinkle creams to the stars in Hollywood:

    1. The producers can’t count — 3 billion deaths? In the last 100,000 years maybe, but not since DDT.

    2. Those guys allege a ban on DDT — false. Not so.

    3. Taylor is totally out to lunch on bedbugs, who are resistant to DDT and have been for decades. Seriously, Jay, do you want to cite Howard Stern as a source for your science? Rutledge Taylor can’t figure out why I say Stern’s a specious source — but surely you can understand that.

    4. Taylor is wrong on DDT, wrong on the law (no bans), wrong on the history, and wrong on bedbugs. Moreover, he refuses to offer his citations for others to check out. He claims to have file cabinets full of studies — nothing that’s not available elsewhere, and nothing that supports his case.

    Why not check the science journals, Jay? I’ll save you some effort — here’s the Lancet special issue on malaria. Notice, no “3 billion dead,” no call for more DDT.

    Why do you want to poison those poor African children? Shouldn’t we be giving them help in the fight against malaria, instead?

    And, Jay, rather than spam me with more articles by nutcases, charlatans and crooks who say the same things you want said, why not pick any of these 70+ articles which explain why you err, and offer serious, scientific data in response? See the DDT Chronicles here — more good data on DDT than you have ever seen in your life.

    Like

  31. Ed Darrell says:

    I can’t believe someone above said malaria deaths kept dropping after the DDT ban. The person is either a liar or a complete ignoramus, and in either case, is alligning himself with killing children. Blather like that is less than cute when lives are at stake.

    Take a chill pill, Jay.

    Check the statistics from WHO. Check the statistics from USAID.

    Malaria deaths are, today, under 1 million per year — the lowest level in human history.

    It’s not a lie. It’s a fact.

    Clearly you need to read up on this stuff. You appear to have information from bad sources, or that got badly garbled in transmission.

    Have you read Sonia Shah’s book? You should.

    Like

  32. Jay Ambrose says:

    Oh look, here’s a doctor who traveled all over the tropics to make a film about the human cost of banning DDT, no doubt not knowing this would offend Bathtub Milly and his devotees.

    By Dennis Avery Sunday, September 12, 2010

    CHURCHVILLE, VA—3 Billion and Counting is a new documentary film on the awful human cost of banning DDT. The film’s producer, medical doctor Rutledge Taylor, circled the tropical world, finding that malaria has claimed some three billion human lives throughout history—and the toll of needless deaths is continuing to mount by perhaps 1.5 million per year.

    Moreover, it permanently debilitates millions more. Taylor says malaria treatment is a “tangle of red tape, misguided prevention policies and treatment that is ineffective in the face of continual re-infection.” Above all, he found “willful deafness to the pleas of local populations to help them eradicate the mosquitoes that deliver the deadly cargo.”
    Steve Milloy at Junkscience.com has called DDT “a weapon of mass survival.”
    Rachel Carson ignited the environmental movement when her book Silent Spring warned the world in 1962 that “DDT would be proven to be a [human] carcinogen.” In fact, no peer-reviewed evidence ever indicted DDT as a carcinogen—or a human health risk of any sort.
    What about DDT thinning the eggshells of raptor birds? Audubon counted virtually no eagles in its annual “lower-48 states” Christmas bird counts from 1900 until after 1940. The birds were shot and poisoned for “stealing” fish, lambs, and poultry. The public thought eagles were just big, aggressive predators. Finally, in 1940, Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act. The eagles began a long, initially-slow comeback. Today, Audubon typically records more than 15,000 eagles every Christmas—and the DDT ban had no role in their comeback.
    But Rachel Carson struck a public nerve. DDT and window screens had eradicated malaria in America and Europe. Well and good. But then DDT started radically reducing the death rates of the brown, black, and yellow people in the tropics. Paul Ehrlich wrote his incendiary screed The Population Bomb in 1968, and the American public recoiled in horror at “overpopulation.”
    Rutledge Taylor traces the horrific DDT mistake back to one man: William Ruckelshaus, the Nixon-appointed lawyer who headed the EPA in 1972. An EPA judge heard more than 100 expert witnesses, and ruled that DDT was not a carcinogen, nor did it pose a threat to mammals, fish or birds. Ruckelshaus overruled his own judge, and banned DDT. He had attended none of the hearing, and admitted later he’d never read any of the transcript. Dr. Taylor concludes he did it to please his friends in the Environmental Defense Fund.
    T refusal to fund its use in poor countries. Malaria resurged all over the tropics. Rachel Carson, and Ruckelshaus were the indirect cause of more deaths than Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Genghis Khan combined. You can even throw in the Black Plague and still not match the numbers.
    DDT is not only the most cost-effective mosquito killer, it is also a powerful mosquito repellent. If tropic homes get a mild interior DDT whitewash, the insects don’t come in, bite somebody, and then die two hours later. They just don’t come in! DDT is, by itself, capable of reducing a malaria outbreak by 80 percent—quickly.
    Global population is now rapidly stabilizing, and will trend slowly down after 2050. Is it time to renounce the “overpopulation” panic and use the best chemistry to suppress the awful malaria scourge? Remember, each case of malaria causes not only the victim’s near-constant suffering, but the need for much nursing care from his family. Malaria may be enough, by destroying the vigorous health of its citizens, to explain the poverty of so many tropical countries
    Meanwhile, Ohio’s governor is trying for an EPA waiver for malathion, another persistent pesticide, to control the bedbugs that were once eradicated by DDT and are making a vigorous comeback. We wish him good luck.
    Conflict of interest note: I was proud to be interviewed in this film, and received no remuneration. My deepest thanks go to Dr. Taylor for his constructive dedication to correcting our society’s massive, tragic malaria mistake. he American DDT ban triggered similar bans across the First World—and with it, their

    Dennis T. Avery, is a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute in Washington. Dennis is the Director for Global Food Issues cgfi.org. He was formerly a senior analyst for the (Canadian) Department of State.
    Dennis can be reached at: letters@canadafreepress.com

    Like

  33. Jay Ambrose says:

    Sorry. Zambian.

    Like

  34. Jay Ambrose says:

    Hey, Millard, baby, what about the Zamian evidence? Oh, doesn’t fit your theories? I see.

    Like

  35. Jay Ambrose says:

    Poor Kochi. He had no idea what the leftist imitators of Mencken’s Fillmore yarn would do to him:

    WHO Urges Use of DDT in Africa
    Call for Applications of Pesticide Changes 30-Year Policy

    By David Brown
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    The World Health Organization reversed a 30-year-old policy yesterday and declared its support for indoor use of the pesticide DDT to control mosquitoes in regions where malaria is a major health problem.

    The Geneva-based WHO, which provides advice to many developing countries, believes the benefits of the long-acting pesticide far outweigh any health or environmental risk it may pose.

    “Indoor residual spraying with DDT and other insecticides will again play a major role in [WHO's] efforts to fight the disease.” Arata Kochi, director of the organization’s malaria department, said at a news conference in Washington. “WHO will use every possible and safe method to control malaria.”

    The endorsement is only for once- or twice-yearly spraying of the pesticide on the inside walls of dwellings, especially mud and thatched huts. Used that way, DDT functions as both an insect repellent and — when a blood-engorged female mosquito lands on the wall to digest its meal — an insecticide.

    One application costs about $5. Most of that cost is labor, as it is sprayed on by professional applicators, and each packet of the pesticide must be strictly accounted for.

    About 1 million people die each year of malaria, most of them African children under age 5.

    WHO expects opposition to the policy change from some environmental groups. Kochi appealed directly to them in his announcement.

    “I am here today to ask you, please help save African babies as you are helping to save the environment. African babies do not have a powerful movement . . . to champion their well-being,” he said.

    The most famous pesticide in the world, DDT has few if any adverse effects in human beings. Its chief hazard is that it persists in the environment for years. Widespread agricultural use of DDT in the 1950s and 1960s caused the thinning of bird eggshells and the steep decline in the population of some species.

    Its utility in malaria control, however, is undisputed. DDT spraying helped eradicate or greatly reduce malaria in North America, southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East in the decades after World War II. It continues to be used indoors in a few countries.

    Environmental groups had a mixed reaction yesterday.

    “Given the severity of the malaria epidemic now in Africa and parts of Asia, it is reasonable to be using limited amounts of DDT for indoor use,” said John M. Balbus, a physician who heads the health program at Environmental Defense. He said DDT “is not the single answer, but it can be part of the solution until we find a better alternative.”

    The Pesticide Action Network North America in San Francisco, however, opposes its use because it believes that DDT could cause premature birth and developmental delay in children, said spokeswoman Stephenie Hendricks.

    “When there are less toxic means to combat malaria, why would people want to inflict these additional health problems with a chemical they are presenting as a silver bullet, which it isn’t?” she said.

    Many countries use other chemicals, primarily pyretheroids, in indoor spraying. But they are generally less potent than DDT and do not last as long.

    The U.S. Agency for International Development supports indoor spraying in Angola, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. Non-DDT compounds are used primarily, although DDT is being used in Zambia and on the island of Zanzibar. In Zanzibar, about 85 percent of households agree to its use, said Tim Ziemer, a retired admiral who is the coordinator of the President’s Malaria Initiative, created by the Bush administration last year.

    Numerous countries in southern Africa use DDT, but the compound is generally not used in central and west Africa, which have more intense malaria transmission, said Shiva Murugasampillay, a physician at WHO in Geneva.

    DDT was the chief chemical villain of Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” whose publication in 1962 helped nurture the modern environmental movement. The chemical was banned in the United States in 1972, and its use worldwide fell steeply after that. It is no longer used in agriculture.

    A study in Zambia in 2000 found that when all houses in a neighborhood were sprayed, malaria incidence fell 35 percent compared with years when none was sprayed.

    Swaziland and Madagascar each had malaria epidemics after suspending DDT spraying, the latter’s outbreak killing more than 100,000 people from 1986 to 1988. Both epidemics were stopped when DDT spraying resumed.

    View all comments that have been posted about this article.

    © 2006 The Washington Post Company

    Like

  36. Jay Ambrose says:

    Calling things carcinogenic is a favorite red herring of the leftist mob . Plenty of things are carcinogenic that we have in our bodies. What matters is the dosage. We are forever hearing calls for bans on this that or the other that you’d have to consume in huge amounts in order to leave this veil of tears.

