DDT set for come back as Uganda embraces lesser of two evils

Uganda looks set to approve widespread use of infamous insecticide DDT in an effort to wipe out mosquitoes and the threat of Malaria.

According to state-owned newspaper The New Vision medical researchers from Makerere University and Mulago Hospital has told the government that DDT can be safely used in the control of malaria.

Their conclusion comes from the study of land where the chemical was used in the 1960s.

According to Dr Gabriel Bimenya, the scientist leading the research, 'DDT has no adverse effects on both human beings and the environment'.

His conclusion flies in the face of international wisdom - the chemical is outlawed under the global Stockholm Convention and was the subject of early environmentalists' bible The Silent Spring which linked DDT to plunging wildlife populations.

The chemical has also been tied to cancer and other serious illness in humans.

Unfortunately, it is also the most powerful pesticide the world has ever known. Before it became an environmental pariah DDT was heralded as a miracle, used to delouse European troops in WW2 and clear islands in the South Pacific of malarial insects to protect US Marines.

Its inventor received a Nobel prize for his creation which did prove remarkably effective at its job.

Malaria poses a serious health threat in Sub-Saharan Africa, killing millions, and it is easy to see why governments want a quick fix.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has pledged more support for research into DDT, calling it a 'new front that would help in solving challenges affecting society'.

Meanwhile separate research shows DDT and other banned persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are already in use in Uganda.

It is thought the chemicals are smuggled into the country branded as other, legal chemicals.

Scientists testing the water of Lake Victoria found traces of DDT, endosulfan, dieldrin and lindane.

By Sam Bond



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