Monday, January 10, 2005

WWF, Greenpeace OK to DDT

I was alerted to this story by Caberfeidh.

Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times, has written a piece calling for DDT to be brought back into use:

If the U.S. wants to help people in tsunami-hit countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia - not to mention other poor countries in Africa - there's one step that would cost us nothing and would save hundreds of thousands of lives.

It would be to allow DDT in malaria-ravaged countries.

At the same time contacted WWF and Greenpeace about the same issue and got surprisingly reasonable responses.

"I called the World Wildlife Fund, thinking I would get a fight. But Richard Liroff, its expert on toxins, said he could accept the use of DDT when necessary in anti-malaria programs. 'South Africa was right to use DDT,' he said. 'If the alternatives to DDT aren't working, as they weren't in South Africa, geez, you've got to use it. In South Africa it prevented tens of thousands of malaria cases and saved lots of lives.'"

"At Greenpeace, Rick Hind noted reasons to be wary of DDT, but added: 'If there's nothing else and it's going to save lives, we're all for it. Nobody's dogmatic about it.'"

Kristof's call came out of an article discussing western reaction to the tsunami and other crises in the third world. If every cloud has a silver lining then the tsunami's silver lining could be of staggering importance. As Captain's Quarters points out, 165,000 people die of malaria every month.

Update: It was Kristof, not Junkscience that contacted WWF. Mea culpa.