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July 20, 1970

Since Silent Spring

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1970;213(3):469. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170290065024

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As the word "pollution" becomes a rallying cry for reformers, the term "ecology" is beginning to etch itself into the American consciousness. We are learning slowly and painfully that nature shows complex interconnections and that disturbance in one area can bring unexpected but dire results in another. Rachel Carson made this point forcefully in her Silent Spring, a book which attacked the indiscriminate use of pesticides, especially those that persist and cumulate.

Her book aroused vigorous controversy and was widely attacked, not only by spokesmen for the chemical industry but also by impartial scientists and not a few medical pundits. However, the validity of Miss Carson's main thesis has been amply vindicated in recent years, and a retrospective look at the critics and their criticisms makes us aware of the unflattering light in which they now stand revealed.

Mr. Graham, a conservationist and editor of Audubon magazine, has written an