The UN, environmentalist pressure groups and their financial backers have a lot to answer for
The ChiCom coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreaks, deaths and
responses continue to dominate US, European and Asian news. Meanwhile, a very
different infestation is devastating East African crops and leaving tens of
millions at risk of starvation and death. If COVID hits these weakened
populations, amid their malaria and other systemic diseases, it would bring
tragedy on unimaginable scales.
“Across Somalia, desert locusts in a swarm the size of
Manhattan have destroyed a swath of farmland as big as Oklahoma,” the Wall
Street Journal’s Nicholas
Bariyo reports. “In Kenya, billions-strong clouds of the insects have eaten
through 800 square miles of crops and survived a weeks-long spraying campaign.
They have “swept across more than 10 nations on two continents.” In parts of
East Africa they “are destroying some 1.8 million metric tons of vegetation
every day, enough food to feed 81 million people.”
East Africa has a Desert Locust Control Organization. But
it, the region and the individual countries were totally unprepared for the
onslaught, unaware the hordes were coming, irresponsibly underfunded, with
almost no pesticides or aircraft to spray them. By the time they acted, it was
too little, too late.
The massive swarms are hardly unprecedented. Locusts “covered
the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every
herb of the land and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left. So
there remained nothing green on the trees or on the plants of the field
throughout all the land of Egypt.” [Exodus 10:15] Locusts pillaged long before
that, and have returned hundreds of times since.
The 1986-87 plague was calamitous. As the late
J. Gordon Edwards noted in 1988, four major locust species hatched
simultaneously in 15 countries, and the crops were so totally devastated that
the UN Food and Agricultural Organization predicted 50 million Africans and
Asians might starve to death. Malnourished survivors would suffer reduced
mental capacity and have greater susceptibility to diseases. Other
near-biblical infestations have ravaged Africa with predictable regularity
The obvious, burning, essential question is this: In this era of amazing modern agriculture,
aviation and pest control technologies, how could Africa have reached this
frightening precipice yet again?
These 2019-2020 swarms originated in the vast deserts of
Oman, Somalia and Yemen, parts of which are lawless and war-torn. That made it
difficult and dangerous to monitor them for the emergence of billions of
“hoppers,” following tumultuous downpours two years ago – or to spray them with
insecticides when they were most vulnerable, before their wings matured and
they could fly thousands of miles. But it also means East African countries needed
to work together, despite these obstacles, to prevent such plagues.
These are horrifically poor countries, where bureaucrats
live relatively well largely on outside donor funds, often corrupt top-gun
politicians live very well on the same money, and some 90% of the people exist
on a few dollars a day, on the edge of starvation and debilitating disease,
tilling tiny patches of land.
Too often their governments’ ability to plan for
recurring crises like this are minimal, their priorities are skewed to whatever
the donors want, and funding for insect control is minimal at best. Eritrea,
Somalia, Sudan and Uganda didn’t even pay their Locust Control membership dues
for years, or decades – much less acquire the aircraft and pesticides they
would need for the inevitable next locust plague. Their focus was on elections
(getting reelected), essential or just showy infrastructure projects, and climate
Indeed, it seems nothing will be allowed to get in the
way of the UN, EU and environmentalist obsession with climate change as the
single greatest threat facing humanity and planet. But climate cataclysms exist
in models and headlines, are decades away, are hardly unprecedented for East
Africa, and can hardly be worse than these recurring locust cataclysms. But UN,
EU, World Bank and eco-centered foundation money drives the agenda and pays
Africa’s leaders and bureaucrats. So recurring real-world crises get short
When it comes to insect control, the driving force is aid
money totally skewed to agro-ecology
and its perverse focus on “food sovereignty,” and “traditional subsistence
farming” with wood plows and oxen, “in harmony with nature,” free from Western
seeds, fertilizers, tractors and,
above all, pesticides.
The new moniker is clever, but the ideology and
donor-driven attitudes are nothing new. Dr.
