Topic of the Pesticides in The Silence of the Birds

Categories: Pesticides


This paper will identify the major players, perspectives, concerns, interests and pressures discussed in case study "The Silence of the Birds Rachael Carson and the Pesticides". The growth of industrialization brought about the development of many chemicals including pesticides and insecticides. At first it seemed these chemicals were miraculous discoveries until the negative effects began to shine through. Therefore, in 1962, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring showing how these pesticides were killing birds and poisonous to livestock and human beings.

Perspectives and Concerns

The Major players involved in "The Silence of the Birds," by Rachel Carson were many. The most major indeed was the United States. Rapidly growing chemical industries were developing insecticides to protect Gi's during the war. Rachel Carson testified before Congress in 1963 about the harmful effects of pesticide use. Pesticides were killing birds in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Her work led to a ban on the insecticide DDT. But much else related to her concern with the overall harmful longterm effects of pesticides on the natural cycles which exist between insects, air, water, and soil has been ignored (Carson, 1962).

According to Carson, pesticides are supposed to kill pests, insects, weeds, and rodents. These synthetic chemicals contaminate streams and groundwater and enter the bodies of fish and birds. They have "enormous biological potency" and destroy the enzymes whose function it is to protect the body. Without the proper oxidation from which the body gets energy, some cells will start on the road to malignancy.

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Spray dusts are used to protect farm crops, aerosol disinfectants are used in homes to kill bugs, and weed killers are regularly used in gardens. These practices contaminate and alter the tissues of plants and animals and can alter hereditary lineage. These are all processes that are not visible to the naked eye and therefore are easy to ignore (Carson, 1998).

Carson's viewing of the environment requires that one may recognize harm which cannot always be seen, that the harm is most probably a result of multiple chemicals interacting in combination with one another, and that the harm develops slowly over time. Contaminated water and air most often do not smell. An individual chemical may not be harmful when ingested by it but becomes toxic in interaction with other pesticides. This way of thinking requires a vision of an interacting system of relations which are interdependent and historically linked. It requires an episteme which: sees the unseeable, thinks in multiplicity, and over long periods of time. A similar view needs to be extended to the nutritional understanding of people's bodies.

Values and Ethics

Many critics disagreed with Carson ethics and described her as "a fanatic defender of the cult of the balance of nature," stated Dr. Robert White-Stevens, a former biochemist and assistant director of the Agricultural Research Division of American Cyanamid. As a spokesman for the chemical industry during the 1960s, White-Stevens told the public, "If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth." She continued her work through all the pessimist. Her finished work carefully described how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals, including human beings, and caused cancer and genetic damage. The book alarmed readers across America and, not surprisingly, brought a cry of indignation from the chemical industry.


"The Silence of the birds" details Rachel Carson's concern for all of life, human and non-human. Silent Spring constitutes an extended argument for strictly limiting the use of pesticides, herbicides, and other dangerous agricultural and industrial chemicals, and for their careful application and safe disposal when such use is necessary. This argument rests on both factual and evaluative premises. Factually, Silent Spring's case rests on numerous scientific and anecdotal accounts of the abuse of these chemicals. It also rests on such easy-to-establish facts as companies' common failure to test products' effects on humans and non-humans, users' frequent negligence in following instructions for applying agricultural chemicals, and the weakness and lack of enforcement of government regulations. Carson's clear presentation of such facts, and of the basic science needed to understand the issues, gave her book its authority. The Case study presents the information clear and concise.

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Topic of the Pesticides in The Silence of the Birds. (2021, Oct 31). Retrieved from

Topic of the Pesticides in The Silence of the Birds
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