Saturday, September 17, 2005

USAID's anti-pesticide policies hit Africa hard

USAID's anti-pesticide policies hit Africa hard
Some excerpts:

Malaria infects up to 500,000,000 people a year more men, women and children than live in the United States, Canada and Mexico combined! It kills 2,000,000 every year the population of Houston, Texas.

The vast majority live in sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly 90 per cent are children and pregnant women.

Victims become so weak they cannot work for weeks on end. Many are left with permanent brain damage and immune systems so enfeebled that they die of AIDS, typhus, dysentery or tuberculosis. Malaria costs impoverished Africa $12 billion in lost productivity every year.

However, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, U.S. Agency for International Development, wealthy foundations and environmental activists still insist that African nations rely on inadequate bed net, drug and integrated vector management programs and avoid pesticides, especially DDT.

Nevertheless, a few African nations still spray DDT in tiny amounts on the walls and eaves of cinderblock or mud-and-thatch houses. For six months, it repels mosquitoes, kills any that land on walls and irritates the rest, so they dont bite.

No other pesticide, at any price, is this effective, and even mosquitoes resistant to DDT's killer talents succumb to its repellent properties.

Used this way, virtually no DDT gets into the environment. Most important, it's safe for humans.

African mothers would be overjoyed if DDT in our bodies was their biggest worry, says Ugandan farmer and businesswoman Fiona Kobusingye. They'd be thrilled if Greenpeace and others would show greater concern for the lives of African mothers and children, by supporting insecticide use.

South Africa's DDT household spraying program cut malaria rates by 80 per cent in 18 months. The country was then able to treat a much smaller number of seriously ill patients with new artemisinin-based drugs, and slash malaria rates by over 90 per cent in just three years!

When Uganda announced earlier this year that it was going to use DDT to control malaria, the EU warned that it might ban all agricultural exports from the country, if even a trace of DDT was found on them!

Last year, USAID spent $80 million on malaria. But 85 percent of this went to consultants, and 5 percent to promoting the use of insecticide-treated nets. It spent nothing on actually buying nets, drugs or pesticides.

African and other malaria-endemic countries need progress NOW not 20 or 50 years from now, when (hopefully) a vaccine has finally been developed, sufficient artemisinin drugs are available for every victim, mosquito breeding areas are controlled, and communities have modern homes and hospitals (with electricity, window screens and running water).

The writer is senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power Black death (
2005 Paul K. Driessen

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Chernobyl Less Deadly Than Initially Feared

NEI Notes has links to an Army of Articles on a new report by eight U.N. agencies about the Cernobyl accident. Here's a sample:

The governments of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the three countries most affected by radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, should strive to end the "paralyzing fatalism" of tens of thousands of their citizens who wrongly believe they are still at risk of an early death, according to the study released Monday.

The 600-page report found that as of the middle of this year, the accident had caused fewer than 50 deaths directly attributable to radiation, most of them among emergency workers who died in the first months after the accident. In the wake of the world's largest nuclear disaster, there were numerous predictions of mass fatalities from radiation.

-Washington Post

Though the accident itself had a severe impact, "the situation was made even worse by conflicting information and vast exaggerations - in press coverage and pseudoscientific accounts of the accident - reporting, for example, fatalities in the tens or hundreds of thousands," said Tomihiro Taniguchi, a deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Taniguchi, speaking at a scientific conference on Chernobyl's effects, also said many of the 350,000 people evacuated and resettled by authorities would have been better off staying home.

-The Mercury News

  • About 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children and adolescents at the time of the accident, have resulted from the accident's contamination and at least nine children died of thyroid cancer; however the survival rate among such cancer victims, judging from experience in Belarus, has been almost 99%.
  • Most emergency workers and people living in contaminated areas received relatively low whole body radiation doses, comparable to natural background levels. As a consequence, no evidence or likelihood of decreased fertility among the affected population has been found, nor has there been any evidence of increases in congenital malformations that can be attributed to radiation exposure.
  • Poverty, "lifestyle" diseases now rampant in the former Soviet Union and mental health problems pose a far greater threat to local communities than does radiation exposure.
  • Relocation proved a "deeply traumatic experience" for some 350,000 people moved out of the affected areas. Although 116,000 were moved from the most heavily impacted area immediately after the accident, later relocations did little to reduce radiation exposure.

Says Dr Michael Repacholi, Manager of WHO's Radiation Program ..."the team of international experts found no evidence for any increases in the incidence of leukemia and cancer among affected residents."

Monday, September 05, 2005

Miracle Mice regrow organs

Miracle Mice regrow organs

SCIENTISTS have created "miracle mice" that can regenerate amputated limbs or damaged vital organs, making them able to recover from injuries that would kill or permanently disable normal animals.

The ability of the mice at her laboratory to regenerate organs appeared to be controlled by about a dozen genes.

Professor Heber-Katz says she is still researching the genes' exact functions, but it seems almost certain humans have comparable genes.