Greenfocus.co.uk

MALARIA

How German Greens and Greenpeace increase deaths and harm economies in Africa. DDT is the cheapest and easiest way to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes, which is still the best means of preventing malaria. Greens shout for the elimination of DDT without concern for the consequences to others. Since malaria is on the increase in the developing world, the use of DDT is a life-or-death issue. Hundreds of millions of people suffer from malaria, and roughly two million die from it every year - a child dies every minute.

There are alternatives to DDT, such as synthetic pyrethroids. But these are too dear for cash-strapped sub-Saharan nations to afford in sufficient quantities. Genetically modified vaccines and other high-tech solutions may eventually make DDT redundant, but they will take years to develop and gain regulatory approval, so will be far from cheap. Malaria is rare in Europe and is usually imported when travellers return from malarial areas. But for German Greens to demand DDT's elimination is disgraceful. What kind of calculus weighs minor environmental harms with a dead African child every minute and chooses the dead children?

James Sheehan has some of the answers in his new book. Green advocates have the same access to national governments as other lobby groups. But as non-governmental organisations they are often invited to UN negotiations as policy experts. As such, they are paid to attend. Furthermore, says Sheehan, many green groups that once opposed UN and World Bank programmes later received generous 'research' grants from the very same organisations. Thus, Sheehan concludes, unelected, unaccountable Greens unduly influence many UN agreements that may be binding on national governments.

The numbers of activists at UN meetings is incredible. For example, at the 1997 Kyoto climate meeting there were 1500 delegates from member governments but 3500 for pressure groups. Sheehan cites delegates from developing countries who complain of being outgunned by European 'eco-imperialists'.

Professor Donald Roberts of the University of Maryland has suggested that aid is being used as a political tool to be withdrawn if countries do not comply with Western demands. He argues that the people at risk from malaria have no voice in the negotiations. Roberts' opinion is supported by Pashpa Hareth of the World Health Organisation (WHO) who points out that the WHO pleas against the DDT ban are falling on deaf ears.

Meanwhile malaria is increasing - 500% in the past two years in areas of South Africa that border Mozambique - and DDT, which has saved over 500 million lives since World War II, sits in drums in warehouses.

A significant reason for public distrust of nuclear power is scaremongering. The aim of Greenpeace is publicity, leading to more money from the public for other Greenpeace projects. The most despicable of these is this campaign to stop the use of DDT to control malaria in Africa. In Sri Lanka in 1948 there were 2.8m cases of malaria annually. The use of DDT brought this down to 17 in 1963. In 1964, Greens had DDT banned and by 1969 there were again 2.5m cases.

Tren and Bate pointed out that:

Malaria has long plagued mankind, and was only brought under control with the development of medical and chemical technologies in the 20th century. A worldwide campaign to eradicate malaria with DDT spraying programmes after World War II nearly eliminated the disease in many poor countries. Environmental fears lead to the banning of DDT in wealthy countries. Donor agencies and environmental groups from wealthy countries then pressured poor country governments to stop using DDT for malaria control. When used to control malarial mosquitoes, DDT has no observable effects on human health and its effects on the environment are negligible. Partly because of restrictions on the use of DDT, malaria rates are now increasing in poor countries. DDT spraying remains the most cost-effective solution for poor countries to prevent malaria.