We Need To Rethink DDT Ban

ddtOur environmental efforts suffer from one very serious ailment—a division in the American population that falls along religious, political and social lines. This was not the case when original environmental concerns were addressed—–the environmental movement was non-political and enjoyed a common-sense forum. The majority of Americans of all stripes and political views got on board and wanted to do what they could to address pollution and other environmental concerns.

But somewhere along the way the movement took a very poisonous and polluted political turn to the left. Liberal activist groups saw an opportunity to use environmental concerns to score points against their political opponents. Because they enjoyed the cooperation and coverage of mass media they were able to paint anyone who questioned their reports, research and claims as “anti-environment bigots.” Liberal politicians soon picked up on this “weapon” and the environmental issue became a wedge that divided us. Conservatives picked up the gauntlet tossed down by liberals and the fight continues to escalate to this day.

One casualty of this wedge issue came early in the fight—-the banning of Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT). Because of this ban bed bug infestation in our nation has increased considerably as they come into the U.S. in the luggage and clothing of foreign tourists/visitors and illegal aliens. According to a report in an issue of the Environment & Climate News report the infestation are rising rapidly as a result of years of failure to use DDT and several other effective pesticides that have been banned—– developing nations were forced to stop using DDT because the European Nation refused to buy produce from nations where the effective pesticide is used.

But one of the most deadly results of the DDT ban is the rise of malaria deaths in Africa. An eye-opening paper by Nigerians Thompson Ayodele and Adegoke Anthony who are members of the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis in Lagos, Nigeria was widely reported in Nigerian newspapers. In their report, “Anti-DDT Policies Are Deadly for Africa,” they assert that environmental groups continue to misrepresent DDT and worry more about hypothetical health problems from the chemical than about the disease and death it can prevent. It is a crime against humanity to ban DDT and leave over 300 million African people to suffer every year from acute malaria. However there is some good news—in the face of the ever increasing deaths from malaria, the World Health Organization in 2008 began supporting DDT for household spraying in Africa and millions are benefiting—–currently deaths from malaria have been cut by 80 percent in South Africa—-and 30 percent in Uganda.

The impact of liberal and political correct meddling in developing countries has been devastating. According to scientists and doctors in those nations DDT poses little or no risk to humans or animals when used responsibly. Yet we still have people in the Western world who threaten agricultural bans and other sanctions against countries that use DDT to save lives.

The common-sense person has to wonder what other harm from over-reaching policies and actions by politically charged environmental groups would surface in the future. Bed bug infestations are not as serious as malaria but just the thought that other forms of pest control have proven ineffective or less effective than DDT in their eradication is disconcerting. People staying in hotels and motels up until 1951 were always at risk of being bitten by bed bugs—then DDT was discovered as a very effective weapon against the little blood-suckers. The threat went away for decades— but now it looms again.

The concern over the environment could have taken a different track and would have been hailed as one of the most significant achievement of humankind—– but it became a political weapon and therefore became polluted. Mr. Jay Lehr, Ph.D. is Science Director for the Heartland Institute and in his earlier paper, “When Will We Tire of the Fear Mongers,” he writes, “Shouldn’t we notice that past environmental and public health crises never were true, and shouldn’t that realization lead us to stop over-reacting each time a new doomsday scenario appears in the daily newspapers?”

I for one agree with Mr. Lehr. There is nothing wrong with being concerned about the environment but unless there is a balanced look at the issue, taking into consideration all debates, pro and con, it is easy to move too far to one side or the other. To absolutely assert that “the debate is over” and that only one view is valid is insane. Maybe it is our way, our culture that causes us to turn every issue into a political and divisive firestorm—-but who are we really hurting? As Americans we have the technology and medical wherewithal to withstand and absorb some of the over-reaching and harmful effects of the actions by politically driven environmental groups—but I am sure you would get a different response from Nigerians Thompson Ayodele, Adegoke Anthony and millions of other Africans.

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3 Comments

  1. Ed Mazlish says:

    Jimmie:

    Good article. However, I do not think the environmental started off good and then took a wrong turn. Rachel Corson’s Silent Spring, which led to the DDT ban you reference in the article, was published in 1962. The environmental movement has always been opposed to human life and the thing that sustains it, industrial civilization.

    As a social principle, environmentalism condemns cities, culture, industry, technology, and the intellect. It advocates men’s return to “nature,” to the state of grunting subanimals digging the soil with their bare hands. Observe that in all the propaganda of the environmentalists—amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for “harmony with nature”—there is no discussion of man’s needs and the requirements of his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the kind of state of nature that the environmentalists envision—i.e., on the level of sea urchins or polar bears. In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilizations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire.

    The environmentalist movement is anti-man and anti-human life. It is a big, big mistake to whitewash it by saying that it was initially well intended, but got hijacked by some crazies. That is like saying that Islam got hijacked by some crazies who somehow got the crazy notion that Mohammed’s calls for Jihad should be taken seriously. Just as the Jihadists goal is to wipe out Western Civilization, the environmentalists’ goal has always been the destruction of MAN. You can even search the internet for various quotes from noted environmentalists where they candidly admit that they would like to see a virus or plague wipe out human populations. Take them at their word.

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Hmmm. There are a few things you should be aware of, before you go off rather half-cocked on this issue.

    1. Malaria deaths are not rising. Malaria death totals have been falling for 50 years. In 1959-1960, when DDT use was at its peak, 4 million people died from malaria every year. By 1972, that was down to 2 million year. 1972 was the year the U.S. stopped DDT use on crops. Today, about 800,000 people die annually from malaria. That’s a 75% drop in malaria deaths, largely without DDT. In fact, from 1955, as DDT use dropped, so did malaria deaths.

    2. Bedbugs are immune to DDT, and have been since the 1950s. We got “rid” of bedbugs using other stuff, and their return now has nothing to do with DDT or a lack of it.

    3. No one, especially environmental groups, seriously opposes the use of DDT in Indoor Residual Spraying to fight malaria. In fact, ED, Environmental Defense, was one of the first organizations to call on the Bush administration to stop its baseless ban on spending U.S. dollars on DDT.

    4. DDT has never been banned for fighting malaria. Even under the Persistent Organic Pesticides Treaty, any nation can use DDT if it chooses, and do it legally merely by information the World Health Organization.

    5. DDT has been in constant use to fight malaria since 1946 — but DDT’s effectiveness was compromised and continues do decline, because of overuse of the stuff in agriculture. There has never been a shortage of DDT.

    6. DDT effectively kills off entire ecosystems, and still threatens many birds at the top of the food chain.

    7. Bednets have proven more effective, and cheaper, than DDT for controlling malaria in Africa.

    8. Controlling malaria is, now, chiefly a problem of quick and accurate diagnoses of the diseases (there are several different parasites that cause malaria), and adequate delivery of medicines to cure the human victims. DDT helps in none of that.

    I don’t know who Jay Lehr is, but he’s no expert in mosquitoes, nor public health dealing with malaria. Any expert would know that using DDT where it doesn’t work — like on bedbugs — is a waste of money. Wasting money to spread dangerous poison seems doubly foolish.

    Don’t take my word for it, check out the facts for yourself; you can start here, and follow the links:
    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ddt-chronicles-at-millard-fillmores-bathtub/