How much do you really know about pesticides?      Part 1




  1. We all have heard about Rachel Carson and her brilliant 1964 book, Silent Spring, about the harmful effects of pesticides and especially DDT. Did the bestselling Silent Spring change anything?


  1. Has there been a lot less use of pesticides since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring over 50 years ago?


  1. What didn’t Rachel Carson see would happen in her Silent Spring?


  1. Rachel Carson hoped to change our use of synthetic pesticides. Is there likely to be a decreased or increased use of pesticides in the future?





  1. Answer – Not right away. It took 10 years for the government to stop DDT manufacturing for United States use. Chemical companies kept manufacturing DDT for overseas use, however. Yet public attitudes began to change and many took a serious look at chemical and synthetic pesticides.


  1. Answer – For the first 10 years following the publication of Silent Spring in 1964, pesticide use about doubled from 540 million pounds in 1964 to 1.25 billion tons in 1995, according to EPA estimates. The EPA also estimates that use for the last year it has figures declined to about 1.1 billion pounds in 2007 – ten years ago.


  1.  Answer – Rachel Carson could not have foreseen the increased use of genetically engineered crops that include pesticides that are not counted in the EPA pesticide estimates.


  1. Answer -Since more and more pests and insects as well as weeds are becoming resistant to genetically incorporated pesticides, it is likely that more powerful chemical pesticides will be created and manufactured to kill these resistant pests, insects, and weeds. Furthermore, given the current head of the EPA and President Trump’s ongoing campaign to cancel programs that ensured clean water, a clean environment, and food that hasn’t been chemically tainted, it is likely that the environment that Rachel Carson loved and wrote about so well, will become more and more like that she warned us against.

These questions and answers are substantially modified from Sharon Tisher’s brilliant, “A Pesticides Quiz and Primer: 2017 Update”, that appeared in the Maine Farmers and Growers Association Bulletin.

Material used with permission.