Banned U.S. pesticide could save millions in Africa

April 14, 2004

DDT Saves Lives
by Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
April 2004

This is what writer Hilary Spurling says about the female bloodsucker, otherwise known as the flying needle of death: “She is elegantly constructed, miraculously adaptable and prodigiously efficient. She can deposit 30 or 40 malarial parasites in the human bloodstream at a single bite. Within two weeks they will multiply to trillions. She is one of the great killers of all time — she can wipe out whole villages and empty towns.”

She is a female mosquito, and she’s killing Africans, 90 percent of them children, by the millions. It’s no wonder African economies are crippled.

To save the children — and to help the economies — America has to embrace DDT again, the pesticide the United Statesbanned in 1972. Crops were being drenched in DDT and that, eventually, killed many birds.

What environmentalists don’t stress is that DDT saved countless human lives.

American aid agencies are concerned they’ll be called hypocrites if America pushes for the use of DDT in Africa when we won’t touch the stuff ourselves.

Fair enough on the surface.

But listen to Niger Innis, spokesman for the U.S. Congress of Racial Equality: “DDT and other pesticides, used in tiny amounts, can slash malaria rates by 80 percent. But [groups like] Greenpeace absolutely oppose that. Greenpeace claims ‘it is for the people.’ In reality, it is a powerful elite of First World activists whose hard-core agenda puts people last.”

Speaking Tuesday to the Sun-Times about the recent Earth Day celebrations, Innis said: “The U.N.’s Africa Malaria Day followed Earth Day, and who’s heard of Malaria Day? The do-gooders, those against DDT, are hugging trees and letting kids die. America needs to give DDT to Africa.”

Tina Rosenberg, in a recent astonishing article in the New York Times Magazine, says it is understandable, given past environmental issues, that Americans are jittery about giving DDT to African countries. But, she says, sick children with malaria might perceive a more deadly hypocrisy if we don’t: America used DDT to wipe out malaria.

The truth is, DDT can be sprayed carefully and barely touch “the environment.” There are several small-scale programs inAfrica that demonstrate this.

If we truly want to save lives in Africa, let’s turn on the DDT tap and start to spray.