5.3. 3:DDT

May 4th, 2013

In 1962 Rachel Carson published “A Silent Spring”. The book is often seen as the kick start of the modern environmental movement. But why was it so important. A Silent Spring dealt with the problems associated with the large scale use of the pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane).

DDT is a broad spectrum insecticide that was widely used in the 1950s and 60s to control not only crop pests but disease carrying insects, particularly in the 3rd world. Typhus carrying lice and malaria mosquitoes were all controlled with DDT.

Following the publication of Silent Spring, the Stockholm Convention (1972) imposed an international ban on the agricultural use of DDT but not on its use for disease control.

The argument for and against banning DDT.

While DDT has been banned for agricultural use for a long time there is still pressure from both sides of the argument.

A total ban on the use of DDT

Remove the ban on DDT for agricultural use.

Those that argue to ban DDT altogether point to evidence that the use of DDT even for disease control is not needed as alternative pest control exists. They highlight the links between the continued use of DDT and its effect on premature birth rates and low birth weight as well as a animal infant brain development.

This is compounded by the ecological effects that Rachel Carson highlighted. The effects of bioaccumulation within the food chain and the limited research on DDT bioaccumulation in human tissue.

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