Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 412, April 8, 2007

"We are a part of the natural world"


DDT Ban & Malaria: An Unnecessary Tragedy, INDEED!
by Dennis Lee Wilson

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

In the Feb 2007 issue of the Iowa Alumni Magazine, I read with interest Carol Harker's article "An Unnecessary Tragedy"[1]. The interesting part was the complete blackout of the role of DDT in eradicating malaria. DDT is not mentioned even once in the article and neither is the fact that politicians, not scientists, are the people who have banned its use.

In 1948, Dr. Paul H. Muller of Switzerland was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine because of the medical importance of DDT. In Sri Lanka in 1948, before using DDT, there were 2.8 million cases of malaria. By 1963, because of the use of DDT, there were ONLY 17 (SEVENTEEN) CASES OF MALARIA!! DDT has never harmed a single human being. Humans can and have eaten DDT with no ill effects. But politicians, in spite of empirical and scientific proof of its safety and benefits, banned it in the mid 1960s. By 1969, cases in Sri Lanka reach 2.5 million again.

Six years after DDT was banned, there were 800 million cases in the world and 8.2 million deaths. Now, there are an estimated 300-500 million new cases of malaria each year, resulting in more than a million deaths annually (90% in children in Africa). According to Harker's article: "Every day of every year, some 3,000 children die from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. That's one child every 30 seconds. ... even if they live, many victims of malaria suffer lasting consequences, including anemia, seizures, spasticity, blindness, brain damage, speech impediments, and difficulty learning."

Instead of preventing malaria before it happens, the focus in on treating malaria after it happens. After all, why would foundations grant money to something that is not a problem. It must take quite an effort to keep someone like Bill Gates, who has access to global internet resources, from learning about the amazing history of DDT and the near eradication of worldwide malaria.

From the article: "Since they created the Gates Foundation in 1998, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda French Gates, have earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars to develop children's vaccines, including vaccines to prevent malaria."

"It might be some years before a vaccine is ready, but new interest in beating an ancient disease has prompted governments and business, private foundations and worldwide organizations, churches and individuals to coordinate efforts to minimize the damage that malaria causes. Thousands of people from the WHO, UNICEF, the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and many other groups have taken up the cause."

An Unnecessary Tragedy, INDEED! And it continues because otherwise intelligent people will not call for the removal of the ban on DDT. They prefer monetary grants to real solutions. Allowing DDT to be used would really upset their grants.

Instead of trying to "squelch the suffering it causes", which is part of the subtitle and a major focus of Harker's article, what is so wrong with actual ERADICATION of the CAUSE of the disease? How does one measure human suffering? Is it easier to comfort and treat 17 cases or 800 million cases? Or perhaps I should "Ask The Right Question"[3]: How much grant money can be had for 17 cases of malaria versus 800 million cases?

The following quote from Harker's article comes very close to the historical truth, but fails to mention the role of politicians in banning the one successful pesticide: DDT.

"Today, about 40 percent of the world's population is at risk from contracting malaria—up from 10 percent in the early 1960s. Why the big increase? Malaria vectors—the mosquitoes that carry the parasite—have been remarkably adept at developing resistance to pesticides, and malaria parasites themselves have developed increased resistance to a growing number of drugs used to treat the disease."

The truth is that there was NO resistance developed to DDT—at least not by insects. However, politicians are remarkably adept at developing resistance to truth and to the suffering of the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of new malaria victims created by political bans on the use of DDT.

Harker's article has a side column featuring Regina Rabinovich. She writes:

"Pharmaceutical and biotech companies have little incentive to develop products against malaria, a classic example of market failure. This is tragic in the light of findings that the development of a preventive vaccine is technically feasible."

She completely ignores the historic role of DDT's near eradication of malaria, and her statement itself is an example of the failure of the politically motivated and government funded education system, not of the free market where she attempts to place the blame. Instead it is "a classic example of" political meddling in a free market—and at a horrendous cost in human lives which even exceeds that of wars between governments during the 20th Century. When considering the number of human deaths involved, her blackout of the role of DDT is obscene. I am amazed at the amount of money that is being "granted" to ignore a proven preventative and to "defeat" a disease that was once almost eradicated—proof again of the power of grant seekers.

Rachel Carson's fable about the alleged dangers of pesticides, the 1962 book, Silent Spring, became a classic of the environmental movement despite the fact that it was a work of fiction. The book had a powerful influence, however, and governments throughout the world banned DDT and other pesticides beginning in the early 1970s. This ban has led to the death of literally millions of people in the Third World from malaria. It has also caused numerous crop disasters as voracious insects that were once killed off with DDT are no longer, and substitutes are often unaffordable in Third World countries.

In 1970, shortly before DDT was banned, the National Academy of Sciences determined that DDT had saved 500 million lives over the previous three decades by eradicating malaria-carrying mosquitoes. DDT was banned by the U.S. government in the early 1970s despite the fact that no science was presented that it had the effects that Carson and the environmental movement claimed it had.

Even if the National Academy of Sciences estimate of lives saved by DDT is off by a multiple of two, Rachel Carson and her crusade against the pesticide would still be responsible for more human deaths than most of the worst tyrants in world history. [4]

Countless writers and scientific researchers have pointed out the high costs—especially in human lives—and low benefits of environmental laws and regulations. Yet, we see once again that applied environmentalism can be disastrous. Environmentalism has become a sacrosanct religion of which no questions can even be asked. Harker's article is an excellent example of just how sacrosanct environmentalism has become. DDT has been eradicated from their version of history and from their minds.

We are talking about the lives of MILLIONS of people who have DIED of malaria following the banning of DDT, a preventative which had once—during my lifetime—almost eradicated the "scourge that has hounded man since the beginning of time."

"Death by environmentalism! The verdict is in; environmentalism is not only hazardous to our health, it threatens our very lives."[2] But of course, if using DDT solved the malaria problem, then there would be no need to keep a bunch of politicians and their friends well stocked with grant money looking for solutions to problems that have already been solved.

In other words, "The truth be damned, we don't care about the number of human deaths, just give us the grant money! Its for the chiiiiildren."


[1] "An Unnecessary Tragedy" by Carol Harker, The Iowa Alumni Magazine, 2007-February
Any comments about this article, e-mail Carol Harker at

[2] "Death by Environmentalism" by William L. Anderson

[3] My article "Ask the Right Question" The Libertarian Enterprise Number 367, May 14, 2006,
Extended version posted at my site:

[4] "Two Very Fashionable Frauds" by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

Dennis Wilson graduated from the University of Iowa in 1961 with a Bachelor of Arts in General Science

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