Bring Back DDT

This story really can’t get enough exposure. The overblown backlash against DDT is one of the greatest crimes the West has perpetrated against the the third world, and one of the greatest black marks against the hysterical, anti-scientific strain of environmentalism. Anyone who genuinely cares about humans living in harmony with nature can’t afford to ignore this story. This is what happens when objectivitty and moderation are tossed aside in blind adherence to ideological environmentalism: while Westner nations are now blissfully free of malaria, largely due to early use of DDT, two million people die of malaria every year in the third world. DDT eradicates malaria in the countries where it is used. Nothing else works nearly as well as DDT, and newer, environmentally responsible methods of use have been developed for it. But because of the remaining stigma attached to it, some nations have signed a treaty agreeing not to us it, international aid organizations refuse to fund it’s use, and few third world countries will risk the negative opinion that using DDT would engender in the West. And so millions die, and many more millions suffer the economic consequences of the disease’s debilitating effects on populations, while Americans and Europeans remain smugly secure in their environmental superiority.

I’m all for responsible environmentalism, but not to the point that it values all other living things over humans. And not to the point that it stifles legitimate scientific debate in politically correct groupthink. If this planet is to flourish we’re going to have to act sensibly and deliberately, with moderation.

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  1. Often times something like say, Prozac came to mind, will get a really bad association with it, and people cease looking at it objectively. Many chemicals have nasty poetntial implications, but cooler heads need to prevail.
    Unfortunately, I think political considerations come into it, and then even people who would normally say “Hey, let’s re-evaluate this, and see if we can find a sensible middle ground” don’t want to be known as “the guy/gal who voted to bring back XXX”.


    Blinded me with Science!

  2. Neem tea.

    A coworker of mine recently returned from a mission trip and related back to me that a simple tree leaf boiled into a tea has become the new way to avoid contracting malaria, and is being exported and cultivated in countries where it is a problem.
    Natural, cheap and easy. Way better than DDT.

    At least as far as i have seen so far….

    1. Re: Neem tea.

      Neem is great for cleaning teeth. I’d be very dubious of it as a replacement for DDT until I saw some scientific confirmation of it’s effectiveness.

      1. Re: Neem tea.

        Here is a little info I could find. Most of what I have heard has been personal experiences from folks returning from mission trips.

        Neem leaf extract substantially increases the state of oxidation in red blood cells, preventing normal development of the malaria plasmodia (Etkin, 1981). An active ingredient in neem leaves, called Irodin A, is toxic to resistant strains of malaria, with 100 percent of the plasmodia dead in 72 hours with only a 1:20,000 ratio of active ingredients. (Abatan, 1986). In other experiments alcoholic extracts of neem leaf performed almost as well as the more refined compounds. (Badam, 1987)

        Two other compounds found in neem leaves called gedunin, a limonoid, and quercetin, a flavonoid, are at least as effective as quinine and chloroquine against malaria (Badam, 1987); (Ekanem, 1978); (Iwu, 1986); (Khalid, 1986, 1989); (Obasiki, 1986); (Rochanakij, 1985). Another molecule, gedunin, an extract of neem bark, has also been found to be effective in treating malaria. (Khalid, 1989) Several studies show that neem extracts are effective even against chloroquine-resistant strains of the malaria parasite (Obih and Makinde, 1985); (Bray, et al, 1990). The anti-malarial effects of neem appear to be greater in the body than on a petri dish. This has led some to speculate that stimulation of the immune system is a major factor in neem’s effectiveness against malaria. (Obasiki and Jegede-Fadunsin, 1986). Neem also lowers the fever and increases the appetite thereby strengthening the body which aids in fighting the disease parasite and speeding recovery. (Abatan and Makinde, 1986).

        Like the populations in malaria stricken areas who have access to neem some westerners familiar with neem often substitute an occasional neem leaf tea to drinking quinine on trips to malaria-infested areas of Africa and India as a preventive measure (Larson, 1993). Drinking neem teas or simply chewing a couple of neem leaves a day reduces the possibility of contracting malaria.