    Like

  37. Jay Ambrose says:

    Dear Millard Fillmore, last of the Whigs, thank God:

    You think I am lying about the conference? Whoa! OK, I cannot pinpoint it, though I can find out the details if you insist. It was in Washington and was sponsored (as I recall) by the Department of Agriculture. The chief speaker was a top official from AID, who was not wildly enthusiastic about DDT but did say it could save lives in Africa as one of the best possibilities of the moment. Several of those present (very well credentialed, as I recall) were far more enthusiastic than that. If you want to challenge this, I can get the details by the end of the week.

    Like

  38. Jay Ambrose says:

    Iain Murray

    About | Archive | Latest | Log In

    May 31, 2007 5:00 A.M.

    Silent Alarmism
    A centennial we could do without.

    Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, the 1962 book that launched the modern environmental movement, was born a century ago this week, and it is no wonder that green activists are celebrating her legacy. She practically invented the environmental alarmist strategy that has been so successful in pushing a radical environmental agenda. (I won’t go into Carson’s contribution to the ongoing malaria epidemic in many poor countries owing to her demonization of DDT; for more on that, see here, here, and here.) Her paradigm has been disastrous for rational political discourse. It is a template for bypassing debate and ignoring consequences. Here’s how it works.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    ADVERTISEMENT

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    First, identify your cause and the laws you want to see enacted. In the environmentalist’s blinkered view of the world, everything is connected linearly, not in the multifaceted manner of the real world. Therefore, in the greens’ view, the removal of a problem will not cause other, unforeseen, problems. For Carson, the problem was the impact of pesticides on bird life; the elimination of pesticides would solve that problem. No other considerations — such as the impact DDT restrictions had on malaria control — could be allowed to come into play. A modern example of this idea is the notion that fossil fuels can be removed from the energy supply to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions without adverse consequences.

    Second, create an apocalyptic scenario. The whole point of Carson’s Silent Spring, embodied in the title, was to paint a picture of a world without avian life — that is, a world without birdsong. This simple, evocative message horrified readers, shocking them on a visceral level. Environmentalist-stoked fears about “Frankenfoods” resulting from out-of-control biotechnology follow this model.

    Third, claim there’s a threat to children. For those unmoved by fears of a birdless world, this should suffice. Carson said in her book that, “A quarter century ago, cancer in children was considered a medical rarity. Today, more American school children die of cancer than from any other disease.” Her statistics were misleading — the actual rate of cancer among children is unchanged since the 1900s, but cancer’s incidence relative to other diseases has increased as medical technology has vanquished many of those other diseases

    Fourth, don the mantle of science and dismiss any evidence that contradicts your position. Carson used statistics and scientific data to provide a seemingly empirical basis for her alarmist claims. The spin continued even when the EPA’s own scientists concluded that, “DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man. . . . DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man. . . . The use of DDT under the regulations involved here [does] not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife.” Yet evidence doesn’t matter; the authority of claiming to represent science “proves” that action is needed. Even hotly disputed scientific claims, such as those concerning the effects of endocrine disruptors (substances that can disrupt the production of certain human hormones) on human health, can provide a seemingly invincible case when asserted in the right way.

    Fifth, use the previous three steps to create a clamor that rules out rational debate. With a potential catastrophe, a threat to the innocent, and a ream of supposedly empirical data on your side, you have a recipe for urgent action — though one based on emotion and uncritical acceptance of assertion. Public policy is not (nor should it be) a rational process — emotion and acceptance of authority often drive it — so in recognition of that, modern democracies have created checks and balances. Yet, as the case of DDT shows, the alarmist model can often overcome these checks. If you can also destroy the credibility of your political opponents through ad hominem attacks, so much the better.

    Finally, once your measures have been adopted, defend them ruthlessly. The alarmist model relies on its successes being unassailable. Critical examination threatens to reveal that measures advanced by alarmists may be unwarranted, ineffective and, in many cases, positively harmful. Once one such measure is repealed, people may think twice about passing more like it.

    The world may finally be waking up to the unintended consequences of restrictions on pesticide use — though not in time to prevent millions of unnecessary deaths. The World Health Organization has called on environmentalists “to help save African babies as you are helping to save the environment” and endorsed increased use of DDT to fight malaria. Now people need to wake up to the harm caused to the political process by Rachel Carson’s other legacy, the paradigm of alarmism.
    – Iain Murray is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    Log In to Post a Comment

    Like

  39. Jay Ambrose says:

    No evidence here?

    In Africa, DDT Makes
    A Comeback To Save Lives
    by Marjorie Mazel Hecht

    Spurred by the dramatic and life-saving results in a few African nations that persisted in using DDT, a larger group of nations, now malaria-ravaged, want to use the banned pesticide. Marjorie Mazel Hecht reports.

    The use of DDT for spraying the inside walls of houses, a proven way to quickly stop the rate of malaria incidence, is making a comeback in African nations where saving lives has been given priority over the fears and lies of environmentalists.

    In Uganda, Minister of Health Brigadier Jim Muhwezi has renewed house spraying in the most malarious areas, with the approval of the Ugandan Cabinet. Muhwezi dismissed the critics of DDT, saying, “How many people must die of malaria while these debates continue? If DDT can save lives, why not use it as we wait for the alternatives,” as reported in the Kampala newspaper, New Vision, on April 27. Muhwezi also noted that the country of Mauritius was about to be declared malaria free because of its use of DDT.

    In Zambia, where malaria incidence and deaths had climbed since the 1980s, the Health Minister is aggressively pursuing the use of DDT to fight malaria, after great success using DDT in the copper mining areas beginning in 2000. When the Konkola Copper Mines began spraying the inside walls of houses with DDT, there was a 50% reduction of malaria in one year. The next year, there was a further 50% reduction, and since then there have been no malaria deaths in that region.

    In Zimbabwe, Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa reintroduced DDT because it was “cheap and more effective, with a longer residual killing power.” He told the Bulawayo Chronicle in October 2003, “So many people have died of malaria since January and we are doing our best to control it…. DDT is very effective, because it sticks for a long time on the walls and kills a lot of mosquitoes with a single spray…. South Africa and Swaziland are using it, and I don’t see why we should not use it.”

    In Kenya, the DDT fight is still on, with the director of Kenya’s premier research institute, KEMRI, taking a strong stand for the use of DDT, and another research institute, the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology, taking the anti-DDT, environmentalist view. Malaria now kills 700 Kenyans a day, and as KEMRI director Davy Koech told the opposition, “Anything that can reduce malaria deaths by 80% should be given another thought.”

    Kenya had a terrible outbreak of malaria after heavy rains in 2002, with hundreds of deaths. According to the group Doctors without Borders, there are about 8.2 million cases of malaria reported in Kenya per year. The epidemic-prone areas are the highlands, where about 23% of the population lives.

    South Africa made the decision to bring back DDT in the year 2000, after a four-year hiatus in its use, during which time the malaria cases and death rates surged in the worst epidemic in the country’s history. In 1996, South Africa had substituted a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide for DDT, under pressure from environmentalists. But the mosquitoes became resistant to this pesticide. As a result, between 1996 and 2000, the number of malaria cases in South Africa increased by more than 450%, with an increased mortality rate of nearly 1,000%!

    After one year of DDT use, the incidence of malaria in the worst-hit province, KwaZulu Natal, fell by 80%.

    The DDT program for malaria control has the support of South Africa’s leading researchers, doctors, and malaria control experts, who released a statement in April 2004 backing the indoor spraying program, and slamming the latest permutation in the DDT scare stories, that DDT lowers sperm levels and quality. The statement notes, “We believe that the Department of Health is correct in its choice of DDT in its malaria control program, and as scientists, medical practitioners, and public health professionals, endorse its use.”

    Killed by the Big Lie
    It may seem only rational when people are dying by the thousands, and when malaria kills one African child every 30 seconds, for a country to institute DDT house spraying, which is known to efficiently prevent malaria, and has a proven record of no harm to human beings. But such an assumption overlooks the huge aura of fear and ignorance about DDT, built up by the Malthusian lobby over the past 35 years. The very word “DDT” is enough to invoke terror today among the ignorant and gullible—and also some of the well-meaning.

    DDT was banned in the United States in 1972 on the basis of a big lie, not science (see box). In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held seven months of hearings on the issue, producing 9,000 pages of testimony. The EPA hearing examiner, Edmund Sweeney, ruled, on the basis of the scientific evidence, that DDT should not be banned. “DDT is not carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic to man [and] these uses of DDT do not have a deleterious effect on fish, birds, wildlife, or estuarine organisms,” Sweeney concluded.

    But two months later, without even reading the testimony or attending the hearings, EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus overruled the EPA hearing officer and banned DDT. He later admitted that he made the decision for “political” reasons.

    The effect of Ruckelshaus’s political decision was to thrust new anti-DDT groups (like the Environmental Defense Fund) into well-funded prominence; to remove DDT from the list of pesticides that U.S. agencies would fund abroad; and to increase the malaria death rates in tropical countries. The U.S. Agency for International Development stopped supporting programs involving DDT (and instead increased funding for birth control programs). Other industrial nations did the same.

    As a result, just as a few African nations and other tropical countries were on the verge of wiping out malaria, by using DDT to control the mosquito vectors that spread it, those programs were shut down. Countries could not afford to give up the funds for their health and development programs, from donor nations that now would not support DDT. Instead, they gave up DDT. The malaria-carrying mosquitoes were the immediate beneficiaries, and malaria soon became Africa’s largest killer, only more recently to be equalled by AIDS. There are an estimated 300-500 million new cases of malaria per year now, 90% of which are in Africa. There are 2.7 million deaths from malaria per year, mostly those of children under 5 years old.

    But the toll of malaria is not measured simply in deaths. Malaria is a terrible disease, sapping the strength of those who do not die, making them feverish, chilled, with repeated vomiting, and too sick and weak to work or farm. Malaria overburdens the limited health systems of poor countries, and ruins their economies.

    Too Many Lives Saved?
    At the time DDT was banned, it was recognized as having saved more lives than any other man-made chemical. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimated that DDT had prevented 500 million human deaths from malaria, since it came into use during World War II. Millions of troops and refugees would have died from disease at the end of the war, had they not been dusted with DDT to kill the body lice that spread typhus.

