“Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ Fails Test of Time” (New York Times verdict in 2007)

From MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — May 17, 2023

“Carson used dubious statistics and anecdotes to warn of a cancer epidemic that never came to pass. She rightly noted threats to some birds, like eagles and other raptors, but she wildly imagined a mass ‘biocide.’ She warned that one of the most common American birds, the robin, was ‘on the verge of extinction’ – an especially odd claim given the large numbers of robins recorded in Audubon bird counts before her book.” (John Tierney, New York Times column, June 5, 2007)

Little remembered, the “newspaper of record,” as the New York Times was once known, frankly presented the scientific misconduct and false alarms of the iconic Rachel Carson (d. 1964) fifteen years ago. Still, Carson promoters invoke her memory today in regard to the the climate debate. Physician Hope Ferdowsian recently wrote in the Harvard Public Health:

Sixty years later, the book’s lessons are more relevant than ever…. Rachel Carson might not have known how much climate change would become a defining crisis of our time when she penned Silent Spring. But the combination of her logic and reverence for the natural world offers an example of how we can sustainably address the deepest roots of disease and reframe how we approach the health of the planet, animals, and ourselves. 

Has Ferdowsian done her homework on Carson’s book? Did she even want to? Here is the John Tierney column’s true-up, “Carson’s “Silent Spring” fails test of time.”

For Rachel Carson admirers, it has not been a silent spring. They have been celebrating the centennial of her birthday with paeans to her saintliness. A new generation is reading her book in school – and mostly learning the wrong lesson from it.

If students are going to read “Silent Spring” in science classes, I wish it were paired with another work from that same year, 1962, titled “Chemicals and Pests.” It was a review of “Silent Spring” in the journal Science written by I.L. Baldwin, a professor of agricultural bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin.

He did not have Carson’s literary flair, but his science has held up much better. He did not make Carson’s fundamental mistake, which is evident in the opening sentence of her book:

“There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings,” she wrote, extolling the peace that had reigned “since the first settlers raised their houses.” Lately, though, a “strange blight” had cast an “evil spell” that killed the flora and fauna, sickened humans and “silenced the rebirth of new life.”

This “Fable for Tomorrow,” as she called it, set the tone for the hodgepodge of science and junk science in the rest of the book. Nature was good; traditional agriculture was all right; modern pesticides were an unprecedented evil. It was a Disneyfied version of Eden.

Carson used dubious statistics and anecdotes to warn of a cancer epidemic that never came to pass. She rightly noted threats to some birds, like eagles and other raptors, but she wildly imagined a mass “biocide.” She warned that one of the most common American birds, the robin, was “on the verge of extinction” – an especially odd claim given the large numbers of robins recorded in Audubon bird counts before her book.

Carson’s many defenders, ecologists as well as other scientists, often excuse her errors by pointing to the primitive state of environmental and cancer research in her day. They argue that she got the big picture right: Without her passion and pioneering work, people would not have recognized the perils of pesticides.

But those arguments are hard to square with Baldwin’s review. He led a committee at the National Academy of Sciences studying the impact of pesticides on wildlife. In his review, he praised Carson’s literary skills and her desire to protect nature. But, he wrote, “Mankind has been engaged in the process of upsetting the balance of nature since the dawn of civilization.”

While Carson imagined life in harmony before DDT, Baldwin saw that civilization depended on farmers and doctors fighting “an unrelenting war” against insects, parasites and disease. He complained that “Silent Spring” was not a scientific balancing of costs and benefits but rather a “prosecuting attorney’s impassioned plea for action.”

Carson presented DDT as a dangerous human carcinogen, but Baldwin said the question was open and noted that most scientists “feel that the danger of damage is slight.” He acknowledged that pesticides were sometimes badly misused, but he also quoted an adage: “There are no harmless chemicals, only harmless use of chemicals.”

Carson considered new chemicals to be inherently different. “For the first time in the history of the world,” she wrote, “every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.”

She briefly acknowledged that nature manufactured its own carcinogens, but she said they were “few in number and they belong to that ancient array of forces to which life has been accustomed from the beginning.” The new pesticides, by contrast, were “elixirs of death” for which there was “no ‘safe’ dose.”

She cited scary figures showing a recent rise in deaths from cancer, but she did not consider one of the chief causes: fewer people were dying young from other diseases (including the malaria that persisted in the American South until DDT). When that longevity factor as well as the impact of smoking are removed, the cancer death rate was falling in the decade before “Silent Spring,” and it kept falling in the rest of the century.

Why were not all of the new poisons killing people? An important clue emerged in the 1980s when the biochemist Bruce Ames tested thousands of chemicals and found that natural compounds were as likely to be carcinogenic as synthetic ones.

Ames found that 99.99 percent of the carcinogens in our diet were natural, which does not mean that we are being poisoned by the natural pesticides in spinach and lettuce. We ingest most carcinogens, natural or synthetic, in such small quantities that they do not hurt us.

Dosage matters, not whether a chemical is natural, just as Baldwin realized.

But scientists like him were no match for Carson’s rhetoric. DDT became taboo even though there was no evidence that it was carcinogenic (and subsequent studies repeatedly failed to prove harm to humans).

It is often asserted that the severe restrictions on DDT and other pesticides were justified in rich countries like America simply to protect wildlife. But even that is debatable (see www.tierneylab.com), and in any case, the chemophobia inspired by Carson’s book has been harmful in various ways. The obsession with eliminating minute risks from synthetic chemicals has wasted vast sums of money: environmental experts say the billions spent cleaning up Superfund sites would be better spent on more serious dangers.

