The EU's Nasty Bite
Effective malaria control relies on insecticides, many of which are derived from commercial agricultural insecticides. If these insecticides are banned in the EU, it is unlikely they will continue to be manufactured for public health uses, as there is almost no profit to be found there. Insecticide supplies will fall and prices will rise, leaving millions at greater risk of malaria.
Over one million people die from malaria every year, mainly in the world’s poorest countries.
The new legislation could also prevent people in poor countries from using EU-banned insecticides. In 2005 the EU threatened to impose trade restrictions on Uganda if it used the insecticide DDT for malaria control, which is banned in the EU. Uganda’s economic reliance on agricultural exports to the EU meant it was compelled to sacrifice one of the most effective methods of malaria control, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths. The same will occur for the new banned insecticides, directly undermining the EU’s support for the Millennium Development Goals – one of which is to halt and reverse the incidence of malaria by 2015.
160 scientists and malaria experts from around the world have already signed a petition urging the EU to re-think the legislation. Signatories include Prof Sir Richard Feachem, former head of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Prof Sir David King, former Chief Scientist to the UK government, and Prof Paul Reiter, a medical entomologist who has advised the World Health Organization and US governments on insect-born diseases.
Prof Paul Reiter, a specialist on vector-born diseases and an adviser to the report said: “It is unclear whether this new legislation can improve health or the environment in the EU. What is certain is that the health of millions who suffer—and die—from malaria and other insect-borne diseases in Less Developed countries will be seriously compromised if invaluable insecticides are banned from the market.”
Philip Stevens, Director of the Campaign for Fighting Diseases and report co-author said: “The EU makes much of its self-proclaimed status as the ‘the world’s largest donor of official development assistance’. It seems perverse in the extreme that it may enforce new regulations that will inflict unnecessary disease and suffering on millions.”