Stealth malaria promotion in favoring DDT over brown pelicans

Another blogger decided to take some potshots at the environmental protection success that banning DDT was is. laments that the brown pelican flew off the Endangered Species List this week.  “Brown pelicans 1, brown human beings 0,” the headline reads.  The piece claims that banning DDT use in America has somehow increased malaria, or prolonged it, in Africa and Asia.

Clearly the writer can’t didn’t read a map, or figure distances, and knows nothing knew little about the migratory habits of mosquitoes.  Stopping the spraying of DDT in Arkansas didn’t stop the use or manufacture of DDT in Africa nor Asia, anywhere.  Nor did mosquitoes not killed in America fly to Africa to infect kids.  Someone who has decided to rail against wise science probably isn’t interested much in the facts, though.

I responded there:

DDT has never been banned in Africa, nor Asia.  Today, China and India together manufacture thousands of tons of DDT for use around the world.

Odd — in the nations where DDT was banned (for use on agriculture, never to fight malaria), malaria is eradicated or all but eradicated.  In those nations where DDT is still legal, still manufactured, and still used in great quantities, malaria runs rampant.

Perhaps a lack of DDT doesn’t have anything to do with the spread of malaria.

There are very few, if any, serious malaria fighters asking for DDT.  Improved medical care is the basis for beating malaria in humans.  Malaria is a parasite that must live for part of its life cycle in mosquitoes, and for part of its life cycle in humans.  If your goal is to wipe out malaria, you could do it more effectively by wiping out the humans that harbor the parasite.  That would be stupid and cruel, and very expensive.

Fortunately, DDT is not a powerful acute poison to use against the mammals where malaria breeds.  Perhaps unfortunately, it’s no panacea against malaria, either.

Why did African malaria fighters stop using DDT in the middle 1960s?  Mosquitoes had become resistant and immune to DDT.

Ronald Reagan once said for every serious problem there is a solution that is simple, easy, and wrong.  DDT is that simple, easy and wrong solution for malaria.

Why is this man so bigoted Let’s hope it’s ignorance of the issue and not bigotry against brown beings that he thinks leads anyone to think the brown pelican should have been sacrificed, and that  he thinks brown Africans are too stupid to figure out how to fight malaria with DDT, if DDT would in fact save them?  [See Mr. Leap’s comment below. Not stupid at all, he just didn’t have the facts.  Great to find someone willing to admit error.  Clearly, I was wrong assuming he knew better — see edits throughout the post.  It’s actually pleasant to discover one was wrong in a case like this.]

Rachel Carson was right: We should have restricted the use of DDT to save wild populations of animals, and to have preserved its efficacy for fighting malaria in carefully planned and delivered programs to fight malaria and other insect-borne diseases around the world.  Carson proposed we use integrated pest management (IPM) to fight disease, and this is the program and process Africans and Asians have turned to over the past decade as other slap-dash methods of fighting disease faltered.

In diverting attention from improving medical care to fight malaria, to a hopeless campaign to reintroduce DDT where it would not work the miracle claimed, favors too many people favor  malaria over the kids in reality.  Odd position for a health professional to take, and we can be relatively certain that he’s responding to political hackery, and not basing his views on any sound science or history.

The brown pelicansmigration from the Endangered Species List pays high tribute to Rachel Carson’s views on saving life in the wild, and verification once again that she was right.  Perhaps its time more people paid attention to her accurate and effective ideas about how to fight human disease, without trying to poison all of Africa.

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2 Responses to Stealth malaria promotion in favoring DDT over brown pelicans

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Wow! A thinking blogger! Thanks for dropping by and setting me straight, Mr. Leap. Corrections made above.


  2. Edwin Leap says:

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you for your comments. Having read apparently only part of the argument, I am now encouraged to try to understand the problem more fully. Clearly, I didn’t know enough of the many factors in the malaria equation. If I’m nothing else, I like to think I’m teachable.

    I do object to your very bizarre twist of logic that suggests I favor Malaria over children, or am too bigoted to believe Africans can’t solve problems on their own. To the contrary, I think all humans are amazing and wonderful creations, with enormous capacity to solve their own problems. Of course, many Africans may have simply been too poor, too sick or too uneducated to solve some of their problems. But those are not issues of incapacity, and the sources of those problems are too vast and complex for us to address here.

    Thank you for your insight. It’s would be even more valuable without direct insults on my character or intelligence. Nevertheless, I value your knowledge and passion.




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