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The ban on DDT has cost of millions of lives in Africa and other tropical places. Yet despite the human carnage, environmentalists continue to resist permitting the anti-mosquito chemical to be used as a malaria and other disease preventative.

But as the Wall Street Journal points out (subscription needed), that may be about to change:

Last year, the World Health Organization reversed a 25-year-old policy and recommended using the pesticide DDT to fight malaria in the Third World. A new study published in the public health journal, PLoS ONE, provides more evidence that the decision was long overdue.

The U.S. and Europe solved their malaria problem a half-century ago by employing DDT, but the mosquito-borne disease remains endemic to the lowland tropics of South America, Asia and Africa, where each year a half-billion people are infected and more than a million die...

Repeated studies have shown DDT to be safe for people and nature when sprayed indoors, yet other supposedly greener pesticides like alphacypermethrin have been touted as viable alternatives. Nevertheless, the latest research shows that DDT continues to be the most effective tool we have, as well as among the cheapest. “To date,” conclude the authors, “a truly efficacious DDT replacement has not been found.” Opponents of DDT are only ensuring more misery and death.

If the choice is between saving human lives or risking environmental degradation, humans must come first. Protecting the environment from the safe haven of areas in which DDT had already eradicated the problem is a form of environmental colonialism.

HT: Keith Pennock

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