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First Words

Why DDT? 2006. From left: Barbara Dinham (PAN-UK) Medha Chandra (PANNA), Emanuel Calonzo (GAIA, Philippines), Silvani Mng’anya (Agenda, Tanzania), Annabella Lemos (Mozambique), Zuleica Nycz (ACPO, Brazil), Meriel Watts (PAN Aotearoa/New Zealand), Mahmood Khwaja (SDPI, Pakistan). Photo: Jennifer Mourin, PAN Asia/Pacific

This issue of PAN North America Magazine explores some of the ways that science is twisted to serve political and economic ends. It also tells stories of courageous people who put themselves at risk to tell the truth about the many dangers of pesticides.

The new industry-financed campaign to re-introduce DDT as the primary solution to the scourge of malaria is a tragic illustration. Malaria is a horrible disease that kills some three million people every year and sickens many millions more. Safe and effective solutions to this preventable disease are long overdue—but increased reliance on DDT is not the answer. DDT is simply not the most effective way to control malaria, and contrary to assertions by proponents, played only a minor role in eliminating malaria in the U.S. Since then, many countries have found more effective ways to protect people from this deadly disease.

Increasing use of DDT in Africa means adding unnecessary health risks for people already facing the dangers of malaria. It also compounds risks to people in the Arctic region, where DDT accumulates after traveling on wind and water currents.

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring marshaled strong evidence that DDT was damaging the environment. Her bravery in the face of chemical industry attempts to dismiss her as hysterical ushered in the modern environmental movement. Following her example, independent researchers continue to amass additional evidence that DDT is a potent poison for humans as well.

In 2001, the UN’s Stockholm Convention expressed an international consensus that the problems of DDT and similar pesticides justified their global phaseout. In the case of DDT, the need for short-term use for malaria control in some countries was recognized, along with the necessity to mobilize resources for transition to safer, more effective solutions. PAN joins 132 countries that have adopted this treaty in supporting this approach to malaria control.

Renewed promotion of DDT and attacks on those who would limit its use isn’t about malaria, or even DDT. It is a cynical “better living through chemistry” campaign intended to discredit the environmental health movement, with support from the Bush administration and others who seek nothing less than the dismantling of health and environmental protections.

All of us have a role to play in educating ourselves, our friends and policy makers about the urgent need for better and safer tools for addressing malaria. The people of Africa and the Arctic require and deserve no less from us. And if we allow chemical companies to frame this issue as a need to reintroduce DDT, we will all be the losers.


Monica Moore

 

News

From Budapest: Global experts ask “Why DDT?”Pesticide issues vary widely around the world. For example, there may be issues of overuse of new pesticide formulations and genetically modified crops in North America and Europe, while African countries struggle with huge stockpiles of obsolete pesticides and the re-emergence of long banned pesticides like DDT.

Human Testing Lawsuit Update In February, PAN joined a coalition of health and environmental advocates, farm workers and doctors, in filing suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit against U.S. EPA over its new rule on intentional dosing of human beings with pesticides.

Attack on FDA and EPA IntegrityThe summer issue of this magazine reported on the assault on scientific quality at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, compelling EPA scientists to take the unusual step of publicly criticizing the agency’s work, especially the recent rush to complete the decade-long implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act.

Ban Lindane NOW! Campaign partners celebrate EPA decision EPA’s recent withdrawal of lindane in U.S. agriculture is cause for sweet celebration. Though we still have some work to do, EPA’s decision takes out roughly 99% of the uses of this old chemical in the U.S., and is an important step toward protecting public health.

Controversial POPs Legislation BlockedWorking with partner groups in Washington D.C. and around the country, PAN helped block yet another attempt by Republicans on Capitol Hill to undermine the Stockholm Convention (POPs treaty). The controversial “Gillmor POPs bill” came dangerously close to becoming law.

First Drift Catcher Data ReleasedThe town of Lindsay, in the fertile San Joaquin Valley in central California, has grown up around citrus farming; and orange groves intermingle with homes, schools, and businesses. Citrus production in the Valley relies heavily on organophosphate insecticides, especially chlorpyrifos,

Features

"It's Not Easy Being Green" Do weedkillers turn frogs into hermaphrodites? The federally established “safe” limit for atrazine in human drinking water is 3 ppb, thirty times the dose that turned some of Hayes’ frogs into hermaphrodites.

Who is Being Served? Science in Policy Making Research is shaped by who asks the questions that are being explored, what questions they choose to ask, and towards what ends.

Speaking Truth Saves Lives in the Philippines and India Dr. Romeo Quijano counts himself ­fortunate. Like activists elsewhere, he’s been mired in one court battle after another, but he is grateful that he and his family, unlike so many friends and colleagues, have escaped physical attack and death for their defense of civil liberties.

Communities in Kerala Demand DDT Clean-up “People in Eloor-Edayar crave for justice,” declared their Local Area Environment Committee. “They want air to breathe. They want water to sustain life. They want land for agricultural operations to make a living.


Solutions

“Practicing Complexity” from Michael Pollan’s bestseller The Ominvore’s Dilemma: A Natural History in Four Meals

Fumigation Soon a thing of the past for California carrot growers Carrots are big business in California. In 2004, 1.1 million tons of carrots valued at almost half a billion dollars were grown in the state. Carrot production is also a major source of air pollution in California’s San Joaquin Valley, which has the second worst air quality in the country.

Last Word: Restoring American Indian Food & Nutrition The Cultural Conservancy (TCC), an indigenous rights non-profit based in San Francisco, is one of many organizations working to protect and revitalize Native foods

AffiliatesThis issue we focus on Reach for Unbleach and Basel Action Network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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