    The safety record of DDT was excellent. No human harm was ever documented. Health records around the world showed that when malaria incidence was controlled using DDT, populations were healthier, infant mortality decreased, and population growth increased. Why was DDT banned, after such spectacular success? The reason was given bluntly by Alexander King, founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, who wrote in a biographical essay in 1990, “My chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it has greatly added to the population problem.”

    The DDT battle in Africa today is still against that Malthusian outlook expressed so bluntly by Alexander King. Today, however, most of the opponents of DDT don’t openly argue that we should kill off the “surplus” people; instead they argue that we must protect the environment, keep Africa pristine. In the words of one Ugandan living in Toronto, writing an open letter to Uganda’s President against the use of DDT: “Mr. President, Uganda retains relatively pristine lakes and rivers and beautiful landscapes that yield abundant food supplies for domestic consumption and export. Moreover, Uganda is currently a leader in organic farming of desirable products such as the succulent pineapples grown in Kangulaumira in Kayunga District, and the banana in Mukono district. By avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers, Uganda is poised to break into European and North American markets where organic food products fetch exorbitant prices.”

    This market argument is expressed by DDT opponents throughout the region: European restrictions on pesticide residues mean that African countries will have to monitor for chemical residues—and lose export markets for all kinds of exports, including fish and tobacco, if there are DDT residues.

    This argument is fallacious. The point of spraying the inside walls of houses is that a very limited amount (2 grams per square meter) of DDT is used in a solution that is carefully controlled. (This is called indoor residual house spraying, or IRS.) There is no DDT sprayed outside. As studies have shown, the mosquito vectors that carry malaria (in South Africa it is Anopheles funestus) rest on the inside house walls and bite human beings at night. These mosquitoes either are killed by contact with DDT on the sprayed wall, or repelled by the DDT, and do not stay around to bite the inhabitants. This latter effect is known as “excito-repellency,” and has been shown to be a dominant way that DDT controls malaria-bearing mosquitoes, in addition to killing them on contact.[1]

    Morally, the save-the-environment-and-forget-the-people argument is outrageous. The First Secretary at the Washington Embassy of one large African nation, said, “how can they say this when people are dying of malaria, and we know that DDT will contain the spread?” He recalled the 1960s, when he was growing up in Africa, when DDT was in use and had completely wiped out mosquitoes and malaria in his region. “What is the human cost of not using DDT? Look at the number of lives we are wasting. We should use DDT until there is something better.”

    Is There Something Better?
    The history of the “Roll-Back Malaria” program, sponsored by the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and United Nations agencies, is proof that right now, there is nothing better than DDT for controlling malaria mosquitoes. (For the moment, we will leave aside the question of drug treatment for people with malaria, and the need for public health infrastructure.)[2] These organizations and other donor groups came up with the idea of stopping malaria by promoting the distribution of bed nets impregnated with insecticides. No insect control measures, no swamp draining, no infrastructure improvement, no personnel training or increase in public health facilities, just bed nets.[3] The goal of Roll-Back Malaria in 1998 was to halve the deaths from malaria by the year 2010. As the increase in malaria throughout Africa testifies, this program has been an abysmal failure.

    Bed nets are not bad, in themselves. They are a useful auxiliary in a malaria-control program. But they are costly and the pesticides have to be applied frequently. The estimate is that only one child in seven in Africa sleeps under a net, and only 2% of children use a net impregnated with insecticide.

    A study conducted in Kenya’s highlands, reported in the journal Tropical Medicine and International Health in April 2002, compared bed net use to indoor residual house-spraying with DDT, and concluded that the spraying program was more effective and cheaper than bed nets.

    Are there drawbacks to house spraying? Roger Bate and Richard Tren of Africa Fighting Malaria note that DDT leaves a powdery residue on the walls, and that it is not effective on plastered and painted walls, just on clay, cement, wood, or thatch walls. Also in some places, bedbugs have developed a resistance to it. As Bate and Tren point out, alternative pesticides can be used either along with DDT, to combat the bedbugs, or alone where the housing is more Western-style than traditional African, with painted walls.

    Another observer reports that in malarious areas, where some families refused to have their walls sprayed, they changed their minds on the issue when it became clear that people who lived in sprayed houses didn’t come down with malaria.

    The International Enforcement Against DDT
    In 1995, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) began an effort to make the ban on DDT worldwide. UNEP proposed to institute “legally binding” international controls banning what are called “persistent organic pollutants” or POPS, including DDT. The environmental pressure groups agitated for a complete ban on DDT use, but the final treaty permitted emergency public health exceptions, with the idea that its use will be phased out in the future. In May 2004, the POPS treaty went into effect, known officially as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. However, 29 nations (almost all in tropical regions) requested and secured an exemption for DDT use for disease control, and three nations received an exemption to produce DDT for public health use (China, India, and Russia).

    The pressure of environmentalist groups, the World Bank, and United Nations agencies, to remove these exemptions and totally ban DDT, makes the current efforts of African nations to bring back DDT a big target for attack. The usual chorus of World Wildlife/Greenpeace polemics against man-made “poisons,” has been augmented with a new, more desperate round of scare stories, the latest focussing on semen quality. Ironically, the same Malthusians who want to stop DDT and reduce population growth, are now complaining (without proof) that DDT reduces and damages semen!

    The non-governmental agencies, the World Health Organization, the governmental agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), and the various United Nations agencies, such as UNEP, have been shamed by the killer malaria situation into admitting, for public consumption, that DDT is effective and should be permitted—but in practice none of these groups funds any African program that uses DDT. As one U.S. malaria expert told me, “Don’t believe what they say about DDT, look at their actions.” In fact, these groups exert tremendous pressure on African political and health figures who support DDT. Much of this pressure takes the form of spreading old and new lies about DDT to scare people.

    As the DDT scare stories escalate, there has also been increased recognition in the West that the mountains of lies about DDT, are, to put it mildly, one-sided—from Rachel Carson’s lying book Silent Spring in 1962[4] to the environmentalist diatribes on the Internet, to the standard U.S. school curriculum about pesticides. Even The New York Times in its Sunday Magazine on April 11 featured the benefits of DDT in an article by editorial board member Tina Rosenberg, titled “What the World Needs Now Is DDT.” (To my knowledge, this is the first time in 35 years that The New York Times has said anything favorable about DDT.) Rosenberg argues that because we successfully used DDT to eliminate malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases in the West, “we forget why we once needed it.”

    There are also some groups, notably Africa Fighting Malaria, that have championed DDT as a major weapon in combatting malaria. But their material is largely confined to publication in the conservative press, which limits its circulation.

    To win the fight against the killer malaria, the African nations need broad-based support from the United States and other Western nations, both financial and political. We can begin by calling the anti-DDT lobby by its proper name: Genocidalists. And we can stop tolerating the ignorance and anti-science of the so-called public, and their elected officials, which allows these genocidalists to remain in control of public opinion.

    For Further Reading
    The Fall 2002 issue of 21st Century Science & Technology featured DDT on the cover, with articles by Dr. J. Gordon Edwards, “Mosquitoes, DDT, and Human Health,” and Dr. Donald Roberts, “To control Malaria, We Need DDT.” Other archive articles on DDT are available on the 21st Century website, http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com under “Sample Articles.”

    Richard Tren of Africa Fighting Malaria and Roger Bate have authored many relevant articles on DDT and Malaria, including “South Africa’s War Against Malaria: Lessons for the Developing World,” published March 25, 2004 by the Cato Institute, and available on the Internet.

    J. Gordon Edwards and Steven Milloy have compiled a fact sheet on DDT available on the Internet at http://www.junkscience.com/ddtfaq.htm.

    [1] See, for example, D. Roberts et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases, July-September 1997, p. 300.

    [2] DDT is essential for fighting malaria, but it is not a magic bullet that will cure the problem. Eliminating mosquito-borne diseases here and around the world requires in-depth public health infrastructure and trained personnel—as were beginning to be in place during the 1950s and 1960s, when DDT began to rid the world of malaria.
    To solve the worsening problem as a whole—including AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases making a comeback—we must reverse the entire course of the past 30 years’ policymaking, and return to a society based on production, scientific progress, and rationality.

    [3] This policy of eliminating insecticides, spraying, and traditional public health measures to curb malaria is the same approach now adopted in the United States toward the West Nile Virus. Despite 8,000 cases and more than 200 deaths last year in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control advises that individuals avoid mosquito bites by staying indoors during peak mosquito hours, wearing long sleeves, and using insect repellant.
    These are also the guidelines for U.S. troops in Iraq, where DDT use could prevent the transmission of Leishmaniasis from sand flies, a terrible disease that has already afflicted 170 soldiers.

    [4] For the lies of Rachel Carson, see “The Ugly Truth about Rachel Carson” by Dr. J. Gordon Edwards in 21st Century Science & Technology, Summer 1992, p. 41-52.

    Like

  40. Jay Ambrose says:

    I don’t really believe anyone should be bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito. That thought just came in response to Nick’s overkill.

    Like

  41. Jay Ambrose says:

    I can’t believe someone above said malaria deaths kept dropping after the DDT ban. The person is either a liar or a complete ignoramus, and in either case, is alligning himself with killing children. Blather like that is less than cute when lives are at stake.

    The business about DDT having after-effects on human lives is conjecture while the deaths of 20 million children is not. Anyone making that argument has a pathetic sense of morality. It has never been proven that anyone died of DDT. Plenty of people have been bathed in the stuff with no ill effects. Check it out, folks.

    Oh, and the guy who said I trotted out all the zanies — what? The New York Times magazine? National Geographic? We are supposed to respect some blogger from nowhere with no accurate information except something contrived in his suspect noggin over these journals? Give me a break.

    And I can absolutely promise you, Nick, that if I, my wife and my children were living in certain parts of Africa, we would have DDT sprayed inside our house. And by the way, I think anyone who makes your argument should be bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito.

    Like

  42. Ed I particularly like his claim that apparently only in the United States would/has misuse/abuse of DDT occur.

    But again, Jay, if you’re so sure of your claims then move you and yourself to Africa and try it out.

    Like

  43. Ed Darrell says:

    I am Jay Ambrose,

    Happy to see you return after a too-long absence. You led me to believe you would defend your proposal to poison Africa, and provide research that such a poisoning would be beneficial — and then you disappeared and repeated your canards about Rachel Carson and DDT a few more times.

