Petition to Kill African Children Now!

The latest stunt from Africa Fighting Malaria is a petition advocating policies that would cripple the United States efforts against malaria. The petition asks that Congress and the President

  • Ensure that at least 2/3 (two-thirds) of annual Congressional appropriations for malaria control are earmarked for insecticidal and medicinal commodities - with up to half of such monies targeted to the treatment and cure of infected patients.
  • Specifically direct such funds to the actual purchase and deployment of: (1) DDT, or any other proven, more cost-effective insecticide/repellent, for Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) in any given malarial locality; and (2) of ACTs, or other equally effective and durable drugs, for treatment of malaria patients and reduction in transmission rates.
  • Require that this 2/3 formula be mirrored in the annual malaria control spending by any agency receiving US malaria control monies - such as US Agency for International Development, World Health Organization, World Bank, UNICEF and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

This is an absolutely dreadful way to run an anti-malaria program. The goal should be to reduce malaria and you should let the experts figure out the best way to do this. It should not be to spray DDT. In the map below (source) green dots mark resistance to pyrethroids, blue resistance to DDT, and red is resistance to both DDT and pyrethroids.


The only concession that the petition makes for problems like widespread DDT resistance is this passage:

  • Direct that this 2/3 proportion will be subject to reduction ONLY if replaced by corresponding expenditures for any malaria control measure (such as larvaciding) that has been proven equally or more cost-effective in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality rates in specific localities - as certified, in advance of such expenditure and replacement, by the directors of the US Centers for Disease Control, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences or similar independent agency, based on controlled epidemiological studies in the field.

But why don't they require epidemiological evidence that DDT is more effective before spraying it? In any case, the studies on the effectiveness have already been done and led to WHO concluding in 1994 that DDT was no longer the insecticide of choice for vector control. Furthermore, the evidence that the petition presents in favour of DDT does not follow the standard that they require for alternatives. For example, they dismiss all the evidence in favour of insecticide-treated nets not with epidemiological studies, but with hand waving:

Insecticide-treated nets certainly help to a limited degree. However, they often get torn. They only protect one person at a time. People often don't use them, because the insecticide irritates their skin - or they forget kick them off when it gets too unbearably hot under the net to sleep don't have enough for every family member have no way to hang them up properly or are still doing homework or housework when mosquitoes arrive.

But somehow nets seem to work. It's a shame that this petition would prevent their use to save lives from malaria...

I hope that the US government rejects the appallingly bad policies advocated by this petition, because if they are followed more African children will die from malaria.


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It is frequently claimed that the World Health Organization opposes the use of DDT against malaria. Even if we just confine ourselves to articles at Tech Central Station, the claim has been made byPaul Driessen,Nick Schulz,Roger Bate,Tim Worstall,Duane Freese,James Glassman,Richard Tren andJohn…

At the cost of repeating myself:
"In sub-Saharan Africa, meanwhile, increasing tropical rainfall could exacerbate the problem of malaria, already responsible for around a million deaths every year. The mosquitoes that carry the malaria pathogen thrive on stagnant ponds of water; more rain could mean more mosquitoes and more disease."
"Climate change: world round-up The seven continents and their climate challenges."

What global warming? It's lack of exposure to DDT which is killing Africans! We must set a Minimum Daily Requirement for Vitamin DDT!

"I hope that the US government rejects the appallingly bad policies"

Based on their track record lately.....

Dear Tim Lambert:

DDT was banned in the U.S. for political reasons, not on
the basis of scientific evidence. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held 7 months of hearings on DDT in 1972 , producing 9,000 pages of testimony. The EPA hearing examiner, Edmund Sweeney, ruled on the basis of the scientific evidence presented that DDT should not be banned, because it was NOT harmful to human beings or animals. The
EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus then banned DDT anyway, and admitted that he did so for political reasons.

You can read the facts about DDT (and the lies of Rachel Carson) on the website of 21st Century Science & Technology, .

Here are the specific articles and addresses:

* The Lies of Rachel Carson," by Dr. J. Gordon Edwards,
emeritus professor of entomology at San Jose State
University. Edwards documents some of the
misstatements in Carson's Silent Spring, the
1962 book that poisoned public opinion against DDT
and other pesticides. Dr. Edwards started his entomology classes each semester by eating a tablespoon of DDT, to show that it wasn't harmful.

* "To Control Malaria, We Need DDT!"

A malaria-control specialist explains why
house spraying with DDT is the only effective
method for combating malaria today.

* "Mosquitoes, DDT, and Human Health"
by Dr. J. Gordon Edwards…


Marjorie Mazel Hecht,
Managing Editor
21st Century Science & Technology magazine

By Marjorie Mazel Hecht (not verified) on 23 Nov 2005 #permalink

Next thing you know we'll hear that the The Beatles were "a product shaped according to British Psychological Warfare Division specifications." Oh wait, that's already part of the LaRouchians belief system!

Who on earth is going to be fooled by a petition that has the word "earmarked" in the first bullet point, suggesting that, no matter what happens to the price of insecticides, 2/3rds is the correct proportion of the money to be spent on them. Hell.

"no matter what happens to the price of insecticides,"

...and no matter what progress is made with the current experimental malaria vaccines

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 24 Nov 2005 #permalink

That post by Hecht reminds me of a rabid anti-environmentalist I've met online. (I really, really mean rabid, he accuses greens of being anti-human and anti-science and all the rest of it.)

He went so far on one website as to claim that DDT was good for you, and to prove it he pointed to an obscure medical research paper (from around 1972) that suggested it had some anti-cancer properties, IIRC in leukemia in some animal subjects, though I could be wrong.

Either way, said rabid person claimed that taking some DDT every day had helped with his prostate problems (possibly incipient cancer, my memory is rubbish) and that he had an incredibly low count of the things that mean trouble when the count is high. So I recalled stuff I had read and did some digging online. Guess what! As many of you probably already know, one of the degradation products of DDT, DDE, is estrogenic or similar in effect. It has also been shown to be bad for the breeding of everything from birds to wild cats of various descriptions. So, this person, who always accuses environmentalists of being anti-science, was dosing himself with a chemical with a proven physical, hormonal effect, and can't see the problem with doing this to everyone. Who's scientific now?

Tim, do you have any idea why so many people have a bee in their bonnet for DDT? Is it as kooky as it seems, or are there hard profit motives behind it all?


My personal theory is that the DDT-ban myth started with quite valid criticism of the initial position of WWF and other green organisations back in 2000 when they were advocating a phase-out of DDT under the treaty on persistent pollutants which was then being negotiated.

The greens eventually accepted that position was wrong and dropped the proposal but its been maintained through an internet version of internet whispers because it fit so nicely with the prejudices of the far right.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 26 Nov 2005 #permalink

As well as being a nice accusation to throw against environmentalists, ISTR that some science fiction writers were hyping it, back in the 70's/80's. I'm pretty sure that Campbell (Analog Editor) was mentioning it back then.

"The greens eventually accepted that position was wrong and dropped the proposal but its been maintained through an internet version of internet whispers because it fit so nicely with the prejudices of the far right."

Well, it's hard for a conservative to grasp the concept of change, in particular with regard to one's mind. Stay the course, Mr. Bush! and all that.