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DDT In the News

I'm thrilled that we're pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the relief effort, but the tsunami was only a blip in third-world mortality. Mosquitoes kill 20 times more people each year than the tsunami did, and in the long war between humans and mosquitoes it looks as if mosquitoes are winning.

One reason is that the U.S. and other rich countries are siding with the mosquitoes against the world's poor - by opposing the use of DDT.

"It's a colossal tragedy," says Donald Roberts, a professor of tropical public health at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. "And it's embroiled in environmental politics and incompetent bureaucracies."

In the 1950's, 60's and early 70's, DDT was used to reduce malaria around the world, even eliminating it in places like Taiwan. But then the growing recognition of the harm DDT can cause in the environment - threatening the extinction of the bald eagle, for example - led DDT to be banned in the West and stigmatized worldwide. Ever since, malaria has been on the rise.

Thus speaks Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times today.

It might behoove those interested in reducing malaria to check out facts and politics surrounding the original DDT debate. There are proponents of using DDT who challenge whether DDT is harmful to the environment, and specifically the bald eagle.

DDT was being used when I was young. Iâ??m not aware of any injurious effects due to my ingestion of low levels of DDT. Proper use of the chemical seems paramount in assuring safety.

It seems ironic that an administration that is presently being vilified for not caring about the environment likewise might be using a blind eye when supporting questionable environmental precautions.

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