First DDT, now neonics the harmful effects of environmentalist-sponsored, baseless pesticide bans

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Female anopheles mosquitoIn a recent article from Africa Fighting Malaria, author Jasson Urbach addresses the harmful effects of banning a class of insecticides: neonicotinoids. Urbach compares the unfounded fears of neonics with those of DDT, giving a brief history of the negative effects that bans on DDT have had on public health. For example, when South Africa stopped using DDT in 1996 due to pressures from environmental groups, malaria cases rose from around 6,000 in 1995 to 60,000 in 2000. DDT was reintroduced in the early 2000s, and with the combination of artemisinin-based therapies, malaria cases fell by almost 80 percent. South Africa is still using DDT today. (We should note that the widespread elimination of DDT, leading to the resurgence of malaria and other insect-borne diseases, was orchestrated right here in the USA by our EPA one of its first moves, and one of its most devastating for global public health).

Urbach expresses concern that the same story is happening again, this time with neonicotinoids. Neonics can actually be beneficial to the environment compared to other pesticides, as they can be applied in a very targeted and specific way, thereby reducing harm to non-target insects and reducing the overall amount of pesticide used. And as for the bees they re doing just great. Yet, environmental groups are still adamantly against neonics. Banning this pesticide would cause detrimental effects to farmers, as the prospect of an effective replacement for neonics coming along any time soon is thus faint. Farmers would instead have to resort to older, more harmful pesticides.

The article concludes, In the face of increasingly shrill calls for the banning of neonics, regulators in Europe and the United States must take a long, sober look at the evidence of harm, or lack thereof, and rule in favour of sound science. The alternative is to give into activist pressure and repeat the sorry history of anti-DDT campaigns, something people in developing countries are still paying for.

ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross, who has studied the effects of DDT on anopheles mosquitoes and the horrendous toll that the antipathy towards DDT has caused for impoverished residents of malarial regions, had this comment: While the so-called environmentalist opposition to chemicals and pesticides of all types must be identified for the tripe and agenda it actually is, and without denigrating the importance of neonics, there is no need to compare this important pesticide to DDT. The loss of DDT has led directly to millions of needless deaths, mainly among infants, toddlers and pregnant women, most susceptible to the ravages of malaria. But the propaganda against neonics is a stark reminder that those who oppose technology and progress will never give up their crusade, no matter the human toll of their harmful agendas.