The Malaria/DDT War — Part MCLXXXVIII

In a Wall Street Journal op/ed, the director general of health services for the Republic of Uganda, Sam Zaramba, asks Western environmentalists to get out of the way and let his country use DDT to save people's lives. To wit:

Although Uganda's National Environmental Management Authority has approved DDT for malaria control, Western environmentalists continue to undermine our efforts and discourage G-8 governments from supporting us. The EU has acknowledged our right to use DDT, but some consumer and agricultural groups repeat myths and lies about the chemical. They should instead help us use it strictly to control malaria.

Environmental leaders must join the 21st century, acknowledge the mistakes Carson made, and balance the hypothetical risks of DDT with the real and devastating consequences of malaria. Uganda has demonstrated that, with the proper support, we can conduct model indoor spraying programs and ensure that money is spent wisely, chemicals are handled properly, our program responds promptly to changing conditions, and malaria is brought under control.

And for what it's worth, the World Health Organization has also approved the indoor use of DDT for controlling malaria mosquitoes.

Whole WSJ op/ed here.

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  • Episiarch||

    Hey, you can't let saving millions of lives get in the way of saving some birds. Get with the program, Sam.

  • ||

    Not to take away from the value of DDT, but there's this nut-job Right-winger Jim Quinn on morning radio in Pittsburgh who claims to have played in the clouds of passing DDT trucks as a child.

    Based on his ideas, it shows...

  • ||

    Taktix: A lot of us Baby Boomers enjoyed this experience. ;-)

  • ||

    but there's this nut-job Right-winger Jim Quinn on morning radio in Pittsburgh who claims to have played in the clouds of passing DDT trucks as a child.

    And what study exactly shows that DDT causes brain development disorders in children Taktix?

    This guys may be a nut job...but that had absolutely nothing to do with him breathing in clouds of DDT as a child.

    But keep it up with your left wing environmental propaganda...i mean you have only killed about 20 million poor people with those lies...you still have a couple billion to go.

  • db||

    Quinn --and Banana
    Quinn --and Banana

    In the Shower
    In the Morning
    B-94 FM!

  • ||

    Although Uganda's National Environmental Management Authority has approved DDT for malaria control, Western environmentalists continue to undermine our efforts and discourage G-8 governments from supporting us. The EU has acknowledged our right to use DDT, but some consumer and agricultural groups repeat myths and lies about the chemical.

    Names, please?

  • ||

    I agree withe minister's recommendations. Responsible DDT use needs to be a part of malaria protection efforts in Africa. But I couldn't help but notice his statement that the West needs to "acknowledge the mistakes Carson made?"

    The spraying regime Zaramba recommends - no agricultural use, reserve DDT for the protection of human populations, spray as little as possible - is exactly that recommended by Carson in "Silent Spring."

    I wonder Mr. Zaramba got his faulty information about Carson's book from - exactly the same faulty information about Carson's book that has been repeatedly posted on this web site, in the WSJ editorial page, and has appeared in the columns of conservative newspaper writers across the U.S.

    joshua corning,

    "i mean you have only killed about 20 million poor people with those lies"

    Maybe you should, you know, RTFA. As the minister acknowledges, the ban on agricultural use of DDT is the reason that it remains useful in controlling malaria today, by preventing and reversing the spread of DDT-resistance in mosquitoes.

    Why do you want Africans to be helpless in fighting off malaria, joshua? Why?

  • ||

    joe - is there a concise excerpt from Silent Spring that pushes the "no agricultural use, reserve DDT for the protection of human populations, spray as little as possible" line?

  • Tim Lambert||

    alkali, their names are Mr and Mrs Western Environmentalist, who, as every knows, basically control the G8 governments. Who can forget the 50% cut in CO2 emissions they forced on the US last year? Bush didn't want to do it, but he had to give in to the all-powerful environmentalists.

    If you read the article, you'll notice that spraying is a rather small part of their vector control program, and that long-lasting insecticide treated nets are much more important.

  • ||

    R C Dean,

    The relevant quote from Carson's book:

    "No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored. The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse. The world has heard much of the triumphant war against disease through the control of insect vectors of infection, but it has heard little of the other side of the story - the defeats, the short-lived triumphs that now strongly support the alarming view that the insect enemy has been made actually stronger by our efforts. Even worse, we may have destroyed our very means of fighting. ... What is the measure of this setback? The list of resistant species now includes practically all of the insect groups of medical importance. ... Malaria programmes are threatened by resistance among mosquitoes. ... Practical advice should be 'Spray as little as you possibly can' rather than 'Spray to the limit of your capacity' ..., Pressure on the pest population should always be as slight as possible."

