Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, the landmark book connecting pesticide usage with species decline. Carson noted the very real threats of chemicals on humans as well as species and helped usher in the environmental movement that transformed the nation in important ways during the 1960s and 1970s. Elizabeth Kolbert wonders if, a half-century later, we have learned anything. It seems not. Kolbert cites several studies suggesting that colony collapse disorder in bees, a disease threatening the commercial viability of several fruits and vegetables we routinely eat, has happened because of a new type of pesticide. These neonicotinoids are neurotoxins that all these studies show completely decimates bee hives.
We may not have learned anything from Silent Spring, but Monsanto sure has. Unhappy with a research firm that produced a study critical of the Monsanto-produced neonicotinoids that are causing colony collapse, Monsanto simply bought the research firm. That’s some old-school Gilded Age action right there, like when Jay Gould used to buy newspapers who said bad things about him.