Date: October 31, 1992
EXPERTS REFUTE ANTI-ENVIRONMENTALIST’S CHARGES
Jim Woolf THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
Chuck Diaz claims 8 million people die from malaria each year because of lies about the dangers of the pesticide DDT perpetrated by the “environmental-extremist movement.” Mr. Diaz, editor of an opinionated Arizona-based publication named Speak Up America, argued Friday in an interview that America’s 1972 ban on the use of DDT has left the world unable to control the mosquitoes that carry malaria and allowed a resurgence in the deadly disease.
Many of the statements made by Mr. Diaz were refuted by federal experts on pesticides and malaria.
Mr. Diaz contends there is no scientific evidence that DDT is dangerous to either humans or wildlife.
“The environmental movement has, and is, killing more people a year than any war in the history of mankind,” said Mr. Diaz.
Mr. Diaz will be one of the speakers at Saturday’s session of the BlueRibbon Coalition conference being held at the University Park Hotel in Salt Lake City. The coalition is an Idaho-based group fighting to keep public lands open for such things as off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and mining. Many of the coalition’s members are openly hostile to the nation’s large environmental groups.
Joel Breman, deputy chief of the malaria branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said malaria kills between 1.5 million and 2 million people each year, not the 8 million claimed by Mr. Diaz.
There has been no surge in the number of malaria cases in the United States since DDT was outlawed, said Mr. Breman. An average of 1,000 cases are reported annually. Virtually all of these are in people who were infected while traveling outside the country.
Ed Stearns, a pesticide expert for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Denver, disputed the claim that environmental activists set his agency’s policy on DDT or any other substance.
“EPA doesn’t make its decisions by popular vote of the environmental community. All of our actions are subject to peer review by scientific advisory boards and published for public comment.”
Both Mr. Breman and Mr. Stearns agreed there is little proof that DDT causes health problems in humans, but numerous studies have linked this chemical to reproductive problems in birds and other types of wildlife. DDT was blamed for the near extinction of the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and brown pelican.
DDT isn’t the only issue that bothers Mr. Diaz.
He also dismisses concern about global warming, the ozone hole, acid rain, and the dangers of asbestos.
(c) 1992 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.