Before the Congress left for Memorial Day recess, Dr. Coburn announced his intention to oppose unanimous passage of two bills intended to honor Rachel Carson on the 100th anniversary of her birth (one bill to name a post office after her in Pennsylvania, and a resolution honoring her). Carson was the author of the now-debunked Silent Spring, a book that was the catalyst in the deadly worldwide stigmatization against insecticides, especially DDT. DDT (sprayed in small, diluted amounts on the inside of houses) is the cheapest and most effective insecticide in the world for use in mosquito control. Mosquito bites lead to 500 million cases of malaria a year, 1-2 million of which are fatal. The majority of deaths are in tiny children and pregnant moms in Africa. The United States and western European countries all used DDT in the mid-20th century to eliminate malaria from their territories, but then banned the substance for use by poor countries today to combat their number one health threat.
Although the Stockholm Convention of 2000 (the international meeting that banned DDT) allowed for the use of DDT to fight public health threats, the stigma towards the chemical had by that time almost entirely eliminated its use. President Bush's new Malaria Initiative and the World Health Organization are now actively promoting DDT and other insecticides to save Africans from malaria.
Dr. Coburn opposes these measures honoring Carson because one tragic aspect of Carson’s legacy is that unscientific DDT policies have led to, and continue to lead to, millions of preventable deaths in malaria-stricken countries.
Click here to read more about why Rachel Carson's science was wrong.
Click here to read more about Dr. Coburn's efforts to reform and oversee federally funded global malaria control programs.
Update: Click here to read a letter Dr. Coburn sent on June 5, 2007, to Rep. Altmire (D-Pennsylvania) regarding the Rachel Carson Post Office Naming Bill.
Update: Ugandan Health Minister makes impassioned plea in Wall Street Journal to reject Rachel Carson and bring DDT to Africa.