Articles for December 2004

DDT Spray to Start in 2005  - F Ahimbisibwe - New Vision
Good news for Uganda - lets hope it actually happens and that the anti-DDT crowd don't stick their collective oar in.

Malaria Fight: Gates Foundation funds development of malaria drug artemesinin  - Chemcial and Engineering News
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $42.6 million to the Institute for OneWorld Health, a nonprofit pharmaceutical company, to fund malaria drug research.

AFM Statement on Malaria and Zimbabwe  - AFM
AFM's Richard Tren recently returned from Zimbabwe where he helped with public relations over the introduction of DDT into the country's malaria control programme. While using DDT is a good move, malaria control is overshadowed by the country's odious politics. Read AFM's statement on malaria control, healthcare and Zimbabwe.

Brown criticised on malaria cash  - Sarah Boseley - The Guardian
Nick White and Bob Snow, among the world's most respected malaria scientists criticise Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown's promoise to purchase 300m doses of a potential GSK vaccine. They rightly point out that you can save lives right now by buying drugs and bed nets. White and Snow are dead right, though they forgot to mention that the most spectacular declines in malaira cases have been achieved through indoor residual spraying with insecticides.

Politics of DDT in the Era of Multi-Drug Resistant Malaria  - Dr Samson Kibende
Dr Kibende writes "The science is unequivocal about the cost effectiveness of DDT in malarial control. The banning of DDT was purely for political reasons. Therefore the resumption of its use can only be politically decided. "

NEMA Consultants Back DDT for Malaria  - New Vision
Some good news from Uganda - the enviroment agency's consultants back the use of DDT. This move will surely take the Department of Health one step closer to using DDT in indoor residual spraying and one step closer to saving more lives.

Malaria Keeps Family in Poverty Cycle  - Evans Ongwae
Malaria keeps people poor - how true. Indoor residual spraying is an effective way or reducing malaria; this can improve productivity and help people break out of poverty. Unfortunately state policies are more effective at keeping people poor than malaria - rich states reject insecticide spraying and many poor states reject market reform that is necessary for economic growth.

No Hope for GM Mosquito  - Kikonyogo Ngatya - New Vision
No surprise here - GM mosquitoes seem rather fanciful and a waste of resources when one considers that lives can be saved right now with indoor residual spraying using insecticides like DDT.

The deadly rise of urban malaria  - The New Scientist
Urban malaria is emerging as a potential but “avertable” crisis in Africa, scientists are warning.

Speech to the African Ambassadors to the US  - Roger Bate
Roger Bate discusses malaria control with 35 African Ambassadors to the US in Washington DC. The text of his speech is reproduced here.

Select Month

J. Gordon Edwards, who died at the age of 85 on last Monday, July 19th, had two defining passions: a love of nature and a love of people.  The former led him to be called Glacier National Park's “patron saint of climbing” and was the impetus behind his vast insect collection. The latter led him to be a spirited and vociferous advocate for the use of DDT in malaria control.


A professor of entomology at San Jose State, Dr. Edwards became involved in the DDT debate when he read Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” while he was a young researcher in Wyoming and Montana. Dr Edwards recounted his experience:


“I eagerly read the condensed version of Silent Spring in the New Yorker magazine and bought a copy of the book as soon as I could find it in the stores. As I read the first several chapters I noticed many statements that I realized were false; however, one can overlook such things when they are produced by one’s cohorts, and I did just that.


As I neared the middle of the book, the feeling grew in my mind that Rachel Carson was really playing loose with the facts and was also deliberately wording many sentences in such a way as to make them imply certain things without actually saying them. She was carefully omitting everything that failed to support her thesis that pesticides were bad, that industry was bad, and that any scientists who did not support her views were bad.

I then took notice of her bibliography and realized that it was filled with references from very unscientific sources. Also, each reference was cited separately each time it appeared in the book, thus producing an impressive array of “references” even though not many different sources were actually cited. I began to lose confidence in Rachel Carson, even though I thought that as an environmentalist I really should continue to support her.

I next looked up some of the references that Carson cited and quickly found that they did not support her contentions about the harm caused by pesticides. When leading scientists began to publish harsh criticisms of her methods and her allegations, it slowly dawned on me that Rachel Carson was not interested in the truth about those topics, and that I really was being duped, along with millions of other Americans.”


Upset at this distortion of truth and having seen DDT’s effectiveness during World War II, when as a young combat medic he had dusted soldiers and civilians in his unit with the chemical in order to prevent the spread of typhus, Edwards began investigating the science behind DDT and became convinced that it was harmless to vertebrate animals and essential in insect control.  As a result of this conviction, he began traveling the country testify on DDT’s behalf at hearings, including 1971-1972 EPA hearings on DDT, as well as giving public lectures on the topic. 


It was during this time that Edwards became know as a man who would put his mouth where his mouth was: he began to eat DDT. “I was delivering addresses to various audiences almost every week,” reminisced Edwards. “I carried a commercial box of DDT onto the stage, dug out a tablespoon of DDT (about 12 mgs), swallowed it, and washed it down with water before beginning my talk about DDT’s lack of toxicity to vertebrate animals.”  He later continued this practice during his university lectures.


Dr. Edwards died of a heart attack while hiking in his beloved Glacier National Park on Monday, July 19th. The Glacier climbing community knew Edwards as a man who willingly shared his vast knowledge of the mountains and climbing, most particularly in his definitive work, “A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park.” His willingness to share his knowledge also marked Edwards’ work on DDT.  He gave generously of his time and knowledge of the topic, and we will miss his tireless advocacy on behalf of the millions that suffer from malaria and other vector borne diseases as we strive to follow his example.