    Now you’re back, but you’re not offering any new arguments. You’re still defending ineffective and destructive policies that would let malaria run rampant, and you’re still dancing far away from good science and social policy research.

    I would hope you would have reconsidered your ill-considered position.

    . . . and the above contradicts articles in The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic, neither of which were right-wing organs the last time I looked.

    Mostly what I say above agrees with what the Times and NatGeo say about malaria — it’s a nasty disease that is preventable, but we’re not doing the right things to prevent it — but I differ on a few points. Where we differ, they err. I have explained their errors at length. You offer no rebuttal, but instead ignore the explanations.

    Deal with the facts, please.

    I have gone to conferences on this issue, interviewed experts and know for an indisputable fact that the wider use of DDT in Africa could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, mostly the lives of children.

    You didn’t attend the Alma Conference that brought malaria-fighting experts, DDT experts, and public health experts together in 2008. At that conference they called for a phase out of DDT. I’d be surprised if you attended any anti-malaria conference. Malaria fighters do not call for more DDT. They would prefer to fight malaria instead.

    Your experts are not expert in DDT and malaria in the modern world. You need to expand your horizons, and listen to all sides of the political spectrum, and get some good scientists in there, too.

    I don’t quibble with the politics in the editorial pages of the New York Times nor the National Geographic Society. But I do insist their opinionators stick to facts — and when they do, they don’t advocate DDT. (Did you read the entire article on malaria in National Geographic? Its major point was quite different from a call for DDT.)

    If you know someone who knows “for an indisputable fact” that DDT could have saved more lives in Africa, you know someone affected with Munchausen’s Syndrome. It’s a great debate — WHO ended its campaign to eradicate malaria precisely because the opposite was accurate. DDT had ceased to be effective against many local populations of mosquito. That’s a genetic fact (check out Jonathan Weiner’s explanation). If your sources know that genetics is in error, they should report it — there is at least one Nobel awaiting them. I suspect that they do not know that, however — and if they claim that, they exaggerate.

    The mosquito immunity issues were almost entirely in India, not in Africa.

    Fred Soper, the super malaria-fighter, found the problem in Africa — that was what killed WHO’s campaign. Whom should I trust on this issue — Ambrose, or the guy who actually saved millions from malaria over 40 years, completely ending the disease in several nations? I think I’ll trust Soper.

    Plus, see Weiner’s book — it’s worldwide. Last time I checked, Africa was still part of Earth.

    As for DDT being a human killer, check out the professor who used to take a teaspoon of the stuff when trying to convince students of the opposite.

    Dr. Gordon Edwards, the formerly great entomologist who seems to have come unhinged in his unholy personal vendetta against Rachel Carson. Did you see that he died of classic DDT poisoning symptoms?

    In any case, Edwards never seemed to recover from his DDT poisoning. He was never able to get a paper published favoring DDT and exposing Rachel Carson — mostly because he was simply wrong. The President’s Science Advisory Council said in 1963 that Rachel Carson was right. Whose word should the non-scientists take: A distinguished panel of the nation’s best scientists including a couple of Nobel winners, or a grudge-bearing entomologist who stopped doing research and couldn’t get a paper past peer-review on the topic?

    I’ve never argued that DDT is an acute poison of humans, so your rebuttal to that issue is off point. Intentional red herring?

    What I do criticize is the claim that DDT is perfectly safe — it is not; it poisoned at least one child to death, and it’s been used for suicides in India — and the claim that DDT doesn’t cause cancer. DDT is a known mammal carcinogen — humans are mammals — and while we appear to be fortunate that DDT is not a powerful carcinogen in most cases, it is still listed as a “probable human carcinogen” by the American Cancer Society. I think I trust the American Cancer Society on this issue.

    That doesn’t mean it will kill a lot of humans. It only means that the advocates of DDT don’t really care what falsehoods they tell in their campaign to spread the poison. Why lie about DDT being carcinogenic?

    DDT was not banned for carcinogenicity, contrary to claims by DDT advocates. DDT was banned because it is a wild card, uncontrollable killer of wildlife. That was true in 1945, the evidence was heavy in 1958 when the U.S. Forest Service stopped using it, the evidence accumulated much more by the time Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring was published in 1962, and since then we’ve got mountains more data showing how DDT is a killer.

    That’s why courts keep finding that DDT is a nuisance, dangerous, and that there is plenty of scientific evidence to favor the ban on using DDT on cotton.

    Read some of the evidence. I know we have people here who think they are very, very smart, but they are also unbelievably ignorant, and they are using that ignorance on behalf of death and mayhem.

    It’s a tragedy, isn’t it? They should stop claiming DDT is pixie dust and they should stop advocating that we poison the hell out of Africa. That ignorance will indeed cause death and mayhem if we listen to them.

    Fortunately, malaria fighters and policy makers usually don’t give them any credence.

    This is worse than shameful. It is a horror of the first rank.

    I know. I can’t figure why you hang with them and carry their water for them.

    You people deserve no respect at all, and if our Millard Filmore friend wants to email me, have at it. I am sick of seeing his death-furthering bullshit.

    Wait a minute: I’ve got some cognitive dissonance here. You were railing against ignorance and bad policy, and then suddenly you said those who favor knowledge and bad policy “deserve no respect at all.”

    Have you read anything about DDT? Have you ever read Rachel Carson’s book, and tracked her extensive, accurate footnotes?

    You’re not suffering from DDT poisoning, are you?

    (check back — links to be added later)

    Like

  44. Jay Ambrose says:

    [Originally posted in another thread Aug 25, 2011 @ 12:17]

    I know the Millard Fillmore blogger does not like the Wall Street Journal, but consider the facts here:

    In 2006, after 25 years and 50 million preventable deaths, the World Health Organization reversed course and endorsed widespread use of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria. So much for that. Earlier this month, the U.N. agency quietly reverted to promoting less effective methods for attacking the disease. The result is a victory for politics over public health, and millions of the world’s poor will suffer as a result.

    The U.N. now plans to advocate for drastic reductions in the use of DDT, which kills or repels the mosquitoes that spread malaria. The aim “is to achieve a 30% cut in the application of DDT worldwide by 2014 and its total phase-out by the early 2020s, if not sooner,” said WHO and the U.N. Environment Program in a statement on May 6.

    Citing a five-year pilot program that reduced malaria cases in Mexico and South America by distributing antimalaria chloroquine pills to uninfected people, U.N. officials are ready to push for a “zero DDT world.” Sounds nice, except for the facts. It’s true that chloroquine has proven effective when used therapeutically, as in Brazil. But it’s also true that scientists have questioned the safety of the drug as an oral prophylactic because it is toxic and has been shown to cause heart problems.

    Most malarial deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where chloroquine once worked but started failing in the 1970s as the parasite developed resistance. Even if the drugs were still effective in Africa, they’re expensive and thus impractical for one of the world’s poorest regions. That’s not an argument against chloroquine, bed nets or other interventions. But it is an argument for continuing to make DDT spraying a key part of any effort to eradicate malaria, which kills about a million people — mainly children — every year. Nearly all of this spraying is done indoors, by the way, to block mosquito nesting at night. It is not sprayed willy-nilly in jungle habitat.

    WHO is not saying that DDT shouldn’t be used. But by revoking its stamp of approval, it sends a clear message to donors and afflicted countries that it prefers more politically correct interventions, even if they don’t work as well. In recent years, countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia have started or expanded DDT spraying, often with the help of outside aid groups. But these governments are also eager to remain in the U.N.’s good graces, and donors typically are less interested in funding interventions that WHO discourages.

    “Sadly, WHO’s about-face has nothing to do with science or health and everything to do with bending to the will of well-placed environmentalists,” says Roger Bate of Africa Fighting Malaria. “Bed net manufacturers and sellers of less-effective insecticides also don’t benefit when DDT is employed and therefore oppose it, often behind the scenes.”

    It’s no coincidence that WHO officials were joined by the head of the U.N. Environment Program to announce the new policy. There’s no evidence that spraying DDT in the amounts necessary to kill dangerous mosquitoes imperils crops, animals or human health. But that didn’t stop green groups like the Pesticide Action Network from urging the public to celebrate World Malaria Day last month by telling “the U.S. to protect children and families from malaria without spraying pesticides like DDT inside people’s homes.”

    “We must take a position based on the science and the data,” said WHO’s malaria chief, Arata Kochi, in 2006. “One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual spraying. Of the dozen or so insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT.” Mr. Kochi was right then, even if other WHO officials are now bowing to pressure to

    Like

  45. Jay Ambrose says:

    [Originally posted in another thread, Aug 25, 2011 @ 12:02]
    From 21sr Century Science and Technology Magazine
    Full text of Editorial from Summer 2002 issue
    The 1972 U.S. ban on DDT is responsible for a genocide 10 times larger than that for which we sent Nazis to the gallows at Nuremberg. It is also responsible for a menticide which has already condemned one entire generation to a dark age of anti-science ignorance, and is now infecting a new one.

    The lies and hysteria spread to defend the DDT ban are typical of the irrationalist, anti-science wave which has virtually destroyed rational forms of discourse in our society. If you want to save science—and human lives—the fight to bring back DDT, now being championed by that very electable candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., had better be at the top of your agenda.
    Sixty million people have died needlessly of malaria, since the imposition of the 1972 ban on DDT, and hundreds of millions more have suffered from this debilitating disease. The majority of those affected are children. Of the 300 to 500 million new cases of malaria each year, 200 to 300 million are children, and malaria now kills one child every 30 seconds. Ninety percent of the reported cases of malaria are in Africa, and 40 percent of the world’s population, inhabitants of tropical countries, are threatened by the increasing incidence of malaria.
    The DDT ban does not only affect tropical nations. In the wake of the DDT ban, the United States stopped its mosquito control programs, cutting the budgets for mosquito control and monitoring. Exactly as scientists had warned 25 years ago, we are now facing increases of mosquito-borne killer diseases—West Nile fever and dengue, to name the most prominent.

