NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 20, 2005

In Africa, two to three million people die of malaria every year because the United States government is afraid to use a chemical called DDT -- the first modern pesticide, says John Stossel.

Even though the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) admits that DDT is safe, they refuse to fund its use; instead, they choose to fight malaria by providing mosquito netting for beds, even though not everyone in Africa has a bed, says Stossel.

So why is the United States afraid of DDT?

  • Nearly 50 years ago, when nobody worried about chemicals, Americans sprayed tons of DDT everywhere; farmers used it to repel bugs and health officials used it to fight malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
  • People lived, breathed and ate in clouds of DDT because they were so happy to have the mosquitoes repelled and there was no evidence that the spraying hurt people.
  • But it did cause some harm; it threatened bird populations by thinning eggshells.

The ensuing fear campaigns killed even more people; after DDT was banned in America and international agencies began discouraging its use, a huge resurgence of malaria occurred in tropical countries that left more than 50 million dead, says Stossel.

DDT is rarely used today. America's demonization of the pesticide has caused others to shun it. Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues spending tax money fighting malaria in Africa, but it refuses to put that money into DDT for fear of offending environmentalists and creating political fallout, says Stossel

Source: John Stossel, "Human life vs. the Earth,", December 14, 2005.


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