In his Oct. 10 op-ed column, "Look Who's Ignoring Science Now," Sebastian Mallaby suggested that European regulations are to blame for the misery in Uganda and other malaria-stricken nations. The facts testify otherwise.

The European Union has no objection to the safe spraying of houses with DDT for malaria control, but it does have concerns about illegal agricultural uses. The E.U., like the United States and 149 other countries that signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001, believes that the use of DDT in agriculture should be phased out.

Nations have the right to use DDT for public health protection, and the convention includes an exemption to allow such uses. It even sets out conditions for the safe use of DDT in malaria control -- a use unlikely to leave residues in crops.

It is up to Uganda how to fight malaria, and DDT is one tool in that fight. The European Union continues to assist Uganda and other affected countries in efforts to combat malaria and contributes almost $100 million to this cause annually.

Health protection should not, however, provide an alibi for illegal use in agriculture. The European Union has granted $30 million to developing countries to strengthen infrastructures and encourage the sharing of best practices -- a program singled out for praise by the World Bank.



E.U. Commission Delegation



Sebastian Mallaby advocated wider use of dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) against malaria. But Mr. Mallaby did not mention recent epidemiological findings that greater use of DDT could lead to more low-birth-weight newborns, which could contribute to the deaths of as many African babies as the use of DDT might save.

Because children make up a significant portion of the malaria-infected population, we need to focus on less harmful ways of protecting them.


Executive Director

Rachel Carson Council

Silver Spring


Sebastian Mallaby failed to acknowledge the peer-reviewed scientific literature that highlights risks of people's exposure to DDT. Those risks include impaired fertility, birth defects, infant mortality because of shortened lactation periods, preterm birth and spontaneous miscarriage.

The science on DDT is complex, with many dimensions. It is anything but the black-and-white case that Mr. Mallaby presented.