    What DDT Can Do
    Malaria is a preventable mosquito-borne disease. It can be controlled by spraying a tiny amount of DDT on the walls of houses twice a year. DDT is cheaper than other pesticides, more effective, and not harmful to human beings or animals.
    Even where mosquito populations have developed resistance to DDT, it is more effective (and less problematic) than alternative chemicals. The reason is that mosquitoes are repelled by the DDT on house walls and do not stay around to bite and infect the inhabitants. This effect is known as “excito-repellency,” and has been shown to be a dominant way that DDT controls malaria-bearing mosquitoes, in addition to killing them on contact.1 Studies have demonstrated this for all major species of malaria-bearing mosquitoes.
    It costs only $1.44 per year to spray one house with DDT. The more toxic substitutes cost as much as 10 to 20 times more and require more frequent applications, making spraying programs
    prohibitively expensive. In addition, replacement pesticides have to be applied more frequently and are more toxic.
    Banned to Kill People
    DDT came into use during World War II, and in a very short time saved more lives and prevented more diseases than any other man-made chemical in history. Millions of troops and civilians, in particular war refugees, were saved from typhus because one DDT dusting killed the body lice that spread that dread disease.
    Why was DDT banned, 30 years after its World War II introduction and spectacular success in saving lives? The reason was stated bluntly by Alexander King, founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, who wrote in a biographical essay in 1990, “My chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it has greatly added to the population problem.” King was particularly concerned that DDT had dramatically cut the death rates in the developing sector, and thus increased population growth.
    As King correctly observed, the incidence of malaria, and its death rates, were vastly reduced by DDT spraying. To take one example: Sri Lanka (Ceylon) had 2.8 million cases of malaria and more than 12,500 deaths in 1946, before the use of DDT. In 1963, after a large-scale spraying campaign, the number of cases fell to 17, and the number of deaths fell to 1. But five years after the stop of spraying, in 1969, the number of deaths had climbed to 113, and the number of cases to 500,000. Today, malaria rates have soared in countries that stopped spraying. In South Africa, the malaria incidence increased by 1,000 percent in the late 1990s.
    The Silent Spring Fraud
    The campaign to ban DDT got its start with the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962. Carson’s popular book was a fraud. She played on people’s emotions, and to do so, she selected and falsified data from scientific studies, as entomologist Dr. J. Gordon Edwards has documented in his analysis of the original scientific studies that Carson cited.2
    As a result of the propaganda and lies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency convened scientific hearings and appointed a Hearing Examiner, Edmund Sweeney, to run them. Every major scientific organization in the world supported DDT use, submitted testimony, as did the environmentalist opposition. The hearings went on for seven months, and generated 9,000 pages of testimony. Hearing Examiner Sweeney then ruled that DDT should not be banned, based on the scientific evidence: “DDT is not carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic to man [and] these uses of DDT do not have a deleterious effect on fish, birds, wildlife, or estuarine organisms,” Sweeney concluded.
    Two months later, without even reading the testimony or attending the hearings, EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus overruled the EPA hearing officer and banned DDT. He later admitted that he made the decision for “political” reasons. “Science, along with economics, has a role to play . .. .. [but] the ultimate decision remains political,” Ruckelshaus said.
    The U.S. decision had a rapid effect in the developing sector, where the State Department made U.S. aid contingent on countries not using any pesticide that was banned in the United States. The U.S. Agency for International Development discontinued its support for DDT spraying programs, and instead increased funding for birth control programs.
    Other Western nations—Sweden and Norway, for example—also pressured recipient nations to stop the use of DDT. Belize abandoned DDT in 1999, because Mexico, under pressure from the United States and NAFTA, had stopped the manufacture of DDT, which was Belize’s source. Purchases of replacement insecticides would take up nearly 90 percent of Belize’s malaria control budget. Mozambique stopped the use of DDT, “because 80 percent of the country’s health budget

    came from donor funds, and donors refused to allow the use of DDT,” reported the British Medical Journal (March 11, 2000).
    The World Bank and the World Health Organization, meanwhile, responded to the rise in malaria incidence with a well-publicized “Roll Back Malaria” program, begun in 1989, which involves no insect control measures, only bed nets, personnel training, and drug therapies—a prescription for failure.
    POPs Convention Is Genocide
    In 1995, despite the official documentation of increases in malaria cases and malaria deaths, the United Nations Environment Program began an effort to make the ban on DDT worldwide. UNEP proposed to institute “legally binding” international controls banning what are called “persistent organic pollutants” or POPs, including DDT. Ratification of the POPs Convention, finalized in 2001, is now pending in the U.S. Senate, where it has the support of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, including committee chairman James Jeffords (Ind.-Vt.) and committee member Joe Lieberman (D.-Conn.). President Bush has already endorsed the U.S. signing on to the POPs Convention.
    The evidence of DDT’s effectiveness is dramatic. In South America, where malaria is endemic, malaria rates soared in countries that had stopped spraying houses with DDT after 1993: Guyana, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. In Ecuador, however, which increased its use of DDT after 1993, the malaria rate was rapidly reduced by 60 percent.
    But DDT spraying is not a magic bullet cure-all. Eliminating mosquito-borne diseases here and around the world requires in-depth public health infrastructure and trained personnel—as were in place in the 1950s and 1960s, when DDT began to rid the world of malaria. And mosquito-borne illness is not the only scourge now threatening us. A growing AIDS pandemic, and the return of tuberculosis and other killer diseases, now also menace growing parts of the world’s population, particularly in those areas where human immune systems are challenged by malnutrition and poorly developed (or nonexistent) water and sanitation systems.
    To solve this worsening problem as a whole—a disgrace in face of the scientific achievements the world has made—we must reverse the entire course of the past 30 years’ policymaking and return to a society based on production, scientific progress, and rationality. The onrushing world depression crisis, demands a new FDR-style approach to economic reconstruction in the United States. The recognized spokesman for such a reform of our economic and monetary policies is the very electable candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Lyndon H. LaRouche.
    The United States should not ratify the POPs Convention with its phase-out of DDT and other valuable chemicals. On the contrary, this nation should bring back DDT now, under the provisions of existing U.S. law that allow the use of DDT in health emergencies. If the continuing mass murder of millions of people is not an emergency, what is?
    Notes _____________________________________
    1. A summary of this work can be found in an article by Donald R. Roberts, et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 3, No. 3 (1997), pp. 295-302.
    2. J. Gordon Edwards, “The Lies of Rachel Carson,” 21st Century, Summer 1992.
    Edwards, a professor emeritus at San Jose State University in California, drank a spoonful of DDT in front of his entomology classes at the beginning of each school year, to make the point that DDT is not harmful to human beings. Now

    Like

  46. Ed Darrell says:

    Gee, Jay. You’ve cited almost every crank science source on DDT, and you’ve managed to hit every crank science claim in your attempt to back your position. It’ll take a while to point out the significant and substantial errors in each and every piece.

    So before I do, can I ask you to explain to us a few points?

    First, if Rachel Carson was wrong, why did the President’s Science Advisory Council say she was right? The council was stacked with the kinds of scientists who lean corporate, that is, contrary to Carson. But they vindicated the accuracy of her claims exactly. Why?

    Second, the CDC’s official history of malaria in the U.S. claims that malaria was all but completely wiped out by 1939, a product of better diagnoses and treatment, and improved housing (with screens) in affected areas. DDT was not available for use in the U.S. to fight malaria until 1946. How do you explain that difference?

    Third, DDT is cheap and easy to make. It has never been banned in Africa, and even under the 2001 Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty, any nation may use it legally simply by writing to WHO and letting WHO know DDT will be used. Why didn’t Africans use DDT, if it would have saved their children? They had the money and the means to buy and manufacture DDT. Why didn’t they?

    Fourth, explain the death toll from malaria. In 1959 and 1960, the peak years for use of DDT, about four million people died from malaria every year. USDA cut back on DDT use starting in 1958, and shortly after that, Interior stopped using it on public lands. As noted in my previous comment, WHO’s eradication campaign cut off DDT use in about 1965. By 1972, when the U.S. banned the use of DDT on cotton (about the only crop left that DDT was used on), annual deaths from malaria were about 2 million.

    If your thesis is correct, that the U.S. “ban” on DDT cause more malaria deaths, there should have been an increase in malaria deaths somewhere.

    But malaria deaths kept dropping. By 2008, world wide malaria deaths had fallen to under a million, about 880,000. If the deaths are “the fault” of a DDT “ban,” shouldn’t you instead be giving credit to the end of DDT’s use for cutting the death toll by 75%?

    Where do you get off claiming there is more death without DDT, when DDT deaths have constantly dropped with less DDT use?

    Love to hear your answers.

    Like

  47. Ed Darrell says:

    Nice to see Jay Ambrose finally remembered his promise to make a real case for DDT. What’s it been — two years? Longer?

    Jay wrote:

    From the National Geographic, which shows I just badly understated my case:

    Soon after the program collapsed, mosquito control lost access to its crucial tool, DDT. The problem was overuse—not by malaria fighters but by farmers, especially cotton growers, trying to protect their crops. The spray was so cheap that many times the necessary doses were sometimes applied. The insecticide accumulated in the soil and tainted watercourses. Though nontoxic to humans, DDT harmed peregrine falcons, sea lions, and salmon. In 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, documenting this abuse and painting so damning a picture that the chemical was eventually outlawed by most of the world for agricultural use. Exceptions were made for malaria control, but DDT became nearly impossible to procure. “The ban on DDT,” says Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health, “may have killed 20 million children.”

    Generally our friends at the National Geographic Society do better at accuracy than this paragraph.

    Notice, please, that the author accurately states that the problem with DDT had nothing to with environmentalists being hysterical, or conducting an unwarranted campaign in the first place — but instead places the blame squarely on those DDT advocates who, like Jay Ambrose, advocate use beyond what is necessary, or overuse.

    Nat Geo is clear that DDT harmed birds, mammals and fish. That alone establishes that the concern was valid.

    And, it is true that Rachel Carson presented a damning picture of DDT use. That picture was also true, and accurate. Consequently, criticism of Carson is misplaced. Also, criticism of the restrictions on use of DDT are also misplaced. As the National Academy of Sciences said, despite DDT’s great value, its harms are greater.

    This paragraph goes awry on a couple of points: DDT has never been banned in Africa (the author acknowledges that when he points out that there were exceptions for use), and DDT has never been “almost impossible to procure.” The U.S. ban on DDT more than doubled the amount of DDT available to fight malaria. We need to look at the calendar: WHO effectively ended its campaign to eradicate malaria by 1965, because of overuse of DDT in Africa and the inability of Subsaharan nations to mount a disciplined anti-malaria campaign. DDT use was increasingly ineffective, and increasingly rare, well before any ban. WHO officially voted to end the eradication campaign in 1969. The first ban on DDT did not occur until later that year, or early in 1970. The U.S. ban did not come until 1972, and that only banned use of DDT on cotton crops — manufacturing was specifically allowed for export, and use to fight malaria or other disease was expressly allowed.