The human costs have been horrific in the poor countries where malaria returned after DDT spraying was abandoned. Malariologists have made a little headway recently in restoring this weapon against the disease, but they have had to fight against Carson’s disciples, who still divide the world into good and bad chemicals, with DDT in their fearsome “dirty dozen.”

Carson did not urge an outright ban on DDT, but she tried to downplay its effectiveness against malaria and refused to acknowledge what it had accomplished. As Baldwin wrote, “No estimates are made of the countless lives that have been saved because of the destruction of insect vectors of disease.” He predicted correctly that people in poor countries would suffer from hunger and disease if they were denied the pesticides that had enabled wealthy nations to increase food production and eliminate scourges.

But Baldwin did make one mistake. After expressing the hope “that someone with Rachel Carson’s ability will write a companion volume dramatizing the improvements in human health and welfare derived from the use of pesticides,” he predicted that “such a story would be far more dramatic than the one told by Ms. Carson in ‘Silent Spring.’ “

That never happened, and I cannot imagine any writer turning such good news into a story more dramatic than Carson’s apocalypse in Eden.

The New York Times a decade later would publish an op-ed by Carson apologist Clyde Haberman (January 22, 2017), Rachel Carson, DDT and the Fight Against Malaria, but the John Tierney column above stands as a fair verdict of no-nonsense science.

For a more recent critical assessment, see “Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson” (Reassessing environmentalism’s fateful turn from science to advocacy), published at MasterResource in September 2012.  Roger Meiners et al. concluded:

Carson made little effort to provide a balanced perspective and consistently ignored key evidence that would have contradicted her work. Thus, while the book provided a range of notable ideas, a number of Carson’s major arguments rested on what can only be described as deliberate ignorance.

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Nick Stokes
May 17, 2023 10:08 pm

but he also quoted an adage: “There are no harmless chemicals, only harmless use of chemicals.””

I’m still trying to work that one out.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 17, 2023 10:34 pm

So you think water does not kill? It can by drowning or over hydration.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Mark Luhman
May 17, 2023 10:36 pm

OK, is that harmless use of chemicals?

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 17, 2023 10:50 pm

Yes water is a chemical. Water is not harmless but necessary to life, so is arsenic we need small amounts to live, a large enough dose kills. Most food we eat is toxic, that why we have a liver. If you were to eat liver every day it may kill you by Vitamin A poisoning. One meal of polar bear live would be fatal for that reason. It is all in the dose.

Reply to  Mark Luhman
May 18, 2023 4:52 am

He gets worse. Irrelevant,boring but no longer entertaining as he used to be

George Daddis
Reply to  Mark Luhman
May 18, 2023 7:26 am

So you are saying that the NLT rule that Biden’s EPA is using for its latest fossil fuel restrictions is NOT hard and fast science?!? /sarc.

Martin Cornell
Reply to  George Daddis
May 18, 2023 6:41 pm

I believe its LNT, linear, no threshold.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mark Luhman
May 18, 2023 3:00 pm

All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison. —Paracelsus, 1538

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 9:48 am

Pits and seeds of common fruits, such as apricots, apples, and peaches, may have substantial amounts of cyanide-releasing chemicals, so people should avoid eating these pits and seeds to prevent accidental cyanide poisoning.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 3:35 pm

Are you trying to be funny? Or are you actually as clueless as you make yourself sound?

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2023 1:59 pm

Nick, I’m old enough to remember the city fogging of a mixture of fuel oil and DDT a few times each summer in all the streets of Winnipeg for about ten years. Also, chewing asphalt tar, gargling with iodine, wounds being treated with mercurichrome, melting lead in our furnace and playing with mercury. I’m 85 and still an active consulting engineer. Touch wood!

old cocky
Reply to  Mark Luhman
May 18, 2023 12:39 am

That dihydrogen monoxide is dangerous stuff – https://dhmo.org/facts.html

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 17, 2023 10:36 pm

Most people would interpret that as dosage. Overdoing water can be fatal. You couldn’t possibly be that thick.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
May 17, 2023 11:15 pm

Yes, but I think he meant harmful.

old cocky
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 12:47 am

Pretty much all chemicals can be harmful in certain circumstances, so there are no harmless chemicals. The trick is using them safely.

Over the counter Paracetamol packaging changes have recently restricted the amount of tablets in a pack for safety reasons – https://www.tga.gov.au/news/media-releases/tga-makes-interim-decision-reduce-maximum-paracetamol-pack-sizes

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 4:37 am

Nick, what you think he meant is irrelevant – it’s what he actually said.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 6:05 am

If it can kill you at a specified dose, it can be harmful, whether it is water, DDT, or blueberries.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 8:01 am

I think he meant harmful

I think that’s one of the nittiest nits I’ve seen you pick.

I propose a new term: Nick-picking.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 3:08 pm

Toxins are characterized by the LD50 (acute Lethal Dose for 50% of subjects). Even you should understand that if someone is one of the fortunate ones that doesn’t die from an LD50 exposure, they will have been very sick. I’d consider that being “harmed.”

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 3:37 pm

Are you actually trying to save yourself by arguing the difference between fatal and harmful?
It’s a continuous scale. Small levels harmless, perhaps even beneficial, medium levels harmful, large levels fatal.

Last edited 14 days ago by MarkW
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
May 18, 2023 1:43 am

“You couldn’t possibly be that thick.”

Oh yes he can; as Nick regularly demonstrates on WUWT.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  1saveenergy
May 18, 2023 5:10 am

as Nick constantly STOKES this site 🙂

Joao Martins
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
May 18, 2023 4:26 am

” Most people would interpret that as dosage ”

Yes, and very properly.

