NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Ddt Could Control West Nile Virus

August 8, 2003

Given the long-term ineffectiveness of other pesticides, DDT still remains the best alternative to fighting mosquitoes and the West Nile virus, says Henry I. Miller (Hoover Institution).

DDT once eradicated malaria from the United States, but since it was widely banned in 1972, insect-borne diseases have been on the rise worldwide. The World Health Organization notes that malaria kills about one million people annually, and there are 300 million to 500 million new cases each year.

According to Miller:

  • The government should reevaluate the voluminous data on DDT compiled since the 1970s; it should also make DDT available for mosquito control in the United States.
  • The United States should oppose international strictures on DDT -- including includes retracting American support for the United Nations convention that makes it difficult for malaria-plagued developing countries to use DDT.
  • Federal officials should embark on a campaign to educate local authorities and citizens about the safety and potential importance of DDT; right now, most of what people hear is the reflexively anti-pesticide drumbeat of the environmental movement.

Because DDT has such a bad rap, it will be politically difficult to resurrect its use. But we should begin the process now, says Miller.

Source: Henry I. Miller, "Is There a Place for DDT?" New York Times, August 7, 2003.

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