Skip to comments.DDT is safe: just ask the professor who ate it for 40 years
Posted on 07/03/2002 4:09:24 AM PDT by backhoe
THE World Health Organisation, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, the UN environmental programme and its development programme, USAID, and almost all the other international representatives of the great and the good now campaign against DDT.
But, perversely, the Third World still uses it. To those who believe that America under George W Bush and his gas-guzzling, permafrost-drilling accomplices is the source of all global pollution, this Third World defection is disappointing. Where are the virtuous blacks when we need them?
DDT was introduced as an insecticide during the 1940s. In Churchill's words: "The excellent DDT powder has been found to yield astonishing results against insects of all kinds, from lice to mosquitoes."
And astonishing they were. DDT was particularly effective against the anopheles mosquito, which is the carrier of malaria, and people once hoped that DDT would eradicate malaria worldwide. Consider Sri Lanka. In 1946, it had three million cases, but the introduction of DDT reduced the numbers, by 1964, to only 29. In India, the numbers of malaria cases fell from 75 million to around 50,000.
But, in 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, the book that launched the environmental movement. In that book, Carson showed how DDT was imperilling wildlife, particularly predators at the top of the food chain that accumulated the chemical in their fat and in their thinning egg shells.
Within a decade, the developed countries had banned DDT, as did some developing countries, to the detriment of their health. In Sri Lanka, cases of malaria soon rose to 500,000. Worldwide, malaria has returned with a vengeance, accounting annually for 300 million cases and, sadly, one million deaths, mainly of children.
As the Third World now knows, there is no ready substitute for DDT. The spraying of houses with DDT prevents malaria because most people are infected after dusk as they sleep indoors. DDT permeates the walls of buildings, and a single spray will provide indoor protection for months.
Other chemicals are available, but they are generally less effective, shorter-acting and - most importantly for the Third World - more expensive. And DDT is extraordinarily safe for humans. Prof Kenneth Mellanby lectured on it for more than 40 years, and during each lecture he would eat a pinch.
Nor need DDT imperil wildlife. The destruction that Carson described was caused by the agricultural use of DDT as a mass insecticide in vast quantities on crops. But the discriminating application of DDT indoors involves only a tiny, contained, environmentally tolerable, reversible fraction of the dose. That is why some international health (as opposed to environmental) agencies, including Unicef, still support the judicious use of DTT. Even the WHO is now softening its stance.
Malaria was once endemic in Britain. Cromwell died of it and both Pepys and Shakespeare described it. Until the 1930s, it was still active in Essex. But we are lucky in our frosty climate, which kills anopheles, and we have eradicated the disease. Yet Greenpeace and other environmental agencies resist the appropriate use of DDT in the tropics.
Politics has long bedevilled malaria. Its first effective cure was quinine, which was discovered by Jesuit missionaries in South America during the 1630s, but for decades Protestants preferred to die rather than swallow "Jesuit's Powder". Today, Third World health is endangered by comfortable Western environmentalists, some of whom, discreetly, view black natives as threats to the local wildlife.
Supporting those black natives, however, are two researchers, Richard Tren and Roger Bate, whose Malaria and the DDT Story, recently published by the Institute for Economic Affairs in London, shows how to foster both a healthier and an environmentally friendlier Third World. Greenpeace, in its self-assurance, embodies a contemporary cultural imperialism as offensive as any Jesuit's.
After heavy rains here in south Georgia, we are plagued by swarms of mosquetoes- and nothing currently legal to use seems to faze them.
I long for the days of DDT.
( Drop Dead Twice... )
What's a few million lives protected from disease if we might have saved a few birds?
Could someone please translate the use of that term from English to American? Thanks
I think mosquitoes avoided him too.
I have noticed that effect when I used to dip my hands in solvent a lot- bugs don't seem to like the way you taste or smell.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.