The effect of dosage was introduced in medicine by Paracelsus (1493-1591).

Reducing toxicology to a binary classification (“harmful”/”not harmful”, as is the practice of UN’s IARC; International Agency for Research on Cancer) is throwing science backwards to the 15th century, as we have seen with all the supersticious prectices, v.g. masks, in the last three years.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 17, 2023 10:39 pm

All chemicals can do harm; water will drown you. Don’t use a chemical until you know how to use it in a harmless manner. [But remember: Balance in all things; alarm is ruinous.]

Reply to  Dave Fair
May 18, 2023 12:13 am

In the olden days, people like me had to do several years of Uni before we were authorised to do certain things with chemicals.
In one lab I owned, we used about a litre a week of boiling, concentrated hydrofluoric acid to dissolve silicate rock minerals in Teflon flasks. It is a really dangerous substance. I have not tried it recently, but I doubt that the do-gooders would allow the sale of HF to just about everybody these days.
Professional chemists care, when they are now allowed.
Geoff S

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
May 18, 2023 3:13 pm

It doesn’t get much press, but there have been some horror stories about people in the semiconductor industry having fingers amputated, or even painfully dying, from the careless use of HF.

Reply to  Dave Fair
May 18, 2023 4:17 am

As any chemist will tell anyone, any and all matter in the universe consists of “chemicals”, or eventually transforms into chemicals. Even native elements in the right environments always end up bonding with other native elements, via the sharing of electrons, to form different chemicals. Atoms of different or the same elements join to become molecules, which are all chemicals. The only matter that lacks electrons which then form bonds with other elements to create “chemicals” are free nuclear particles such as neutrons, protons, and so forth.

Everything you touch, everything you see or smell or taste or interact with at all, including all animals, plants, rocks, etc. consists of chemicals. You consist of chemicals.

The word “chemical” has become a pejorative used by luddites, “naturalists” who are totally ignorant of chemistry, enviro wackos, ignorant government bureaucrats, warmunists, etc. etc. to distinguish between “good stuff” and “bad stuff”. With any stuff that is produced or used or just touched by mankind being the “bad stuff”, and anything you find laying around in the environment that is not manmade or touched by man being the “good stuff”.

It’s a religion and ignorance, not science, that drives the use of “chemical” as a pejorative.

Last edited 14 days ago by Duane
Reply to  Duane
May 18, 2023 8:31 am

Good write-up there. Just one thing from a Luddite: “Natural” substances have been around forever, the bad ones would have/ are hurting/ killing us, so only those immune the the “natural” stuff continued to live.
“Synthetic” substances have not been around forever, and as such, we do not know yet the long term effects of GMO, various pesticides, medications and treatments.
Last I checked, oncologists had the same success rate as priests. So did doing nothing…
Just because someone disagrees with your world view, does not make them ignorant religious atavists. And forgive my momma for talking about “chemicals” instead of memorising the unpronounceable name of every ingredient of the dreck on your shelf.

Last edited 14 days ago by cilo
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 3:31 pm

It is true that chemists have synthesized chemicals that are not found naturally, particularly those involving noble gases, like Teflon and various refrigerants. However, many industrial chemicals are simply the result of concentrating or manufacturing things that are found naturally. There is a wide tolerance to many chemicals, even those generally considered ‘toxic’ in small doses. That is why the LD50 designation is used. There seems to be genetic selection for tolerance to many chemicals that occur commonly in plants as deterrents to insects. Even so, there are still some individuals who are sensitive and are at risk for small doses, such as with peanuts. Chemists and chemical engineers typically have a shorter life expectancy (about 10 years as I recall). So, you are right that ‘new’ chemicals present some additional risk. Perhaps chemists should use more caution in handling of chemicals. However, something that needs to be kept in mind is that there are usually risks and benefits to everything that humans do. It is good to be aware of just what those are. Informed choice is preferred over unsupported assumptions. Perhaps being more conservative in the handling of industrial chemicals is advisable if an extra ten years is important.

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 3:42 pm

Since it’s impossible to do long term exposure studies without actual long term exposure, are you arguing that we should ban all chemicals that can’t be documented to have been on the planet for millions of years?

Meanwhile, out here in the real world, there is no such thing as perfect safety. Sane people do their best to balance acceptable risks with the benefits that come from engaging in those risks.

Ignoring the science and complaining about imagined risks makes one a ignorant religious atavist.

Last edited 14 days ago by MarkW
Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2023 12:55 am

I am not arguing nothing, I demand you stop the slow genocide, and PROVE your dreck safe before putting it in children’s bodies.
Now ya’ll gonna send me tales of the time some kid died after eating too many peaches or something…

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 12:16 am

Nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen (50:50) used as analgesic or anaesthetic. Nitrous oxide alone used to aerate cream. Nitrous oxide inhaled directly over a period of time can cause vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Diamorphine used as a powerful analgesic, too much can depress respiratory function. Also addictive as heroin. Originally used as a cough suppressant.
Same is true of all opioids.
Brazil nuts have high selenium content, a few a day won’t harm you but too many will.
Too much water can cause low sodium (hyponatraemia) that triggers seizures.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 12:39 am

I think its obviously true. In everyday life, working on modest amounts of cleaning and DIY, we are using chemicals which are definitely not harmless. Most products containing them come with strong label warnings about use. I am thinking bleach, solvent based paints, brush cleaners, glues, sink unblockers, rodent poisons. Even cement powder is by no means harmless. And then you have the weedkillers, still available over the counter in many varieties. Gasoline?