    I cut and pasted that from the Wikipedia entry on Rachel Carson.

    It's funny, all of the ones and zeros Ron Bailey has spent on the issue of DDT and on criticizing Silent Spring, and he's never actually provided a quote from the book or a link to the relevant section, has he?

    It's almost as if there's an agenda beyond making malaria control more effective going on here.

  • Tim Lambert||

    Oh by the way Ron, you are mentioned here.

  • ||

    To be fair, after about the 8th or 9th time Tim Lambert brought this to his attention, Bailey included a statement that the problem wasn't with Rachel Carson, but with "her followers."

  • ||

    db,

    It used to be Quinn and Banana, until Quinn got all political. Then he went to some now-defunct classic rock station and started "The War Room" with some whiny girl named Rose.

    It's like the poor man's Rush Limbaugh show, except at least Rush can veil his lies a little. Quinn just spout out complete, obvious bullshit from 6-10am.

    Thank Zeus I moved from that wretched town...

  • ||

    You can eat DDT without apparent harm. DDT has never stopped being used, and is cheap. I have no idea how to use or not use DDT. I've had a bat house in my back yard for two years without a bat coming to visit. Bats work. Carson's book, which did lauch a generation against chemicals, wasn't a scientific manual or legal document.

  • scandalrag||

    I find the most amazing claim in the article to be Uganda had a country music star.

    Recently Ugandan country music star Job Paul Kafeero died of the disease

  • ||

    has anyone addressed this alleged debunking of the DDT-Malaria connection?

    http://crookedtimber.org/2007/05/30/ddt-tobacco-and-the-parallel-universe/

  • db||

    Taktix:

    You'll recall that Quinn didn't get "political" until he was accused (probably rightly) of sexual harrassment of a colleague on-air. After he got fired by B-94 is when he took up the political talk show angle.

  • Calculator||

    Since you've decided to stop by and shit on the floor, I have a question for you, Lambert.

    Precisely how many more Africans need to die before your ethno-bloodlust is satisfied?

    The many millions your side has disposed of so far clearly haven't brought the world's darkies-to-humans ratio down to a level you believe to be sustainable.

    Give us a number, pig.

  • ||

    Yeah, I wouldn't expect a great deal of rational, fact-based discourse from people trying to get the last mile from this discredited hatchet job.

    Oh, and Tim? When did you stop beating you wife?

  • Mike Laursen||

    I find the most amazing claim in the article to be Uganda had a country music star.

    Apparently, what they meant is that his music told stories, like a lot of American country music.

  • ||

    Perhaps this guy is lying. Perhaps this is all propaganda and there is no reason why Uganda or any other country can't use DDT in a responsible manner. Since I have never been to Uganda, I do not know.

    One thing is for sure, huge gains were made in stopping malaria in the 1950s and the 1960s. Most of those gains outside of temperate areas like the US who only had seasonal malaria problems have been reversed in the last 30 years.

    Now we have this guy saying that one of the reasons is because he cannot get the G8 to let him use DDT because environmental groups won't agree to it. Why shouldn't I take the guy at his word? It is not like environmental groups haven't been Luddite and completely unreasonable about a million other different issues.

    Joe is right that Carson herself never wanted to ban DDT. Unfortunately Carson died shortly after the publication of Silent Spring and her followers got the substance banned completely. It is not about blaming Carson personally for the madness surrounding DDT. It is about ignorant people who made a decision, completely banning DDT, based on emotion rather than science and reason. At least according to this guy, those people are still out there and still doing damage. I don't see what is so controversial about that. Why is it so hard to admit that the environmental movement, like any other movement in the history of the world, has its share of extremists who advocate harmful things?

  • biologist||

    John:

    every movement has its extremists.

    do these comments sound like they're directed only at the extremists?

    "But keep it up with your left wing environmental propaganda...i mean you have only killed about 20 million poor people with those lies...you still have a couple billion to go."

    "Precisely how many more Africans need to die before your ethno-bloodlust is satisfied?

