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Kristof: It's Time to Spray DDT

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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-07-05 11:15 PM
Original message
Kristof: It's Time to Spray DDT
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/08/opinion/8kristof.html...

If the U.S. wants to help people in tsunami-hit countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia - not to mention other poor countries in Africa - there's one step that would cost us nothing and would save hundreds of thousands of lives.

It would be to allow DDT in malaria-ravaged countries.

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.

<snip>

I called the World Wildlife Fund, thinking I would get a fight. But Richard Liroff, its expert on toxins, said he could accept the use of DDT when necessary in anti-malaria programs.

"South Africa was right to use DDT," he said. "If the alternatives to DDT aren't working, as they weren't in South Africa, geez, you've got to use it. In South Africa it prevented tens of thousands of malaria cases and saved lots of lives."

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Syncronaut Seven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 01:07 AM
Response to Original message
1. Was my first thought when
I saw all that standing water. That's where the serious disease transmission will occur.

I thought I was the only one to think it. They still use it in second and third world countries. Cheap and effective.

Sorry Rachael. :scared:
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 07:35 AM
Response to Original message
2. They key may be where it gets used
South Africa sprays huts, so it has a good chance of getting the mosquitos that bite people, but should have a relatively small spread into the general environment, where it could affect fish and birds. Spraying entire fields and swamps would get it through the whole ecosystem.

This does mean that you wouldn't be able to eradicate malaria in this way, just control it. But there may be other ways of achieving complete eradication (there was a story a few years ago of engineering infertile mosquitos to interrupt the normal mosquito lifecycle - has anyone heard what the state of this is?)
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CatholicEdHead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 12:17 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Mosquitos have their place
in the ecosystem. While most of us disdain them, they are food sources for lots of other creatures.

Neutering an entire species may not be the best overall approach.
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alarimer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 01:13 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. not to mention breeding resitant mosquitoes
The widespread application of any pesticide leads to insects that are resistant to the chemical (evolution in action). DDT is an evil substance and should be banned worldwide. If it causes the eggshells of birds to be soft and easily breakable, imagine what it does to your bones? Not to mention that it would kill off numerous beneficial insects and other wildlife. There are drugs that are used to prevent and treat malaria. Drug companies need to give those away for free, if we are really concerned about disease. Actually I think dirty water may be a worse crisis in the immediate future than mosquito-borne illnesses.
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Liberty Belle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Right. If we destroy the birds, animals and water,
the long-term effects on the people who eat wildfowl, hut game or drink the water will be catastrophic, in my view. Who is pushing this proposal? I'd bet its the chemical industries.
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cali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 02:53 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. I'm afraid I have to agree with Kristof
on this one. The targeted use of DDT is by leaps and bounds the best way of preventing Malaria. And the bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of deaths each year could be prevented. The key is using it judiciously. Fact is there are tons of substances in wide use that are at least as nasty as DDT, and are used for far less pressing matters than saving large numbers of people. The efficacy of DDT is even acknowledged by folks from Greenpeace.
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