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What do You Know About DDT?

My daughter, a freshman in high school, participates in a scholastic program that goes by the name National History Day. She teamed with three classmates this year to produce a video inspired by the theme Debate & Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, Consequences.

National History Day (NHD) rules give teams enormous latitude to choose topics that fit the year’s theme. Consequently, you’ll see dozens of snippets of history at an NHD competition. Teams compete locally and winners gather from across the state. In a two-day state-wide competition, only two teams from each division (high school team video being a division) go on to the national competition. My daughter’s team is one of those two!

So, What About Kitchen Gardening?

The national-competition-worthy video my daughter’s team produced is a documentary about the debate over the use and effects of DDT.

I’m old. It was breaking news in my childhood when scientists discovered that DDT was decimating the peregrine falcon and bald eagle populations in the United States. There was never a question in my mind that DDT was a terrible, terrible product and that’s all I knew. Then I watched my daughter’s team’s video…

You know? I’ve so many more thoughts to offer, but instead I invite you to share my experience: please watch the video. It’s long; ten minutes. But I hope you’ll take the time to see it through and then leave a comment.


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3 Responses to “What do You Know About DDT?”

  • They did a really fantastic job. I was lucky to grab an older copy of “Silent Spring” at a book fair a little while ago and it’s powerful stuff, just like this is.

  • Anne:

    Very well done! I had an entomology professor who used to make a show of EATING DDT! At least he wasn’t a brown pelican.

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    JeninCanada: Thank you for having a look. I confess I haven’t read Silent Spring and I have enormous respect for my daughter having done so. With 100 wild guesses I wouldn’t have identified Rachel Carson, but the results of her work were very high in my consciousness as I grew up within a few miles of Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab and the original home of the Peregrine Fund. I enjoyed at least one school field trip to the Peregrine Fund’s hatching facility where scientists explained how they harvested eggs from the wild and coddled them to ensure hatching.

    Anne: Amazing, isn’t it? My daughter’s team had found historical video of a man who ate several tablespoons of DDT daily to demonstrate how harmless the stuff is. What kills me though is how anyone could believe it was a good idea to fumigate the world with the most effective insecticide ever developed. Certainly scientists understood the importance of pollination even back in the ’40s and ’50s…

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