    Gwadz gets loose with his figures and causality. There is no evidence that the reduction in DDT use caused any fatalities. There was no increase in malaria for a full decade after the U.S. ban, and malaria incidence and malaria deaths have declined through the entire period after 1972. Today, malaria deaths worldwide are at an all time low in human history. The reduction in deaths comes despite dramatic increases in population and dramatic increases in conditions that promote the growth of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. One could chart the reduction in use of DDT, and the reduction in deaths would follow it almost exactly, defying any attempt to link deaths to a cause of DDT reduction. As DDT use dropped, so did the deaths.

    Did 20 million kids die from malaria between 1972 and 2007? That might be an accurate toll. Did any of them die because DDT was in short supply? No. Could their lives have been spared had DDT been used? Unlikely. Ironically, many of those deaths came where DDT use had been continued. DDT is just one factor in fighting malaria — and if malaria is not confronted on all fronts, it wins. Surely we cannot blame malaria deaths in Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin on a DDT shortage — not if we are to be fair, or accurate. Surely we cannot blame malaria deaths in Sri Lanka on a lack of DDT during the civil war, when mitigation efforts were made impossible by war — and when DDT didn’t work when it was tried.

    India is the world’s leading producer of DDT today, and India uses more DDT than all other nations put together. If Mr. Ambrose is correct that more DDT equals less malaria, then it could not be fact that malaria continues to plague India, and may be growing in incidence and deaths, But malaria does continue to plague India, and the disease is growing there, by most accounts.

    In the end, it simply does not obtain that more DDT = less malaria; it does not obtain that the ban on spraying DDT on cotton in the U.S. caused the non-existent increase in malaria or malaria deaths in Africa and Asia. Malaria is a much more complex problem than the “Let’s Poison Africa Now” advocates let on.

    Like

  48. Ellie says:

    Jay Ambrose, nice job of copy and paste. Thanks. You’ve inspired me to send another donation to Nets For Life, Had I thought of it sooner, I would have sent it dedicated to you.

    Like

  49. Actually since I suppose granting a one family exemption from a law is unconstitutional I have a second proposal, Jay.

    That you move your family to Africa for a period of at least several years. That way you can prove what you’re claiming….

    Like

  50. To quote:
    This was the right decision – for the United States. Malaria was no longer an issue, and Washington needed to ensure that it would not be used on crops. But the decision had deadly consequences overseas.

    The United States, which used DDT irresponsibly to wipe out malaria, ended up blocking much poorer and sicker countries from using it responsibly. Several Latin American countries that had controlled malaria stopped using DDT – and in most of them, malaria cases soared.

    Yes because somehow the United States is the only country that ever does something irresponsibily….

    Oh please.

    Sorry if you and yours want to argue that DDT is such a wonderful thing then surely you won’t mind it being used around your families, yes?

    Tell you what, Jay, we’ll agree to give you a one family exemption from the DDT ban in this country and you can use it to your hearts content.

    Because its real easy to sit there and say “If I lived in Africa…” because that means you’re not really putting you or your family at risk. So lets remove that little part of it and we’ll allow you to use DDT on your personal property in and around your house..here in the United States.

    Lets see you put your money…and your lives where your fat mouth is.

    Like

  51. Jay Ambrose says:

    By the way, if my children were living in Africa, I would absolutely insist on DDT spraying inside.

    Like

  52. Jay Ambrose says:

    I know our favorite blogger does not like the Wall Street Journal, but consider the facts in this editorial:

    In 2006, after 25 years and 50 million preventable deaths, the World Health Organization reversed course and endorsed widespread use of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria. So much for that. Earlier this month, the U.N. agency quietly reverted to promoting less effective methods for attacking the disease. The result is a victory for politics over public health, and millions of the world’s poor will suffer as a result.

    The U.N. now plans to advocate for drastic reductions in the use of DDT, which kills or repels the mosquitoes that spread malaria. The aim “is to achieve a 30% cut in the application of DDT worldwide by 2014 and its total phase-out by the early 2020s, if not sooner,” said WHO and the U.N. Environment Program in a statement on May 6.

    Citing a five-year pilot program that reduced malaria cases in Mexico and South America by distributing antimalaria chloroquine pills to uninfected people, U.N. officials are ready to push for a “zero DDT world.” Sounds nice, except for the facts. It’s true that chloroquine has proven effective when used therapeutically, as in Brazil. But it’s also true that scientists have questioned the safety of the drug as an oral prophylactic because it is toxic and has been shown to cause heart problems.

    Most malarial deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where chloroquine once worked but started failing in the 1970s as the parasite developed resistance. Even if the drugs were still effective in Africa, they’re expensive and thus impractical for one of the world’s poorest regions. That’s not an argument against chloroquine, bed nets or other interventions. But it is an argument for continuing to make DDT spraying a key part of any effort to eradicate malaria, which kills about a million people — mainly children — every year. Nearly all of this spraying is done indoors, by the way, to block mosquito nesting at night. It is not sprayed willy-nilly in jungle habitat.

    WHO is not saying that DDT shouldn’t be used. But by revoking its stamp of approval, it sends a clear message to donors and afflicted countries that it prefers more politically correct interventions, even if they don’t work as well. In recent years, countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia have started or expanded DDT spraying, often with the help of outside aid groups. But these governments are also eager to remain in the U.N.’s good graces, and donors typically are less interested in funding interventions that WHO discourages.

    “Sadly, WHO’s about-face has nothing to do with science or health and everything to do with bending to the will of well-placed environmentalists,” says Roger Bate of Africa Fighting Malaria. “Bed net manufacturers and sellers of less-effective insecticides also don’t benefit when DDT is employed and therefore oppose it, often behind the scenes.”

    It’s no coincidence that WHO officials were joined by the head of the U.N. Environment Program to announce the new policy. There’s no evidence that spraying DDT in the amounts necessary to kill dangerous mosquitoes imperils crops, animals or human health. But that didn’t stop green groups like the Pesticide Action Network from urging the public to celebrate World Malaria Day last month by telling “the U.S. to protect children and families from malaria without spraying pesticides like DDT inside people’s homes.”

    “We must take a position based on the science and the data,” said WHO’s malaria chief, Arata Kochi, in 2006. “One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual spraying. Of the dozen or so insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT.” Mr. Kochi was right then, even if other WHO officials are now bowing to pressure to

    Like

  53. Jay Ambrose says:

    A New York Times editorial:

    Malaria’s proven enemy, DDT – Editorials & Commentary – International Herald Tribune
    Published: Thursday, October 5, 2006
    Twitter
    Sign In to E-Mail

    Print

    Reprints

    Share
    CloseLinkedinDiggFacebookMySpacePermalinkOf all the wars in Africa, the most deadly is between humans and mosquitoes. More than a million Africans die of malaria every year, the vast majority of them small children. Malaria shrinks the economies of countries where it is endemic by 20 percent over 15 years. One reason the mosquitoes are winning is that the world had essentially discarded its single most effective weapon, DDT.

    But Washington recently resumed financing the use of DDT overseas, and the dynamic new malaria chief of the World Health Organization, Arata Kochi, has said that the WHO, too, endorses widespread indoor house spraying with DDT.

    This is excellent news for the humans in Africa. DDT both repels mosquitoes and kills them. It is the cheapest, longest lasting and most effective insecticide, and it will not threaten the ecosystem. Unlike in the past, DDT will now be sprayed inside houses once or twice a year in minute amounts.

    DDT was the most important insecticide in the eradication of malaria in the United States, and in malaria control in southern Europe, Asia and Latin America. With DDT, malaria cases in Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, dropped from 2.8 million in 1946 to 17 in 1963.

    But Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring” documented how DDT built up in the ecosystem, killing birds and fish. The Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT in 1972 for all but emergencies.

    This was the right decision – for the United States. Malaria was no longer an issue, and Washington needed to ensure that it would not be used on crops. But the decision had deadly consequences overseas.

    The United States, which used DDT irresponsibly to wipe out malaria, ended up blocking much poorer and sicker countries from using it responsibly. Several Latin American countries that had controlled malaria stopped using DDT – and in most of them, malaria cases soared.

    The other reason for DDT’s demise was donor tightfistedness. DDT has to be sprayed inside houses, an activity that needs to be carried out by governments. In most African countries, this means donors must pay. They balked, and insecticide-treated bednets became bureaucrats’ preferred solution. Donors liked the program because it was cheap and sustainable, as consumers would buy the nets – often at subsidized prices. But it has failed. The nets work – but even at $5, few can buy them. The most recent data show that only 3 percent of African children sleep under treated nets.

    The eradication of malaria in rich countries turned out to be the worst thing that could happen for people with malaria in poor countries. Malaria lost its constituency, and the money dried up. But this is changing. The AIDS pandemic has raised interest in third-world disease, and malaria financing has more than doubled in the last three years.

    Conservatives in the Senate have forced a revolution in Washington’s malaria programs. The United States now promotes effective malaria drugs, gives away bednets, and has brought back house spraying – including with DDT.

    Malaria soared because the forces allied against it quit the battlefield. Now the humans are back.

    More Articles in Opinion »

    Like

  54. Jay Ambrose says:

    Another expert writing in The New York Times:

    New York Times
    Op-Ed Contributor
    A New Home for DDT
    By DONALD ROBERTS
    Published: August 20, 2007
    Bethesda, Md.

    DDT, the miracle insecticide turned environmental bogeyman, is once again playing an important role in public health. In the malaria-plagued regions of Africa, where mosquitoes are becoming resistant to other chemicals, DDT is now being used as an indoor repellent. Research that I and my colleagues recently conducted shows that DDT is the most effective pesticide for spraying on walls, because it can keep mosquitoes from even entering the room.

    The news may seem surprising, as some mosquitoes worldwide are already resistant to DDT. But we’ve learned that even mosquitoes that have developed an immunity to being directly poisoned by DDT are still repelled by it.

    Malaria accounts for nearly 90 percent of all deaths from vector-borne disease globally. And it is surging in Africa, surpassing AIDS as the biggest killer of African children under age 5.

