May 8, 2006

Rachel Carson: Deadlier than Stalin

The writer's crusade against DDT caused the deaths from malaria of 2 million people a year.
Now, finally, the giant US Agency for International Development is supporting the widespread use of DDT in Africa to combat malaria. The effect is likely to be quite simply breathtaking, for DDT is truly a miracle cure for this deadly mosquito-borne scourge. When it was first used in developing nations in the early 1960s the effect was like flicking a switch. In 1948, Sri Lanka had 2.8 million cases of malaria; in 1963, following the introduction of DDT, the number had fallen to just 17.

Tragically, the effect of the bans on its use in the wake of Carson's claims were no less dramatic. Within just five years of banning DDT, the number of malaria cases in Sri Lanka had risen from those 17 cases back up to 500,000. Today, around 400 million people are infected each year.

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