    The many millions your side has disposed of so far clearly haven't brought the world's darkies-to-humans ratio down to a level you believe to be sustainable."

  • Jesse Walker||

    Country music is pretty big in Africa. Seriously.

  • ||

    Thanks, joe.

  • ||

    Alkali,

    "Although Uganda's National Environmental Management Authority has approved DDT for malaria control, Western environmentalists continue to undermine our efforts and discourage G-8 governments from supporting us. The EU has acknowledged our right to use DDT, but some consumer and agricultural groups repeat myths and lies about the chemical.

    Names, please?"

    I am right with you on that. And even more, I would like to know how these groups have managed to influence a decision by the G8, and how the G8 support is necessary for Uganda, who could, I assume go ahead with a program on their own. This article is saying "the G8 isn't paying for our DDT...Must be those (unnamed) environmentalists stopping them."

    I am not sure I buy it even if this man's opinion is sincere. There is too much left unsaid for me to believe he has accurately described the situation.

    I mean, the Gates foundation doesn't need the G8 to approve anything.

    http://www.gatesfoundation.org/GlobalHealth/Pri_Diseases/Malaria/

  • ||

    John,

    "One thing is for sure, huge gains were made in stopping malaria in the 1950s and the 1960s."

    And another thing that is for sure is that in places where DDT continued to be widely sprayed and used for agricultural use, such as Sri Lanka, malaria rebounded, killing thousands upon thousands, because its irresponsible use has bred resistant mosquitoes, exactly as Rachel Carson warned.

    Let's take a moment of silence to give thanks to Rachel Carson, and her followers, whose efforts to ban the irresponsible use of DDT brought the scrourge of DDT-resistant malariail mosquitoes to an end - a brilliant act of foresight whose toll in lives saved will not doubt rise into the hundreds of millions, if not billions, in the coming years, as the still-useful product is used in the responsible manner advocated by Rachel Carson and Minister Zaramaba.

  • ||

    It would have good if the humane progress generated by Carson's warnings about the irresponsible use of DDT had been less fitful, but that's the way progress works.

  • ||

    Maybe you should, you know, RTFA. As the minister acknowledges, the ban on agricultural use of DDT is the reason that it remains useful in controlling malaria today, by preventing and reversing the spread of DDT-resistance in mosquitoes.

    DDT-resistance in mosquitoes was not due to agricultural uses. It was due to using cheap low quality DDT produced in third world countries. Joe perhaps you would care to explain to everyone how malaria was eradicated in much of the world at the same time DDT was being used heavily in agriculture in those same areas.

    The question is not why am I trying to leave African nations powerless to combat malaria, it is why is it necessary for you to invent a mythology about DDT-resistance from ag use when in fact the the reason to curtail DDT use in ag is to prevent large exposure of DDT to raptor birds?

  • ||

    To be fair, after about the 8th or 9th time Tim Lambert brought this to his attention, Bailey included a statement that the problem wasn't with Rachel Carson, but with "her followers."

    Actually my problem is with Carson's misrepresentation of pesticides contribution to human cancer. A link that had and still has little scientific basis but has contributed greatly to the hyper fear environmentalists have in using pesticides.

  • ||

    I ran across this article which have a very different take on things...

    Summary, the west is trying to force DDT on Africa...

    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=34928

    And this one reports that Uganda is going ahead with DDT.

    http://www.globalhealthreporting.org/article.asp?DR_ID=44549

  • ||

    "Joe perhaps you would care to explain to everyone how malaria was eradicated in much of the world at the same time DDT was being used heavily in agriculture in those same areas."

    OK. The heavy use of DDT killed off almost all of the mosquitoes in certain areas. Nearby areas which received lower doses bred DDT-resistant mosquitoes, which explains why many of the areas which saw reductions in malaria deaths then saw them rebound.

    My, that was remarkably easy.

    "a mythology about DDT-resistance from ag use" Uh huh. We all know evolution is a myth.

  • ||

    Not to mention, wiping out a mosquito-borne disease is a lot easier in areas with a temperate climate and a winter than in a tropical region.

  • Gahan||

    Has anyone investigated the relationship between country music and malaria eradication?

  • biologist||

    "DDT-resistance in mosquitoes was not due to agricultural uses. It was due to using cheap low quality DDT produced in third world countries."

    Please explain how the quality of the DDT being used can affect the development of resistance in mosquitoes. This statement appears to be a non sequitur.

