On Rachel Carson’s birthday

Researchers Rachel Carson and Bob Hines, 1952

Rachel Carson, the American scientist and environmentalist who wrote the classic Silent Spring, was born 107 years ago today. Charles Mandel, who reported on Carson’s life and the impact she made, writes:

I believe if she were still alive, she’d be singularly unimpressed with the progress – or lack thereof.

Governments are still wrestling over bans to cosmetic pesticides. When Manitoba enacts a ban in 2015, it will bring to six the number of Canadian provinces shunning the use of such products. It seems like a hard-won, slow process overall. More contentious still is the controversy over pesticide-coated corn and soybean seeds, which are being blamed for the demise of bees. Europe has banned the use of neonic pesticides, but according to the CBC, Bayer CropScience – the company that developed the seed – and Health Canada maintain proper planting practices minimize risk to the bees. 

Twelve years ago, Edmund O. Wilson wrote in the afterword to a new edition of a book about Carson that if she were alive she would have given America a mixed-grade.

These days I suggest the writer and environmentalist would be less generous given all the time we’ve had to correct the errors of the past.

Read Mandel’s archived story, Pesticides prevail decades after Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” here. (Public access) 

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