May 8, 2006

Tanzania Reverses Ban on DDT

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania is lifting a 2004 ban on the pesticide DDT so it can be used to fight mosquitoes carrying malaria in the east African nation.

Tanzania had signed up to an international treaty -- known as the Stockholm Convention -- which seeks to outlaw the use of dangerous industrial chemicals dubbed the "dirty dozen" and blamed for deaths, cancer or birth defects.

DDT, while covered by the convention, is exempted when used for disease control.

Health Minister David Mwakyusa said Tanzania was reversing the prohibition because malaria, which is one of Africa's biggest killers, was claiming so many lives.

"We have been forced to reconsider the use of the DDT to try to save the lives of our people," he said at the weekend.

A malaria expert in Dar es Salaam, who asked not to be named, expressed concern at the decision to re-introduce DDT.

"This should not have been rushed ... we need to look into the pro and cons very closely," he told Reuters.

"DDT is one of the scientific inventions that has caused health and environmental havoc."