What Will Our Descendants Say About the Earth We Leave Behind? Part I.

“ In effect, then, to establish tolerances is to authorize contamination of public food supplies with poisonous chemicals in order that the farmer and the processor may enjoy the benefit of cheaper production—then to penalize the consumer by taxing him to maintain a policing agency to make certain that he shall not get a lethal dose. But to do the policing job properly would cost money beyond any legislator’s courage to appropriate, given the present volume and toxicity of agricultural chemicals. So in the end the luckless consumer pays his taxes but gets his poisons regardless.”                                   ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962

Modern pesticides and herbicides emerged post World War II, many designed for warfare, their toxicity tested on insects. Those chemicals that killed insects were marketed as a means to increase agricultural production. “Feed the Hungry” was the mantra. Early chemicals introduced in the 1940s, including DDT, diedrin and related aldrin, eldrin, heptoclor/chlordane, 2-4-D (dioxin), were declared the answer to an ever-increasing number of destructive insects and weeds taking a toll on agriculture. When insects developed resistance, chemicals far more toxic than their predecessors were synthesized, marketed and spread throughout the world, but nowhere more than the US. The toxicity of these chemicals was only understood over decades. Dead birds and fish, eggs that failed to hatch, illness in workers employed in chemical production and town residents exposed to chemicals dumped in their water and soil.  Continue reading “What Will Our Descendants Say About the Earth We Leave Behind? Part I.”