News / USA

'Silent Spring' Turns Fifty

Silent Spring Turns 50i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Zulima Palacio
September 04, 2012 2:34 PM
Rachel Carson wrote and published Silent Spring 50 years ago. Carson was ahead of her time. She said pesticides like DDT were damaging the environment and human health. Although the book became an inspiration for the environmental movement, the battle for the environment continues. VOA Zulima Palacio has this report.
Zulima Palacio
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson wrote and published Silent Spring. Carson was ahead of her time. She said pesticides like DDT were damaging the environment and human health. Although the book became an inspiration for the environmental movement, the battle for the environment continues.

In the 1950s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was spraying more than a quarter-million kilograms of pesticides each year. Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, revealed that pesticides like DDT were lethal not only for insects but for all living things.   

Silent Spring essentially told the reading public that human beings could alter the natural world in ways that were quite deadly and that it could be potentially lethal to human beings as well as to other parts of the natural world,” said Linda Lear, the author of a biography on Carson.

More than six million copies of the book have been sold in the U.S. It's been translated into some 30 languages.

In the Washington suburbs, the house where Carson wrote Silent Spring is now a National Historic Landmark.

Carson was a pathbreaker.

“In Silent Spring, she is writing in a voice that I call apocalyptic writing," added Linda Lear. "She is trying to sound an alarm to get our attention.”
 
Thirty years after Silent Spring was published, public television, in its program The American Experience, called the book one of the most important of our time.

But there were dissenters. Norman Borlaug, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner, led the defense of pesticides.

“We’re having troubles now feeding this hungry world," said Borlaug. "If you remove DDT with the hysteria that is present in the USA, the U.S. will be importing food, only there won’t be any place from where to import it.”

By 1972, DDT was banned for agricultural use in the U.S. But thousands of new chemicals were being developed.

For years, the U.S. Senate's Committee on the Environment has been trying to ban or control hundreds of chemicals from agricultural products and consumer goods.

"This committee heard from CDC [Centers for Disease Control] officials who told us their scientists found 212 industrial chemicals, including six carcinogens, coursing through Americans’ bodies," said Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg.

In 2006, the World Health Organization announced plans to use DDT again - indoors - in its campaign against malaria.

Syngenta is a major producer of agricultural chemicals. Like others in the industry, it says its chemicals are safe if used properly.
 
"We try to do every single study that is necessary to support the safety characteristics of the product." said Tim Pastoor, the company's principal scientist.

Fifty years after Silent Spring, millions of kilograms of new pesticides and other chemicals are being sprayed across US farmlands. And the environmental movement is still fighting back.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid