For years, Accuracy in Media has been reporting on the disastrous consequences of the world-wide ban on DDT. At our annual conference in 2002, experts warned of the rising death rates from malaria, particularly in Africa and South America and the failure of the alternatives to DDT promoted by environmental activist groups. These alternatives, like treated bed-netting, simply aren’t working.
The best example of DDT’s effectiveness is South Africa. Under international pressure, South Africa stopped DDT spraying in 1999 and death rates spiked up. Half of these deaths were children under five. South Africa went back to DDT in 2000 and promptly reduced malaria rates by seventy-five percent. Nevertheless, international aid agencies continue to refuse to support DDT use. They threaten to withhold aid from countries that use the pesticide.
AIM has been particularly critical of the liberal media for ignoring scientific evidence that refutes the environmentalists’ scare tactics on DDT use. So we think it is particularly noteworthy when a liberal journal, like the Washington Monthly, publishes an article promoting DDT spraying to eradicate malaria. Especially when the article proclaims “DDT could save millions of Africans from malaria, if only environmentalists would let it.”
The article described the terrible consequences of the failure to control malaria in Uganda. Uganda seems to have AIDs under control, but is losing the battle against malaria. Last year, Uganda recorded 80,000 deaths from malaria, half of these children. Malaria costs Uganda more than $347 million a year. But when public health officials decided to begin a DDT spraying campaign, they immediately encountered opposition from USAID. Officials were also warned that Europe and the United States might ban imports of Ugandan fish and agricultural products.
Another article at a popular Internet website, Tech Central Station, relates a similar experience in Mozambique. Flooding there has triggered out-of-control breeding by malarial mosquitos and a sharp increase in malaria-caused deaths. Yet government officials, influenced by USAID and other organizations, continue to block the use of DDT to control this outbreak. The author says the environmentalist claims to support a ban on DDT are “misguided.” He calls for outside pressure on Mozambican officials to use the insecticide.
Both articles confirm what AIM has been saying for years. Science has effectively refuted every environmentalist claim of potential harm to human beings from DDT spraying. The Washington Monthly notes that “not a single study linking DDT exposure to human toxicity has ever been replicated.” Yet the liberal media publish only the scare stories, like one supposedly linking DDT exposure to breast cancer, and not the follow up studies that disprove the link. The author urges congressional hearings to force USAID to cease blocking DDT use to eradicate malaria. As South Africa’s director of its DDT spraying program said, it’s time for the West to stop its misguided opposition to DDT.