Two years ago, when the West Nile virus was just making headlines for the first time in the United States, I offered a simple solution to wipe out the mosquitoes that carry the plague.
I said then we should bring back DDT.
As the death toll rises and as more Americans get sick from West Nile virus, I hope my plea will reach more receptive ears today.
The very name DDT conjures fears among people too young to remember exactly what a miracle wonder this pesticide was through the 1960s.
Up until the 1960s, malaria was perhaps the biggest killer in the world. Tens of millions of people would die every year as victims of malaria.
What happened? The disease was virtually wiped out in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. How? Are you sitting down?
According to no less an objective source than the Centers for Disease Control, credit goes to the draining of vast wetland areas, usually to make room for housing developments, and extensive spraying with DDT.
What? You mean destroying swamps was a good thing? Spraying DDT was a good thing?
You bet it was. Guess what? Malaria is on the rise again around the world. From Russia to Africa to Indonesia, malaria is still ravaging populations.
In fact, since 1999, 625 million people have contracted the disease worldwide and more than 4 million of them have died. Of those, most were pregnant women or children under the age of 5.
That’s why I say it is time to bring back DDT. You think I’m kidding? I’ll go further: DDT is one of the greatest chemical accomplishments in the history of mankind.
I know you don’t believe me. You’ve been conditioned to think of DDT as an abhorrent toxic agent that caused cancer and nearly wiped out the bald eagle. Nonsense. Junk science. Hysteria.
DDT saved lives and reduced human suffering. And it could do so again, if only people would wake up and stop believing propaganda spoon-fed to them by those whose only goal must be to reduce the world’s human population by any means necessary.
Here’s what the National Academy of Sciences had to say about the chemical as late as 1970: “To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. … In a little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths, due to malaria, that otherwise would have been inevitable.”
What about cancer? I know one of the scientists responsible for creating DDT. His name is Dr. Joseph Jacobs. In his 80s, he is still active, working every day and of sound mind. He has related stories to me about falling into a vat of DDT and emerging unscathed with no after-effects.
The truth is that population-control advocates decided in the 1960s that overpopulation must be prevented. The best way, they determined, was to let children in poor nations die of malaria by the millions.
Extensive hearings were held on DDT before an Environmental Protection Agency administrative law judge, Edmund Sweeney, who concluded in 1972, “DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man. … DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man … the uses of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife.”
But the EPA hearing examiner was overruled by EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus – a lawyer and politician, not a scientist. He reportedly did not attend a single hour of the seven months of hearings, nor did he read any of the transcripts, according to aides.
The latest scientific study on DDT, published in 1985, found no correlation between DDT and cancer. A 1972 study actually found it reduced tumors in animals.
Has anyone considered that the spread of West Nile virus could be a result of 20 years of misguided wetland preservation and the banning of DDT? I say it’s time to start cranking up production once again. If not for the people of the United States, at least for the innocent children of the Third World.