Sebastian Mallaby’s article in the Washington Post has all the hallmarks of the clueless DDT-boosting article.
The only expert mentioned is not a malariologist but comes from some right-wing think tank. In this case it’s Roger Bate.
Nowhere is mentioned the main reason why anti-malaria programs have shifted away from DDT—the widespread development of resistance to DDT by mosquitoes.
Other insecticides and drugs against malaria are ignored. South Africa did reintroduce DDT for spraying traditional houses, but they also used deltamethrin on western-style houses and switched to a more effective anti-malaria drug.
Nowhere does it mention that the ban on agricultural use of DDT that Silent Spring saved lives by slowing the development of resistance against DDT.
But it’s even worse than the usual Rachel-Carson-was-worse-than-Hitler piece. The villains of Mallaby’s piece are consumers in the European Union who eat don’t want to eat food containing DDT. Mallaby reckons that they are being irrational because:
hundreds of millions have been exposed to DDT without generating any solid evidence that the chemical harms people.
Right, it is only classified as a probable human carcinogen not as a certain human carcinogen. Still, EU consumers may not be completely irrational if they don’t want to eat the stuff.
Mallaby fails to mention that if the DDT is sprayed on the walls of huts to stop malaria it won’t actually get on crops destined for export so there is actually no conflict between EU consumers’ wish not to eat DDT-laced food and Uganda’s plan to use DDT against malaria. The only way it could get on crops is if some was diverted for agricultural use. All the EU is asking is for Uganda to test its export crops to make sure that they don’t contain DDT. Mallaby calls this an “absurd proposal” because it “might constitute an impossible administrative burden on a poor country.”, but surely testing a few samples from export crops would be simple and insignificant compared to the cost of the spraying program.
So the answer to Mallaby’s question about who is ignoring science now is: Sebastian Mallaby.