Yet these are all considered harmless enough in their standard uses, and with the prescribed precautions, to be for general sale. Its not that they are safe. Its that used according to directions and with appropriate precautions they are safe enough. DDT now seems to be increasingly regarded in the same light – I have read that its now cautiously being used against mosquitoes in the form of very low concentration impregnated screens.

It was probably wrong to do the large scale DDT spraying that was the practice in the 1950s, but not because DDT is a harmful chemical. Because that was a harmful use of it.

His point is epigrammatic but correct: don’t just ban chemicals in general. Ban uses of them and prescribe precautions for use and handling. And be specific about it. As we are with rodent poisons for instance. Some are only available to qualified professionals, some are available over the counter, and all come with very specific instructions on use precautions.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  michel
May 18, 2023 12:59 am

Warfarin is used as a rat killer. It’s also used as a blood thinner for people who had heart attacks.
Iron tablet supplements can be fatal if you overdo the dosage.

old cocky
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
May 18, 2023 1:17 am

Nitroglycerin is heart medication as well.

Reply to  old cocky
May 18, 2023 1:46 am

Don’t bang on about it !!!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  1saveenergy
May 18, 2023 3:33 pm

Don’t blow it out of proportion.

Reply to  old cocky
May 18, 2023 3:46 pm

Make sure to place it under the tongue. Don’t chew it.

old cocky
Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2023 4:01 pm

Maybe that’s where Jerry Lee Lewis got the idea for “Great Bals of Fire”

You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 1:09 am

me too = its the same sort of garbage as what the Emperor’s wearing today

3 significant problems being:

  1. In this context/story/discussion we are, are we not. talking about man-made/artificial substances that don’t occur naturally – and subdivided…
  2. ….are the manufactured chemicals beneficial = life-enhancing?
  3. ….are the manufactured chemicals intended to destroy life?

So straight away, anyone who goes off on a tangent, about e.g. water, is either dazzled by the Empoere’s attire or lying and trying to derail the discussion. Why?

my tangent = the anecdote about malaria in the American South.
Malaria is a human disease – mosquitoes are incidental and oblivious to it
Malaria is easy to keep away from – mosquitoes need stagnant water and are hopeless aviators

So, why did folks in the South get malaria and why did it ‘somehow go away’?

Firstly, they got malaria from each other because there were too many people crammed into a space/place they normally otherwise wouldn’t have gone.
Why Did They Do That? Is America not big enough?

Secondly, the malaria went away because the swamps, wetlands and peatbogs that the malaria vector (the mozzies) lived in & bred in were drained.
The mosquitoes were thus rendered extinct and the malaria went away.
No it didn’t – The Vector went away.
(Typical Modern Medicine also Climate Science = No actual cures, just ever more (numerous and expensive) sticking plasters)

Crunchtime: Because anybody with reasonably well-functioning human DNA/Genes inside them knows instinctively that Water Controls Weather. thus climate
Good grief, it is after all why nearly all large cities on this Earth are near the sea/ocean or on banks of large rivers.
(Is that not The Craziest Thing considering how hideously toxic water is?)

So, when the malaria went, that implied the water in the landscape went and thus the therm-regulatory effect of that water also went.

The disappearance of the mozzies and the malaria caused the observed climate change and continues to do so as ever more water is sucked out of ‘dry land’ and dumped/pumped into the ocean.
In microcosm, the disappearance of malaria in the Deep South explains Climate Change

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 18, 2023 3:36 pm

The invention and mass production of inexpensive window screens went a long ways towards the suppression of malaria in advanced countries.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 19, 2023 1:01 am

Nice one. Except your water cycle does not put enough blame on ill-planned urbanisation and the concomitant expanses of paving, causing the rampant flooding of habitats and draining reservoirs, which supplies so much ammo for the Thermageddonist sciencers.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 3:12 am

Nick Stokes is obviously unaware of the history of Vitamin D supplements used to prevent Ricketts before WW2.
Identified as an ailment caused by a lack of Vitamin D supplements were given to vulnerable groups, children in industrial towns, which reduced the problem However a small percentage, 10% I think, of the population couldn’t process the supplement and became ill and in many cases died from Vitamin D poisoning. The supplement was changed to solve the problem. Later research showed a genetic cause for the inability to process vitamin D supplements.

I read an article at the beginning of Covid when researching Vitamin D and resistance to infection which I now can’t find.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 4:10 am

How lame is your nitpicking going to get Nick?

Are you saying that the verb ‘are’ doesn’t agree in number with the subject ‘use’, so that he should have said:

There are no harmless chemicals. There is only the harmless use of chemicals.

Don’t you realize that by incessantly nitpicking at the most irrelevant points you are effectively endorsing articles by certifying that everything of substance is accurate?

Reply to  Rich Davis
May 18, 2023 4:48 am

Shush, don’t stop him. We need our amusements.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 4:35 am

As any actual scientist who deals with chemistry as well as with exposure to energy fields, or disease-causing biologic substances, the old saying is “the dose makes the response”.

Toxicologists and nuclear health science professionals all understand that for exposure to any substance, any at all, there is a non-zero “Y” axis intersection with the zero point of the X axis of the dose-response curve. Governmental bureaucrats often argue that the dose response curve begins at the origin, not somewhere up the Y axis – which means that any non-zero dose causes a non-zero response … but that is just politics, not science.

The reality is that virtually all exposures, whether to molecules of any chemical (i.e., any matter), or to ionizing energy radiation, has a threshold value of exposure that causes no measurable response. That applies to both “dangerous” chemicals (i.e., chemicals that cause a large response with a relatively small dose), life forms including microbiological species, as well as to ordinary compounds we have all around us all the time naturally, such as water, wood, dirt, songbirds, enterobacteria, viruses, etc.