        Even though neem tea may be effective against malaria, a study done by Dr. Udeinya showed that water extracts are less effective than leaf extracts obtained by a water/acetone combination. (Udeinya, 1993)

        1. Re: Neem tea.

          For what it’s worth in India it is common practice to brush the teeth with a neem twig. The majority of Indians were probably getting a small daily dose of Neem back when 800,000 Indians per year were dying of Malaria. It took DDT to wipe it out. (No, it’s still not totally wiped out there, but deaths are rare anymore.)

          Now, this may or may not be a fair argument, since I don’t know the exact percentage of Indians who used Neem or whether the the dose one gets by brushing one’s teeth is a signifigant one.

  3. My teacher was talking about that in Mcro class toay. She was saying how, we’ve already done that but we won’t let other countries do it. And also how, say we won’t let other countries build dams etc. but we already have them.

  4. the only question I have…

    Is about how effective in the long term ddt would be.. One of the reasons–a reason that also comes up in silent spring, if I remember correctly–is that the widespread use of DDT also tends to accelerate the creation of DDT resistant mosquitos…

    Thus.. although, the widespread use of DDT now would save a lot of lives, if it were continued indefinitely and continuously, you might end up creating little “ueber-mosquitos” and then the problem would really suck…

    As it stands.. I’m not a big-DDT hater.. In fact, as a historian of technology with an eye on military tech.. I know that probably the most significant technology from WWII–in terms of saving American lives, was DDT… Death rates from disease during WWII–dropped to unprecedented lows.. e.g. in the pacific theater, about half of the american forces became infected with typhus prior to ddt spraying and powder (there.. against lice, not mosquitos)–after the spraying and use of ddt, that rate dropped to less than 1%…

    so.. I understand the reasons for ddt.. and can see its applications–if done carefully.. still I do worry about long term effects…

    of course… if aids does keep spreading as it does in sib-saharan africa… then you are going to need every healthy person you can find… just to keep the countries from total collapse…

    1. Re: the only question I have…

      The only question I have….
      what does this stuff do to the entire evironmental food chain?
      it is one thing to look at it and say “it’s us dying or the mosquitoes”, but another when you realize DDT stays in the ecosystem, working it’s way through from bug to amphibian to fish to mammal. Eventually it *is* us suffering from developmental abnormalities that aren’t temporary or fixed with a shot, but lifelong deformities.

      If a shot of tea once or twice a week saves entire populations, “immunizes” entire villiages, then why poison our environment?

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly an environmentalist, but it seems a *very* western approach to the problem. We can’t possibly *Patent* Neem tea and sell it at inflated prices, so it isn’t a good enough solution.

      (disclaimer: All this said with only a smattering of knowledge…..)

      1. Re: the only question I have…

        Nobody’s talking about “us or the mosquitos”. While there’s little question that DDT has some effect on the thickness of certain bird’s eggs, what I’ve read is that a lot of the science that was done about DDT and the environment back when it was banned was dubious and the conclusions badly overblown. Couple that with the fact that the usage we’re talking about here is NOT old-style spraying of entire areas from aircraft, but much more topical spraying of the insides of houses which has little if any environmental impact.

        Again, I’ve seen no evidence, either historical or from the site that you pointed me to, that neem is anywhere in the same ballpark as DDT. More like it’s in the same category as quinine, which, if you read the article linked, has not been sufficient to erradicate the disease.

        1. Re: the only question I have…

          “Again, I’ve seen no evidence, either historical or from the site that you pointed me to, that neem is anywhere in the same ballpark as DDT. More like it’s in the same category as quinine, which, if you read the article linked, has not been sufficient to erradicate the disease.”

          For the most part I agree, though I think neem has a bit more promise, but that is simply opinion based on the experiences of folks I talked to here at work.
          For the record, I’ll stipulate that DDT won’t eradicate the disease either. We will need to use it *continually* to stop the main route of infection, but that doesn’t mean it won’t exist outside of the human population, or morph into a DDT resistant strain.
          DDT sounds like a temporary stop-gap at best until something better can be found.

          1. Re: the only question I have…

            DDT sounds like a temporary stop-gap

            That may well be all that is needed. Remember, we used to have a Malaria problem in the US. It remains erradicated despite the fact we haven’t used DDT in many years. Better sanitation and population movement away from big cities has kept the disease from resurging.

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