NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Thirty Years Without DDT

June 14, 2002

Thirty years ago today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drastically restricted the production and use of DDT. The American Council on Science and Health points out that in the two decades before it was restricted, this "miracle pesticide" saved as many as 100 million lives in Africa, Asia and South America by repelling mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects.

  • But the World Health Organization reckons that following restrictions on DDT some 30 million to 60 million have been killed by malaria.
  • Despite the fact that its effects on humans remains largely unproven, and the case against it largely confined to assertions that it is toxic to migrating birds and fish, and results in thin eggshells, DDT opponents would further restrict its manufacture and use.
  • The Senate is considering legislation -- introduced by Vermont Independent Jim Jeffords -- to further restrict the global use of DDT and place what amounts to a total ban on its manufacture for export.

Critics warn that if it is passed, it would amount to a virtual death sentence for tens of millions more people in poor countries.

Source: Editorial, "The Life and Death of DDT," Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2002.


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