    >From the 1940s onward, DDT was used to kill agricultural pests and disease-carrying insects because it was cheap and lasted longer than other insecticides. DDT helped much of the developed world, including the United States and Europe, eradicate malaria. Then in the 1970s, after the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” which raised concern over DDT’s effects on wildlife and people, the chemical was banned in many countries. Birds, especially, were said to be vulnerable, and the chemical was blamed for reduced populations of bald eagles, falcons and pelicans. Scientific scrutiny has failed to find conclusive evidence that DDT causes cancer or other health problems in humans.

    Today, indoor DDT spraying to control malaria in Africa is supported by the World Health Organization; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and the United States Agency for International Development.

    The remaining concern has been that the greater use of DDT in Africa would only lead mosquitoes to develop resistance to it. Decades ago, such resistance developed wherever DDT crop spraying was common. After the DDT bans went into effect in the United States and elsewhere, it continued to be used extensively for agriculture in Africa, and this exerted a powerful pressure on mosquitoes there to develop resistance. Although DDT is now prohibited for crop spraying in Africa, a few mosquito species there are still resistant to it. But DDT has other mechanisms of acting against mosquitoes beyond killing them. It also functions as a “spatial repellent,” keeping mosquitoes from entering areas where it has been sprayed, and as a “contact irritant,” making insects that come in contact with it so irritated they leave.

    In our studies, in which we sprayed DDT on the walls of huts in Thailand, three out of every five test mosquitoes sensed the presence of DDT molecules and would not enter the huts. Many of those that did enter and made contact with DDT became irritated and quickly flew out.

    The mosquitoes we used were the kind that carry dengue and yellow fever, not malaria. But there is ample evidence that malaria-carrying mosquitoes respond similarly to DDT. Several malaria-carrying species are even more sensitive to DDT’s repellent effects.

    When we sprayed the huts with either dieldrin or alphacypermethrin, in contrast, all the test mosquitoes entered. Alphacypermethrin acted as a contact irritant, and it killed others that lingered on a treated surface. Dieldrin worked only as a poison – a powerful one, killing 92 percent of mosquitoes that made contact with it, far more than alphacypermethrin or DDT.

    But dieldrin’s strong toxicity means that mosquitoes quickly develop resistance to it. Its use against malaria was short-lived, ending in the 1950s, because it so quickly became powerless.

    Alphacypermethrin and others like it in the family of so-called pyrethroid insecticides are viewed as environmentally friendly, so they are used heavily in agriculture, in Africa and elsewhere. They are also used for treating bed nets and in indoor spraying programs to control malaria. But these multiple uses, combined with fact that the insecticide must make contact with the insect in order to work, have made pyrethroid resistance a large and growing problem for pest control programs in Africa.

    DDT’s spatial repellency, by keeping mosquitoes from making physical contact, reduces the likelihood that the insects will develop resistance. Even those mosquitoes already resistant to poisoning by DDT are repelled by it.

    It would be a mistake to think we could rely on DDT alone to fight mosquitoes in Africa. Fortunately, research aimed at developing new and better insecticides continues – thanks especially to the work of the international Innovative Vector Control Consortium. Until a suitable alternative is found, however, DDT remains the cheapest and most effective long-term malaria fighter we have.

    Donald Roberts is an emeritus professor of tropical medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and a board member of the nonprofit health advocacy group Africa Fighting Malaria.

    Like

  55. Jay Ambrose says:

    From a left-leaning columnist in The New York Times:

    It’s Time to Spray DDT
    By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

    Published: January 8, 2005

    f the U.S. wants to help people in tsunami-hit countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia – not to mention other poor countries in Africa – there’s one step that would cost us nothing and would save hundreds of thousands of lives.

    It would be to allow DDT in malaria-ravaged countries.

    Advertisement

    Ads by Google what’s this?

    Alzheimer’s or Dementia?
    Learn the important differences between Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
    http://www.JohnsHopkinsHealthAlerts.com
    ShopAutoWeek
    Arrive in Style in Your New Car! Figure out which at shopautoweek.
    http://www.shopautoweek.com
    Ghana Volunteers Wanted
    Live and Work Abroad, 3-12 Weeks. Support the Community, Enroll Now!
    CrossCulturalSolutions.org/Ghana
    Alzheimer’s Foundation
    Help Those Who Help Your Loved One. Donate to Caregivers Today!
    alzfdn.org
    Patio & Porch Columns
    Choose your own column style. Buy Direct & Save. Quick Shipping.
    http://www.PacificColumns.com

    Advertise on NYTimes.com

    I’m thrilled that we’re pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the relief effort, but the tsunami was only a blip in third-world mortality. Mosquitoes kill 20 times more people each year than the tsunami did, and in the long war between humans and mosquitoes it looks as if mosquitoes are winning.

    One reason is that the U.S. and other rich countries are siding with the mosquitoes against the world’s poor – by opposing the use of DDT.

    “It’s a colossal tragedy,” says Donald Roberts, a professor of tropical public health at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. “And it’s embroiled in environmental politics and incompetent bureaucracies.”

    In the 1950’s, 60’s and early 70’s, DDT was used to reduce malaria around the world, even eliminating it in places like Taiwan. But then the growing recognition of the harm DDT can cause in the environment – threatening the extinction of the bald eagle, for example – led DDT to be banned in the West and stigmatized worldwide. Ever since, malaria has been on the rise.

    The poor countries that were able to keep malaria in check tend to be the same few that continued to use DDT, like Ecuador. Similarly, in Mexico, malaria rose and fell with the use of DDT. South Africa brought back DDT in 2000, after a switch to other pesticides had led to a surge in malaria, and now the disease is under control again. The evidence is overwhelming: DDT saves lives.

    But most Western aid agencies will not pay for anti-malarial programs that use DDT, and that pretty much ensures that DDT won’t be used. Instead, the U.N. and Western donors encourage use of insecticide-treated bed nets and medicine to cure malaria.

    Bed nets and medicines are critical tools in fighting malaria, but they’re not enough. The existing anti-malaria strategy is an underfinanced failure, with malaria probably killing 2 million or 3 million people each year.

    DDT doesn’t work everywhere. It wasn’t nearly as effective in West African savannah as it was in southern Africa, and it’s hard to apply in remote villages. And some countries, like Vietnam, have managed to curb malaria without DDT.

    But overall, one of the best ways to protect people is to spray the inside of a hut, about once a year, with DDT. This uses tiny amounts of DDT – 450,000 people can be protected with the same amount that was applied in the 1960’s to a single 1,000-acre American cotton farm.

    Is it safe? DDT was sprayed in America in the 1950’s as children played in the spray, and up to 80,000 tons a year were sprayed on American crops. There is some research suggesting that it could lead to premature births, but humans are far better off exposed to DDT than exposed to malaria.

    I called the World Wildlife Fund, thinking I would get a fight. But Richard Liroff, its expert on toxins, said he could accept the use of DDT when necessary in anti-malaria programs.

    “South Africa was right to use DDT,” he said. “If the alternatives to DDT aren’t working, as they weren’t in South Africa, geez, you’ve got to use it. In South Africa it prevented tens of thousands of malaria cases and saved lots of lives.”

    At Greenpeace, Rick Hind noted reasons to be wary of DDT, but added: “If there’s nothing else and it’s going to save lives, we’re all for it. Nobody’s dogmatic about it.”

    So why do the U.N. and donor agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, generally avoid financing DDT programs? The main obstacle seems to be bureaucratic caution and inertia. President Bush should cut through that and lead an effort to fight malaria using all necessary tools – including DDT.

    One of my most exhilarating moments with my children came when we were backpacking together and spotted a bald eagle. It was a tragedy that we nearly allowed DDT to wipe out such magnificent birds, and we should continue to ban DDT in the U.S.

    But it’s also tragic that our squeamishness about DDT is killing more people in poor countries, year in and year out, than even a once-in-a-century tsunami.

    Like

  56. Jay Ambrose says:

    By PAUL DRIESSEN

    Last Updated: 12:27 AM, August 2, 2010

    An article by malaria researcher and author Paul Driessen:

    More Print ‘Don’t let the bedbugs bite,” it seems, is no longer a fashionable good-night wish for Big Apple kids, even in the city’s high-rent districts and posh hotels. Growing infestations of the ravenous bloodsuckers have New Yorkers annoyed, angry about officialdom’s inadequate responses — and “itching” for answers.

    Instead, their Bedbug Advisory Board recommends a bedbug team and an educational Web site. Residents, it advises, should monitor and report infestations. Use blowdryers to flush out (maybe 5 percent of) the bugs, then sweep them into a plastic bag and dispose properly. Throw away (thousands of dollars’ worth of) infested clothing, bedding, carpeting and furniture.

    Hire (expensive) professionals who (may) have insecticides that (may) eradicate the pests — and hope you don’t get scammed. Don’t use “risky” pesticides yourself. Follow guideline for donating items, and be wary of

    bedbug risks from donated furniture and mattresses.

    New Yorkers want real solutions, including affordable insecticides that work. Fear and loathing from decades of chemophobic indoctrination are slowly giving way to a healthy renewed recognition that the risk of not using chemicals can be greater than the risk of using them (carefully). Eco-myths are being replaced with more informed discussions about the alleged effects of DDT and other pesticides on humans and wildlife.

    Thankfully, bedbugs haven’t been linked to disease — except emotional distress associated with obstinate infestations, incessant itching and pathetic “proactive” advice, rules and “solutions” right out of “Saturday Night Live.”

    It is hellish for people who must live with bedbugs and can’t afford eradication pros such as those Hilton Hotels or Mayor Bloomberg might hire. But [now] imagine what it’s like for some 2 billion people who live 24/7/365 with insects that definitely are responsible for disease: malarial mosquitoes.

    Malaria infects more than 300 million people annually. For weeks on end, it renders them unable to work, attend school or care for their families — and far more susceptible to death from tuberculosis, dysentery, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and other diseases that stalk their impoverished lands.

    This vicious disease causes low birth weights in babies and leaves millions permanently brain damaged. It kills more than a million annually, most of them children and mothers, the vast majority in Africa. It drains families’ meager savings and perpetuates the region’s endemic poverty.

    Emotional distress? Imagine the stress that comes from having no escape from destitution and disease, having to support a child with a perpetual 10-year-old’s mental functions, burying your baby, wife or sibling, or wondering whether you can walk 20 miles to a clinic before the child you are carrying dies and whether the clinic will have (noncounterfeit) medicine to cure her.