  • ||

    What I found remarkable about the Minister's op-ed was Uganda's apparent inability to pay for or conduct this program on its own. The pilot program worked, people were trained in the application of indoor DDT, but yet Uganda must rely on Western funding to expand the program. I wonder how much of that Western funding will go to "administrative expenses" in the director general's ministry.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Germans like country music, too. Okay, so maybe that isn't as much of a shock or stretch as Africans, but it sure as hell is funny to watch.

  • biologist||

    D.A. Ridgely:

    Germany also exhibits a strong inclination for the musical stylings of Mr. David Hasselhoff.

    There is truly no accounting for taste.

  • ||

    How much DDT would it take to eliminate David Hasselhoff, and what are the chances that he could develop resistance?

    Maybe it would be a better policy to spray DDT on our Hasselhoff nets, just to be safe.

  • ||

    Please explain how the quality of the DDT being used can affect the development of resistance in mosquitoes. This statement appears to be a non sequitur.

    Huh?

    I doubt your name biologist.

    lets say everyone drank cyanide in deadly quantities...everyone dies.

    Now lets say everyone drank cyanide in lower quantities some people dies and some people didn't....now would the people who survived produce offspring who were more or less resistant to cyanide poisoning?

  • ||

    "a mythology about DDT-resistance from ag use" Uh huh. We all know evolution is a myth.

    I never questioned evolution. You did.

    How does the use of DDT in people absent ag lands (read mosquito absent lands) produce DDT resistant mosquitoes?

    Or even better how does evolution only work in Africa but not in North America, South America and the Mediterranean Europe?

    You not only don't believe in evolution but when time and space conflict with your left wing universe you deny that as well.

  • ||

    Whatever, joshua.

    You're babbling.

  • biologist||

    joshua:

    You're right, my name isn't biologist. You got me.

    So, by "lower quality", what you meant was "lower concentration"? Your poor semantics caused my inability to understand what you were talking about.

    In any case, do you have any evidence or a citation to back up your assertion that the African countries were spraying "lower quality" DDT, or that this is what resulted in the spread of malarial resistance?

  • ||

    Perhaps environmentalists should urge Uganda to consider passing laws against mosquitoes, or subjecting their mosquito population to government controls.

  • ||

    Or maybe a mosquito tax.

    We can make them file little, tiny quarterly statements.

    No no, "malaria credits." We'll cap malaria-carrier levels, and the market will solve everything for us.

  • ||

    joe,

    haha.

  • biologist||

    joe, will they have to sign their tax returns in blood?

  • Leonora Helmsley||

    ...with the slogan "Only suckers pay taxes"?

  • ||

    Leona, whatever

  • ||

    .

  • ||

    Hey, I've always wanted to make the parasites pay their fair share.

    I mean they've been living off the body politic for too long!

  • MattXIV||

    their names are Mr and Mrs Western Environmentalist, who, as every knows, basically control the G8 governments. Who can forget the 50% cut in CO2 emissions they forced on the US last year? Bush didn't want to do it, but he had to give in to the all-powerful environmentalists."



    Actually, maybe he was talking about Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith:

    "Why has WHO suddenly decided to undermine an important global treaty?" asks Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith, co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network and Director of the Australian National Toxics Network. "The agency's job is to help countries control malaria and reduce their reliance on DDT. Since there is no new evidence supporting increased use of DDT, we can only assume WHO's leadership is listening to the DDT advocates in the U.S. "



    My thanks to Neu Mejican for the link about the IFCS.

    IMHO, the Great DDT Debate as carried out on many a blog, is quite possibly the most pointless argument we have in these times. Everybody always agrees that it is appropriate to use DDT in vector control where it is the most effective option, but we all disagree on how much an book written in the '60s affected the ultimate timing of a change in WHO policy towards recommending use of DDT in situations where it would be an effective means of vector control. It's not even an argument about an actual policy point - it's an argument about whether or not you like a book.

  • ||

    I see Ron Bailey is still pushing his falsehoods about imaginary DDT-bans that supposedly led to millions of deaths. But hey, don't let facts or reason get in the way of REASON!

    Guess what folks: third world countries did not and still do not give a shit about the environment. They did not stop using DDT because they cared about birds. They stopped using it because it STOPPED WORKING due to increased resistance from using it in profoundly stupid and ineffective ways. Today, despite what Ron Bailey implies, more intelligent DDT use is still part of an overall strategy for fighting malaria, but it's no longer a central or even the main part.

