- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2009

Your editorial claimed, “Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund have started supporting limited use of DDT” to fight malaria in Africa (“The environmentalists’ epidemic,” Editorial, April 26).

Actually, our position on the use of DDT for indoor protection from malaria was determined in 2003, when we distinguished between agricultural and public health applications. We said we did not oppose the use of DDT for public health purposes where it was critically needed, likely to be effective and served as part of a broader integrated effort to control malaria. In addition, the editorial took an unjustified shot at EDF by adding: “Ironically, the Environmental Defense Fund was founded by scientists concerned about DDT.”

Bad science and bad motives kill people - green ideas do not. EDF acted on good science in fighting for a ban on widespread agricultural use of DDT in the United States during the 1960s. The ban has helped restore populations of the bald eagle. At the same time, our position on limited and controlled indoor spraying of DDT when essential to control malaria epidemics comes from a science-based weighing of the significant risks and benefits.

Those suffering the ravages of malaria need more from the United States than just calls for DDT spraying. They deserve a real commitment to an integrated public-health program of medical treatment, mosquito control and household protection. Anti-environmentalist rhetoric is just a cynical sideshow.


Chief health scientist

Environmental Defense Fund


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