If an environmental organization wants to protect the human health, its priorities should be first established. The biggest threats come from smoking cigarettes, alcohol, or drug abuse. Instead of that, and as a consequence of Rachel Carson's book of 1962, Silent Spring, the main environmental groups are worried by inexistent problems of pesticide residues in food, when the truth is that pesticide use increases the supply at lower costs of fruits and vegetables that are a guarantee of a better health. The book Silent Spring presents a picture so dramatically contrary to scientific facts, in a such an eloquent and persuasive way, and so permanently influential, that its impact is difficult to overestimate.
During the 20th Century life expectancy in the USA has increased in a sustained way from 49 years in 1900 to 75 years in 1983. Part of this increase is due to the use of pesticides because they destro-yed arthropods vectors of diseases as malaria. These diseases had kept the so called “nature's balan-ce” by killing millions of people. In India, R. Pal reported in 1962 that since 1953 147 million pounds of DDT had been used, plus small amounts of benzene hexachloride and dieldrin.  Pal estimated that during those nine years life expectancy in India had increased from 32 to 47 years, and during the same period malaria was reduced from 75 million cases to less than 5 millions. At the same time, one region that had been abandoned by their population because of malaria, “had become a beautiful and prosper area.” As S.W. Simmons, head of the Centre of Transmissible Diseases technological branch of the US Public Health Service, back in 1959: 
“DDT's total value for mankind is invaluable. Most people in the world has received benefits from it, either directly by protection from infectious diseases transmitted by insects and plagues, or indirectly because a better nutrition, cleaner and healthier foods, and an increased resistance to diseases. The discovery of DDT will stay for ever as an historical event I the field of public health and agriculture.”
“Once upon a time there was a city in the heart of the USA where all life seemed to go along in harmony with its surroundings. The city was in the middle of a check board of prosper farms with grain fields and hills of orchards where in spring white clouds wandered above the green fields. In the fall, oaks, maples, and birch trees used to put a flame of colour that burned and scintillated along a background of pines. Then, fox barked in the hills and deer crossed the fields, half hidden in the morning mist of autumn.
Along the roads, laurels, evergreen and alders, big ferns and wild flowers made the joy for the traveller's eye along most part of the year. Even in the winter roadsides were beautiful places where countless birds cam to eat berries and the seeds of dry weeds emerging from the snow. The fields were famous for the abundance and variety of their birds, and when swarm of migrating flowed there during spring and fall, people travelled from big distances to watch them. Others came to fish in their creeks where trout were waiting. It was tah way during many years, when the first settlers built their homes, dug their wells and erected their barns.
This beautiful picture of the past, “when all life seemed to go along in harmony with its surroundings” is an illusion. Life is a constant struggle for existence and survival against Nature. Grain fields were kept only by means of the fight against weeds, caterpillars, rats, fungus diseases and droughts, as every farmer knows. Orchards needed to be sprayed against moth, medfly and plagues. The most abundant birds were, and still are, starlings, house sparrows and blackbirds, that lunged over crops. The “first settlers” were riddled with sickness. The typhoid fever bacterium was often found in drinking water. Other lethal diseases were common; one has only to examine the tombstones in an old cemetery to realize that. In no place in his book Carson mentions the scientific breakthroughs against contagious diseases. Silent Spring keeps saying (pp. 13-14):
Then a strange pest abated over the area and everything started to change. Somo curse had befallen on the community: mysterious sicknesses swept away chicken flocks; cattle and sheep got sick and died. Everywhere was the shadow of death. Farmers talked about many sicknesses in their families. In the city doctors were every day more puzzled by new kind of diseases appearing in their patients. There were some unexplained sudden deaths, not only among adults but also I children that were suddenly attacked while playing and died in a few hours.
There was a strange quietness. Birds, for example, -where had they go? Many were talking about it, puzzled and troubled. Feeding stations in backyards were deserted. The few birds seen were all dying; they only trembled violently and couldn't fly. It was a voiceless spring. In the mornings that once palpitated with the morning song of robins, screaming ouzels, doves, grackles, wrens and many other birdsongs, now had no sound at all; just the silence extending over the fields, forests and swamps.