    And, most amusing of all, court findings spilled the beans on why this issue is even out there: it's because tobacco companies decided that they needed to create a campaign to discredit the WHO. The money, voices, and much of the stuff that Bailey unthinkingly parrots (because he's too lazy to do any real research) comes straight out of industry-funded PR firms like Africa Fighting Malaria tasked with this goal. It's no conspiracy theory: the documents in question spell everything out very plainly.

    Ron Bailey is nothing more than a dupe for an astroturf group funded by Phillip Morris.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/05/africa_fighting_malarias_wedge.php

  • ||

    More debunking of the abysmal science of the "DDT killed millions" nonsense here:

    http://membracid.wordpress.com/2007/06/07/ddt-junk-science-malaria-and-the-attack-on-rachel-carson/

  • ||

    And here's the actual story on DDT resistance:

    http://membracid.wordpress.com/2007/06/13/ddt-malaria-insecticide-resistance/

    ...from an actual expert on the subject, as opposed to someone that mostly just copy and pastes press releases from lobbying firms.

  • ||

    Ron Bailey is nothing more than a dupe for an astroturf group funded by Phillip Morris.

    Seeing as how DDT's patent is long expired and only factories in India and China make the stuff...wouldn't Ron have to be a dupe for some Asian state run industry?

  • ||

    In any case, do you have any evidence or a citation to back up your assertion that the African countries were spraying "lower quality" DDT, or that this is what resulted in the spread of malarial resistance?

    Neither joe or yourself has posted any citations as to the resistance coming from ag use of DDT....

    I will show you mine after you show me yours.

    By the way it surprises me that someone claiming to be a biologist so inconsistently applys standards of proof.

  • biologist||

    joshua:

    I've made no claims regarding DDT resistance in regards to agricultural use. You have. I merely asked you to clarify and back up with evidence your claims. You haven't.

  • ||

    I've made no claims regarding DDT resistance in regards to agricultural use. You have. I merely asked you to clarify and back up with evidence your claims. You haven't.

    Really?

    Hmm Joe made some claims..same with plunge....same with Tim Lambert...why are you only picking on me?

    Hmmm i wonder?

    Why would even minded scientifically train biologist selective want a higher standard of proof from one position yet ask for nothing from another position?

    By the way are you still confused about how evolution works biologist? Or do i need to explain it again a third time?

    i love this...it makes me laugh every time i read it.

    So, by "lower quality", what you meant was "lower concentration"? Your poor semantics caused my inability to understand what you were talking about.

    What the fuck do you think i meant by low quality DDT?

    Perhaps i meant DDT of such low quality that it actually killed the bugs better then it should...

    Bwahahahaha

  • biologist||

    the reason I didn't ask for evidence from joe or Tim Lambert is that evolution is the straightforward mechanism for development of resistance to DDT. if DDT is used for agricultural treatment, and the mosquitos develop resistance, then the use of DDT for agricultural treatment of mosquitos has resulted in development of resistance by natural selection. this is a well-documented phenomenon in mosquitos, other insects, and the development of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens. no other explanation needed.

    your explanation doesn't make sense. it is a non-explanation. even if what you said is true, that lower quality/ lower concentration of DDT resulted in resistsnce development, if that were used for agricultural application, it would still be agricultural application that resulted in resistance by natural selection.

    you're right, I probably gave you too much credit for knowledge of chemistry by asking what you meant by low quality DDT. what I meant was, the DDT could have been poorly buffered, with the result that it degraded more quickly in the environment than it should have (so the initial concentration of application would have been the same, but the persistence of its effect in the environment would have been lowered). or, the conditions the DDT was synthesized under were not optimal, resulting in a low yield of DDT product in the reactions, resulting in a low concentration of DDT (apparently, this is what you meant). there are other possible interpretations, if you know a bit about chemistry, which apparently you don't.

    in any case, your scenario isn't different from joe's. the fault lies with either the company synthesizing the compound, or the applicators of the compound. it in no way implicates the advocates for minimizing DDT use in the deaths of Africans from malaria. the only way your scenario would be likely work would be to apply a high enough concentration everywhere at once to kill all mosquitos.

    also, I know you think you're funny, but that's just your incredible ignorance talking.

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