DDT Confusion

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Tim Lambert continues to puncture a favorite meme among the right—the idea that environmentalists have somehow condemned millions of Third World people to death by malaria as a result of their lobbying against DDT since the 1970s. As it happens, this “conventional wisdom” contains a lot of errors. DDT has not been banned outright—not from being used for disease prevention, at any rate—and in many cases, it’s not used because it just doesn’t provide the best protection against malaria. (In Sri Lanka, for instance, they’ve stopped using DDT against mosquitoes because the bugs have all become resistant, not because environmentalists want Sri Lankan children to contract malaria.)

Now there are cases in which certain groups try to discourage DDT use in certain countries—and those cases can be debated on the merits; sometimes the decisions are more rational than people like Nick Kristof make them out to be—but pretending there’s some global ban on DDT that was foisted on the world after thousands of activists read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is flatly untrue. Go here for more.

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