Friday, March 23, 2007

The danger of isms

Mick Hume in the Times:

Coming soon to a bedroom near you: the Good Mosquito? Scientists are reportedly trying to engineer a genetically modified bug , with green eyes or fluorescent testicles, to combat the spread of malaria. But beating a disease that kills almost 3,000 children a day will involve swatting other green pests who put their concerns before those of Africa.

Anti-malarial GM mosquitoes remain a distant prospect. Yet already The Times has to report that any such innovation “would prove controversial with environmental groups”. These same groups have crusaded for 30 years to stop people killing mosquitoes with dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) — with devastating results for Africans.

Last year the World Health Organisation finally conceded that indoor spraying with DDT is safe and effective. Better three decades late than never, some might say. Yet many still suffer DDT-denial. Eco-alarmists who claim that the science of global warming “proves” malaria is coming to Britain seem less keen to face the scientific case for DDT, instead of searching for any alternative.

Thus the BBC’s Red Nose Day jamboree last week broadcast just about every taboo word except “DDT”. Instead, their antimalaria campaign, fronted by ghoulish pictures of a child dying, asked us to buy mosquito nets for Africa. Is that really the best we can offer? Colonial-era “technology”, updated with some insect repellent, under which Africans swelter while we sleep with a clear conscience? Oddly, there was no mention that South Africa has now abandoned these nets in favour of indoor DDT spraying, which one US senator describes as “a huge mosquito net over an entire household for round-the-clock protection”.

The trouble with environmentalism is that it has become an ism. And, as with so many isms, it ends in anti-humanism.


erp said...

Not only South Africa, but France as well. The area around Montpellier has been kept mosquito free by spraying with DDT.

Harry Eagar said...

Hawaii is malaria-free (human kind, anyway, though not bird malaria), but not because it6's too cold. The spread of malaria due to global warming is one of the sillier parts of that hoax.

The prospect of an engineered mosquito outbreeding the wild type does not inspire me. For decades, California has been neutering fruit flies and releasing them in Hawaii in order to, in theory, reduce the overall population and thus threat of importing flies back to the Mainland.

The best local entomologist says the wimpy flies never get the girls, they just cower on the underside of leaves.

Maybe we can just dismiss environmentalists as racists and forget them.

monix said...

I seem to recall the fuss about DDT was that it was believed to harm people. Now, apparently it doesn't. If it really is safe to use, I'd stick with it rather than the unpredictable little GM bugs.

Are you including Dunnoism, Darwinism and Atheism on your anti-humanism list?

Brit said...

Dunnoism no, atheism and darwinism sometimes.

monix said...

I'm glad you are not just guilty of ismism!

Duck said...

In the US DDT was implicated in the decline of certain bird species, specifically raptors like the bald eagle, because it caused the mothers to lay eggs with thin eggshells that cracked too easily.

Adelephant said...

This is taken from the Lancet:

"Although DDT is generally not toxic to human beings and was banned mainly for ecological reasons, subsequent research has shown that exposure to DDT at amounts that would be needed in malaria control might cause preterm birth and early weaning, abrogating the benefit of reducing infant mortality from malaria. ... DDT might be useful in controlling malaria, but the evidence of its adverse effects on human health needs appropriate research on whether it achieves a favourable balance of risk versus benefit."
Health risks and benefits of bis(4-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (DDT). The Lancet (27 August 2005).

Cons as well as environmental pros.