Edwards documented them in his 1988 article. The FAO, USAID, USEPA, World
Bank, Environmental Defense Fund and other organizations were pushing
“all-natural, biological, integrated pest management” practices back then, too.
They were totally opposed to the use of dieldrin and other insecticides that
actually work. They keep families, communities, clinics and hospitals dependent
on minimalist wind and solar electricity.
Just as today, their focus back then was on alleged,
possible side effects from modern insecticides, which used properly by trained
applicators are safe for people, livestock, wildlife and most non-target
insects. The key is having the necessary staff, equipment and chemicals ahead
of time. Under pressure by all these external forces, East Africa failed to do
that – and now it is reaping the proverbial whirlwind.
The donor agencies and pressure groups’ attitude is akin
to demanding that chemotherapy for cancer be banned, because the chemicals impair
patient’s immune systems and cause hair to fall out. Saving their lives is inarguably
far more important than these side effects – just as saving millions from
starvation and associated diseases, and preventing total crop and habitat annihilation,
is inarguably far more important than the temporary loss of some insects or
even slight risks to cattle, wildlife or people from the sprays.
(An upcoming article will document who is behind the
eco-manslaughter today, and who is funding them: from US, EU and UN
organizations to their Swiss, Swedish, pseudo-African and other counterparts.)
Back in 1987, Dr. Edwards noted, Senegal requested and
received the loan of four American DC-7 transport aircraft that could hold 18,400
pounds of cargo (8.4 metric tons). They sprayed two million acres and killed
95% of that country’s immature locusts. But elsewhere FAO anti-pesticide
ideologies prevailed, and billions of locusts matured, flew off, mated and
produced tens of billions of locusts
the following year. They destroyed croplands, wildlife habitats, communities
and lives in a dozen other African countries.
This year’s efforts are far too little, far too late.
Kenya has eight small crop-spraying aircraft operating around the clock; the
Locust Control consortium has four antiquated little planes. They’re apparently
spraying fenitrothion (an effective locust killer), pyrethroids (somewhat
effective) and malathion (also somewhat effective though it breaks down within
a few hours under Africa’s hot, humid conditions).
But they didn’t get the hoppers. They waited until swarms
the size of Manhattan were upon them. Against those countless billions of
voracious locusts, ground-based equipment is useless. A dozen small crop
dusters makes almost no difference. And traditional methods like banging on
pots are a sick joke.
However, there could still be hope. A single Lockheed KC-130
Hercules tanker plane equipped with Modular Aerial Spray Systems can cover
up to 150,000 acres a day. Each plane can carry 2,000 gallons of the most appropriate
pesticide-water mixture. The benefits would be immediate and tremendous.
President Trump could order the Air Force to provide a
KC-130 or two and enough fenitrothion, Lorsban or other effective insecticide for
a few weeks of locust-eradication spraying. He could save millions of lives –
and help change attitudes, policies and practices across Africa and the world.
The President could also order his US Agency for
International Development (USAID), State Department and other agencies to end
their funding of climate and agro-ecology programs, and start making the East
Africa Desert Locust Control Organization the forward-thinking, effective
operation it was meant to be.
He could have blunt discussions with the heads of EU
nations about their agro-ecology, anti-pesticide and anti-biotechnology
policies, funding practices and import restrictions toward Africa – which are
an undeniable crime
against humanity. Finally, he could direct the Treasury Department and
Internal Revenue Service to review (and terminate) the tax-exempt status of
organizations and foundations engaged in lethal, eco-imperialistic lies and pressure
campaigns in Africa, Asia and South America.
The locust plagues, starvation and deaths from readily
preventable diseases like malaria must end – now. The poorest people in these impoverished
countries should not be the ones paying the price, too often with their lives. This
president is one of the very few politicians who could make these changes happen.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee
For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of Eco-Imperialism:
Green power-black death, and articles on environmental and human rights issues.