For example, a virologist would say that a “normal” healthy human being carries at any given time approximately 380 million virus particles, in non-harmful loads. But as virologists, physicians, and now – post COVID – ordinary people realize that relatively small numbers of certain viruses can cause serious disease. With some viral diseases, it may take only 18 particles to cause an infection, and others may require tens of thousands of particles to cause an infection. But there is clearly a non-zero threshold exposure for just about any “dangerous” substance.

Last edited 14 days ago by Duane
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 5:58 am

Nick, here’s one for you:
Roundup is sprayed onto land before planting, to kill weeds. Let us assume there is no residue taken up by the crop (a blatant lie) that would constitute “harmless use of chemicals”. I repeat that Roundup is not harmless, but I defer to your expert judgement here…
Now, mister Stokes, we wait for the crop to mature, then, as the first grains ripen, you spray the entire crop with Roundup. Once everything is dead, you harvest, sell, process and feed to our children.
THAT, Nick, is when the use is no longer harmless. Even if that harmful chemical was made harmless by time and decomposition, they soon found a way to prevent harmlessness.
When machinery takes the jobs of humans, who takes care of the things humans need to be well? A machine feels nothing for feeling well, and it never has to eat the dreck it produces

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 7:24 am

Cilo, can you please tell us what residues of Glyphosate (Roundup) are left in the soil or the crop? I only ask because I want to know (and, of cause, like any sensible person, I don’t trust Monsanto (or any seller) to tell us).

Reply to  Disputin
May 18, 2023 8:05 am

Sure, Dispy, but to make sure you don’t twist the story later, please supply me with the complete list of ingredients for Roundup. In particular I would like us to agree on the names of those constituents (45?) of which a senior member of Monsatano laughingly, with a snigger, a smile and a dismissive wave of the hand, said: “Glyphosate? There’s stuff a thousand times more poisonous in there”.
While I wait for your list, I shall also do your homework, and trawl the net for simple articles you cannot possibly misunderstand by accident and partisan bias.

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 8:36 am

You really need to check that hostility, cilo. It doesn’t help your cause.

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 11:23 am

I’m sorry, clio, I was very idle. I’m currently looking up myself. Sorry to bother you.

Reply to  Disputin
May 19, 2023 1:46 am

Sorry for being abrupt, but everyone keeps trying to change the topic by talking about glyphosate. I never mentioned glyphosate per se. As one court said when refusing to accept clinical data against Aspartame: “No other substance has been so widely tested…” and used that to pretend it was tested as safe, even though the majority of studies found a negative impact on everyone but the rats in Searl’s laboratory. Same with Roundup; they cut the tumors from rats, and put them back into the study. One of their rats died and came back to life multiple times, if you can believe their lab notes…
…and I find it weird that nobody seems to go past the first page of google (or even still use them biased goggles), but then again, that’s where they found all the data for “safe and effective” too.
But this very protracted and slightly abusive comment thread has motivated me to publish a go-to resources page on my own site. Give me a while, I’ll need to find and strip some hard drives from old computers to find all that data again.

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 3:49 pm

In other words, you have no idea whether RoundUp is dangerous or not, you are just convinced that all chemicals must be bad.

old cocky
Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 4:05 pm

Monsatano laughingly, with a snigger, a smile and a dismissive wave of the hand, said: “Glyphosate? There’s stuff a thousand times more poisonous in there”.

Roundup is a registered brand name for glyphosate.

“stuff a thousand times more deadly” in where?

Are you talking about the miscibility agents? Something else?

Last edited 14 days ago by old cocky
Reply to  old cocky
May 19, 2023 1:11 am

Roundup is a registered brand name for glyphosate

Nope, glyphosate is but one of about 45 ingredients in Roundup. You get many other brand names using glyphos.
The scam is similar to the one used for Aspartame:
They have plenty studies that exonerate (yeah right) glyphos, so they got it approved. The formulation for Roundupo is registered with only one “active ingredient”, namely glyphosate, and ignore the ingredients “a thousand times more toxic”. Voilá, the profits are rolling in so fast, they can afford to corrupt most any court, government agency and the entire food chain. And, seemingly, otherwise intelligent people’s world view.
All hail Monsatano!

old cocky
Reply to  cilo
May 19, 2023 1:55 am
Last edited 13 days ago by old cocky
Reply to  old cocky
May 19, 2023 3:41 am

I opened your link. Thanks
I see that everyone on this thread keeps yammering about glyphosate, I know all the arguments, I also see all the propaganda, now answer me on the other 40-odd ingredients.
…but so far THAT issue is studiously avoided by people hell-bent on protecting their own viewpoint… which was given to them by the same people who gave us “you’re killing granma by hugging her”.
But I know glyphos must be majikal stuff; it has been found in various vaccines.
Just to stir the pot even more:
I blame Coca Cola. It is through their sterling and worldwide efforts, that you are allowed to keep your ingredients secret. Monsatano just took advantage of an already corrupted judiciary.

Last edited 13 days ago by cilo
old cocky
Reply to  cilo
May 19, 2023 4:06 am

Monsanto patented glyphosate as a herbicide and marketed it as Roundup. They got in first, so Roundup was the only glyphosate herbicide on the market until the patent expired, and Monsanto priced accordingly (i.e. they charged like a wounded bull)
As a result, “roundup” tends to be used as a generic term, just like Panadol for paracetamol and Aspirin for acetyl salicylic acid.

