Scientifically unfounded fears of biotech innovation too often result in real harm to the countries that most stand to benefit. Richard Tren, Executive Director of Africa Fighting Malaria, knows this all too well. Tren s health advocacy group fights opposition to the judicious use of DDT to protect African populations that are consistently ravaged by mosquito-borne malaria. In a recent Global Post article, he reflects on the irony of the European Union s outrage at Russia s current ban on importation of EU produce, due to the recent very deadly E. coli outbreak across Europe. Some African farmers and public health officials, however, may look at this spat with no small amount of satisfaction, he writes. The EU is now getting its comeuppance after trade rules brought about the end of an effective malaria control program. Tren is referring to the practice of spraying small amounts of DDT inside African homes to repel and kill the mosquitoes that spread malaria. A program of this kind begun in Uganda in 2008 was highly effective in reducing the incidence of malaria but it was brought to a halt in order to comply with EU standards. As a result, malaria rates and deaths skyrocketed to their earlier, staggering levels.
Tren s article walks the reader through the realities of DDT use, explaining its positive impact on the health of African populations and its negligible residues on crops. After looking at several instances in which other countries policies against DDT have resulted in much more harm than good, he observes: