Pesticide Activism: Fifty Years of Panic and Propaganda

For the past half century, society has been repeatedly misled by activist-orchestrated campaigns on the supposed environmental impact of chemicals in general and pesticides in particular. Starting with erroneous accusations against DDT leveled by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book Silent Spring and continuing today with claims that the herbicide atrazine harms frogs or that minute traces of chemicals pose significant health risks, the news media have demonstrated an astonishing resistance to facts and science in favor of the grand simplistic narratives advanced by groups whose primary goal is the banning of chemicals.

The lamentable result of this toxic journalism can be counted in the millions of needless malaria dead, billions of preventable illnesses, and untold increases in consumer costs that society has incurred over the past half century.

The Pesticide Activism: Fifty Years of Panic and Propaganda report details the long history of toxic journalism, the new and historical facts and science the media ignore in propping up “the grand narrative,”  and why this problem is likely to get worse. That is why this issue needs to be addressed as society grapples with the growing human health and welfare challenges in a more crowded and resource-limited world of the 21st century.

This report was prompted by several recent developments:

  • The move to/toward “precaution-based” regulatory regimes in several key economic regions, especially Europe
  • Increasing political agitation for enacting such “precaution-based” regulations here in the U.S., often based on the “grand narrative” advanced by activist groups
  • The ongoing, accelerated re-review of atrazine’s safety by the U.S. EPA that appears to be politically, rather than scientifically driven
  • The recent publication of a thorough and compelling history of DDT and the toxic journalism that convinced the public it was a dire threat to wildlife (and, possibly mankind) in spite of facts and reality
  • The discovery of a revealing 1945 letter by Rachel Carson that exposes her inclination to believe the worst about pesticides.

Full report is available here.