Letter: Taddonio, DDT is not banned world-wide
June 15, 2016
DDT is not banned world-wide,
I am writing to correct some hopefully unintended misinformation published June 3 in the opinion piece "Mosquitoes: Humankind's deadliest enemy" by Bill Hamilton. DDT is not banned worldwide. In fact, it is still in use in many developing countries to control the spread of malaria and other diseases. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants banned the use of DDT in agricultural purposes, but created this important exemption. Just like bacteria can develop resistance to over-used antibiotics, mosquitoes can develop resistance to over-used chemicals and in some areas have developed resistance to DDT. Limiting the use of DDT to disease-control applications in developing countries can be likened to reserving antibiotics for the treatment of diagnosed infections: it helps to preserve the chemical's usefulness and effectiveness for as long as possible. In short, the restrictions in place assure DDT will be an effective malaria-control chemical as long as possible and that we don't kill our birds with over-exuberant chemical applications. To me, that sounds like a win-win.