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Nobel laureate roots for research

mumbai Updated: Feb 05, 2010 01:08 IST
Neha Bhayana
Neha Bhayana
Hindustan Times
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The US government had banned DDT, a synthetic pesticide used to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes, in 1972 because of allegations that it could harm the ecology and human health.

Environmentalists hailed the decision.

But Jean Marie Lehn, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry 1987, begs to differ.

The French professor believes that the DDT ban is an example of “irrational” opposition to anything that is a product of
science, not nature.

“After governments stopped spraying DDT, there was a dramatic resurgence in malaria cases around the world. More than 3,000 African children were dying of malaria every day,” he said. “One needs to evaluate the risks versus the benefits rather than just opposing it.”

Lehn was talking on the importance of science, innovation and research at the Observer Research Foundation, a city-based think-tank, on Thursday.

He stressed on the importance of scientific research saying that we cannot “close the door to the future”.

“To stop scientific research is to deprive one of the possibilities of development. We cannot do that to our descendants,” he said.

Lehn said science promises us a complete understanding of the universe, transformation of living and non-living beings, better control over disease, aging and evolution. “Science also provides us knowledge that is transformed into technology, which gives us new freedoms.”

Lehn said science education must be a priority in all countries as it will cultivate the minds of the future inventors and discoverers. “The most important impact that science can have on society is to promote a scientific, rational approach to life,” he said.