“The overuse should have been limited, but the ban that led to millions of human deaths should not be a source of pride.”
Below is a letter in the Des Moines Register.
It was a mistake to ban DDT in 1972
It always amazes me that environmentalists are still proud of the 1972 ban on DDT as a result of the 1962 book “Silent Spring.” This was repeated by the two authors of the Iowa View, “More to Do 50 Years After ‘Silent Spring’,” in the March 3 Register.
Yes, DDT was overused, and there were concerns about the effect on bird eggs. There were also concerns that insects might become resistant. Unfortunately, the outright ban had the consequence of making DDT unavailable, greatly increasing the incidence of Malaria in Africa and other tropical areas.
As a result, it is estimated that between 30 million and 60 million died, most of them children. In Sri Lanka, malaria deaths went from 2.8 million in 1948 down to 17 in 1964 due to the use of DDT. They then banned DDT and by 1969, death rates were back up to 2.5 million.
In addition, DDT was replaced by pesticides that are often much more toxic to humans. Many environmentalists dismiss or minimize these concerns. For example, Charles Wurster, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, was asked if the DDT ban led to loss of human life. His reply was “Probably … so what? People are the causes of all the problems; we have too many of them.” He has since retracted his statement.
DDT should never have been banned. The overuse should have been limited, but the ban that led to millions of human deaths should not be a source of pride.
— David C. Hammel, Urbandale