New hope on the horizon
Congress is considering legislation that would bring DDT back into the fight against malaria.
Over a million people each year -- mostly children and pregnant women -- die of malaria every year, and these deaths are due to politics. The number of deaths may be as high as 2.7 million per year. Environmental hysteria about DDT has taken away the most potent weapon in the arsenal. It's about time we started putting people's lives ahead of the DDT myths.
Think about it: When the concentration camps were liberated at the end of WWII, the prisoners were de-loused with DDT -- a move that saved them from deadly diseases, without causing any harm to them despite their fragile health.
In 100 things you should know about DDT, Junk Science points out:
Dr. Paul Müller won the Nobel Prize in 1948 for his work on DDT. Not his work banning it, mind you, but his work producing it.
"In May 1955 the Eighth World Health Assembly adopted a Global Malaria Eradication Campaign based on the widespread use of DDT against mosquitos and of antimalarial drugs to treat malaria and to eliminate the parasite in humans. As a result of the Campaign, malaria was eradicated by 1967 from all developed countries where the disease was endemic and large areas of tropical Asia and Latin America were freed from the risk of infection." [Bull World Health Organ 1998;76(1):11-6]
"In little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that otherwise would have been inevitable." [National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Research in the Life Sciences of the Committee on Science and Public Policy. 1970. The Life Sciences; Recent Progress and Application to Human Affairs; The World of Biological Research; Requirements for the Future.]
In the 1960s, World Health Organization authorities believed there was no alternative to the overpopulation problem but to assure than up to 40 percent of the children in poor nations would die of malaria. As an official of the Agency for International Development stated, "Rather dead than alive and riotously reproducing." [Desowitz, RS. 1992. Malaria Capers, W.W. Norton & Company]
No correlation at the population level can be demonstrated between exposures to DDT and the incidence of cancer at any site. [IARC Sci Publ 1985;(65):107-17] (NB: Even if DDT did increase the risk of cancer, don't you think parents in developing countries would rather see their kids live long enough to worry about cancer than watch them die of malaria in infancy?)
Men who voluntarily ingested 35 mgs of DDT daily for nearly two years were carefully examined for years and "developed no adverse effects." [Hayes, W. 1956. JAMA 162:890-897] (And again, I'd rather live long enough to worry about cancer then die of malaria before age 5!)
Many experiments on caged-birds demonstrate that DDT and its metabolites (DDD and DDE) do not cause serious egg shell thinning, even at levels many hundreds of times greater than wild birds would ever accumulate. [Cecil, HC et al. 1971. etc. ]
We in the developed world used DDT to eliminate malaria in our homelands, then deny it the the people who need it the most. Then we wonder why they hate us.