** PESTICIDES **
Public Perceptions, International Politics and Killers of
Mosquitoes [Editorial]. The New York Times, September 16, 1999,
Even though it took only three fatalities in New York City
to justify spraying the city with pesticides, the use of another
pesticide to combat mosquitoes worldwide that threatens to kill
millions of people is receiving a far different treatment, said
John Tierney in his editorial. The pesticide DDT, banned in the
U.S. since 1972, is still relied upon in many poor countries who
can't afford alternatives such as malathion, used in New York
City, to fight mosquitoes carrying malaria.
Tierney challenges the United Nation's proposed global ban
of DDT by pointing out its effectiveness in preventing 500
million human deaths globally from malaria, citing the National
Academy of Sciences's 1970 estimate.
He goes on to question the claims made by Rachel Carson in
her book - Silent Spring - about the "evil DDT['s]" effect on
humans and wildlife. He said, "She mistakenly claimed that DDT
causes cancer, which wasn't proven then - and still hasn't been."
According to Bruce Ames, the toxicologist who directs the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center at the
University of California at Berkeley, there hasn't been "any good
evidence that DDT is harmful to humans."
"Environmentalists say DDT should be banned... but many
scientists doubt that DDT is much more hazardous than malathion
is," said Tierney. Therefore, he concludes by citing Dr. Ames's
advise for people to "stop fretting about either malathion or
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