Final Opinion Paper
Should DDT Be Banned Worldwide?
First synthesized in 1874, DDT's insecticidal properties were not discovered until 1939. In the second half of World War II, it was used with great effect among both military and civilian populations to control mosquitoes spreading malaria and lice transmitting typhus, resulting in dramatic reductions in the incidence of both diseases. The Swiss chemist Hermann Müller of Geigy Pharmaceutical was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948 "for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods. After the war, DDT was made available for use as an agricultural insecticide, and soon its production and use skyrocketed.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s DDT was extensivly used by the Allied powers to control typhus nearly eliminating the disease in the western parts of Europe. In 1955 the world health organization comercialized a program that was designed to target and destroy the disease malaria, The program relied heavily on the insectisidal properties of DDT. At the beginnings of the program is was sucessful in elimintaing the disease in much of the carribean and the balkans and a large part of northern africa. However resistance soon emerged in many insect populations as a consequence of widespread agricultural use of DDT. In many areas, early victories against malaria were partially or completely reversed, and in some cases rates of transmission even increased. The program was successful in eliminating malaria only in areas with "high socio-economic status, well-organized healthcare systems, and relatively less intensive or seasonal malaria transmission". DDT was less effective in tropical regions due to the continuous life cycle of mosquitoes and poor infrastructure. It was not pursued at all in sub-Saharan Africa due to these perceived difficulties, with the result that mortality rates in the...