WASHINGTON, April 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Africa Malaria Day,
April 25, 2007, public health and environmental activists called on the
world community to respect life, protect children, stop hazardous pesticide
use, including DDT, and adopt what they call "sustainable programs that
attack poverty and the conditions that give rise to insect-borne diseases
such as malaria." Africa Malaria Day is commemorated on April 25, a day set
aside by African governments committed to rolling back malaria and meeting
the United National malaria-related Millennium Development Goals.
Last September (2006), the World Health Organization came under heavy
criticism from public health and environmental groups when it announced its
new policy to promote the use of DDT for malaria control in developing
countries. Environmental and public health advocates warn that good
intentions are in this case misguided. According to the Washington,
DC-based non-profit organization Beyond Pesticides, advocating a reliance
on pesticides, especially DDT, as a silver bullet solution for malaria
protection is extremely dangerous. When the underlying causes of pest
problems are not adequately addressed, then a sustained dependence on toxic
pesticides like DDT causes greater long-term problems than those that are
being addressed in the short-term.
"The WHO is misleading the world on DDT, which is a known
cancer-causing chemical, also linked to developmental effects in children.
WHO should be leading charge to adopt sound and safe pest management
practices at the community level that prevent insect-borne diseases like
malaria," says Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. Mr.
Feldman's group advocates strategies aimed at preventing mosquito breeding
sites, repellents, bed netting, larvicides, and development efforts that
address the conditions of poverty in developing countries that contribute
to mosquito breeding.
Despite WHO proclamations of DDT safety, the Stockholm Convention on
Persistent Organic Pollutants, ratified or adopted by 144 countries but not
the U.S., specifically commits governments around the world to the "goal of
reducing and ultimately eliminating the use of DDT." (Stockholm Convention,
Annex B, Restriction, Part II)
Governmental agencies in the U.S. and internationally have classified
DDT as an agent that can cause cancer and nerve damage. Worse still is the
fact that DDT and its metabolites have been identified as endocrine
disruptors. Proponents of DDT use often argue that "the dose makes the
poison" so it can be used in a way in which the benefits outweigh the
risks. However, because DDT acts as an estrogen mimic, it wreaks havoc on
biological systems causing severe adverse effects because of exposure to
miniscule amounts during vulnerable periods of life.
The return of DDT for malaria control in South Africa has lead to women
with 77 times the international limit for DDT residue and 12 times the
acceptable limit in infants, even in families not living in treated
Fifty-nine environmental, public health and international organizations
signed a statement, Preventing Malaria and Promoting Health Solutions to
Malaria Beyond DDT, which is being released at a congressional briefing
today. For more background information, see
SOURCE Beyond Pesticides