In the farms, hen hatched eggs but no chick were born. Farmers complained that they could not raise pigs –the broods were small and the young survived for just a few days. Apple trees were blooming, but there was no bees flying among their flowers, so there was no po-llination and there wouldn't be fruits. Roadsides, once so attractive, were now full of brown and dry vegetation as if the fire had passed over there. Roads were also deserted; lifeless. Creeks were now dead. Fishermen didn't visit them because all fish were already dead. In the roof gutters under the porches and between tiles in the roof, there were patches of a white powder that could be seen; a granular and whitish powder that had fallen like snow on roofs and gardens, fields and creeks, some weeks ago. No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the renaissance of new life in this battered world. The people had done it themsel-ves. 
Carson's elaborate falsehood asserts that spreading the granular powder DDT produced an "evil spell" that brought the shadow of death everywhere: death to human beings, chickens, cattle and sheep, wild birds, bees, fish, and even roadside vegetation.
The facts are that for human beings, DDT was a major contributor to the population explosion.
Laying hens are resistant to DDT, and the hatchability of their eggs stays normal when the hens re-ceive 100 ppm (parts per million) DDT in their diet. Cattle and sheep are protected by DDT against disease-bearing lice, ticks, fleas, and blowfly strike. "Browned and withered vegetation" by the roadsides results from the use of herbicides to kill weeds. DDT is not an herbicide. The counts of most wild birds have increased during usage of DDT, and one species, the red-winged blackbird, has undergone a population explosion, perhaps because of the effects of DDT on avian malaria.
Honeybees are resistant to DDT, but are rapidly killed by substitute insecticides such as parathion and carbaryl. Many fish are so tolerant of DDT that they develop enormously high tissue levels with no apparent ill effect, as in Triana, Alabama, where DDT from a chemical production plant was in the river.
Why this barrage of lies by Carson? Why does she not mention malaria control and the consequent saving of 500 million human lives by DDT in the two decades before her book was published? Here are a few guesses.
First, only a "Big Lie" could harm the reputation of DDT. A discussion that included mention of DDT's benefits would not have "sold" Carson's book. Second is her use of the principle stated by Dr. Richard T. Rappolt, Sr. in 1969: "When you strike at a king, you must kill him."  Third, she hated science and technology. Fourth, and probably most important, Carson wanted to make a big name for herself by alarming the public.The publication of Silent Spring was a huge success. Practically no one questioned its veracity. Justi-ce William Douglas called it "the most important chronicle of this century for the human race"; "on every page the horror mounts," he said. Jacqueline Kennedy praised it from the White House.
More recently, Vice President Al Gore tells in his bookEarth in the Balance, how his mother impres-sed on her young son the importance of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Gore writes: "This nearly invisible poison, which had first been welcomed as a blessing, became for me a symbol of how carelessly our civilization could do harm to the world, almost without realizing its own power.... DDT can be ecologically dangerous even in tiny amounst". 
The present head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Carol Browner, said in a press release on April 26, 1994: "Thirty years ago, Rachel Carson warned of the dangers of pesti-cide residues on food. Since then, our use of pesticides has doubled".
But. it is the residues, not the use of pesticides, that might affect the public, and less than 0.5 percent of sampled foods violates federally allowed limits for pesticide residues in foods in Foods and Drug Administration studies from 1985 to 1991. 
After World War II, the achievements in pest and disease control resulting from the use of DDT were so extensive that a huge scientific literature built up on DDT and its benefits. In 1961, one year before publication of Silent Spring, large areas of Pennsylvania were sprayed with DDT, 1 pound per acre, for eradication of the gypsy moth. The Scranton Bird Club kept a close check, and not a single case of bird poisoning attributable to DDT was reported. Officials of the National Audubon Society were satisfied that no damage was done to bird life, including nesting birds. 
But this was the last time that any environmentalist organization made a factual and scientific eva-luation of a use of DDT. OnceSilent Spring was published, the campaign against pesticides became a "cash cow" and a recruiting aid for environmentalists. This fund-raising practice continues, as shown by the Alar apple scare in 1989, in which "a modest investment by Natural Resources Defen-se Council repaid itself manyfold in tremendous media exposure and substantial immediate reve-nue for future pesticide work," as described by the environmentalist publicist D. Fenton, who had planned the Alar media campaign. One can imagine what the "future pesticide work" will be.
Malaria is the single most important tropical disease and a major obstacle to the economic and social development of vast areas of the world today. In the early 1940s, before DDT was used to kill the anopheles mosquitos that spread malaria, 300 million people were striken with malaria and 3 million died every year. Thanks to the pesticide DDT, million of lives were saved in the years immediately following World War II, and it was expected that malaria would be brought under control.
The 1972 ban on DDT changed the course of the disease, and malaria cases began again to climb. Today, more than 270 million people worldwide are infected with malaria, with more than 100 million clinical new cases every year and millions of painful deaths, as the parasites injected with the mosquito saliva devour the victims red blood cells. Those who don't die have periodic acute attacks, are chronically weakened and prey to other diseases because of the malaria plasmodia parasitizing their livers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, these figures are very conservative.
DDT is the abbreviatian for IUPAC 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chloro-phenyl)ethane (C14H9CI3). It is a chlorinated hydrocarbon, produced from a combination of chloral and chlorobenzene. It is a contact insecticide, penetrating the external body surface (the cuticle) of the irisect to act as a nerve poison. It is so effective in malarial eradication programs because of its residual effects.
The most important metabolic product is DDE, short for Dichloro-Diphenyt-Ethane [llJPAC 1,1-dichloro-2,2- bis (p-chloro-phenyl) ethylene]. DDE is produced as DDT is dehydrochlorinated in insects, microorganisms, birds, fish, mammals, and dead organic matter DDE is the most persistent and widespread DDT residue because it is relatively inert. Most "DDT experiments" actually measu-re quantities of DDE, since DDT has such a short half-life, from hours to days in most species. DDT controls more than 20 serious human diseases, including bubonic plague, yellow fever, trypanoso-miasis, elephantiasis, and encephalitis. It greatly increases the production of food crops by killing insect pests. In underdeveloped countries as much as 40 percent of each crop is lost to insects. In the United States cotton, peanuts, and potatoes increased 60 to 119 percent when DDT was used, and the production of alfalfa seed increased from 300 to 600 percent.A 10-Year Campaign
The campaign against DDT launched by Silent Spring included public hearings. One accusation was that DDT would bring "death to the oceans." It was based on a 1968 note published by a founder of theEnvironmental Defense Fund (EDF), Charles F. Wurster, in Science magazine.  This note described the addition of graded amounts of an alcohol solution of DDT to cultu-res of marine algae in seawater, followed by estimating photosynthesis from radiolabeled carbon dioxide (14CO2) uptake. The addition of DDT ranged up to concentrations of 500 ppb (parts per billion) in the cultu-res, using the alcohol to force solution beyond the saturation point. The 14CO2 uptake was depressed at the higher concentrations, presumably because of the phytotoxicity of DDT.
The maximum natural solubility of DDT is 1.2 ppb in seawater and above this level it would be preci-pitated and adhere to the algae. No depression (on average) of photosynthesis was found at levels of 1 to 2 ppb.
It is surprising that Science, the weekly magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of science, permitted publication of such an ill-contrived experiment. Nevertheless, the publication was seized upon by biologist Paul Ehrlich, who used it to predict the "death of the oceans" in the following terms:
"The end of the ocean came late in the summer of 1979, and it came even more rapidly than the biologists had expected. There had been signs for more than a decade, commencing with the discovery of 1968 that DDT slows down photosynthesis in marine plant life. It was announced in a short paper in the technical journal, Science, but to ecologists it smacked of doomsday. They knew that all life in the sea depends on photosynthesis, the chemical process by which green plants bind the Sun's energy and make it available to living things. And they knew that DDT and similar chlorinated hydrocarbons had polluted the entire surface of the Earth, including the sea."
Ehrlich's declamations were echoed by U Thant in his capacity as head of the United Nations. Fears were expressed that DDT would bring an end to the world's supply ot oxygen by ending photosyn-thesis, when actually there are 60,000 mols of oxygen per square meter of the Earth's surface, com-pared with 8 mols per square meter produced annually by photosynthesis. Also, saturation of the oceans with DDT would require 1.2 x 1010 kilos of DDT an amount equal to more than 9,000 years of pre-Carson DDT production levels! And, as noted above, saturation would have no effect on photosynthesis by marine algae.
This is an example of the "science" used in the campaign to ban DDT.The Birds
Major emphasis in the campaign to ban DDT was given to its alleged effects on birds. In 1965, the same Charles F. Wurster observed a few dead robins in Hanover, New Hampshire, after the spraying of elm trees with DDT to save them from Dutch Elm Disease. He found a 70 percent decline in the resident population of 12 robins. He did not consider that some of the 8 missing robins might have left town, and in a statistical pipe-dream, he extrapolated the "70 percent decline" to a mortality of 350 to 400 birds in Hanover. This study launched Wurster's career as an expert on the effect of DDT in nontarget species. Wurster wrote in a 1969 article on DDT (Bioscience, Sept. 1969, Vol. 19):
"If the environmentalists win on DDT, they will achieve, and probably retain in other envi-ronmental issues, a level of authority they have never had before. In a sense, then, much more is at stake than DDT."
Let us consider the population biology of robins. They produce usually two broods of 4 to 5 offspring annually; so if 50 percent of the young survive to adulthood and there are 5 million robins in the United States (a very low estimate; the well-known authority on birds, Roger Tory Peterson, said in 1963 that the American robin is probably "North America's number one bird" in terms of numbers), there would be an annual increase of 11 million robins.  Obviously, the population must be kept in equilibrium by natural limitations, such as loss of habitat, competition for nesting sites, adequacy of food supply, territorial conquests, predation, and disease. If the population drops for some unusual reason, it moves back toward the equilibrium dictated by population biology.
What had DDT done to robins according to actual bird counts not according to Wurster or toSilent Spring, which claims on page 118 that the robin "is on the verge of extinction"? The available figures are in the table, which compares pre-DDT counts with those at the height of DDT usage. The table has been abbreviated, but no species have been omitted that showed a reduction per observer. The average total bird count per observer, including all species, was 1,480 in 1941 and 5,860 in 1960. Some of the decreased species, such as swans, geese, and ducks, are hunted, and bluebirds are known to be susceptible to cold winters.
The increase in swallows may be contrasted withSilent Spring, which says on page 111, "Swallows have been hard hit.... Our sky overhead was full of them only four years ago. Now we seldom see any." The "silence" in Silent Spring would have been broken by the vociferous chattering of black-birds, which increased by 39-fold, and starlings, which increased 11-fold. Starlings thrive, 8 million of them, in Fresno County, California, which uses more pesticides than any other county in the United States.
|AUDUBON SOCIETY CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT DATA 1941|
( 2,331 observers ), compared with 1960, ( 8,928 observers )
Species Count per observer Ratio
1941 1960 1960/1941
Source: "42nd Christmas Bird Count," Audubon Magazine, 1942; and "61st Christmas Bird Count," Audubon Field Notes 15, 1961.
I conclude that most birds can get along very well with DDT at its normal levels of use.There was no "silent spring."The EPA Hearings
The hearings lasted for seven months, during which 125 witnesses were heard and 9,362 pages of testimony were recorded. The Hearing Examiner issued his recommended findings, conclusions, and orders on April 25, 1972. His conclusions of law included." 
"DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man.... DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man.... The uses of DDT under the registrations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds, or other wildlife.... The adverse effect on beneficial animals from the use of DDT under the registrations involved here is not unreasonable on balance with its benefit.... There is a present need for the continued use of DDT for the essential uses defined in this case."
EPA Hearing Examiner Sweeney stated:
That showing has not been made.... Although it was not in issue here, there was ample evidence to indicate that DDT is not the sole offender in the family of pesticides; and that necessary replacements would in many cases have more deleterious effects than the harms allegedlv caused by DDT....
In my opinion, the evidence in this proceeding supports the conclusion that there is a present need for the essential uses of DDT; that efforts are being made to provide a satisfactory replacement for DDT; and that a co-operative program of surveillance and review can result in a continued lessening in the risks involved.
These pronouncements were greeted with hostility by The New York Times in an editorial on April 29, 1972, headlinedApologist for DDT." The Times wrote.": 
Mr. Sweeney had come to his task with no knowledge of pesticides, no understanding of environmental problems.... The hearing examiner has now issued the kind of report that deserves to carry very little weight with EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus [who] is in no way bound by the Sweeney recommendation. He can and surely will read the testimony for himself. The New York Times later described five scientists who pointed out that the Audubon bird counts had increased, per observer, during DDT usage as "paid liars." Such is the vehement prejudice of this newspaper against DDT. Chemical Week, May 10, 1972, took a more scientitic view of the issue.
The New York Times later described five scientists who pointed out that the Audubon bird counts had increased, per observer, during DDT usage as "paid liars." Such is the vehement prejudice of this newspaper against DDT. Chemical Week, May 10, 1972, took a more scientitic view of the issue.
Our hat is off to Mr. Sweeney for his wise and courageous decision based on evidence. He has renewed our faith that reason will ultimately prevail over emotionalism in shaping national environ-mental policy. But it's still much too early to claim a decisive victory for objectivity, even in the limi-ted matter at hand.... And industry has a right to expect that the verdict be free of political taint, even though this is an election year and millions of voters know and hate DDT. If Mr. Ruckelshaus and high-level Administration figures want a model of judiciousness for their environmental delibe-rations, we suggest they take inspiration from Mr. Sweeney.Scientific Evidence Ignored
EPA administrator Ruckelshaus, however, did not read the voluminous record of the EPA hearings on DDT. Instead, he unilaterally overturned the conclusions and findings of his own hearing exami-ner, rejected the scientific evidence presented at the hearings, and banned DDT on June 2, 1972, saying:"
"DDT is concentrated in organisms and transferred through food webs... the accumulation in the food chain and crop residues results in human exposure. Human beings store DDT. The above tacts constitute an unknown, unquantifiable risk to man and lower organisms."
"DDT is concentrated in organisms and transferred through food webs... the accumulation in the food chain and crop residues results in human exposure. Human beings store DDT. The above tacts constitute an unknown, unquantifiable risk to man and lower organisms."
"The direct ecological effect and the basis for the decision was its proven impact on the thickness of eggshells of raptors, birds such as the brown pelican and the peregrine falcon." [Emphasis added.]
The evidence for eggshell thinning in falcons and pelicans is questionable, but that is beside the point for Ruckelshaus. Moreover, the 1994 statement by Ruckelshaus is at odds with the text of his 1972 ban. One wonders whether he even read his 1972 decision!
Ruckelshaus ignored the pleas for continued use of DDT made by the nation's and the world's scien-tists. For example, during the EPA hearings on DDT, the World Health Organization stated.
Improvement in health occasioned by antimalaria campaigns has broken the vicious cycle of poverty and disease in many areas by preventing incapacity and death .. . and reducing the high socio-economic cost of treatment and medical care.... For the present, no economic alternative to DDT is available and the... consequences of the withdrawal of DDT would be very grave... the safety record of DDT for man is truly remarkable.... In spite of the prolon-ged exposure of the population of the world and the heavy occupational exposure of a substantial number of people, the only confirmed cases of injury have been the result of massive accidental or suicidal ingestion.... The withdrawal of DDT would be a major tragedy in the chapter of human health.
Despite the scientific evidence, the political campaign to ban DDT changed public perception of this substance from that of a safe and effective insecticide to a deadly poison.New Scare Stories
The California Department of Health was concerned about the effects of DDT on reproduction, and Dr. Alice Ottoboni, the department's toxicologist, consequently carried out extensive studies with rats and dogs during the 1960s and 1970s. Rats were fed levels of DDT of 0, 20, and 200 ppm in the diet. There was no apparent effect on fecundity of dams or viability of the young. The females receiving 20 ppm DDT had a significantly longer average reproductive life span (14.55 months) than did their littermate controls (8.91 months).
Ottoboni's studies with beagle dogs were through four generations, and 650 pups were born to parents that received 1, 5, and 10 milligrams (mg) of DDT per kg of body weight per day. There was no effect of DDT on survival, growth, and sex distribution of pups, nor was there any influence on morbidity or mortality or gross or histologic findings in any of the dogs. DDT-treated females had their first estrus cycles two to three months earlier than the control dogs. The highest level of DDT, in contrast to the control or 1 mg groups, was associated with freedom from roundworm infection in the pups.
More recently, Unnur P. Thorgeirsson and coworkers reported in the Journal of Regulatory Toxico-logy and Applied Pharmacology on a 32-year study of chemical carcinogenesis using Old World monkeys, who live about 30 years, to test a variety of chemicals, including DDT. In this DDT study, 25 monkeys were fed 20 mg/kg of DDT by mouth five times per week for 11 years. So far, 10 monkeys have died of various causes, and the other 15, ages 19 to 25, are in good health. The single cancer that occurred in a 20-year-old monkey cannot be attributed to DDT because of the monkey's age and the fact that these monkeys have a spontaneous cancer rate of 3.2 percent. On the other hand, the common fungal food contaminant, aflatoxin B, and a compound produced in cooked meat, IQ, induced cancers in more than 60 percent of the animals.
The DDT myth persists in the news as well as in the scientific literature. On April 21, 1993, Mary G. Wolff and colleagues published a study on DDT residues in blood and breast cancer in theJournal of the National Cancer Institute.  They reported that 58 patients with breast cancer had blood serum levels of 11.0 + 9.1 nanograms (ppb) of DDE per milliliter of blood serum, compared with 7.7 + 6.8 nanograms (ppb) of DDE in the control group of cancer-free patients. No further tests were made for other possible variables such as medication with estrogens. PCB concentrations were also higher in the breast cancer group than in the controls, with lower margins of error than in the DDE groups (8.0 + 4.1 ppb vs 6.7 + 2.9), suggesting that compounds stored in blood fat were mobi-lized in the cancer patients.
The findings were seized on by the media, including Associated Press and Time magazine, with head-lines "DDT Linked to Risk of Breast Cancer" and "Relentless DDT." The New Yorker, which had launched Silent Spring in 1962, exulted on June 6, 1993, that "Rachel Carson Lives."
One year later, a new study to correct the fiist was published by N. Krieger and coworkers in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, covering a much larger group of subjects (150 vs. the 58 breast-cancer patients in Wolff's report) and drawing on thousands of blood samples collected and frozen during the late 1960s, when average DDE levels were four to five times higher. The 1994 report showed no association between serum levels of DDE and the risk of breast cancer.
This disproof of the earlier claims did not make the headlines. There were no stories about "DDT Not Linked to Breast Cancer," or "DDT Relents." The New Yorker has not said that "Rachel Carson no longer lives, after all."
Many activists may be expected to ignore the disproof of the 1993 claims and to link DDT falsely to cancer. The first, desired report is now "locked in" and has become a part of the evaluation of DDT by critics. The British historian H.R. Trevor-Roper wrote in 1962:
"Whatever else history may say of Dr. Goebbels, it must credit him with one po-sitive contribution to the science of politics a terrible but a positive contri-bution: he created a system of propaganda, ironically styled public enlight-enment, which persuaded a people to believe that black was white."
Rachel Carson has made the same contribution. Joseph Goebbels is disbelieved and discredited today, but Carson'sSilent Spring is still believed and widely revered, even though its message on DDT is an example of "the Big Lie."----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------