I have absolutely no doubt that Roundup has other constituents such as miscible oil, dispersants, wetting agents, etc to allow it to be used in boom sprays.
All the other glyphosate products have similar requirements for spray use, hence similar additives. Prices for all of them, including Roundup, are now similar.

If Monsanto had any superior herbicides in Roundup, they would have patented them to gain exclusive rights (and charge like a wounded bull)

Reply to  Disputin
May 18, 2023 12:53 pm

You don’t have to be a Monsanto employee to acknowledge that glyphosate is not a long term agent in soil, with hundreds of studies confirming its “half life” of about 47 days. It degrades over time via bacterial action, and within about 6 months at recommended application rates, it is no longer of any effect on weeds or other plants.

There are indeed other organic chemical agents used in defoliation, such as “agent orange”, one of whose unintended contaminants was dioxin which is very persistent in the environment and in human tissue. Dioxin remains effective in soils for decades, and also builds up in human tissue where it also can cause serious health effects. PCBs are also persistent over decades.

Last edited 14 days ago by Duane
Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 10:03 am

Do you eat asparagus? Growing it without chemicals is a lesson in labour. It is only commercially available because glyphosate is used preemergence and seed inhibitors to prevent weed infestation. I did not see any recently in the “organic” section.

Reply to  Fran
May 19, 2023 1:24 am

…asparagus… is only commercially available because glyphosate…

Ah, progress!
So, if it was not for the invention of glyphosate, humankind would never have discovered the joys of asparagus. I retract all my opposition to hormone disruptors in our food chain….
One could not possibly envision a society where we pay people to walk around looking after crops, you are so right.

old cocky
Reply to  cilo
May 19, 2023 2:05 am

Well, there’s a black mark against glyphosate. If it is needed for Brussels sprouts as well, it is definitely dodgy.

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 3:49 pm

The mere fact that scientists can’t find the dangers that your religious convictions have convinced you must be there, is enough to prove that nobody cares as much as you do?

Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2023 1:27 am

The mere fact that you throw religion at an acoitheist tells me you have no real trust in your own “science”.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 9:40 am

wow Nick I am certain that if you agree politically with people you are not nearly this obtuse you do yourself no good by being so incredibly and willfully dense

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 3:34 pm

Not hard, when your goal is to understand, rather than find something to criticize.

Try another, the dose makes the poison.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 18, 2023 5:03 pm

Let us know when you get it.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 19, 2023 1:59 pm

Everything can be poison. The dose makes the poison.

Tom Halla
May 17, 2023 10:26 pm

The L-NT model was the Green hobbyhorse, along with the notion that feeding rodents a near toxic dose of the tested chemical can be a reliable test of whether that chemical causes cancer in humans at lower doses. The major issue became that there were no negative results, only a lack of evidence thus far as to carcinogenesis.
That eventually went away generally, but California’s Proposition 65 fossilizes that episode.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 18, 2023 7:30 am

Remember, there is such a phenomenon as hormesis.

“Hormesis is a dose–response phenomenon, characterized by a low-dose response that is opposite in effect to that seen at high doses.”

Reply to  Disputin
May 18, 2023 10:27 am

Why then do people in higher than average radiation areas, ones that would exceed the NRC limits, live longer and have a lower probability of acquiring cancer? Denver, areas in the US with large areas of Granite exposed and homes built just above unexposed Granite, and NE Iran, and etc. Why do MASSIVE doses of radiation not make the cancer worse? Is the body intelligent enough to know what is happening?

P.S. doctors have recently written a paper on the fact that DNA has learned to repair the DNA structure. To learn how to do this the DNA had to practice and learn how. this repair is applicable to both chemical or radation caused problems.

Last edited 14 days ago by usurbrain
Reply to  usurbrain
May 18, 2023 11:25 am

That’s what I said – hormesis.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 18, 2023 10:20 am

The Three Mile Island accident also proved that designing and instructing operations around “Worst Case” scenarios was not good practice. Before TMI they designed to cope with smallest and largest pipe failure. They had tested PWR with a failure of the smallest pipe, to see if it was noticeable and proper actions would be taken, and the largest pipe. However the failure of a valve to close on a 4 inch pipe presented conditions that acted slowly and were providing information the operators were not trained on or could determine by their training. LNT for chemicals and Radiation provide the same confusing symptoms and results.
For example, A person eating a banana, avocado, and other foods high in phosphate – (needed and essential for your body) every day receives a higher dose of radiation than allowed by Current and Past NRC regulations. Every time I had a “Whole Body Count” while working at a NPP, I immediately got two questions after the reading was too high “Were you in the radiation area recently?” [NO] then “Do you eat bananas? [One every day] The response was “Thats good” and “Don’t stop eating bananas!”.

John V. Wright
May 17, 2023 10:53 pm

Yeah, yeah, yeah but – did it SELL?

Coeur de Lion
May 17, 2023 11:53 pm

Did she kill more people than Mao TseTung?

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
May 18, 2023 10:13 am

I assume you mean indirectly. If so, then yes. Probably more than Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, and a certain German who I shall not name, all put together.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
May 18, 2023 10:34 am

It, logically, is in the Millions.

