We Need To Rethink DDT Ban
Our 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.