Tuesday, June 12, 2007


BarryA at uncommondescent has written a short post regarding the use of DDT to kill malaria (June 12th, 2007). He makes some valid points. For example, DDT use, which is very effective at killing the mosquitos that transmit the malaria-causing organism, has been banned resulting in untold suffering due to acquisition of this dreadful disease. However, he then goes as says something quite extraordinary:

I also learned that everything I thought I knew about DDT was flat wrong. Not only is DDT safe, scientists have known this for decades.
Eeeerrrmm. DDT is safe? Not quite. DDT belongs to a class of compounds known as xenoestrogens - also commonly referred to as gender benders. Although there has been no experimental work to show that this should affect humans (for obvious reasons), epidemiological studies and experimental work on other organisms do point to the fact that DDT is not safe (I am aware that there has been a lot of controversy in the scientific community over the extent to which xenoestrogens actually have been a problem for humans). The effect on wild-life such as birds is well documented. An important point to note here is that DDT belong to a class of compunds that act on similar biological pathways and have similar effects. So even though it might be safe for a human to be exposed to DDT up to a concentration of X, this might not be true when exposure to other xenoestrogens are added to the equation.

The questions that arise knowing this is whether you would rather be a bit gender bent or be suffering from malaria? Would you rather that some birds of prey failed to raise it's chicks compared to you suffering from malaria? Personally, I'd rather not suffer from malaria.

BarryA has brought up a valid point, but I wonder why he filed his post under "intelligent design". Perhaps he didn't mean to, but a commenter couldn't resist turning this into a Darwinian eugenics(?) issue.

Edited to add:seems like the main reason DDT use dropped was not because of any environmental concerns, but rather that the mosquitos were developing resistance to the pesticide. See, for example, The DDT ban myth and Putting myths to bed.


At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

World Malaria Day is April 25, 2008. Africa Fighting Malaria is issuing a Call to Action to support indoor residual spraying, a highly effective, World Health Organization-approved method of malaria control – check out our interactive Africa map: http://fightingmalaria.org/issues.aspx?issue=14

Also check out our new video and support AFM's fight against malaria! http://fightingmalaria.org/AFMInAction/


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