May 18, 2023 12:07 am

The impending epidemic that Carson imagined in her bird story was matched by a seldom-remembered scare about a forthcoming USA cancer wave in humans from the use of manufactured chemicals. The story is described in minute, referenced detail with original quotes by Edith Efron “The Apocalyptics.” (1983). In 587 paperback pages, Efron invites ridicule of dozens of senior, white-coated influence spreaders and medical scientists trying to frighten the US population with tall tales and false.
It is well worth a read alongside “Silent Spring” and various IPCC reports
because the scare methodology described by Efron has much in common. The
chemical cancer scare has not appeared, nor have its related predictions come
true in the 40 years after.
Those opposed to the Climate Change scenario can learn much from The Apocalyptics because the scare campaign came to an end. Look for the markers of defeat in the cancer
scare, then contrast them with the present stage of the climate scare. Learn to look for how the scare was defeated once before.
While I have never been able to read more than a few dozen pages by Carson at a
time, I have read the whole 587 pages from Efron several times. So, I have not
dealt with direct Carson quotes here.
A single page 10 from Efron’s intro is attached here as a taster.
comment image
Geoff S

May 18, 2023 12:29 am

If only they would go silent…

May 18, 2023 12:52 am

Dosage is one of those things that stares everyone in the face every time they board an aircraft. No, you cannot fly wearing your dosimeter. But, You can become a believer in homeopathic cures where dosage is ignored entirely. On the other hand, you can also enjoy your fugu, just keep track of how much.

May 18, 2023 3:04 am

The DDT ban has killed almost as many people as Marxism!

Reply to  zzebowa
May 18, 2023 10:19 am

Perhaps more.

Ben Vorlich
May 18, 2023 4:32 am

Carson was mention in some TV drama that was on while I was doing something else the other day. Can’t remember what I was doing or the programme, but it made me stop for ten seconds. I didn’t know that her book was still in use to such an extent

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
May 18, 2023 6:56 am

Was it “Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1993, PBS American Experience)”

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  _Jim
May 18, 2023 12:52 pm

No it was in the dialogue of something my wife was watching, probably BBC or ITV (commercial channels)

May 18, 2023 5:50 am

…will write a companion volume dramatizing the improvements in human health and welfare derived from the use of pesticides,…That never happened…

In all fairness, that book is written and rewritten every day, even on this site. Oh, the invective I have personally endured for insulting the agrichemistrologists! My poor heart palpitates!
So, what is that newly-approved hormone disruptor called again? Chloroparquat, was it? Stops growth just before sexual maturity? Gotta have some for my daughter, so glad it will be all over the OatyWheats, eh what?
Our problem is not with the birds and bees, it is with a future without anyone to explain the birds and bees to, because they have all been chemically neutered.
I agree the “activists” are grazy idjits, but remember: The truth of a statement has absolutely no relation to the intelligence of the one making the statement, the town idiot can tell if the sun shines.
Just because an idiot is complaining about our poisoned food chain, it does not mean there is no poison. As with oil, banning engines is stupid, but certainly we can run them a bit cleaner? Imagine the amount of city smog that would disappear, if we kept heavy vehicles out of commuting traffic. A free and easy solution that will be fought tooth and nail by people who insist their bricks arrive at eight o’clock sharp. Ten thousand people’s lives put at risk for two hours, because someone’s too stupidly self-important to collect at six. Or ten. Now we have to kill all personal transport for cleaner air.
Yes, yes, I know it’s about preventing personal travel, not pollution…

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 7:05 am

re: “As with oil, banning engines is stupid, but certainly we can run them a bit cleaner? Imagine the amount of city smog that would disappear,”

Well, there’s a point too, where one realizes the point of diminishing returns has been met. Take a look at the progress made in the Los Angeles Basin regard ‘smog’ for instance … at one time ‘draft tubes’ were used before the advent of the PVC (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) system and ‘valving’ came about as an example of early emissions controls.

Reply to  _Jim
May 18, 2023 8:21 am

The point of diminishing returns? Where do you reach that point, just counting the cost of wasted fuel idling in traffic while three trucks are negotiating a busy intersection at peak hour? Now count the cost in upkeep, pollution, health, quality of living, and all the lives lost because someone lost his temper in a jam caused by unnecessary presence of freight vehicles that could have waited an hour to use the road?
The only point of diminishing returns we need to consider, is how long exactly the truck ban lasts, to get people safe to work without causing idle time on the road the trucks could use.

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 8:26 am


Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 3:57 pm

In other words, in your world, there is no such thing as clean enough, and you don’t care how much other people have to suffer in order to enforce your vision of nirvana on them.

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 5:21 pm

In other words … you are on the spectrum, and susceptible to road rage.

Last edited 14 days ago by DonM
Reply to  _Jim
May 18, 2023 3:56 pm

In most cities, the air coming out of cars is cleaner than the air going in.
Some people live their lives in fear of everything unseen and not understood.
The rest of us just get on with our lives.

Reply to  cilo
May 18, 2023 3:55 pm

If you are going to live your life convinced that everything new is bad, then expect ridicule.

Mr Ed
May 18, 2023 8:36 am

I recall being introduced to the Silent Spring in grade school. Then the Population Bomb
in High School. I joined the Navy after High School during the draft lottery period
to avoid being drafted into the army due to my low number. My first 90 days aboard
my assigned ship was in the boiler room which was getting an overhaul. I later was
informed that I was exposed to a high level of asbestos. I did avoid direct exposure
to Agent Orange but some of the crew was exposed while running up a river
inserting some Seals and later extracting them. They were surveilling a trail
then directing heavy gun fire.
I used some of my GI bill at a trade school and was given a part time job after school at a local Fort where I processed medical records. There was a lot of Agent Orange cases even at that time, some were generational eg. the children of exposed Vets. Agent Orange
and it’s impacts is very real.

