In the early 1970s malaria was all but eliminated by DDT.
Regarding Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan’s “How Long Till the Final World Malaria Day?” (op-ed, April 25): Dr. Narasimhan conveniently omits the fact that in the early 1970s malaria was all but eliminated by one of the most important pesticides ever invented—DDT. While study after study proved DDT to be effective in eliminating the malaria-carrying mosquito, the EPA’s first administrator, William Ruckelshaus, chose to ignore the opinions of his own study group and ruled against the continued use of DDT.
The world followed and the exponential increase of malaria deaths followed around the world. Environmental groups cheered as the disease once again got out of control in the 1980s. Books like Rachel Carson’s flawed “Silent Spring” talked of thinning bird eggshells and increased bird mortality. Audubon bird-count records proved the opposite, and the eggshell studies were in fact of caged birds deprived of calcium in their diets.
Novartis surely will profit from continued efforts to control malaria through methods that will never equal what was already being accomplished by DDT. J. Gordon Edwards, who was the world’s leading expert on malaria and DDT in the 1970s, must be turning over in his grave.
Jay Lehr, Ph.D.
The Heartland Institute
Arlington Heights, Ill.
This appeared as letter to the Wall Street Journal. I wish to thank Jay for alerting me.