By Shepherd Bliss
THE BOOK Silent Spring, by the imminent scientist Rachel Carson, was published nearly 40 years ago, in 1962. It led to the banning of the oft-used insecticide DDT, at least here in the United States. Though we named a hall at Sonoma State University after Rachel Carson, did we really listen to her? I think not, or we would never even consider the mass forced spraying of that deadly nerve poison carbaryl on innocent people, as the workplan against the glass-winged sharpshooter proposes.
I am old enough to remember when the birds started disappearing from our Iowa farms because of the insecticide DDT. The award-winning and history-changing Silent Spring was stimulated by the forced spraying of fire ants on Long Island. Carson led that fight, with the aid of Justice William O. Douglas and Laurance Rockefeller. They lost, but eventually won a larger struggle against pesticides. By threatening us with forced spraying, again, the wine industry has made a historic, tragic mistake. It has revealed its disregard for human and animal life and for private property in its prideful overvaluation of its luxury product.
Carson starts her book: “A grim specter has crept upon us almost unnoticed. What has silenced the voices of spring in countless towns in America? This book is an attempt to explain.”
I suggest you read or reread Carson’s scientific indictment of pesticides. She concludes, “The current vogue for poison has failed utterly to take into account these most fundamental considerations. As crude a weapon as the caveman’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life. . . . The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance.”
If ever there was an appropriate word to describe the wine industry, it is arrogance. Here is what the New York Herald Tribune wrote about Silent Spring: “A smashing indictment that faces up to the disastrous consequences, for both nature and man, of the chemical mass warfare that is being waged today indiscriminately against insects, weeds, and fungi.”
Carson describes what she calls “man’s war against nature,” which today’s wine industry unfortunately continues. I remember when the hawks soared again, when the birds came back to our Iowa farm. The deadly nerve poisons lorsban and carbaryl should go the way of DDT. They should be banned, here in Sonoma County, in California, and in the United States.
We are losing so much of nature here in Sonoma County. We should not let the state spray carbaryl or lorsban or any other deadly chemical on innocent, vulnerable people.
Shepherd Bliss Kokopelli Farm Sebastopol
Shepherd Bliss is an organic farmer and owner of Kokopelli Farms in Sebastopol.
From the November 30-December 6, 2000 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.