It is Rachel Carson's great achievement and claim have her book listed among the 100 most important books of the 20th Century by the New York Times. Silent Spring was a manifesto warning about the deadly effects of DDT, a pesticide widely sprayed to kill mosquitoes, on plant and animal life, which Carson claimed had caused irrevocable harm producing cancer and genetic defects, and that it had damaged the world food supply. Forty years after the publication of Silent Spring, its findings are largely dismissed by scientists. As Todd Seavey of the American Council on Health and Science has noted:
No DDT-related human fatalities or chronic illnesses have ever been recorded, even among the DDT-soaked workers in anti-malarial programs or among prisoners who were fed DDT as volunteer test subjects -- let alone among the 600 million to 1 billion who lived in repeatedly-sprayed dwellings at the height of the substance's use. The only recorded cases of DDT poisoning were from massive accidental or suicidal ingestions, and even in these cases, it was probably the kerosene solvent rather than the DDT itself that caused illness. Reports of injury to birds could not be verified, even when one researcher force-fed DDT-laced worms to baby robins. Reports of fish kills have been greatly exaggerated, resulting from faulty data or aberrant, massive spills or overuse of the chemical that do not hint at a general danger in its use.
Despite these facts, Carson's book produced a wave of anti-DDT sentiment so strong that the Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT use in the United States and any nation receiving American foreign aid. The administrator who made the ruling had not attended the DDT hearings, overruling the judge who had attended and did not support the ban.
Before the appearance of Silent Spring, the use of DDT pesticides had eradicated malaria worldwide. Four decades later, the ban has resulted in a pan-African genocide. Two-to-three million people die needlessly from malaria every year, all of them in Third World countries most in the Indian subcontinent and Africa...
57 Varieties of Radical Causes
By ACSH Staff — September 17, 2004
By ACSH Staff