November 12, 2007


The Case for DDT: Activist groups should join together in support of an anti-malaria insecticide that could save millions of lives (Roger Bate, November 5, 2007, The American)

Malaria is as old as mankind and still going strong, infecting hundreds of millions (and killing between one and three million) each year. A cure was known in 17th-century Europe. But because it was brought to the continent by Catholic missionaries (who actually learned of it from South American natives), many malaria sufferers, included Oliver Cromwell, thought the medicine was part of a “Popish plot” and refused to take it. Cromwell died of the disease in 1658. It took his death, and the subsequent curing of King Charles II, to shift public opinion in favor of “quinine,” as the anti-malaria agent is now called.

A similar situation confronts us today. Mankind now has all the scientific and economic tools to virtually eradicate malaria. But some influential groups are refusing to sanction one of the most effective prevention measures. Here’s the twist: in 17th-century Europe, those who rejected quinine sacrificed their own lives. Today, those who block the proven anti-malaria insecticide DDT are mainly condemning poor children in Africa.

It is unfortunate that DDT has become so politicized. Indeed, it is now associated with “right-wing” politics, largely because it has been demonized by environmental activists on the left. Over the past few years, malaria bureaucracies and aid agencies have been harried by American conservatives to account for their reluctance to use DDT. At more than one Senate hearing, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn has asked why DDT was not being purchased with U.S. tax dollars, given its demonstrated efficacy. Conservative talk-radio hosts, notably Rush Limbaugh, have helped create a groundswell of support for DDT across the country, which has prodded the Bush administration to change its policies.

...Hollywood stars would be loading up their Gulfstreams with DDT....

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 12, 2007 8:10 AM

Indeed, it is now associated with “right-wing” politics, largely because it has been demonized by environmental activists on the left.

I love this. The Dirt Worshippers are actively sacrificing poor, dark-skinned people to their goddess, and it's the "right-wing" that's evil for pointing ths out.

And I like the bit about how the Evil Big Tobacco Companies are in the forefront of opposing DDT, yet no one on the Left seems to have a problem with Gaianists holding the same position. Instead, they've somehow come up with the idea that Big Tobacco is for DDT. Orwell got that one right.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 12, 2007 12:33 PM

Now that's bigotry: preferring death over a cure with Jesuit's Bark.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 12, 2007 5:49 PM