“If we are going to live so intimately with these chemicals—eating and drinking them, taking them into the very marrow of our bones—we had better know something about their nature and their power.”
— Rachel Carson
Sixty years ago, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring burst into the world: First serialized in The New Yorker in the summer of 1962, the book was published later that same year and rocketed to the bestseller list. Silent Spring is a beautifully written, carefully crafted tale of the toxic toll of pesticides, alarming millions about the threats of pesticides, particularly the insecticide DDT.
President Kennedy was so impacted by its message that a congressional hearing was held, where Carson spoke passionately just months before her own death from cancer. The book sparked organizing that would result in the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, a movement for organic food that would eventually lead to the creation of the National Organic Program at the USDA—and so much more.
The book would also spark the kind of industry backlash we have seen from other sectors all too often: chemical companies like Monsanto, threatened by Carson’s powerful voice, trying to undermine her credibility and destroy her reputation, much of it targeting her as a woman.
For this anniversary year, we at Real Food Media reached out to partners across the food movement, both inside the United States and beyond, to help us honor this incredible legacy with a series of articles and events. This year also marks the publication of a new report, Merchants of Poison: How Monsanto Sold the World on a Toxic Pesticide, penned by our colleague Stacy Malkan with editing support from Anna and Dr. Kendra Klein from Friends of the Earth (watch for its release next month!). The report pulls together findings from thousands of pages of internal corporate documents to paint a case study on disinformation, corrupted science, and manufactured doubt about glyphosate.
In community and solidarity,
Anna, Christina, Tiffani, and Tanya
Featured image by levinajuli