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Silent Spring
Silent Spring
by Linda J. Lear
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.68
300 used & new from $5.06

62 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important read!!, October 9, 2003
This review is from: Silent Spring (Paperback)
As an entomologist I would like to clarify what I have seen in some of the prior reviews. I would also like future readers of this book to understand that it was written in 1962. It's important to understand what Rachel Carson's book was trying to do. She had to make an impact to millions of readers, and do so in layman's terms. That was a near insurmountable task, especially the way in which women in science were treated during that era.
I do agree with others in that some of her statements are based on shaky evidence. However, I don't agree that see is responsible for thousands of deaths due to malaria. Diseases have existed for THOUSANDS OF YEARS, and all animals have had to deal with it, including humans. For example, humans with sickle cell anemia are immune to malaria.
It is easy for someone in America to say that DDT should not be used in Africa to fight disease, because we don't have to deal with the thousands of people dying every day. Perhaps DDT can be used in more precise applications to cut down on mosquitos (which are the vectors or carriers of the disease). However, malaria and other autochthonous diseases in Africa can be dealt with by means other than DDT, and thanks to Rachel Carson, funding for research into areas such as creating transgenic mosquitos is a reality. Someday we may have the ability to eraticate malaria, and credit would undoubted have to partly go to her.
The issue of the safety of DDT has been mentioned in many of these reviews, and the truth is NO ONE IS RIGHT! There has been almost no testing into the safety of DDT, so it's impossible for anyone to say that it's safe or dangerous (to humans). A famous toxicologist once said, "The poison is the dose". The big problem with DDT is that it biomagnifies and is fat soluble; in other words gets easily passed through the food chain and increases consequently in concentration while been stored in fats. So basically, that "dose" increases and increases and can more easily damage organisms. But again, not a lot of scientific research has been done in this subject, so I wouldn't say anything about DDT other than a my own hypothesis.
In summary, read this book, its a little dry, overstates its point, but it changed the world's perspective on pesticides.
If you want to see a good reference on insecticides look for:
Pedigo, L. P. 2002. Entomology & Pest Management, 4th edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. xxii + 742 pp.
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