DDT and the American Century: Global Health, Environmental Politics, and the Pesticide That Changed the World

Synopsis

Praised for its ability to kill insects effectively and cheaply and reviled as an ecological hazard, DDT continues to engender passion across the political spectrum as one of the world's most controversial chemical pesticides. In DDT and the American Century, David Kinkela chronicles the use of DDT around the world from 1941 to the present with a particular focus on the United States, which has played a critical role in encouraging the global use of the pesticide.

The banning of DDT in the United States in 1972 is generally regarded as a signal triumph for the American environmental movement. Yet DDT's function as a tool of U.S. foreign policy and its use in international development projects designed to solve problems of disease and famine made it an integral component of the so-called American Century. The varying ways in which scientists, philanthropic foundations, corporations, national governments, and transnational institutions assessed and adjudicated the balance of risks and benefits of DDT within and beyond America's borders, Kinkela argues, demonstrates the gap that existed between global and U.S. perspectives on DDT. DDT and the American Century offers a unique approach to understanding modern environmentalism in a global context.

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