    Frustration over absurd bedbug programs? Imagine the reaction Africans must have to “malaria no more” campaigns that claim they’ll (eventually) eradicate the disease solely with insecticide-treated bed nets, drugs, “capacity building,” education and (maybe someday) mosquitoes genetically engineered not to carry malaria parasites. As for insecticide spraying, especially DDT, forget it.

    DDT is the most powerful, effective, long-lasting mosquito repellant ever invented. Spraying the eaves and inside walls of mud huts and cinderblock homes every six months keeps 80 percent of the flying killers from entering. It irritates most that do enter, so they leave without biting, and kills any that land.

    Yet many aid agencies refuse to encourage, endorse or fund spraying. Many don’t even want to monitor mosquito and malaria outbreaks or determine success in reducing disease and death rates. That’s more difficult and costly than counting the number of bed nets distributed and underscores the embarrassing reality that their “comprehensive” (and politically correct) programs achieve only 20 to 40 percent reductions in morbidity and mortality. By contrast, as South Africa and other countries have shown, adding insecticides and DDT can bring 95 percent success.

    Since the Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT in 1972, billions have been stricken by malaria and tens of millions have died. This is intolerable.

    We need adult supervision and informed debate on pesticide policies, laws and regulations. We can no longer leave those decisions to anti-chemical activists in unaccountable pressure groups and government agencies. These zealots are making decisions that affect the quality of life for millions of Americans — and life itself for billions of poor people worldwide.

    If not for the economy and mental health of Americans afflicted by bedbugs, then do it for Africa’s sick, brain-damaged and dying parents and children.

    Paul Driessen, senior policy ad viser for the Congress of Racial Equality, is author of “Eco-Imperi alism: Green power — Black death.”

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/bedbug_baloney_8SbckDH1LTrU0LsRkUjWzJ#ixzz1W3iGOV1D

    Like

  57. Jay Ambrose says:

    From an article by Tina Rosenberg in The New York Times Magazine:

    To Americans, DDT is simply a killer. Ask Americans over 40 to name the most dangerous chemical they know, and chances are hat they will say DDT. Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane was banned in the United States in 1972. The chemical was once sprayed in huge quantities over cities and fields of cotton and other crops. Its persistence in the ecosystem, where it builds up to kill birds and fish, has become a symbol of the dangers of playing God with nature, an icon of human arrogance. Countries throughout the world have signed a treaty promising to phase out its use.

    Yet what really merits outrage about DDT today is not that South Africa still uses it, as do about five other countries for routine malaria control and about 10 more for emergencies. It is that dozens more do not. Malaria is a disease Westerners no longer have to think about. Independent malariologists believe it kills two million people a year, mainly children under 5 and 90 percent of them in Africa. Until it was overtaken by AIDS in 1999, it was Africa’s leading killer. One in 20 African children dies of malaria, and many of those who survive are brain-damaged. Each year, 300 to 500 million people worldwide get malaria. During the rainy season in some parts of Africa, entire villages of people lie in bed, shivering with fever, too weak to stand or eat. Many spend a good part of the year incapacitated, which cripples African economies. A commission of the World Health Organization found that malaria alone shrinks the economy in countries where it is most endemic by 20 percent over 15 years. There is currently no vaccine. While travelers to malarial regions can take prophylactic medicines, these drugs are too toxic for long-term use for residents.

    Yet DDT, the very insecticide that eradicated malaria in developed nations, has been essentially deactivated as a malaria-control tool today. The paradox is that sprayed in tiny quantities inside houses — the only way anyone proposes to use it today — DDT is most likely not harmful to people or the environment. Certainly, the possible harm from DDT is vastly outweighed by its ability to save children’s lives.

    No one concerned about the environmental damage of DDT set out to kill African children. But various factors, chiefly the persistence of DDT’s toxic image in the West and the disproportionate weight that American decisions carry worldwide, have conspired to make it essentially unavailable to most malarial nations. With the exception of South Africa and a few others, African countries depend heavily on donors to pay for malaria control. But at the moment, there is only one country in the world getting donor money to finance the use of DDT: Eritrea, which gets money for its program from the World Bank with the understanding that it will look for alternatives. Major donors, including the United States Agency for International Development, or Usaid, have not financed any use of DDT, and global health institutions like W.H.O. and its malaria program, Roll Back Malaria, actively discourage countries from using it.

    Part of the reason for DDT’s marginalization is that its delivery method, house spraying, doesn’t work everywhere. Insecticide sprayed inside houses repels mosquitoes — and kills those that do make it indoors and perch on walls — for several months. Since most mosquitoes bite at night, when people are likely to be indoors, the spray reduces the number of times people are bitten. If around 80 percent of houses are covered, spraying protects everyone, as the bites that take place will be from mosquitoes less likely to have bitten an infected person. But house spraying is only effective against mosquitoes that bite indoors — not all do. It also requires a government capable of organizing, training and equipping sprayers, which is beyond the reach of some countries.

    Even when spraying is possible, though, developed nations don’t want to pay for it. Instead, the malaria establishment in developed nations promotes the use of insecticide-treated nets that people can buy to hang over their beds. Treated bed nets are indeed a useful tool for controlling malaria. But they have significant limitations, and one reason malaria has surged is that they have essentially become the only tool promoted by Western donors. ”I cannot envision the possibility of rolling back malaria without the power of DDT,” said Renato Gusm-o, who headed antimalaria programs at the Pan American Health Organization, or P.A.H.O., the branch of W.H.O. that covers the Americas. ”Impregnated bed nets are an auxiliary. In tropical Africa, if you don’t use DDT, forget it.”

    The other reason DDT has fallen into disuse is wealthy countries’ fear of a double standard. ”For us to be buying and using in another country something we don’t allow in our own country raises the specter of preferential treatment,” said E. Anne Peterson, the assistant administrator for global health at Usaid. ”We certainly have to think about ‘What would the American people think and want?’ and ‘What would Africans think if we’re going to do to them what we wouldn’t do to our own people?”’

    Given the malignant history of American companies employing dangerous drugs and pesticides overseas that they would not or could not use at home, it is understandable why Washington officials say it would be hypocritical to finance DDT in poor nations. But children sick with malaria might perceive a more deadly hypocrisy in our failure to do so: America and Europe used DDT irresponsibly to wipe out malaria. Once we discovered it was harming the ecosystem, we made even its safe use impossible for far poorer and sicker nations.

    Today, westerners with no memory of malaria often assume it has always been only a tropical disease. But malaria was once found as far north as Boston and Montreal. Oliver Cromwell died of malaria, and Shakespeare alludes to it (as ”ague”) in eight plays. Malaria no longer afflicts the United States, Canada and Northern Europe in part because of changes in living habits — the shift to cities, better sanitation, window screens. But another major reason was DDT, sprayed from airplanes over American cities and towns while children played outside.

    In Southern Europe, Latin America and Asia, DDT played an even more prominent role in controlling malaria. A malaria-eradication campaign with DDT began nearly worldwide in the 1950’s. When it started, India was losing 800,000 people every year to malaria. By the late 1960’s, deaths in India were approaching zero. In Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, 2.8 million cases of malaria per year fell to 17. In 1970, the National Academy of Sciences wrote in a report that ”to only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT” and credited the insecticide, perhaps with some exaggeration, with saving half a billion lives.

    From the 1940’s to the late 1960’s, indoor house spraying with DDT was tested all over Africa. It was least effective in the lowland savannas of West Africa, but even partly successful programs provided considerable health improvements. And in other parts of Africa, DDT reduced the infant mortality rate by half and in some places wiped out malaria completely

    Like

  58. Jay Ambrose says:

    From the National Geographic, which shows I just badly understated my case:

    Soon after the program collapsed, mosquito control lost access to its crucial tool, DDT. The problem was overuse—not by malaria fighters but by farmers, especially cotton growers, trying to protect their crops. The spray was so cheap that many times the necessary doses were sometimes applied. The insecticide accumulated in the soil and tainted watercourses. Though nontoxic to humans, DDT harmed peregrine falcons, sea lions, and salmon. In 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, documenting this abuse and painting so damning a picture that the chemical was eventually outlawed by most of the world for agricultural use. Exceptions were made for malaria control, but DDT became nearly impossible to procure. “The ban on DDT,” says Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health, “may have killed 20 million children.”

    Like

  59. Jay Ambrose says:

    I am Jay Ambrose, and the above contradicts articles in The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic, neither of which were right-wing organs the last time I looked. I have gone to conferences on this issue, interviewed experts and know for an indisputable fact that the wider use of DDT in Africa could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, mostly the lives of children. The mosquito immunity issues were almost entirely in India, not in Africa. As for DDT being a human killer, check out the professor who used to take a teaspoon of the stuff when trying to convince students of the opposite. Read some of the evidence. I know we have people here who think they are very, very smart, but they are also unbelievably ignorant, and they are using that ignorance on behalf of death and mayhem. This is worse than shameful. It is a horror of the first rank. You people deserve no respect at all, and if our Millard Filmore friend wants to email me, have at it. I am sick of seeing his death-furthering bullshit.

    Like

  60. Ed Darrell says:

    Pascal, thanks. One more demonstration that one shouldn’t be one’s own copy editor.

    Like

  61. Pascal says:

    In your final bullet point, I think you meant
    “Malaria continues to be a priority disease,” not
    “DDT continues to be a priority disease.”

    Like

  62. John Mashey says:

    Ambrose goes back a ways.
    See CCC:

    p.108 Ambrose
    p.84 on GMI2003, a key meeting for George Marshall Institute, which introduced McIntyre&McKitrick to mroe folks in Washington, fostered attack on the hockey stick.

    Like

  63. Ed Darrell says:

    DDT would kill the insect pests. Any human health issues probably would not arise until much later. I don’t think most people could measure the effect of DDT on their immediate environment, unless, like in Borneo, their cats got the stuff and died.

    Anyone who recommends DDT should have to do the DNA analysis to prove the local population of mosquito is affected by it, and live without bednets until the tests come back.

    Ambrose is not headed to Africa any time soon, I wager.

    Like

  64. Nick K says:

    Anyone who recommends the use of DDT…should have to use it themselves near themselves. And see if they like the results.

    Like

Play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,332 other followers

%d bloggers like this: