THE PESTICIDE CONSPIRACY by Robert van den Bosch


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Robert van den Bosch is an extremely angry man. As an entomologist at the University of California, Berkeley, he is long familiar with--and loathes--the dumping of tons of non-specific insecticides over the land in a relentless and increasingly futile effort to eradicate bugs. His ire is off-putting at first: too much vilification of man as greedy; too much hackneyed pejorative (the agribusiness ""mafia,"" the ""rape of the land""). But he builds a strong and ultimately convincing case. And since he is not afraid of naming names nor citing specific instances of collusion, corruption, and coercion, the book is bound to be controversial. Van den Bosch's scientific points are well-taken. The one-dimensional approach of using potent insecticides damages the good with the bad. It never totally demolishes the bad, so resistance builds. After a spraying, secondary outbreaks of other crop-destroying insects may occur because their natural predators are reduced in the first go-around. Waterways are polluted, birds and higher forms of life are sacrificed--not the least of which are the farm workers who handle the lethal chemicals. Van den Bosch argues for an ""integrated"" approach. This requires close monitoring of crops, noting weather and temperature changes, introducing sterile forms or specific parasites and other means of controlling pests. He does not say that potent pesticides should never be used: they have their place. He backs up his statements with statistics to show the effectiveness of the integrated approach and the perils of the prevailing system. What he has to say about the Department of Agriculture, the ""ag"" colleges, the corporate chemical empire, Congress, local, state, and federal agencies, trade associations, and magazines will inflame many and perhaps inspire others to speak out in the best muckraking tradition. Rachel Carson prose it is not. But the same intent is there and the message is clear, heartfelt, and courageously expressed.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1978
ISBN: 0520068238
Publisher: Doubleday