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Toxic Drift

Pesticides and Health in the Post-World War II South

by Pete Daniel

Walter Lynwood Fleming Lectures in Southern History

224 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 19 Halftones

Environmental History

  Paperback / 9780807132456 / April 2007

Following World War II, chemical companies and agricultural experts promoted the use of synthetic chemicals as pesticides on weeds and insects. It was, Pete Daniel points out, a convenient way for companies to apply their wartime research to the domestic market. In Toxic Drift, Daniel documents the particularly disastrous effects this campaign had on the South's public health and environment, exposing the careless mentality that allowed pesticide application to swerve out of control. The quest to destroy pests, Daniel contends, unfortunately outran research on insect resistance, ignored environmental damage, and downplayed the dangers of residue accumulation and threats to fish, wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. Using legal sources, archival records, newspapers, and congressional hearings, Daniel constructs a moving, fact-filled account of the use, abuse, and regulation of pesticides from World War II until 1970. 

Pete Daniel is the author of Lost Revolutions: The South in the 1950s, winner of the Elliott Rudwick Award of the Organization of American Historians; Breaking the Land: The Transformation of Cotton, Tobacco, and Rice Cultures since 1880, winner of the Herbert Feis Award of the American Historical Association and the Charles S. Sydnor Award of the Southern Historical Association; and Standing at the Crossroads: Southern Life in the Twentieth Century, among other books. He is the president of the Southern Historical Association for 2005-2006 and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Smithsonian Institution. A native of North Carolina, he is a curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History and lives in Washington, D.C.

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