Virtually everyone involved in the desert locust control program in Africa would agree that the approach to limiting the damage caused by this wily and explosively multiplying pest needs continual reexamination {news story, Aug. 2}. However, The Post's Aug. 11 editorial "Locusts: A Revisionist View" goes much too far in characterizing the Office of Science and Technology's report as a "scientific inquiry," implying that the OTA's conclusions are valid and unassailable. As the report is careful to point out, evidence is lacking for many of these conclusions. Post readers should also know that the report is not an accurate reflection of the on-the-ground experience and judgment of many of those experts in the United States who know the desert locust best.

Desert locusts are a serious, if cyclical, problem. Our approach to controlling them without undue harm to the environment can be improved with newly available technology and increasing understanding of the economic and social factors involved. To do this, however, we need dispassionate, genuinely scientific inquiry -- not Monday-morning armchair quarterbacking from the ivory tower.


The writer was director of the Agency for International Development's Desert Locust Task Force from June 1988 to July 1989.