“‘Silent Spring’ measures the extent of the chemical industry’s victory over environmental science”

meSixty years ago, on September 27, 1962, the American publisher Houghton Mifflin published one of the most important books of the 20th century.me century. silent springof Rachel Carson, was already in everyone’s conversation because, throughout the summer, the New Yorker had begun to offer its readers, in the form of a serial, the premiere of its seventeen chapters. Thus, when the volume was officially published, a fierce battle for influence and containment of public debate had already begun. Sensing that the moment was decisive, and that here the conditions of its survival were at stake, around this book, the chemical industry put all its forces into it.

silent spring He denounced the environmental devastation and the health risks generated by the massive, indiscriminate and systematic use of synthetic pesticides in agriculture and many other activities.

Selling half a million copies in its first year, the book launched the modern environmental movement. Very few texts can boast of having weighed so much, and above all in such a positive way, in the course of things. Consider that the expression ” Protect the environment “so common to our ears, it did not begin to spread in all English-language written sources (novels, diaries, reviews and periodicals, essays, scientific texts, etc.) digitized by Google until the 1960s.

The great victory of the American biologist is also, of course, the prohibition of the famous insecticide DDT in its most massive uses (agriculture, breeding, etc.).

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Rachel Carson, pioneer of political ecology and “first great whistleblower”

Yet with six decades of hindsight, there is little doubt that the chemical industry globally emerged as the victor in the battle waged in the spring of 1962. To understand this, it is not enough to point out that input-driven industrial agriculture still owns of the globe, that all the prohibited molecules are immediately replaced by others many times more problematic, that the intensity of their use continues to increase, or that the bulk of public subsidies to agriculture continue to fuel this spiral.

To understand and measure the extent of the defeat, it is necessary to read or reread silent spring, recently reissued in France by Wildproject editions. Because to reread Rachel Carson today is to understand that all the knowledge necessary to act against the massive, systematic and indiscriminate use of products destined to destroy life was already firmly established sixty years ago. Change the name of the products: the book could have been written yesterday.

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