Sometimes big news sneaks up on us, without press releases. We often miss it.
Quiet little Tweet from journalist I’d never heard of, who passed along news from an obscure journal:
As a journalist, this guy has a piece of a world-wide scoop.
India is probably the last nation on Earth producing DDT. In the last decade other two nations making the stuff got out of the business — North Korea and China. For several years now India has been the largest manufacturer of DDT, and far and away the greatest user, spraying more DDT against malaria-carrying mosquitoes, sand flies, and agricultural and household pests than the rest of the world combined.
As if an omen, India’s malaria rates did not drop, but instead rose, even as malaria rates dropped or plunged in almost every other nation on Earth.
Under the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) signed by more than 150 nations (not including the U.S.), DDT was one of a dozen chemicals targeted to be phased out due to its extremely dangerous qualities, including long-term persistence in the environment and bioaccummulation, by which doses of the stuff increase up the food chain, delivering crippling and fatal doses to top predators.
A perfect substitute for DDT in fighting some disease-carrying insects (“vectors”) has never been developed. Health officials asked, and the Stockholm negotiators agreed to leave DDT legally available to fight disease. Annex B asked nations to tell the World Health Organization if it wanted to use DDT. Since 2001, as DDT effectiveness was increasingly compromised by resistance evolved in insects, fewer and fewer nations found it useful.
The site Mr. Nazakat linked to is up and down, and my security program occasionally says the site is untrustworthy. It’s obscure at best. Shouldn’t news of this type be in some of India’s biggest newspapers?
I found an article in the Deccan Herald, confirming the report, but again with some
India-United Nations pact to end DDT use by 2020
India-United Nations pact to end DDT use by 2020
New Delhi, August 26, 2015, DHNS:
It would be better to switch to another insecticide, says expert
India has launched a $53 million project to phase out DDT by 2020 and replace them with Neem-based bio-pesticides that are equally effective.
India is the lone user of DDT, though only in the malaria control programme, while rest of the world got rid of the chemical that has a lasting adverse impact on the environment.
India on Tuesday entered into a $53 million (Rs 350 crore) partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), United Nations Environment Programme and the Global Environment Facility to replace DDT with safer, more effective and green alternatives.
“As per the plan, the National Botanical Research Organisation, Lucknow, tied up with a company to produce Neem-based alternatives for the malaria programme. The production will start in six months,” Shakti Dhua, the regional coordinator of UNIDO told Deccan Herald.
Till last year, the annual DDT requirement was about 6,000 tonnes that has now been cut down to 4,000 tonnes as the government decided to stop using it in the Kala-Azar control programme.
A recent study by an Indo-British team of medical researchers found that using DDT without any surveillance is counter-productive as a vector control strategy as sand flies not only thrive but are also becoming resistant to DDT.
“It would be better to switch to another insecticide, which is more likely to give better results than DDT,” said Janet Hemingway, a scientist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. While the Health Ministry wanted to bring in synthetic pyrethroids, the United Nation agencies supports the bio-pesticides because of their efficacy and long-lasting effects.
“The new initiative would help check the spread of malaria and other vector-borne diseases. These include botanical pesticides, including Neem-based compounds, and long-lasting insecticidal safety nets that will prevent mosquito bites while sleeping,” Dhua said.
Ending the production and use of DDT is a priority for India as it is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) of 2002 that seeks to eliminate the use of these chemicals in industrial processes, drugs and pesticides. DDT is one of the POPs.
The clock is counting down the last years of DDT. Good.
If events unroll as planned, DDT making will end by 2020, 81 years after it was discovered to kill bugs, 70 years after it was released for civilian years, 70 years after problems with its use was first reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 58 years after the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, 50 years after European nations banned some uses, 48 years after the famous U.S. ban on agricultural use, 19 years after the POPs Treaty.
When will the news leak out?
- “Goodbye, DDT,” May 8, 2009 radio story from Living on Earth, on WHO and Stockholm Convention goal of eliminating DDT by 2020
- In 2013 India formally opposed the 2020 goal of eliminating DDT; story at down to Earth
- Update: Time for India to phase out DDT from other uses, too? See Tweet below