Does the United States produce and export the chemical DDT? Does DDT show up on imported produce?
Mike Kuprijanow Arlington, VA All uses of DDT in the United States were eliminated on January 1, 1973, after the pesticide was found to be a carcinogen. Many other countries, though, still use the chemical. According to Adam Kirshner of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), the World Health Organization (WHO) still supports the use of DDT to fight mosquitoes carrying malaria, and Mexico currently follows this practice. Although spraying DDT on produce is illegal in Mexico, evidence exists that it still makes its way onto farmland and crops there. The United States still exports the pesticide to a number of countries, although somewhat covertly. PAN reports that between 1992 and 1994, 25 million pounds of chemicals banned in the U.S. were exported. Of that, 74 percent was exported without the chemical name listed on shipping logs; descriptions included “pesticide,” “weed-killing compound” and “organophosphorous pesticide.” The government does spot testing for illegal pesticides on importe