Monday, June 04, 2012

Silent Spring: Landmark book on environmental pollution turns 50

Rachel Carson’s work is widely credited for launching the modern environmental movement

Pesticide spraying could harm more than weeds,
book author warned.
When Silent Spring was published five decades ago, it was met with a public outcry of immense proportions and spawned action on a variety of environmental concerns.

The book forced readers to take a close look at what was being done to animals, human health and the environment.

Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting industry claims uncritically.

The book exposed the effects of pesticides on the environment and fueled public opposition against those chemicals hazards, eventually leading to a ban on DDT in 1972 in the U.S.

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was a marine biologist and conservationist, who became interested in the effects of extensive pesticide spraying after a friend described the death of birds around her property because of DDT that was being sprayed to kill mosquitoes.

She was worried also about human exposure, since many chemicals and pesticides can be stored in the body or end up in the food chain.

While there was a lot of support, there were also many critics of the book, who say that some of her conclusions were incorrect or exaggerated.

But studies continue to show the harmful effects of pesticides, including a possible link to the mysterious death of bees.

Source: Haaretz

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