My chosen line of work is an independent Ag producer, a farmer/rancher. I’ve been exposed
to a good amount of different chemicals over the years. I spent yesterday afternoon
spraying and will be very busy for the next several months with spraying. PPE is
very important. I know several guys that died of cancer that they blamed on weed
spray exposure. My navy GQ/battlestation assignment was a deck gun and I remember how
I used to get a taste in my mouth from the burnt powder. Sometimes I get that taste
while spraying, It’s only when working on rough ground
on a atv where the spray nozzle is close by and only with MIlestone…that’s the only
flashback I’ve gotten but its a strange experience.

Organo-phosphates are among the most dangerous chemicals I’ve used,
that would be the same class of DDT, but would not want to be without it. The
factory farms that produce the majority of our food rely heavily on on
different chemicals. I suspect that a good number of the foreign
men coming across the border will be around those situations at some point.

I know things in that world but will not share them here but will say that big Ag
and chemicals is not always a perfect situation but a trade off.

May 18, 2023 9:56 am

I grew up with DDT sprayed on the indoor walls. Me and 5 siblings still here.

In respect to birds, when we moved here 11 years ago, there were many small birds including swifts nesting under the eaves. They are mostly gone due to a murder of crows in one band of trees to the south, and an undkindness of ravens in the trees to the north. Now only doves and robins. During migration seasons, there are many birds.

May 18, 2023 11:00 am

Grew up in the 50’s and every week, except in winter, the DDT truck drove down the street and my brothers and sister ran behind it to the end of the block. We spent summers on the farm with my grand father and did the same thing. Every time we got a new pair of shoes we would take turns looking at our feet in the foot X-Ray machine – more than 10 minutes each! We are all now in our eighties and NONE of us has or had any cancer of any type. I spent 20 years in the Navy on a Nuclear submarine and another 40 years working at Nuclear power plants. I was even at TMI when the accident happened and received almost full dose limit for 3 months. AND NO CANCER.
There are too many Anti-Advancement Activists spreading Bovine Excrement thick enough to end mankind with too many lemmings following them as if they were a prophet or disciple of their religion/ideology/dogma.

May 18, 2023 12:19 pm

The worries about DDT causing egg shells of predatory birds to become so thin that the eggs break before the baby bird is ready to hatch is probably a matter of dosage. If DDT was fairly new in the 1950’s, farmers probably did not know the optimum dosage to spray on their farms to kill bugs but not harm birds, so that they over-sprayed, and used more DDT than was needed to kill the pests.

Instead of a knee-jerk reaction of banning DDT entirely, the better reaction would be to perform experiments to find the minimum dosage of DDT needed to effectively kill pests, which would thereby minimize the damage to birds’ egg shells.

The fact that malaria made a comeback in some countries after they banned DDT reminds me of another knee-jerk reaction in recent years. Some countries where malaria is prevalent have routinely used hydroxychloroquine, which is relatively inexpensive, as both a preventive and curative response to outbreaks of malaria, and it was noted that countries prone to malaria which used hydroxychloroquine had relatively low incidence of Covid-19, which led some doctors to believe that hydroxychloroquine would be effective against Covid-19. It was later found out that a combination of hydroxychloroquine and zinc (used to lessen the symptoms of the common cold, also caused by a coronovirus) is a very effective treatment against Covid-19, and this was distributed at about $2 per cure to most people in India.

But in April 2020, when then-President Trump suggested that people take hydroxychloroquine to prevent or cure Covid-19, he was ridiculed, and once-plentiful hydroxychloroquine was banned from the US market. Big Pharma couldn’t let a cheap old drug (which had been used for over 50 years) stop the spread of Covid-19–it had to be demonized as giving people heart attacks, so that Big Pharma could sell their remdesivir at $3,000 per dose, or their later vaccines which later DID cause heart attacks in many young men.

But to people in tropical areas, they are willing to take a slight risk of a heart attack (with hydroxychloroquine) in order to survive an outbreak of malaria, or accept a few less birds in order to save their crops with DDT.

More than 60 years after Rachel Carson’s book, there are more eagles now than then, and the biggest eagle killers are wind turbines. One more disaster prediction that never happened.

Reply to  SteveZ56
May 18, 2023 4:02 pm

The so called science that correlated DDT with the thinning of egg shells is almost as bad as the science behind global warming.

They took a flock of chickens, fed them a diet deficient in calcium, put them in a hot, noisy room. Oh yea, they also fed them some DDT.

When the eggs were laid and the shells were thin, they declared that the DDT must have done it.

old cocky
Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2023 4:20 pm

They took a flock of chickens, fed them a diet deficient in calcium, put them in a hot, noisy room. Oh yea, they also fed them some DDT.

The mind boggles 🙁

John Hultquist
May 18, 2023 1:53 pm

I would have preferred reading about the good or bad info in the book and its author. Instead, I get a lot of “water can kill” and seeds that should not be eaten.
This misdirection happened because a person named Nick doesn’t like the wording used by a person named Baldwin who is reported to not have Carson’s literary flair.
Maybe the next post will be treated better. 😒

Reply to  John Hultquist
May 18, 2023 4:04 pm

Perhaps, instead of complaining about the failure of others to behave as you think they should, you could set an example by engaging in the type of behavior that you wish others would.
BTW, I notice that less than half the posts on this article are in response to Nick.

Each post has a line under it, hover your mouse near the right end of that line. You will see an up arrow inside a circle. That button allows you to hide all the responses to a post.
Could I suggest you use that button to hide the stuff you don’t want to see, instead of whining about people who talk about things you aren’t interested in?

Last edited 14 days ago by MarkW
Gary Pate
May 18, 2023 6:53 pm

It’s entirely possible her book caused more deaths of humans than Stalin & Mao combined…

May 21, 2023 12:27 pm

As usual in any societal screwup, there are 2 actors to blame: the instigator/activist and then the government that succumbs.

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